Monthly Archives: August 2008

Backwater Blues

The eye of hurricane is going to Cajun country, it is now said, so we will look at pictures of the 1927 flood as experienced there from the Louisiana Digital Library. These pictures appear first in postage stamp size, but enlarge in a few seconds. Check out the Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, which is slated to experience hurricane force winds by Monday at mid morning, the girl dancing to twin fiddles at a Lafayette refugee camp, men wading in Arnaudville, the entrance to the refugee camp at Opelousas, the inundated stores at Port Barre, and an inundated cabin in Avoyelles Parish.

Bessie Smith apparently wrote the Backwater Blues before the 1927 flood. Still it is a good song to wait for a hurricane with, and Dinah Washington sang it famously at Newport in 1967, in a version you have surely heard. More recently Troels Jensen sang it in Copenhagen.

The lyrics are available on line at several different sites. Smith’s 1927 recording sings like this. I, of course, bolded my favorite phrases.

When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
Then trouble’s takin’ place in the lowlands at night
I woke up this mornin’, can’t even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin’, can’t even get out of my door
There’s been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go
Then they rowed a little boat about five miles ‘cross the pond
Then they rowed a little boat about five miles ‘cross the pond
I packed all my clothes, throwed them in and they rowed me along
When it thunders and lightnin’ and when the wind begins to blow
When it thunders and lightnin’ and the wind begins to blow
There’s thousands of people ain’t got no place to go

Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then looked down on the house were I used to live

Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go
Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go
‘Cause my house fell down and I can’t live there no more
Mmm, I can’t move no more
Mmm, I can’t move no more
There ain’t no place for a poor old girl to go

Axé.

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Sarah Palin

I am not interested in the discussion of whether Sarah Palin is good for women or not – that is ridiculous, of course she isn’t. If people claim to vote for McCain so as to vote for a woman, I will only think they are trying to hide their closet Republicanism.

I wondered, when McCain chose Palin, whether it were true that a white woman would be more electable than a man of color. I understand why one should say the word intersectionality, but I still think it is persons of color who most terrify the average American – especially when they are foreign or allegedly (or formerly) foreign persons of color.

When McCain chose Palin, I therefore wondered whether it were because he was afraid of Jindal or thought voters might be. This having been said, I am relieved that he did not choose Jindal because Jindal is a paleoconservative and very powerful. I think he is more powerful than Palin and that he can easily become yet more powerful.

Both Palin and Jindal would probably like the U.S., Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia to band together in a misogynistic and medieval empire cult. But I think Jindal is more likely to be able to get something like that accomplished. This is why I am relieved at McCain’s choice.

Here is an article on Jindal which discusses his record and some of his core beliefs. Many Louisiana websites have linked to it, but everyone in Louisiana should read it.

Axé.

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Filed under Da Whiteman, Movement, News, What Is A Scholar?

El Plebeyo

It is the weekend, so we will sing a famous vals criollo, in which a plebeian, trembling with emotion, discusses his love for an aristocrat:

This is a karaoke video, so we are literally singing this time. FELIPE PINGLO wrote the song and this  recording is by LOS MOROCUCHOS. You cannot beat the Peruvians for criollo guitar, as they invented it, but after hearing PEDRO INFANTE sing this song you may not be able to tolerate hearing another voice. The really good part of this video starts 65 seconds in, when he goes solo with the syncopated and melodramatic “Love, although human, has a divine aspect; love is no crime, for even God loved.”

It is a wonderful lyric, and my favorite phrases are pausada acción and la luz, artificial, con débil proyección.

La noche cubre, ya, con su negro crespón,
de la ciudad, las calles, que cruza la gente
con pausada acción.

La luz, artificial, con débil proyección,
cobija la penumbra que esconde en sus sombras
venganza y traición.

Después de laborar, vuelve a su humilde hogar,
Luis Enrique, el plebeyo, el hijo del pueblo,
el hombre que supo amar.

Y que sufriendo va, esa infamante ley,
de amar a una aristócrata,
siendo un plebeyo él.

Trémulo de emoción,
dice así, en su canción:

El amor, siendo humano
tiene algo de divino,
amar no es un delito
porque hasta Dios amó.

Y si el cariño es puro
y el deseo es sincero,
por qué robarme quieren
la fe del corazón.

Mi sangre, aunque plebeya
también tiñe de rojo,
el alma en que se anida
mi incomparable amor.

Ella es de noble cuna
y yo humilde plebeyo,
no es distinta la sangre
ni es otro el corazón.

Señor, por qué los seres
no son de igual valor.
Así, en duelo mortal,
abolengo y pasión,
en silenciosa lucha,
condenarnos quieren
a grande dolor.

Al ver que un querer,
porque plebeyo es,
delinque si pretende
la enguantada mano
de fina mujer.

El corazón que ve
destruido su ideal,
reacciona en franca rebeldía
que cambia su humilde faz.

Y el plebeyo de ayer,
es el rebelde de hoy,
que, por doquier, pregona
la igualdad en el amor.

Axé.

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Juana de Asbaje

Hier ist ein important post. It is about sexism and gender discrimination. That was going to be all I said today, but I have read about knowledge and also tried to cook, so this post has had to be renamed for Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and philosophy “done” in the kitchen.

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Here is another, entirely different and very interesting post, which reminds us that “treating all knowledge as naked politics made any kind of clean, reliable data for informed decision-making impossible,” and thus shows the limits of some kinds of postmodernism.

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Premodernly I, meanwhile, testing recipes for my probable hurricane guests, tried to make sopa a la minuta, which I do not distinguish easily from sopa criolla. The milk and eggs are optional, and I did not use them. I did not have aji panca, so I used an Anaheim chile.

Reviewing my version of the soup, I think it is a D+. The Anaheim chile was not deep or subtle enough. And I always do poorly with these soup recipes, like the one for sopa de ajo, where you sauté onion and garlic and then add water. This is supposed to work and be tasty, but for me it always turns out rank. In fact, I often come up with something vaguely resembling food in a concentration camp – remember all that cabbage soup Ivan Denisovich ate? Anyway, this time I may be beginning to understand why – at least in part.

I tend to chop, rather than slice onions, and I do not do it finely enough, and I use too much oil. Tonight I cooked the onions and garlic too fast – which was why I needed all the oil, I suppose – and then somehow their heat overdid the meat. (And if I learned anything generally about cooking from my most recent trip to Peru, it is that when I use meat or olive oil, I use too much.)

I cut the oiliness with lime, which worked well in the circumstances, but I need advice about sopa a la minuta, sopa criolla, sopa de ajo, and all soups made by cooking onions and garlic and then adding water. And while we are at it, I will ask advice on paella as well, and on any rice dish wherein you first sauté the rice and then add water. All of my attempts at these things end up tasting like oily water with the odd onion leaf, and not a great deal else.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Movement, News, Resources, What Is A Scholar?

Hurricane Gustav

Friday is the three year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We interrupt our regular programming to say that Tropical Storm Gustav will, if he holds his current course, make landfall in South Louisiana Monday night. By the time you read the following discussion from it will no longer be current, but I am pasting it in so you can see what I am reading, for horror and pleasure, this Wednesday night. Gustav is only a tropical storm now, but he should regain hurricane force by Friday. Then he will fly over the western edge of Cuba and come on in.

000
WTNT42 KNHC 280250
TCDAT2
TROPICAL STORM GUSTAV DISCUSSION NUMBER  12
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   AL072008
1100 PM EDT WED AUG 27 2008

THE LAST RECONNAISSANCE FIX WAS AT 23Z.  DATA FROM THE AIRCRAFT
INDICATED THAT THE CENTER OF GUSTAV BEGAN TO MOVE WEST-
SOUTHWESTWARD AND AWAY FROM THE DEEP CONVECTION.  PEAK FLIGHT-LEVEL
WINDS WERE 39 KT AND THE HIGHEST RECENT BELIEVABLE SFMR WINDS WERE
41 KT.  THE ADVISORY INTENSITY IS LOWERED TO 40 KT BASED ON THESE
OBSERVATIONS.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS NOW ESTIMATED TO BE 250/7...ALTHOUGH THE
CENTER HAS BEEN VERY HARD TO TRACK SINCE THE TIME OF THE LAST FIX
AND MIGHT BE A LITTLE SOUTH OF MY ADVISORY POSITION.  A DEEP-LAYER
RIDGE...ORIENTED NORTHEAST-SOUTHWEST...IS CENTERED OVER THE FLORIDA
PENINSULA. THIS RIDGE HAS IMPARTED A BIT OF A SOUTHERLY COMPONENT
OF MOTION THAT SOME MODELS SHOW PERSISTING FOR ANOTHER 24 HOURS OR
SO. AFTER THAT...GUSTAV IS EXPECTED TO ROUND THE PERIPHERY OF THE
RIDGE AND TURN TO THE NORTHWEST IN THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO.
COMPLICATING THE FORECAST IN THE LATTER PART OF THE PERIOD IS THE
EVOLUTION AND IMPACT OF AN UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH EXPECTED TO BE IN THE
CENTRAL OR WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO...AS WELL AS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
BLOCKING HIGH AT THE END OF THE PERIOD REMINISCENT OF WHAT HAPPENED
WITH FAY A WEEK OR SO AGO. GIVEN THESE FACTORS...THE MODEL GUIDANCE
IS IN SURPRISINGLY GOOD AGREEMENT. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST RELIES
MOST STRONGLY ON A BLEND OF THE ECMWF...UKMET...GFDL...AND
GFS...WHICH IS NOW FOLLOWING THE VORTEX FAIRLY WELL...AND IS JUST
TO THE LEFT OF THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY TRACK. THE DYNAMICAL MODEL
CONSENSUS IS A LITTLE FARTHER TO THE LEFT.

GUSTAV HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY DISPRUPTED BY ITS ENCOUNTER WITH THE
TERRAIN OF HAITI.  IN ADDITION...MID-LEVEL DRY AIR APPEARS TO BE
OVERTAKING THE CYCLONE FROM THE NORTHEAST.   IN ANOTHER 24-36
HOURS...HOWEVER...GUSTAV SHOULD FIND ITSELF UNDER AN UPPER
ANTICYCLONE AND OVER THE VERY DEEP WARM WATERS OF THE NORTHWESTERN
CARIBBEAN...AND SO THE CYCLONE SHOULD HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
RESTRENGTHEN.  IN ADDITION...THE FORECAST TRACK TAKES GUSTAV OVER
THE LOOP CURRENT IN THE SOUTHEASTERN GULF.  AFTER THAT...GLOBAL
MODELS SUGGEST THE POSSIBILITY OF SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR IN THE GULF
ASSOCIATED WITH THE UPPER TROUGH THAT COULD SLOW THE
INTENSIFICATION RATE.  THE OFFICIAL FORECAST SHOWS A SLOWER
RESTRENGTHENING THAN THE PREVIOUS ADVISORY INITIALLY...BUT IS
OTHERWISE SIMILAR...AND ROUGHLY SPLITS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE
SHIPS AND GFDL GUIDANCE.

IT PROBABLY WOULDN'T HURT TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT THE AVERAGE 5-DAY
OFFICIAL TRACK ERROR IS ABOUT 300 MILES...AND THE AVERAGE 5-DAY
INTENSITY ERROR IS ABOUT 25 MPH.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL      28/0300Z 18.8N  75.4W    40 KT
 12HR VT     28/1200Z 18.8N  76.5W    45 KT
 24HR VT     29/0000Z 18.9N  78.0W    50 KT
 36HR VT     29/1200Z 19.4N  79.5W    60 KT
 48HR VT     30/0000Z 20.1N  81.0W    70 KT
 72HR VT     31/0000Z 22.5N  84.5W    85 KT
 96HR VT     01/0000Z 26.0N  87.5W    95 KT
120HR VT     02/0000Z 29.0N  89.5W    95 KT

FORECASTER FRANKLIN

So we will sing – in a stadium. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

Axé.

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Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Chinoiserie

If I had time I would read all the contemporary Chinese novels discussed in the August 4/11 Nation. If you read the articles and then do a search on the book titles, you will see how famous each one is. I am interested in them because they sound interesting, but also because I kept hearing, in Peru, about the need to emulate China.

Peru is already very Chinese, by Bering Strait heritage and also because there has been so much immigration (to use a partial euphemism) since Abolition. But so much open, sanguine speech about further ecological depredation and general disregard for human life makes me wonder: how far down the path of destruction is Peru really willing to go, and how much further IS there to go? In other words, how truly bad do things get before death? In China, it appears, they get quite bad and death comes late. Yet it may be that these things are already happening in Peru and I have been shielded from them, and that the dark future I imagine for this country is with us now.

And yet other countries have gone much further, I know. And in Peru it is still possible to eat, and this is important, I know.

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The planet, in any case, is so close to seriously morphing that I really wonder: is the Chinese fiesta of dollars and yuan just an attempt to enjoy the last few decades we have to the fullest extent capitalism will permit? Or am I merely too unimaginative? Are we riding blindly on to thermal death, or do we actually know already how to create a sustainable postapocalyptic technoculture? I have heard that the industry in “climate ready” seeds (seeds which grow without water, in nutrient poor earth, and so on) is booming, and that patents are being taken out on these.

In any case I am very interested in these Chinese novels. Perhaps I should read just one, even though I “do not have time.” Reading for Pleasure Wednesdays are designed, after all, to cause me to read for pleasure. When this post comes up I shall choose at least one.

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Also available for stimulating and pleasurable reading is Ginmar’s post, via Jennifer, which raises various important topics. Among them: 1. Obama/Biden should point out that McCain owns more houses than he can count. 2 [and this really is the focus of the post]. A serious and complex discussion of hate speech and its ramifications. 3. A clear discussion of why feminism matters. 4. An explanation of the very important distinction between power and privilege. 5. A discussion of hate speech, xenophobia, and racism.

The post ends with an observation I’ve made, too, that English-only advocates are so often deficient in language and literacy skills themselves, and a question I am not sure how to answer. “So, what do we do? How do we talk about this?”

Axé.

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On Housekeeping, Hygiene, and the Medio Ambiente

The most difficult adjustment upon changing places from Latin America to the United States is that here, we are expected to flush toilet paper. It is sacrilege. You could ruin your plumbing system from here to Kingdom Come, and you can abandon all hope of ever decontaminating your waterways.

I was shocked in IAH to find that the Tampax waste container in the bathroom was so small – where were you to put toilet paper? I am practicing flushing it in the privacy of my home but I am very concerned about what I might be doing to my pipes and to our fisheries.

When I travel from here to the West Coast or to Mexico, I am always amazed by the opulence of everything, and by how relaxed everyone is because of this. Coming from Peru to Panama I experienced the same shock once, and it doubled upon arrival in Louisiana.

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I should stop being amazed, however. My student from New Jersey pointed out all the reasons why Louisiana is an inferior state, and he has me quite well convinced. Meanwhile, I looked up some information on Zimbabwe, one of the world’s most ruined countries with a lot of pollution, unemployment above 80%, and life expectancy in the mid thirties.

By these standards I should be more critical of Louisiana, which I have been painting as a paradise for several days, and less so of Peru, about which I have expressed horror for two months. On the world scale they are quite close together. In life expectancy, for example, the United States and Peru are only about 25 percentage points apart, in the middle and high middle of the world range.

And Lousiana ranks #49 in life expectancy among our disparate states, followed only by Mississippi and the District of Columbia. This brings us closer to Peru, where life lasts 68 years compared to our 74. And the official unemployment rate in Peru is less than twice ours (7.2% vs. 4.8% (U.S.) and 3.9% (LA), although much Peruvian employment is underemployment, and is severely underpaid).

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I went to Wal*Mart, where despite the horror of this company I sometimes go as an alternative when horrified by other stores and their prices. I always forget how long the lines are, and how slow. I realized again how efficient the old fashioned markets in Peru are, and how upscale my supermarket really was, with its well stocked shelves and checkout stands manned at all times.

While shopping and waiting in line I was observing people, who in especially this Wal*Mart are quite rough. My experience with the speech and mannerisms of prisoners suggested to me that some of these customers had done time. I thought back. I decided that a comparable group in Peru would look about the same. Slightly more hard bitten, but healthier. And they would be less raucous, because this is, after all, the United States, land of raucousness.

I did not understand all the in jokes being made. I remembered that one never understands everything, even in one’s native language.

Axé.

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