this week i

described the population of americans eligible for but not enrolled in health coverage under medicaid

flew to louis armstrong intl to drink corner store beers with jerome beneath flickering porchlight.  he recounted the chaos of vietnam, andy griffith's mayberry played on television.  waffle house dinner, octagonal overnight, elderly gentleman at grand hotel placed baseball cap on the floor and asked, "how 'bout a mimosa, heloise?"  milkshakes at the athletic fields of the university of south alabama (usa) then barbecue among bayside alumni



(1) famine in ethiopia

the punitive carthaginian operation

the shift from severe poverty to famine as like freezing water turning to ice: it's not just a lower temperature, but a change in state.  during the early stages of a food crisis, the graph of excess deaths resembles the foothills of a mountain range.  then comes a sudden, precipitous rise

war is primarily an intellectual activity

(2) edgar allan poe the scientist

an accidental voyage to the moon in a hot air balloon

in 1839 he wrote an illustrated taxonomy of seashells, the conchologist's first book, a school textbook that sold better in his lifetime than any of his subsequent works

(3) not the first archbishop of canterbury

becket and henry ii fell out in 1163 - over the primacy of church v. monarch - the dispute revolved around what was or wasn't written down

a fragment of becket's skull

henry ii made a barefoot pilgrimage to becket's tomb and been whipped before it by the monks

much to the consternation of the clergy, becket began rapidly to acquire a post-mortem celebrity.  townspeople who were in the cathedral at the time of his death instinctively dipped their handkerchiefs or fingers in the congealing blood.  taken home and diluted with water, it became a drink with powerful effects.  the paralysed walked, the blind saw, stillborn children were revived.  in effect, the laity invented a form of eucharist for themselves

(4) cali, branch office of heaven, salsa-protesta

ceibas, jacarandas, caracolis

guerrillas, industrialists, indigenous peoples, a shaky middle class, afro-colombians

the media most often show the anti-riot squads in their darth vader get-ups, the beatings and the shootings and the tear gas bursting into the air in great clouds.  what appears less often are the ecstatic marches that are also celebrations of being alive

(5) right-wing vigilantes have long been with us

you could hold an official-sounding rank, feel you were defending your country, and still come home for dinner

the genial senator warren harding, who campaigned for a "return to normalcy"

(6) the golden horde, the black sea to the pacific

the vast expanse of its sovereignty could be covered only on horseback

the mongol court never settled

hoarding was anathema.  there was no difference, declared one great khan, "between buried treasure and dust"

(7) nigeria wants the bronzes back

their ju-ju broken

in the edo language, sa-e-y-ama means both to make a bronze cast of and to remember

france should return to africa all 'objects taken by force or presumed to be acquired through inequitable conditions'

(8) who now has ever smlled the burning of a spermaceti candle or worn a baleen corset?

dead whales come apart as they drift downward to the ocean floor, a kind of spring rain of cetacean morsels falling into a barely imaginable biological zone, a realm of extremeophiles whose existence depends on that intermittent bounty from above..globally there may be nearly 700,000 whales "coming undone at this very moment."  in their afterlife, whales become something entirely different from the animals we yearn to know.  they turn into "decomposing ecosystems that amass, pulse, twitch, and dissolve"

(9) the hovering life of the hummingbird

equivalent to about 155,000 calories for a human-sized animals


(10) chinese factory workers follow a 996 schedule: 9am to 9pm six days per week