More Disaster

Spring's in the air, and I'm hot for melting icebergs. Here's where to get the Google Earth File, so you can actually understand what 7 times bigger than Manhattan looks like from space. And if you want real time disaster updates from around the world you absolutely need this plug-in. It's where I found out about this latest apocalyptic extinction wave:

Bats are dying off by the thousands as they hibernate in caves and mines around New York and Vermont, sending researchers scrambling to find the cause of mysterious condition dubbed "white nose syndrome." The ailment - named for the white circle of fungus found around the noses of affected bats - was first noticed last January in four caves west of Albany. It has now spread to eight hibernation sites in the state and another in Vermont. Alan Hicks, a bat specialist with New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, called the quick-spreading disorder the "gravest threat" to bats he had ever seen. Up to 11,000 bats were found dead last winter and many more are showing signs illness this winter. One hard-hit cave went from more than 15,000 bats two years ago to 1,500 now, he said. "We do not know what the cause is and we do not know how it was spread, either from cave to cave, or bat to bat," said Hicks. "You have this potential for this huge spread." The white fungus ring around bats' noses is a symptom, but not necessarily the cause. For some unknown reason, the bats deplete their fat reserves and die months before they would normally emerge from hibernation.

New York and Vermont environmental officials are asking people not to enter caves or mines with bats until researchers figure out how the infection is spread. There is no evidence it is a threat to humans, but officials want to take every precaution to avoid it spreading from cave to cave. Bats are considered particularly vulnerable when they hibernate, a time when they can hang together tightly by the thousands. Indiana bats, a federally endangered species, are considered particularly vulnerable, though the highest death count has been among little brown bats. Researchers with Cornell University and the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, are among those helping state environmental officials. The bat die-off has some eerie similarities with "colony collapse disorder," the baffling affliction that began decimating honeybee colonies years ago. Scientists last fall said they suspected a virus previously unknown in the United States. "I'm very concerned," Hicks said. "I can only hope that what we're seeing today will dissipate in the future." )

Good News Everyone!


Rev. Wright Taught Obama Mercerism in Chicago

From yesterday's Barack Obama's speech, 'A More Perfect Union:'

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters….And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

[Vid Link] [Transcript]
The speech is mind blowing, like his earlier speech on faith. It is an involved dissection of a complex situation and like nothing we've heard in years. Better than Bill Clinton. More Nixonian, more meta, more Hollywood. And certainly more Dick.


Olly-olly-olly-olly-olly-olly oxen free

I'll be seeing the Mountain Goats twice in the next two days. And that's a great thing. I'm very excited. I've been listening to a mix I made of all the songs about the Alpha Couple. It's rabid music. And with a textual depth that few of John Darnielle's contemporaries can match. Check out the FAQ on a fan site, helps appreciate the more complex aspects of his songwriting.

Good music can edify ones own cloudy feelings. Give form and meaning to what we think to be inexpressible. And also teach us. Ideas that have haunted those of other ages can be brought back to life by music. A great song is like a magic key that unlocks something that's always been inside you, waiting to come out and be understood.

quetzalcoatl comes through

he came spitting fire
on a day like no other
tried to hold you near to me
i heard him passing over
he made a banquet for the stray dogs of the air
he put our love in clear perspective

blue, red and green plumage
trailing behind him now
swaddling the sky in its aftermath
the last day coming down
he made a banquet for the stray dogs of the air
he put our love in clear perspective
rising, rising, rising, rising
From the Mountain Goats FAQ:
Quetzalcoatl, god of civilization (and chocolate!), was identified with the planet Venus and with the wind; he represented the forces of good and light pitted against those of evil and darkness, which were championed by Tezcatlipoca. According to one epic legend, Quetzalcoatl, deceived by Tezcatlipoca, was driven from Tula, the Toltec capital, and wandered for many years until he reached his homeland, the east coast of Mexico-where he was consumed by divine fire, his ashes turning into birds and his heart becoming the morning star. Another version has him sailing off to a mythical land, leaving behind the promise of his return.
quetzalcoatl is born

it's a cold night in sonora
and the stars are out in full force
it's a moment the world has been waiting for
when you set the world back on course
into the fire you go (2x)

it's a strange gathering around you
and the lord of the snails is born
five minutes before you take on divinity
you hear the crackling, well you hear the snapping corn
into the fire you go (4x)


Don't Drink the Water

It's too late to protect your POE. Your water is poisoned. It's another super-villain strike against us in the real world, the place once thought safe from their antics. Now the drugs used by some in the city, are taken by all. So it stands to reason that soon people living in different cities will begin to mutate in different directions. It's not something Dr. Charles Xavier ever wrote about, but maybe mutants will be regional and clannish. We'll see, and as long as we have humor like Tom Lehrer's even nuclear Armageddon seems manageable.