Thursday, August 25, 2005
  Random

BRAC

The leftover media seem to be focusing on BRAC's decision to close Walter Reed Hospital.

Though I've been strongly opposed to closing many of the military bases on the list, I don't see the fuss about this one. Hospitals are not uniquely military; there are lots of civilian hospitals available. More importantly, there are plenty of empty beds at other VA Hospitals, and beds are far more interchangeable than firing ranges or ammunition storage areas.

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Operation

Also, what's wrong with labelling gravestones at Arlington Cemetery as "Operation"? That's how we label wars nowadays, so it's the simplest way to describe the time and place of service.

We would do better to return to accurate labels for the wars themselves, though. When Bush peculiarly gave the exact casualty figures a couple days ago, he announced "We have lost 1,864 members of our armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom".

What's an Enduring Freedom? I assume it was the Afghanistan war, but I don't recall hearing anyone except possibly Bush himself use the title. "Operation" formerly referred to a short campaign like the Normandy invasion (Operation Overlord), not an entire war.

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Prose

This is just the most breathtaking bit of writing I've encountered in quite a while. From the WPA Guide to Mississippi, a way of life condensed to one magnificently architected paragraph:


For us calendars are bits of advertisements that the storekeeper mails out about the time taxes are due. They are usually of oblong dimensions, with brightly colored Biblical pictures at the top and small neat pads of black numerals at the bottom. They are pretty and tasteful and fit to tack up in our bedrooms; but beyond that and the fact that our very hopeful imaginations may see in the receipt of one an indication of extended credit, they have little to do with our year. For, eating hog jowls and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day notwithstanding, our year neither begins with the first day of January nor ends with the last night of December. Our year begins with planting-time and ends with the gathering-in. Between those two extremes comes the hoeing-and-chopping season and a spell of laying-by. In all, this covers a period of about seven months -- from March, when the snowy white blooms of the cottonwood tree tell us not only to put our cottonseed in the ground, but, more happily, to resume our charging at the store, until sometime in September, when we pick, gin, and bale the soft white bolls we have raised, and are told in a way less subtle than by the receipt of a calendar to stop our charging at the store. Yet it is enough. It is a "year", and for us complete. Come the tenth of the month following and we will have weighed it, tagged it, and laid it quietly aside as having been simply "good" or "bad".


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Modern WPA

My favorite haunt on the Web (aside from the sleazy parts, of course) is one LiveJournal community of photographers. Rural Ruin gathers some pro and semi-pro chroniclers of local life and history. It's marred by a few Gothish fans of abandoned mental asylums, but those aren't the rule. Search especially for entries by a fellow using the name Wander. He may not be Walker Evans or Russell Lee, but he's mighty close.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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