One more place to lose your heart, or stir it, near San Francisco

September 20, 2010

Did I mention that San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world?

A lot of reasons.  My father had businesses there (1930s?).  My parents wooed in and around there.  Our Favorite Aunt Linda did well in the area (Marin County, but that just adds to the beauty).

I was accepted at Hastings College of Law.  We figured we had enough saved that we could either pay tuition at Hastings, and live on what Kathryn could earn, if she could get a job; or we could buy a house in the D.C. area, keep our jobs on Senate staff, and pay tuition.

We had a wonderful week in San Francisco getting no job interviews.  On our last night we found a Tower Record Store and stocked up (back in the days of vinyl) for the next four years at George Washington, and sadly left the city.  In a fit of irony, Tower Records opened a store across the street from GW’s law school two years later.

Earlier, after the 1976 elections, I hid out at Aunt Linda’s joint, Red Robin Catering, tending bar, washing dishes, washing a lot of lettuce, and generally trying to make a car payment and enjoy San Francisco.  She catered the opening of the Marin/San Francisco ferry, which meant more than a dozen trips overall, as I recall, serving champagne mostly.  Now I look back on how unfair it was that my youth did not include electronic cameras.

Early mornings — and there were more than a few — the city is just unsurpassed in beauty.  Cousin Steve pushed me out of bed to go see the Muir Woods at near dawn (I confess I did not go often enough).  Some nights I’d just cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge for the views.

Like this one, a composition from several shots from the same place, woven together with the wonders of electronic camera software:

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, and fog, from Marin County - Wikimedia image, panorama photo stitching by Mila Zinkova

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, and fog, from Marin County - Wikimedia image, panorama photo stitching by Mila Zinkova

It’s shot from Marin County, west of the Golden Gate Bridge, I think — that’s the North Tower of the bridge, with the Bay Bridge and the city of San Francisco in the background.

Discussion at Wikimedia:  Those are crepuscular rays coming through the trees.  There’s an SAT vocabulary word for you:  Crepuscular.

More crepuscular rays from Marin County, Wikimedia photo by Mila Zinkova

More crepuscular rays from Marin County, Wikimedia photo by Mila Zinkova

More:

  • More great shots of San Francisco at Heida Biddle’s Tales of 7, here, and especially here

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “273 words toward a new nation”

September 20, 2010

Librarians have it good, living among books.  Librarians at the Library of Congress have it best, with the amazingly complete collection of books, top-notch scholars, and just plain old curious stuff lying around.

Like copies of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Garry Wills argues that Lincoln rethought and recast America’s image in that speech, in less than two minutes — though it took a century before the recasting was complete.

The Library of Congress just has the history, and notes the power of the speech overall.


Still evil and wrong: McIlhinney still leads a cover up of malaria facts

September 20, 2010

U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) Project found this warehouse with 119 tons of leftover, surplus and expired DDT in Ethiopia. In total, PMI AIRS Progect found 930 tons of unused DDT in Ethiopia, in 1,600 tons of expired pesticides total. Other nations have other surplus DDT stocks. Africa never suffered a shortage of DDT.

U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) Project found this warehouse with 119 tons of leftover, surplus and expired DDT in Ethiopia. In total, PMI AIRS Progect found 930 tons of unused DDT in Ethiopia, in 1,600 tons of expired pesticides total. Other nations have other surplus DDT stocks. Africa never suffered a shortage of DDT.

Watch the video, and you can see God trying to stop her from talking, putting that frog in her throat.

Ann McIlhinney was wrong when she made the movie “Not Evil, Just Wrong,” and she’s still spreading false tales.  I found her diatribe, interestingly enough at a site called 2012 Doomsday Predictions.

I only respond to the first six minutes or so — you get the idea.  McIlhinney leaves no falsehood untold, no crazy charge not leveled at Rachel Carson and “environmentalists.”

Here’s the film clip of McIlhinney misleading the masses:

Here is my quick and dirty response:

1. Environmentalists are not calling for a ban on coal, oil or gas. Fear talk. Why would anyone tell such a whopping lie? How do we know the film lies? Who is this “environmentalist” they fear to name?

2. Rachel Carson was right — DDT kills ecosystems. Carson said we needed to restrict the use of DDT in order to keep it viable as a pesticide. But few listened (not McIlhinney, that’s for sure). Consequently, DDT became ineffective against mosquitoes that carry malaria, scuttling the World Health Organization’s ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria. Had that not happened, and had we eradicated malaria by 1975 as planned, millions of lives could have been saved. McIlhinney is the one with blood on her hands.

3. DDT has never been banned worldwide, was never banned in Africa, and is still used in those places it still works, under a special treaty signed in 2001. McIlhinney hopes you won’t know about that treaty, and fails to mention it herself. What’s she trying to hide?

4. Carson did not say DDT was the sole culprit for the decline of birds — but by 1962, it was the sole culprit preventing their recovery. Bald eagles and brown pelicans have come off the endangered species list, populations recovering in almost lock-step with the decline of DDT in the birds’ flesh — proof that Carson was right.

5. Under U.S. law, no agency could ban a useful pesticide without mountains of evidence that the pesticide was dangerous. Four separate court proceedings looked at DDT, two before the EPA acted, and two appeals after EPA banned DDT use on crops. All four courts found DDT to be dangerous and uncontrollable in the wild. The two appeals of EPA’s labeling change were both decided on summary judgment — the science was so powerfully on Carson’s side. In May 1963 the President’s Science Advisory Council reported on their fact checking of Carson’s book — they said Carson was dead right in everything but one: Carson was too easy on DDT. That panel, with its significant population of Nobel winners, called for quick action against DDT. Why doesn’t McIlhinney give the facts here?

6. The claim that EPA’s ban influenced WHO is pure bullfeathers. WHO had to end its malaria eradication campaign, using DDT, in 1965 — the mosquitoes were immune to the stuff. EPA didn’t act until seven years later, and EPA’s jurisdiction extends only to the borders of the U.S. In fact, EPA’s “ban” left DDT to be manufactured in the U.S. for export to Africa. Can’t McIlhinney read a calendar? The “ban” in 1972 did not travel back through time to stop WHO from using DDT. (For that matter, WHO never completely stopped DDT — wherever it could work, they used it, and still do.)

7. DDT has always been available for any government in Africa to use. What that guy in the film is really saying is racist: He’s claiming Africans were too stupid to use DDT, though it was cheap and available, and though it would save their lives. Don’t listen to him. Africans are not stupid: They’d use DDT were it effective and safe. Shame on McIlhinney for entertaining such a claim.

8. Malaria did not skyrocket after DDT was banned in the U.S. Mosquitoes don’t migrate that far. There was an uptick in malaria 20 years later, when the pharmaceuticals that cure malaria in humans, ceased to be effective.

But today, malaria rates are the lowest they’ve been in recorded history, and malaria death rates are the lowest they’ve been in human history. When the U.S. banned DDT spraying on cotton in 1972, about 2 million people a year died from malaria. Today, the death toll is under 900,000. Don’t be frightened or stampeded by erroneous, large figures.

In the end, we can’t poison Africa to health, and if we could, it would be immoral to do that instead of building health care to fight diseases.

Children die because hard-hearted politicos like Ann McIlhinney frustrate the work of malaria fighters, and mislead policy makers away from solutions that would save children’s lives.

Shame on her.


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