Republicans are meeting in Dallas . . .

June 11, 2010

Sounds like the opening line to a good joke, or to a tragedy.

Sara Ann Maxwell sends along this story she found in a comment at Crooks and Liars:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

“She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be an Obama Democrat.”

“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”

The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Republican.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it’s my fault.”

The real question you might be asking yourself right now is why was the man in a boat?  You understand, as a map savvy person, that 31 degrees 14.97 minutes North and 100 degrees 49.09 minutes West puts the balloon about 20 miles southwest of San Angelo, Texas, probably still in the city limits of Mertzon, Texas, just off U.S. Highway 67.  He’s a few miles west of any significant boat-supporting body of water.

Check it out for yourself on iTouch Maps.

Don’t let that detract from the joke.  Just consider that the woman was trying to meet up with friends attending the Texas Republican Convention this weekend in Dallas.

Balloon Crash, image from Dave Statter, WUSA9

Balloon Crash, image from Dave Statter, WUSA9


Dan Valentine – Lorelei call of the epistolary

June 11, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Another in the “Dan Valentine – Where are you?” series

I took a couple of days off from writing a piece or three here to ponder what I’m doing. What am I writing? A one-man show, a musical, first draft of a novel or an autobiography, scribblings for therapy, etc. Gods knows! I now believe She does.

I’m writing an “epistolary”.

Theodore Von Holst Frontispiece to Mary Shelley, Frankenstein published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831 - Tate Gallery image

Theodore Von Holst - Frontispiece to Mary Shelley, Frankenstein - published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831 - Tate Gallery image

Wikipedia: … a piece written as a series of documents. Letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings.

Mary Shelley used the epistolary form for her novel “Frankenstein”.

Bram Stoker used the form for “Dracula”, and is compiled entirely of letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, ship’s logs and the like.

Frankenstein and Dracula. Both of ‘em horror stories. Both of ‘em epistolaries. (So, too, have the last year or so of my life, in large part. Sounds like a match made in heaven or hell.)

So, the answer is: I’m writing an epistolary. Pieces written for this website, comments from readers, e-mails, Facebook messages, lyrics, notes for novels, sit-coms, plays, etc. – hoping some day down the road it will all come together and make some sort of sense.

I’m calling it: “Dan Valentine–where are you?” (Don’t ask me how I came up with it, it just hit me in the middle of the night. It has a ring to it! And it says it all.

Thanks for the title, Ed.

My sister, Valerie, sent me a message through Facebook a few weeks ago. She wrote: “Danny, I know you like adventure but why Mexico?”

I “do” like an adventure! I’ve followed the call of the Lorelei most all my life.

Wikipedia: Lorelei is the name of one the beautiful Rhine maidens who, according to legend, sat upon a rock and lured sailors from passing ships to their doom with her alluring singing, much like the Sirens of ancient Greek myth.

I’ve been lured many times by her call.

As a result, all my cargo is strewn along the shores of a dump site outside Houston somewhere, seagulls peeking at a poem or two, I wrote, and giving his or her editorial comment with a plop of poop!

A few follow the Siren’s call. Most don’t. They have homes, careers, possessions, families, friends. But all, I’m sure, have heard her call … in the middle of the night; at a business conference; on the shore of a beach, sunning …

Why Mexico? ‘Cuz I don’t have the funds or fare to get myself to Katmandu!

COME WITH ME, SAID SHE
(c) 2010 Daniel Valentine

COME WITH ME, SAID SHE,
And we will stick decals on our suitcases
From enchanted lands and places,
Fabled and far-flung.

COME WITH ME, SAID SHE,
And we will barter with those selling vases,
Tapestries, silks, beads, and laces–
Tarry there among.

And, though, he wanted to,
Said he, I’ve crucial work to do–
Faxes, stacked, to sort and shuffle;
Packets, filled with things and stuff, ‘ll
Never get to if I come with you.

COME WITH ME, SAID SHE,
And we will climb steps to stone Buddha faces,
Mingle with the many races,
Glean the native tongue.

And, though, he wanted to,
Said he, I’ve vital work to do–
Post-it notes with folks to dial;
Piles of files, a mile high, ‘ll
Never get to if I come with you.

So, one day without compass,
GPS device, or chart,
With little but a carry-
On, her passport, and his heart–
And oh yes! That little black dress!–
She kissed him sweetly, waved goodbye.
He watched her plane depart.

Come to me, wrote she,
Upon a postcard of some isle oasis,
Signed: With love, with lipstick traces.
P.S.: While you’re young.

And, though, he wanted to,
Wrote he, I’ve urgent work to do–
Snakes in suits to slew in battle
For a corner office that ‘ll
Never sit in if I come to you.

Now, with that corner office
Overlooking Broad and Wall,
Though, happy and now married
With three kids, a dog, and all–
And oh yes! That Park Ave. address!–
He oftentimes, in dark of night,
Will hear the Siren call:

Come to me, says she,
To Katmandu where, just a few short paces,
Gurus chant in temple spaces,
Golden gongs are rung.

Come to me!
Come to me!
Come to me!
Come to me!

Sunset in Katmandu - RMI Guides photo

Sunset in Katmandu - RMI Guides photo


Does Africa Fighting Malaria actually fight malaria?

June 11, 2010

This spring’s publication of a book, The Excellent Powder, by Richard Tren and Donald Roberts, repeating most of the false claims about malaria and DDT, got me wondering. Their organization, Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM):

Does AFM do anything to fight malaria? At its own website it makes some astoundingly grandiose claims:

In its seven years of operation, AFM has helped transform malaria control by taking on and turning around failing public health institutions, donor agencies and governments.

Offhand I can’t think of any public health institution AFM has even been involved with, other than its undeserved criticism of the World Health Organization — and if anyone knows of any donor agency or government AFM has “turned around,” the history books await your telling the story.

Africa Fighting Malaria springs to life every year around World Malaria Day, April 25, with editorials claiming environmentalists have killed millions. AFM seems to be one of the sources of the bizarre and false claim that Rachel Carson is a “mass murderer.” AFM makes noise whenever there is difficulty getting a DDT spraying campaign underway in any part of Africa, for any reason, quick to lay the blame on environmentalists, even though the blame generally rests in other places. AFM is quick on the draw to try to discredit all research into DDT that suggests it poses any health threat, though so far as I can tell AFM has published no counter research, nor has it conducted any research of its own.

In its 2009 Annual Report, AFM proudly states “AFM is the only advocacy group that routinely supports IRS [Indoor Residual Spraying] and through its advocacy work defends the use of DDT for malaria control.”

Cleverly, and tellingly, they do not reveal that IRS in integrated vector (pest) management is what Rachel Carson advocated in 1962, nor do they mention that it is also supported by the much larger WHO, several nations in Africa, and the Gates Foundation, all of whom probably do more to fight malaria when they sneeze that AFM does intentionally.

Google and Bing searches turn up no projects the organization actually conducts to provide bed nets, or DDT, or anything else, to anyone working against malaria. I can’t find any place anyone other than AFM describes any activities of the group.

AFM has impressive video ads urging contributions, but the videos fail to mention that nothing in the ad is paid for by AFM, including especially the guy carrying the pesticide sprayer.

Looking at the IRS Form 990s for the organization from 2003 through 2008 (which is organized in both the U.S. and South Africa), it seems to me that the major purpose of AFM is to pay Roger Bate about $100,000 a year for part of the time, and pay Richard Tren more than $80,000 a year for the rest of the time.

Can anyone tell me, what has Africa Fighting Malaria ever done to seriously fight malaria? One could make the argument that if you sent $10 to Nothing But Nets, you’ve saved more lives than the last $1 million invested in AFM, and more to save lives than AFM in its existence.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula and Antievolution.org, even though AFM wasn’t what they were targeting.

Update: Tim Lambert at Deltoid sent some traffic this way, which caught the attention of Eli Rabett, which reminded me that there really is more to this story about Africa Fighting Malaria, and you ought to read it at Deltoid and Rabett’s warren.

Formatting issues More (updated September 24, 2013):


Does Africa Fighting Malaria actually fight malaria? (format fix)

June 11, 2010

[Editor’s note: This post is an attempt to fix a formatting error in the earlier post with the almost-same headline, which has some corruption in it I have been unable to find or fix, but which renders the text almost unreadable.  My apologies.  Have not yet figured out how to move comments, alas; check the old post.]

This spring’s publication of a book, The Excellent Powder, by Richard Tren and Donald Roberts, repeating most of the false claims about malaria and DDT, got me wondering. Their organization, Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM):

Does AFM do anything to fight malaria? At its own website it makes some astoundingly grandiose claims:

In its seven years of operation, AFM has helped transform malaria control by taking on and turning around failing public health institutions, donor agencies and governments.

Offhand I can’t think of any public health institution AFM has even been involved with, other than its undeserved criticism of the World Health Organization — and if anyone knows of any donor agency or government AFM has “turned around,” the history books await your telling the story.

Africa Fighting Malaria springs to life every year around World Malaria Day, April 25, with editorials claiming environmentalists have killed millions.  AFM seems to be one of the sources of the bizarre and false claim that Rachel Carson is a “mass murderer.”  AFM makes noise whenever there is difficulty getting a DDT spraying campaign underway in any part of Africa, for any reason, quick to lay the blame on environmentalists, even though the blame generally rests in other places.  AFM is quick on the draw to try to discredit all research into DDT that suggests it poses any health threat, though so far as I can tell AFM has published no counter research, nor has it conducted any research of its own.

In its 2009 Annual Report, AFM proudly states “AFM is the only advocacy group that routinely supports IRS [Indoor Residual Spraying] and through its advocacy work defends the use of DDT for malaria control.”

Cleverly, and tellingly, they do not reveal that IRS in integrated vector (pest) management is what Rachel Carson advocated in 1962, nor do they mention that it is also supported by the much larger WHO, several nations in Africa, and the Gates Foundation, all of whom probably do more to fight malaria when they sneeze that AFM does intentionally.

Google and Bing searches turn up no projects the organization actually conducts to provide bed nets, or DDT, or anything else, to anyone working against malaria.  I can’t find any place anyone other than AFM describes any activities of the group.

AFM has impressive video ads urging contributions, but the videos fail to mention that nothing in the ad is paid for by AFM, including especially the guy carrying the pesticide sprayer.

Looking at the IRS Form 990s for the organization from 2003 through 2008 (which is organized in both the U.S. and South Africa), it seems to me that the major purpose of AFM is to pay Roger Bate about $100,000 a year for part of the time, and pay Richard Tren more than $80,000 a year for the rest of the time.

Can anyone tell me, what has Africa Fighting Malaria ever done to seriously fight malaria?

One could make the argument that if you sent $10 to Nothing But Nets, you’ve saved more lives than the last $1 million invested in AFM, and more to save lives than AFM in its existence.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula and Antievolution.org, even though AFM wasn’t what they were targeting.

_____________
Update: Tim Lambert at Deltoid sent some traffic this way, which caught the attention of Eli Rabett, which reminded me that there really is more to this story about Africa Fighting Malaria, and you ought to read it at Deltoid and Rabett’s warren.

More (updated September 24, 2013):


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