Tuesday, November 27, 2012

* Fracking Ourselves


Monday, November 26, 2012

* Endurance

We forget that it is a miracle because  it is ubiquitous, but through the miracle of satellite transmission of television, I was able to be in Rome and watch Pope Benedict install six new cardinals  on Sunday. Not that I’m a Roman Catholic.  I’m a Black Protestant as my grandmother used to say.  But I love the Baldacchino and am amazed that any single individual could have access to it as the canopy for his personal throne.

Well, it is the Throne of St. Peter after all, and it is St. Peter’s Basilica, the chapel of  the pope.

In addition to the astonishing beauty of the setting, and the costumes of the clergy there was  a narration unpacking their significance: The biretta (three cornered hat) of the cardinal is bright red to signify the sacrifice of blood which the Crucifixion symbolizes  and which a cardinal might also be called upon to make---think Cardinal Romera, shot at the altar, or Pope John Paul II himself who was shot in a motorcade. That was big news. Lesser news was that the pope went to visit his would-be-assassin in jail and forgave him.  Symbolism isn’t news to the media, I guess.

The other remarkable thing about the ceremony is that it existed at all. The church was constructed from 1506-1623 and Bernini and Michaelangelo were two of its four primary designers. Not a bad architectural firm if you can get it.

I watched this ceremony in the 400 year old structure the same day an article appeared in the New York Times entitled           Is This the End?  predicting that in 20, 50 or 100 years, sooner or later, Manhattan will be under water.

It’s a good thing that Rome isn’t a port city I guess. But Italy is a pretty consistent site of earthquakes.

Nature doesn’t exempt art or architecture from her wrathful palette. She knows no "Renaissance masters" ---nor any other masters for that matter,  despite what man in his hubris, might think.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Putting it all together

In my birthplace,
The Elm City,
there are no elms.

Even Ithaca
cut hundreds 
when I was there  
at twenty.

on my daily drive
four decades later
has somehow saved
a dwindled dozen.

Now, 2012,
Thanksgiving Day night,
the news reports
an immigrant bug,
from Asia of course,
feasting in funereal crunch
on “our” Orange trees.

The night before,
The Dust Bowl
 “Half the Ogallala
aquifer has been 
used up.”

It will be gone
in 40 years.

We irrigate
and a billion

Moderns know too much.

Snakes, once pets, 
now 20 feet long,
some 200 pounds,
slither and copulate
unchecked in
southern grasses.

(Some say snakes  have 

even seized Guam 
in a war undeclared.)

The Red Pine is
repast for another
hungry invader.

The Jersey shore
and Manhattan
go under water
for a day as Sandy
has her windy way.

Swinging from
monkey to man,
winging worldwide,
first class and tourist,
a lethal vacationer,
HIV is now hosted 
by 31 million, 
many unknowing.

All the while
grows sixty feet
a summer season,
snakelike on its
smothering sunlight 

our children
numb themselves . . . .



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

* George Stoney: Father of Public Access TV


Recently I stumbled on the tribute to Geroge Stoney (link  above) on my local public access channel White River Junction, Vermont.

 At the end of the video a woman film-maker in the audience attributes the fact that her films are being shown at Yale to the film-making skills she learned at the public access channel (did I hear her say CCTV ?) which George Stoney founded, thereby beginning the whole public access TV movement.

I owe also debt of gratitude to my local public access TV station CATV8 which helped me put together many of the films on my YouTube channel. (highwatch1)

Many thanks to all the devoted staff a CATV8 in White River Junction, Vermont.

Monday, November 12, 2012

* The Twenty Dates: American Monuments

In a segment on “60 Minutes” last night 11/12/12, the great historian David McCullough declared  that we are “raising a generation of historical illiterates.”  He seemed to focus on American history.

As an example he cited a young, intelligent student on a mid-western campus who approached him after a lecture and “didn’t know that the Colonies were on the East Coast.”  

Ten years ago a survey found that 80 % of high school students didn’t know in what century the Civil War occurred.   This, it seems to me, can be explained quite easily as confusion over the wording of the question, not ignorance. How many 16 years olds think of themselves as being in their 17th year?

I propose that all public schools should have in their front lobby not the Ten Commandments, but the Twenty Dates.  After twelve years of walking through these lobbies students should be expected to know these dates cold.

Teachers can color-in the in-betweens as much as they want, but these dates should remain as Chronological Monuments in our history.


1.) 1693 Salem Witch Trials end theocracy in the Colony of Massachusetts

2.) 1776 Declaration of Independence issued

3.) 1789  The Constitution of the United States ratified

4.) 1863  The Emancipation Proclamation issued by Lincoln

5.) 1865  Civil War Ended / Lincoln assassinated

6.) 1879 Patent for the light bulb filed by Edison

7.) 1903 Human air flight achieved by Wright brothers

8.) 1908 Assembly-line auto production invented by Ford

9.) 1918 W W I ends followed by Treaty of Versailles

10.) 1929 The Stock Market crashes / Great Depression begins

11.) 1942 First dose of penicillin given in U.S. (Yale-New Haven Hospital)

12.)  1945 Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima /WW II ends

13.)  1951 First commercial computer produced (the UNIVAC)

14.)  1963 Kennedy assassinated

15.)  1965 Civil Rights Act  passed

16.)  1969 Man lands on the Moon, Apollo 11

17.)   Nixon resigns; first president to do so.

18.)  1995 The Internet is commercialized

19.)  2001 Manhattan’s Twin Towers destroyed by terrorists

20.) 2003 Human Genome Decoded

Wednesday, November 7, 2012