Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot-bodied, handsome Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake just blew away Usain Bolt at the Jamaica Olympic qualifying trials. Blake -- whom his trainers call "The Beast" -- finished the 100-meter final in 9.75 seconds to upset Bolt by 0.11 seconds.

That's the fastest time in the world this year. It also breaks the four-year-old National Stadium record, set by Bolt.

Here's "The Beast" yesterday.





Here's "The Beast" just four years ago, when he was a skinny but handsome kid at the age of 18, winning the Jamaican high school championships.

See why I like him?







Go Yogo!

It's the first time that an article I had a tiny part in has ever been the Featured Article of the Day on Wikipedia. Some 3 million people will see this front page today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogo_sapphire

Friday, June 29, 2012

From the album Jar of Flies -- a pure, ineffable classic of modern rock. This fantastic video has nothing to do with the song, and everything to do with the album. Inspiration for a portion of it came from Tod Browning's classic horror film, Freaks.

AHHH! I've been blown to Smithereens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first Sunscreem album I ever got was O3. I fell in love with them...

Amid all the healthcare hoopla comes the first really good polls in North Carolina and Michigan. Most pundits have Michigan (16 EC votes) "likely" Obama, above the more tenuous "leaning". They list NC (15 EC votes) as "leaning" Romney. The new polls show a slightly tighter race in Michigan, and NC as a complete toss-up (not good for Romney). The NBC-Marist poll also shows Romney ahead in New Hampshire, which has just 4 Electoral College votes. If Obama holds Michigan, and takes North Carolina, his re-election is practically assured. He could still lose Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia and win.
"If man brutalizes the environment, he wounds his own spirit; if he raises buildings that are trivial or offensive, he admits the poverty of his imagination; if he creates joyless cities, he imprisons himself."
- Lyndon Johnson, speech to the American Institute of Architects, June 15, 1965


Ugly, Ugly, Ugly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



This is the James V. Forrestal Building in Washington, D.C. It's one of the goddamnedest ugliest buildings anywhere in the world. You can read about it here.

Right after World War II, Southwest D.C. was a huge slum. Congress passed legislation which kicked 53,000 people out of their homes, completely razed the entire section of the city, and built low-rise and high-rise apartment buildings for the wealthy there. Many of the concepts for "town centers" and "inward-focused settlements" were embodied here. They failed miserably. There was no retail, no industry, no culture, no nothing. Grandiose plans for cities-within-cities never took into account human nature, human behavior -- or human anything, for that matter. Although nearly all the apartment complexes still exist (and are still home to the wealthy), much of the rest of the area collapsed under its own ponderous, ill-conceived weight.

The centerpiece of the "New Southwest" was supposed to be L'Enfant Plaza. A barren, vast concrete plaza raised a full three stories off the earth below (underneath was a parking garage) and surrounded by Post-Modern, sterile high-rise office buildings, it was supposed to be the center of all night-life and shopping. But exhausted federal workers just wanted to go home after 5 p.m., and the underground shopping mall and theater went bankrupt within just a few years.

One of the piece of L'Enfant Plaza was "L'Enfant Promenade" -- supposedly a place where people would want to walk, admiring the view of these massive, empty, sterile office buildings and being incredibly impressed. (snort!) It was placed on what used to be 10th Street SW, and led from the Smithsonian Castle south to Banneker Park. There it dead-ended.

The federal government's plan for Independence Avenue, just to the north of L'Enfant Plaza, was office buildings. Again, the American people were supposed to be slack-jawed in awe at the massive, bulky office buildings that were to be built there.



In 1955, the Department of Defense was trying to consolidate its workforce from the 50 or so buildings scattered all over D.C. into just a few high-rise structures. Since the Pentagon was full (it had filled to the brim in 1943), new office buildings had to be built. One of the last few big plots of land was at the intersection of 10th Street SW and Independence Avenue SW. So that's where the "Little Pentagon" of the Forrestal Building was placed.

The Forrestal Building was intended to line 10th Street. Two underground floors of office space linked these buildings. But the U.S. Navy (which had dibs on the structure) said this wasn't good enough: They wanted a bridge over 10th Street. Amazingly, people went along with it -- even though it meant cutting off the Smithsonian Castle and the Plaza from one another.

People at the time claimed that the Forrestal Building would act as a "gateway" or "arch" over 10th Street, and impress everyone with the "vistas beyond."

In fact, it acts like a huge brick wall -- and few venture past it.

There have been many recent proposals to tear down the center section of the Forrestal Building. Washingtonians pray nightly for this to happen.



Scientists this month announced the discovery of a field of death mammoths in Serbia!

The remains of a single mammoth were uncovered while mining for coal in an open pit about 60 feet below the surface. These remains were damaged by the machinery, but scientists were alerted. Over the next week, heavy rains exposed even more mammoth skeletons!!!

No other "mammoth graveyard" has ever been discovered.

Every 100 feet or so, paleontologists came upon more mammoth bones. At least seven mammoth skeletons are believed to be in the "mammoth graveyard", but digging is still continuing. Scientists will need to dig down at least 300 feet to be sure that there are no other mammoth (or other ancient animal) bones. Paleontologists will use infrared screening to help them determine where more remains might lie. The fossils are mostly contained in compacted sand, so they are very easy to retrieve.

Mammoths were large, fur-covered relatives of the modern elephant. They emerged about 1 million years ago, and survived until as recently as 100,000 years ago. The Serbian location lies on what used to be a 7,700-square mile island in the Pannonian Sea. The Pannonian Sea emerged about around 10 million years ago when it got cut off from the Mediterannean, and covered most of south-central Europe. It existed for almost 9 million years! But 600,000 years ago, it burst through the modern Đerdap Gorge ("the Iron Gate") on the Danube River. For hundreds of years, the Pannonian Sea emptied through the gorge until it was no more. It left behind a vast, fertile known today as the Pannonian Plain. The former islands in the Pannonian Sea are the modern Pannonian Island Mountains (Mecsek, Fruška Gora and Vršac Mountains).

The "mammoth graveyard" is not far from where a mammoth skeleton (named "Kika") was found in 1996, and a female mammoth skeleton (known as "Vika") was discovered in 2009.



Here's an interesting if fluffy article on film industry economics.

This article focuses on how the film industry is really just guesswork. It's not art, it's deal-making. And those deals are driven primarily by rules that make no sense to outsiders, rules such as "glamour counts" and "you have to have a star" and "prestige is everything" and so on. Basic rules of writing which are commonly accepted outside of the film industry are thrown out the window once you enter the gates of a movie studio. The fundamental understanding of film editing and cinematography, which are discussed at length in textbooks and film schools, are ignored. Common guidelines for building managerial experience in business -- like on-the-job training, education, accounting for experience, gradual expansion of authority after proven job performance, merit promotions, etc. -- are never employed.

What this article doesn't go into is the goofy way film studios account for overhead. (For example: A studio makes movies only a few times a year. Yet the studio is open 365 days a year. How do the costs of keeping the studio open get charged to each production?) It doesn't account for the insane cost of star salaries. (In baseball, Billy Beane wrote a book about statistics challenging the prevailing wisdom. The numbers don't lie. The game changes. Film industry honchos and economists write books about statistics challenging the prevailing wisdom in the film industry. Those books get ignored.)

I honestly think film -- one of my beloved art forms -- is pretty much dead as a mass market commercial enterprise. It's caught in a death-spiral, an organizational theory term in which a company has skyrocketing costs, the price forced on consumers keeps increasing, but the number of buyers is shrinking and fast.

It's sad.

Someone oughta be punished for this............

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"How the Tea Party Organized Wisconsin" -- a really good article that lays it on the line.

It's not about TV ads or billionaires pumping money into PACs. It's about ground troops, and plenty of them. And why the Dems in Wisconsin failed to apply that lesson.

This is also a recipe for beating Mitt Romney in the fall. If only Obama will listen...

The crowd loves you - DC Gay Pride Parade 2012


Out of the 1,217 images I took at the D.C. Capital Pride parade today, there were 149 good ones. And maybe some more, but I got tired of sorting and cropping and doing all that. These are the best ones I took.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/sets/72157630091412816/

Enjoy!
I contributed only a tiny bit to this article. Mostly some cites, a little copyediting (very little), and a couple photographs. But I can now say that I was part of a team that can boast, "This was my first Featured Article on Wikipedia."

Yogo Sapphire - Yogo sapphires are a variety of corundum found only in Yogo Gulch, part of the Little Belt Mountains in Judith Basin County, Central Montana, on land once inhabited by the Piegan Blackfeet people. Yogos are typically cornflower blue in color, a result of trace amounts of iron and titanium. Gemologists consider them among the finest sapphires in the world. They have high uniform clarity and maintain their brilliance under artificial light. Because Yogo sapphires occur within a vertically dipping resistive igneous dike, mining efforts have been sporadic and rarely profitable. It is estimated that at least 28,000,000 carats (5,600 kg) of Yogos are still in the ground. Jewelry containing Yogos was given to First Ladies Florence Harding and Bess Truman; in addition, many gems were sold in Europe, though promoters' claims that Yogos are in the crown jewels of England or the engagement ring of Princess Diana are dubious. Today, several Yogo sapphires are part of the Smithsonian Institution's gem collection.



(...and yes, I do own two tiny, tiny Yogos!)
Here is an article by an ex-Navy fighter pilot, John Hensley, who is concerned that American civilians have no "skin in the game" and thus disrespect military service. His proposal: Human rights are not inalienable. They must be earned. You don't achieve full citizenship and the right to vote unless you serve in the military.

He bases his idea on the Robert Heinlein novel Starship Troopers. Starship Troopers is a quasi-fascist novel in which most civil liberties are denied to the populace (which is rolling in luxury) until they complete military service. Only those who spend a lengthy period of indoctrination in the military are able to vote and achieve full citizenshp.

Is Mr. Hensley really advocating fascism? That's appalling!!

The Declaration of Independence talks about "inalienable" rights. Mr. Hensley denies that rights are inalienable. You are not born with them, he says; you must earn them from the state.



* * * * * * *



On June 26, 1775, the New York Legislature wrote to George Washington, who just days earlier had been appointed Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Americans were terrified of standing armies, which had been used throughout European history to support tyranny. The New York Legislature asked Washington if he would promise to lay down his arms after the war was over.

Washington responded the same day. He did indeed pledge to resign his commission after the war. Washington then made a rousing statement of the supermacy of civilian government over military rule. He concluded with this famous phrase:
When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen...
George Washington knew that being a citizen came first. Not being a soldier.

Today, Washington's statement is inscribed in the apse of the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery.

It's so sad that Mr. Hensley doesn't understand what George Washington did two centuries ago.

South rear and vault of apse - Memorial Amphitheater - Arlington National Cemetery - 2012-05-19

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



For the past -- oh, I dunno, month -- I've been reading a book about the urban planning that has gone into making Washington, D.C., what it is today. I finally finished my book. You can read an electronic version of Designing the Nation's Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington, D.C. online. I bought the real thing, because I wanted the huge photographs and color plates.

Now I'm on to my book on Val Lewton, the B-movie horror king and director of such superb classics as I Walked With A Zombie, Cat People, Isle of the Dead, The Body Snatcher, and The Ghost Ship.



Pinch me. (I love classic horror!)
I know I write well-written, well-researched articles for Wikipedia. My desire, though, is to keep expanding things. I don't often go back and try to get my articles up to "Good Article" or "Featured Article" status. There's just too that's not yet written.

Someone else has decided to do this, however. And now my article on 901 New York Avenue NW, which I tossed off in about 24 hours, is a Good Article.

Huh.

YAY!
Sun 60 never gets old............


Imagine what you would feel like if you worked at a place which is not in financial trouble. But, one day, your COO/HR person announced to the staff that everyone was being put into an HMO within a year. No, not to save money... It's just because that's what everyone else is doing.

S/He also announces that up 'till now, the employer has made a 10 percent a year contribution to your pension plan. Not any more! Within a year, It'll be 3 percent. (If you make a "voluntary" contribution of 3 percent, then employer will up their contribution to 5 percent. If you make a "voluntary" contribution of 5 percent, the employer will up theirs to 8 percent.)

Just imagine... I can.

In my imagination, I expect most people went back to their offices, gently closed the door, and began job hunting immediately...
Here's where I think the presidential election stands today. Obama has 247 Electoral College (EC) votes, and Romney has 206 EC votes.

Obama is danger in: Pennnsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), and New Mexico (5), for a total of 51 EC votes. Romney is danger in: North Carolina (15), Indiana (10), and Missouri (10), for a total of 35 EC votes. Obama will need to spend huge amounts of money to buy TV time in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Romney will need to do so in North Carolina. The onus on Obama is not only to defend more states, but to spend in states which require expensive TV time.

The following states are toss-ups: Florida (29), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and New Hampshire (4), for a total of 85 EC votes.

If the election were held today, Barack Obama would lose 269 to 274.

This assumes that each candidate will hold their "weak" states, that Obama will take Colorado and New Hampshire (13 EC votes), and that Romney will take Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia (73 EC votes).

Admittedly, there are currently no good polls in Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia. Florida is a real problem for Romney. Latinos are furious at him for his immigration stands, and that strips Romney of a critical voting constituency there. But Romney has tried very hard to soften his stand on the issue. Although this pisses off right-wingers, it does so only in states where Romney is already strong and it doesn't weaken him appreciably there. The GOP has also worked overtime to suppress Latino and Black turnout in Florida, so I'm calling Florida (today) for Romney. It's not clear what's going to happen in Iowa. Ohio turns on the economy. Obama has incredibly poor job performance numbers in Ohio, but people are still willing to vote (weakly) for him. Romney has yet to grab hold of the economy issue in Ohio, and he faces a well-organized labor movement that rolled back anti-labor laws last year (unlike in Wisconsin, were labor failed miserably). Virginia will go Romney if turnout in the southwest counties is high. If not, then northern Virginia will help carry the state for Obama. Obama could gain help among military personnel, who are sick of fighting a losing war overseas. Bringing them home could help his numbers enough to overcome the fascists in the southwest.

The best tracking polls of likely voters shows Obama up in Nevada, but I'm not sure that will hold.

Real Clear Politics seems to think Arizona is in play, but no polls show that. The site also thinks that Michigan is in play, because three good polls there show Obama ahead but within the margin of error, and that North Carolina is in play. But all polls in North Carolina show Romney right on the upper limit of the margin of error, which indicates to me that it's not in play at all. (Indeed, the gay marriage vote only created a sense of defeat among progressive elements in the state.)

Of course, this is today. We have four more months to go.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Godzilla vs Rodan on Mt Laundry


Ah yes! Another of the classic "Godzilla on Mount Laundry" photographs. Instant classics of art and photography. Buy yours today. There are only so many left.

It's shocking how, every time I do laundry and pile it high on my bed to be sorted and folder, Godzilla appears and engages in battle with some nemesis.

3:30 p.m. on June 25, 1876.

Wyatt Earp was settling in as the Assistant Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas. In San Francisco, they were still celebrating the arrival of the Transcontinental Express -- a train which had made the run from New York City to the Pacific Ocean in the astonishing time of 83 hours and 39 minutes. In England, the public was gobbling up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which had been released three weeks earlier (the book wouldn't be published in the United States until December). Across Europe, newspapers had broken the news two days earlier that as many as 15,000 Bulgarians had been massacred by Ottoman Turkish troops. Serbia and Montenegro were about to declare war on Turkey. The United States Congress was debating whether to admit Colorado as the 38th state. And in Philadelphia at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, American citizens were using Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and the Remington typewriter and eating Heinz ketchup and drinking Hires root beer -- all four of which had first been introduced at the fair.

On the Little Bighorn River in Montana, the officers and men of the Seventh Cavalry were about to make history, too.

Maj. Marcus Reno's battalion of about 150 officers and men had crossed to the west bank of the Little Bighorn River at just about 3:00 p.m. The view of the valley ahead of them was blocked by an oxbow bend in the river. A large copse of trees grew in this bend (which became known as the "Western Bend"), blocking Reno's view of what lay ahead. Reno had no idea how large the Indian camp ahead was, nor how far away it was. In fact, the camp was almost three miles (4.8 km) off! Moving ahead with his exhausted, hungry, thristy horses at a quick trot, the troops covered the distance in about 20 minutes.

When Reno's battalion reached the bend in the river and saw what lay ahead, Reno could hardly belive what he was seeing. Even though he could only see the Hunkpapa village, it was still the largest Indian village he had ever seen. Reno immediately dispatched a rider to Custer with the message that the Indians were not running scared but rather were in front of him and in large numbers. As Reno's men came to a halt near the village, the villagers began running about -- some in panic, some trying to gather their belongings to flee, some racing up the hills to the east into the pony herds to find a mount. The dust kicked up by the scattering Indians began to obscure the village...

Reno ordered his men to get ready for battle. Three of the four columns dismounted and loaded their Springfield Model 1873 carbine rifles. They handed the reins of their horses to their mounted comrades, who tied the reins to their own horse's bridle and then led the horses off toward the safety of the trees in the bend.

Reno pulled a bottle from his jacket. It was not unusual for officers to drink during battle. But to several officers in Reno's battalion that afternoon, it was clear that Marcus Reno was not merely drinking -- he was drunk. He was slurring his words. He was breathing too hard. He was unfocused, found it difficult to make decisions, and not in control of himself.

The men formed into a single line extending from the river in the east to the foothills in the west (about a mile, or 1.6 km). Each man was about five yards (4.6 m) from the next. They marched about 100 yards (91.4 m) forward until they reached a prairie dog town. The flag-bearer planted the battalion flag in the earth. About 440 yards (402 m) in front of them was the Hunkpapa village. Some of the soldiers lay down or knelt behind the prairie dog mounds, using them as a defense. Reno passed his bottle to some of his other officers, each of whom took a swig.

Although Reno had given no word, his men began to open fire.

There were two problems with the Springfield Model 1873 carbine. The first was that it had an effective range of only about 250 yards (228.5 m). Reno had foolishly stopped far, far short of the Indian village. Nearly all the shots into the village were ineffective, although some shots managed to go wild with enough force to hit teepees and wound the occasional panicked woman or child.

The other problem was far more serious.

On February 12, 1873, the United States Congress put the American economy on the gold standard. Money in the U.S. prior to the Civil War had all been metal -- that is, coins made of either gold or silver. The coins had varying amounts of gold or silver in them, depending on the value of the coin. During the Civil War, the public began hoarding coins. This created a liquidity crisis, and nearly every bank in the nation was threatened with failure. The Congress quickly passed the National Banking Act in 1863, which established national banks and permitted these banks to issue paper money (United States Notes, popularly known as "greenbacks"). This paper money represented a percentage of the gold and silver bullion in the bank's vaults. In 1866, Congress passed a tax on all bank-issued and state-issued currency, and the "greenbacks" became the national American currency.

Congress couldn't stop fiddling with the amount of gold and silver each greenback was supposed to represent. The lower the percentage, the more greenbacks could be issued. Soon the percentage had dropped precipitously, and anyone holding a greenback issued in 1863 found that it was almost worthless by 1872. Congress made the use of metal coinage legal again after the war, although by now the amount of gold and silver in each coin was so low as to be meaningless. Nonetheless, because of the vast amount of metal coin in circulation, this percentage was important. Raising the percentage of silver in a coin by just a few grains per coin could mean that the owners of silve mines would see the demand for their bullion -- and the price of silver -- rise dramatically.

But gold was far less common than silver. The discovery of a massive silver lode out West could easily force the price of silver lower, making silver-backed coins worth far less than when they were issued. For powerful Eastern money interests, this was disastrous: A bank might have issued a loan for $10,000 in 1870, but the discovery of a big silver lode now meant that the coins paying off that loan were worth only $6,750 due to the drop in the price of silver. Moving the U.S. onto the "gold standard" -- where the only metal used in coins was gold -- would protect the big, greedy Eastern banks. It would also protect the big, greedy industrial monopolies which the banks had financed: Railroads, steel mills, ship-building, mining, textile mills, the automotive industry, the timber industry, and oil. It would keep famers (nearly 80 percent of Americans at the time worked on farms), consumers, and city-dwellers improverished...but, hey, they were just "little people" and not worth caring about.

Doing the New York City banks' bidding, Congress passed the Coinae Act of 1873 on February 12. This removed silver as the base metal in American coins, and put the U.S. on the gold standard.

The effect of the Coinage Act of 1873 was disastrous: Most Western mining companies collapsed. Common people, who tended to hold small-denomination coins backed with silver, found their currency useless. The life savings of tens of millions of Americans were wiped out. Farmers and small business owners, who relied on regular drops in the price of silver to service their high-interest debt, were bankrupted. Worried investors began to stop buying bonds. The Jay Cooke Company, one of the largest investment banking firms in America, attempted to sell several million dollars of Northern Pacific Railway bonds. Not a single bond sold. Jay Cooke went bankrupt, triggering the failure of thousands of banks across the country. The American economy sank into a deep depression. The economic crisis spread to Europe. Great Britain's economy collapsed by the end of the year. Newly-formed Imperial Germany had followed the lead of the United States, and its silverless economy also collapsed. Otto von Bismarck, the German leader, imposed high trade tarriffs to try to protect Germany industry from competition, but this only worsened the problems and trade across Europe collapsed. The economies of France, Austria, and Turkey also collapsed.

The subsequent worldwide economic crisis is known as "The Long Depression." It lasted six years in the United States. Great Britain would not emerge from its Long Depression for an astonishing 20 years.

Ulysses S. Grant had been re-elected President of the United States in 1872. Grant was desperate to find new deposits of gold to help devalue the American currency. A devalued gold coin would also help make it easier to pay down the federal government's debt, which was still over $2 billion (100 times what it had been just a decade before) due to the Civil War and the cost of Reconstruction in the Deep South.

So in 1874, Grant sent a blond-haired ego-maniac named George Armstrong Custer into the western part of the Dakota Territory in an attempt to find gold.







The anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, more famously known as "Custer's Last Stand", is Friday, June 25, 1876. The following is from Nathaniel Philbrick's The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (2010):
Custer's transformation into an American myth had much to do with the timing of the disaster. When words of his defeat first reached the American public on July 7, 1876, the nation was in the midst of celebrating the centennial of its glorious birth. For a nation drunk on its own potency and power, the news came as a frightening shock. Much like the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic thirty-six years later, the devastating defeat of America's most famous Indian fighter just when the West seemed finally won caused an entire nation to wonder how this could have happened. ...

When it comes to the Little Bighorn, most Americans think of the Last Stand as belonging solely to George Armstrong Custer. But the myth applies equally to his legendary opponent Sitting Bull. For while the Sioux and Cheyenne were the victors that day, the battle marked the beginning of their own Last Stand. The shock and outrage surrounding Custer's stunning defeat allowed the Grant administration to push through measures that the U.S. Congress would not have funded just a few weeks before. The army redoubled its efforts against the Indians and built several forts on what had previously been considered Native land. Within a few years of the Little Bighorn, all the major tribal leaders had taken up residence on Indian reservations... Sitting Bull did not go quietly into the dark night of reservation life...and when a new Native religious movement called the Ghost Dance caused authorities to fear a possible insurrection...[a] group of Native police were sent to his cabin on the Grand River, and at dawn on December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull, along with his son Crowfoot and Sitting Bull's adopted brother Jumping Bull, was shot to death. A handful of Sitting Bull's supporters fled to the Pine Ridge Agency to the south, where Custer's old regiment, the Seventh Cavalry, had been called in to put a stop to the Ghost Dance craze. The massacre that unfolded on December 29 at a creek called Wounded Knee was seen by at least some of the officers of the Seventh Cavalary as overdue revenge for their defeat at the Little Bighorn. ...

In 1876, there were no farms, ranches, towns, or even military bases in central and eastern Montana. For all practical and legal purposes, this was Indian territory. Just two years before, however, gold had been discovered in the nearby Black Hills by an expedition led by none other than George Custer. As prospectors flooded into the region, the U.S. government decided that it had no choice but to acquire the hills -- by force if necessary -- from the Indians. Instead of an effort to defend innocent American pioneers from Indian attack, the campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne in the spring of 1876 was an unprovoked military invasion of an independent nation that already happened to exist within what came to be declared the United States.

America was not the only place in the world where Western and indigenous peoples were coming into conflict in the late ninetheenth centruy. The Little Bighorn was like battles which had been or were about to be fought in India, the Middle East, and Africa -- most spectacularly, perhaps, at Isandlwana in 1879, where twenty-four thousand Zulus annihilated a British force of more than thirteen hundred men. And yet, there is something different about the American version of colonialism. Since the battles were not fought on a distant and colonized continent but without our own interior, we are living with the consequences every day. After four years of research and several trips to the battelfield, along with a memorable visit to the site of Sitting Bull's cabin, I now know that nothing ended at the Little Bighorn.
As Gay Pride Month comes to an end, it is worth remembering that some people lost their battle to win their rights...


I'm so so so so so so so ready for a nice salad like this. I'm TOTALLY going to make this when it hits 100 on Thursday!

Oh, the recipe is here.

Forthwith, my favorite poem of all time. (And undoubtedly the title of this blog.)


Being But Men
By Dylan Thomas


Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.

If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, afert the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.

Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.