Showing posts from March, 2009
This is a picture of an anti-North Korean riot in Seoul. It is from the New York Times:

Why does the main clashing with the police seem to be holding a squeeze honey bear?

"I hear a lot of buzzing, you know it sounds like my little honey bee"

I spent the weekend at the Appalachian Studies Association conference and will describe it and the town it was in in greater detail (with some pictures) when I have more time. For now, after an eight hour drive home there are a few more pressing things I have to do first.

But I did want to post this video, in anticipation of the new beehives we are installing on campus Monday afternoon. The packages of bees have already arrived and the weather is supposed to be good, so I'll just quote Muddy Waters: "Sail On, My Little Honey Bee, Sail On."

Besides bees, Obama is bringing a couple more things to the White House that have not been seen commonly in recent times: openness:

"Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each had four prime-time news conferences from the East Room during their eight years in office, according to Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University. Obama has already held two in little more than two months in office. "


"Responding with his most partisan comment of the evening, Obama said his Republican critics should look to their own history with the federal budget, accusing them of having "a short memory" when it comes to deficits.

"As I recall, I'm inheriting a $1.3 trillion annual deficit from them," he said."

We are not alone

If you have the nagging feeling that the Geithner-Obama plan to alleviate banks of any responsibility for their own mismanagement, stupidity, and criminality and to funnel your tax money to needy hedge fund operators so they can increase their profits at zero risk and sip champagne with their banker friends is unseemly or even bad policy, well.. some Nobel Prize winning economists are right there with you.

Exhibit A: Joseph Stiglitz: Geithner plan will rob American taxpayers: Stiglitz

"HONG KONG (Reuters) - The U.S. government plan to rid banks of toxic assets will rob American taxpayers by exposing them to too much risk and is unlikely to work as long as the economy remains weak, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Tuesday.

"The Geithner plan is very badly flawed," Stiglitz told Reuters in an interview during a Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan to wipe up to US$1 trillion in bad de…

the old stuff is the good stuff

I recorded some old time tunes (two from West Virginia and one from Virginia) with a friend of mine, a particularly good old time fiddler. We had made a demo before and now made a for-real recording for a tribute cd project that I will write about sometime soon when it is complete.

Never having recorded in a professional studio (or on anything more robust than a handheld MP3 recorder or, back when, on reel to reel for the hell of it) it was an interesting experience. Not to mention an expensive one. The difference in the sound is total.

You can enjoy the tunes here.

I knew him when...

So I am happy to see that a guy I went to grad school with was awarded the biggest prize in American history, the Bancroft Prize. For his first book, no less! The book is Thomas G. Andrews, Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War. It is about mining in the west, not in the Appalachian killing fields. I will confess to not having read it yet, though the fawning reviews (even in the New Yorker, which is uncommon for an academic book) ever since it came out made me think it was a good one. And that he had a good publicist.

For the moment I am putting whatever energy I might have to spare for reading about mining in the west mostly into Pynchon's typically magisterial and gargantuan Against the Day. And I am in a holding pattern in that book, no river landing in sight just yet for me.

Andrews' acheivement seems especially impressive when you figure he is sharing the prize with Drew Gilpin Faust, a fine historian and the president of some school up in the northeast*, a…

Bee the change

Whatever the missteps so far, the Obama White House has proven itself a leader in at least one very positive way: reminding the nation that there should be beehive in every backyard and showing the way.

Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House

"The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatillos and hot peppers. Lettuces will include red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic. There will be spinach, chard, collards and black kale. For desserts, there will be a patch of berries. And herbs will include some more unusual varieties, like anise hyssop and Thai basil. A White House carpenter, Charlie Brandts, who is a beekeeper, will tend two hives for honey."

The power to tax is the power to destroy

Like anyone with a tiny bit of brain I am appalled and angry at the greed and venality of the AIG bonus payments. Stupid, unfair, likely criminal, yes, yes, yes, all of these things. "It's an outrage". The word "outrage" Obama and his many underlings trotted out today is so overused as to become hackneyed (Politicians love to parade their outrage. Try reading about events in the 1880s, "outrages" were declared on an excessive, near-daily basis. I was in fact just writing about that earlier today).

Robert Reich, generally good for a quip, had the best solution: the feds should finally just take over AIG, cut it up, and give the worthless parts away to either Fox News or North Korea.

Truthfully, though, isn't this whole Monday morning mini-shit storm just a red herring? A diversion from what truly ails us?

Like all such media storms, it will be replaced with some other issue for the talking heads in a few days, and the mouthing of faux popul…

Things fall apart...

...but they aren't supposed to in Germany.

Don't they engineer things over there with some degree of skill (as in: German engineering). It ain't Minneapolis, after all.

The archives building in Cologne just collapsed, total failure in six minutes.

The tragedy is what was in there:

"The private papers of the Nobel prize-winning novelist Heinrich Böll, one of Germany's most powerful postwar writers, have been lost under the rubble. They include the drafts of books, corrected manuscripts, letters and radio plays. The writer was born in Cologne and insisted before his death in 1985 that the papers be moved from Boston to his home town.
Lost, too, were manuscripts of essays and articles written by Karl Marx when he was editor of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne in the 19th century.

Letters written by the philosopher Hegel, lyrics and notes written by the composer Jacques Offenbach – who composed The Tales of Hoffmann – edicts issued by Napoleon and King Louis XIV, and t…

Ghosts of the Confederacy

I haven't seen these before, but I am not surprised to learn that the Commonweatlh of Virginia even puts Robert E. Lee on license plates:

I have my bees in Chesapeake in an undisclosed location on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. This gives you an idea of the neighbors:
Beekeepers among you will note that in that picture of Lark eating honey, it was coming from a shallow honey frame the bees moved up into and put some brood in. Those hives ate through two deeps and a shallow of honey this winter, which is a much more than usual and makes me think it is essential to leave a lot more honey on the hives each fall. I have never used chemicals in this beeyard and the bees all survive year in and out, even when I was in Korea. I think the key is conservative management. Also could be called, in this instance, "not enough time to take off honey in the fall". But it worked out well.

I spoke with the state apiarist at the short course and he thinks that major problem recently has been the annual drought mid and late summer has killed nectar flows and so bees have been left with woefully insufficient stores.
The warm weather was great for the Lil Buddha too. She had a seriously surf and turf weekend.

Skye and Lark came over to the short course. Lark strode with great purpose and cleared the fields of dandelions.

And to confirm that being a parent requires production of stereotypically cute pictures, here is the obligatory moment when =Lark discovered real ladybugs:

(Yes, even in this short afternoon Lark went through a series of clothing changes)

Then it was off to the beach. It was impossible to get a picture of her with the crappy little camera I brought because she was never still, but here is a crappy little video.

I am going to get one of those little USB cameras, just haven't gotten around to it. That should insure that Nunal becomes almost unbearable.

Lark also had a chance to eat some honey right out of some comb from my hives in Chesapeake. This went over big.

It was in the 70s and up to 80 on sunday, which is just exactly what we need around here. "We" being beekeepers, in this particular formulation. The nectar is flowing and all of my hives are looking just as they should at this point in the early spring.

The timing of the good weather was especially perfect since the Tidewater Beekeepers Association and the VWC Beekeeping Association put on beekeeping short course over at the campus. I didn't do the planning this year aside from arranging the facility, but I did give a presentation oj the history of beekeeping and hive management and talk people through the VWC hives. And there were a lot of people-- 70 showed up to learn how to keep bees, which is a huge number. It is almost enough to give you faith in the future.

That many people crowded around the hives made it basically impossible to get a picture that was worth a damn, but these give you the idea of the scene out there. I am supposed to get other people's pi…

Operation Joint Chihuahua

The arrival of 3,200 Mexican troops into Juárez has slowed the killings down to an average of only 1 a day for the beginning of March, which is down from the 28 killed during the first three days of February.

There are 8000 troops on the streets of Juárez. Try to imagine a similar scene in the United States.

(In Michoacan, there was a grenade attack on the Uruapan city police chief's house and a police station. Try to imagine a grenade attack in the US.)

But the Mexican military is really serious about defeating the billion dollar drug cartels this time--they have new uniforms. What billion dollar drug cartel could possibly surmount that level of operational sophistication?

"Enrique Torres, the spokesman for Joint Operation Chihuahua, the federal government's initiative to battle the drug cartels, said the wave of new soldiers is part of an overall plan to regain the trust of the 1.7 million residents of Juárez.

Without getting into specifics, Torres said one of the obvi…

"We have never confronted a case as extreme as this before,"

As you probably know, the Supreme Court just listened to a case about how Massey Energy's CEO (and mountaintop removal king) Don Blankenship used $3 million to put a lapdog on the West Virginia Supreme Court to manipulate justice

""We have never confronted a case as extreme as this before," Justice John Paul Stevens commented from the bench. A brief by the Conference of State Chief Justices said the amount spent on behalf of Benjamin in West Virginia's 2004 election is the largest in any judicial election in U.S. history.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Tuesday that this case involves a "very unusual situation, with a defendant who is a prime culprit. Don Blankenship is charged with driving [Hugh] Caperton out of business. ... He is a perpetrator." She added that "due process is denied by the likelihood of bias, the probability of bias and the appearance of bias."

Justice Anthony Kennedy said political contributions in this case were "obvi…
Considering the substance of the newly released Yoo memos, Balkin puts it plainly:

"These two disowned claims lie at the heart of the Cheney/Addington/Yoo theory of presidential power-- namely, that when the president acts as commander in chief Congress may not restrict in any way his military decisionmaking, including decisions about detention, interrogation, and surveillance. The President, because he is President, may do whatever he thinks is necessary, even in the domestic context, if he acts for military and national security reasons in his capacity as Commander in Chief. This theory of presidential power argues, in essence, that when the President acts in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, he may make his own rules and cannot be bound by Congressional laws to the contrary. This is a theory of presidential dictatorship.
The October 2008 and January 2009 memos are the Bush OLC's way of distancing itself from its conduct during the period when John Yoo was at OLC and whe…

Math, it just adds up...

Square Root Day revelers to party like it's 3/3/09

"Count on Tuesday's alignment of the calendar to add some excitement to the lives of at least a few math geeks.

Tuesday is Square Root Day, a rare holiday that occurs when the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits of the current year. Numerically, March 3, 2009, can be expressed as 3/3/09, or mathematically as √9 = 3, or 3² = 3 × 3 = 9.
Celebrants are expected to mark the occasion by cutting root vegetables into squares or preparing other foods in the shape of the square root symbol.

Square Root Day occurs only nine times in a century. The last one occurred on February 2, 2004, and the next will occur in seven years on April 4, 2016. "
The news just goes from bad to worse about the Bush administration's claims of utterly unconstitional, dangerous, and tyrannical authority. Now a new batch of John Yoo-penned memos have been released.

"The secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants....
In a memorandum dated this Jan. 15, five days before President George W. Bush left office, a top Justice Department official wrote that those opinions had not been relied on since 2003. But the official, Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel, said it was important to acknowledge in writing “the doubtful nature of these propositions,” and he used the memo to repudiate them formally.

Mr. Bradbury said in his memo that the earlier ones had been a product of lawyers’ confronting “novel and …
I haven't been posting for a while, in part as a result of the flu (the gift of daycare keeping giving) and also because I was preparing to give a talk on the "US and Rising" to the World Affairs Council of Hampton Roads. The talk was last saturday and it went well and was a lot of fun too. Nice to be with a couple hundred people really interested in discussing the impact, intent, and trajectory of American foreign relations. The audience was really diverse, ranging from a variety of active duty NATO sorts and retired military sitting in the front to educators and students in the back to at least one contra dance caller I know from years ago who happened to be attending.

What was I doing talking about the future, you may ask. I'm a historian, after all. Despite appearances, I do not have predictive power. Uncanny hindsight, absolutely. Unusually perceptive abilities for the readily apparent, no doubt, but no ESP or future annihilating vision.

This required me …