Archive for Walter Johnson

Strange Cotton

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2013 by rgwallace

Weighing cotton2Southern trees bear a strange fruit, / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. – Abel Meeropol (1936)

My momma was raised in the era when / Clean water was only served to the fairer skin / Doing clothes you would have thought I had help / But they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself… / I see the blood on the leaves. –Kayne West (2013)

Our political consciousness gestates early enough, perhaps in a rudimentary fashion as far back as the womb, but certainly on the playground and at the dinner table, daddy or mommy haranguing some politico. On the other hand, we also never really make it there. A 90-something I know, nodding out her window, copped to asking herself, Am I ever gonna figure that out?

Along the way there are revelations, some more trap doors than epiphanies. We learn history is both contingent and unexpectedly accumulative—shit happens in a growing pile—even as the pathways along which any set of circumstances converges aren’t always clear.

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Broiler Explosion

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by rgwallace

Broiler explosion8As early as the 1820s, high-pressure engines [on the Mississippi River] were technologically residual; they were dirtier and more dangerous than the low-pressure engines that were employed on steamboats elsewhere. They could, however, generate more power than low-pressure engines; they made it possible to run boats faster and harder–over sandbars, against the current, past the competition, and so on. They were also cheaper…That high-pressure engines were more likely to explode and faster boats more likely to sink when snagged were known risks, deliberately taken. Competition in the steamboat business spurred technological degradation rather than technological innovation. Danger was built into the boats. –Walter Johnson (2013)

A new influenza has spilled over from poultry in and around Shanghai. As of April 15, Chinese authorities have reported 60 human cases of H7N9 and 13 deaths. The most serious cases have suffered fulminant pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, multiorgan failure, rhabdomyolysis, and encephalopathy.

Virologist Richard Webby reports molecular adaptations suggesting the new variant is evolving toward human specificity. “This thing doesn’t any longer look like a poultry virus,” Webby said, “It really looks to me like it’s adapted in a mammalian host somewhere.”

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