This mordant, trenchant commentary from

FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2011

Nuclear Meltdowns 101

I am no nuclear expert, and that is probably a good thing. I did do a lot of reading about Chernobyl back when it happened. And now I am, as I was then, and as I am sure many of you are, getting really fed up with incomplete, inaccurate, misleading and generally unsatisfactory explanations that are being offered for what is going on at Fukushima. Either information is not available, or it is a flood of largely irrelevant technical minutia designed to thrill nuclear nerds but bound to bamboozle rather than inform the general reader. And so, for the sake of all the other people who aren’t nuclear experts and have no ambition of ever becoming one, here’s what I have been able to piece together.

Read the rest of this entry »


So there’s this book of essays by Michael Ventura, with photos by Butch Hancock, called If I Was a Highway, published by Texas Tech University Press (, or It’s a hardcover,  7.5 x 9.5 inches, 236 pages, $30 but you can get it at Amazon for $22.


* * *


Back in the 1980s, while reviewing books for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, I came across Shadow Dancing in the USA by this guy I’d never heard of. I read it enthralled, and gave it a good review which unfortunately didn’t see the light of day for nearly a year, thus doing the publisher no good at all) and from that moment added Michael Ventura to my look-for list. Of course, that was back before the days of internet searches, and Amazon and Alibris and Powell’s online and so forth.


Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Ventura’s “Letters at 3AM” column for the Austin Chronicle:

The Inevitability of the Unexpected

The unexpected always happens


Rule 1: The unexpected always happens.

It is never possible to foretell every possibility.

Rule 2: Safety is not a human option.

To call anything “safe” is only to state that it is safe relative to what is expected. But sooner or later, Rule 1 soars in with the unexpected.

Rule 3: History always misbehaves.

“History” is commonly defined as the past, but really, it is a mode of behavior, the collective behavior of human beings romping with one another and with the planet. History is a continuous interaction in the unavoidable present: intense, ongoing, multi, always defying expectations, one surprise after another.

Read the rest of this entry »

The daily SchwartzReport is a roundup of a few things that editor Stephan Schwartz finds most interesting. There’s nearly always something there that appeals, such as this one which  originally appeared in Slate. Says Schwartz:

Here is an excellent summary of a little known, but important, part of North American history. Much of what most Americans believe about the First Americans — theirs was a peaceful Utopian world — is simplistic fantasy and nonsense. Just because these First Americans did not leave writing their cultures should not be seen as simple, and they should not be seen as a different order of people from other humans. As in so many other areas what is needed is the clarity of facts, whic! h is why I publish reports such as this one.

America’s Ancient Cave Art


Over the past few decades, in Tennessee, archaeologists have unearthed an elaborate cave­art tradition thousands of years old. The pictures are found in dark­ zone sites-places where the Native American people who made the artwork did so at personal risk, crawling meters or, in some cases, miles underground with cane torches-as opposed to sites in the “twilight zone,” speleologists’ jargon for the stretch, just beyond the entry chamber, which is exposed to diffuse sunlight. A pair of local hobby cavers, friends who worked for the U.S. Forest Service, found the first of these sites in 1979. They’d been exploring an old root cellar and wriggled up into a higher passage. The walls were covered in a thin layer of clay sediment left there during long­ ago floods and maintained by the cave’s unchanging temperature and humidity. The stuff was still soft. It looked at first as though someone had finger­painted all over, maybe a child-the men debated even saying anything. But the older of them was a student of local history. He knew some of those images from looking at drawings of pots and shell ornaments that emerged from the fields around there: bird men, a dancing warrior figure, a snake with horns. Here were naturalistic animals, too: an owl and turtle. Some of the pictures seemed to have been first made and then ritually mutilated in some way, stabbed or beaten with a stick.
That was the discovery of Mud Glyph Cave, which was reported all over the world and spawned a book and a National Geographic article. No one knew quite what to make of it at the time. The cave’s “closest parallel,” reported the Christian Science Monitor, “may be caves in the south of France which contain Ice Age art.” A team of scholars converged on the site.
Read the rest of this entry »

Medicines of Light

March 18, 2011

If you have come to this blog from my other blog, probably you already know about today’s posting, which passes on Tom Kenyon’s message about a method of personal protection from radiation and other health hazards.

If not, I strongly urge you to look at it.



Bartleby the Sportscaster

March 17, 2011

“Bartleby the Scrivener” is among my favorites of Herman Melville’s work, and  it has an  underground popularity that seem to be continually spreading. This review of a new takeoff is from Rain Taxi.

What’s new

March 17, 2011

I’m old enough to remember, as well. This is  from

MARCH 17, 2011

What’s new with me

Sam Smith

One of the ways that bad policies, ideas, and values spread is because the system, especially the media, portrays them as normal. One of the ways one knows this to be untrue is to be old enough to remember when life was different.

I’ve been jotting down things of a political, social and economic nature that have been happening lately for the first time or in record quantity since I covered my first Washington story 54 years ago. Here are a few of the things that are new with me:
Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: