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New Orleans Louisiana

 

Those of you who were watching the news in August 2005 will remember Hurricane Katrina and images of New Orleans underwater for weeks on end due to high rainfall; storm surge and inadequate levies.  When the levies broke around a thousand people were killed in the city, most of them poor and black. 

Reconstruction was a priority particularly in the iconic French Quarter a rectangular grid six blocks by twelve of historic buildings combining residential and commercial activities including a great number of art galleries several hotels some cafes and restaurants and in the famous Bourbon street a red light area with strip clubs and bars. At the time of our visit Bourbon street was being pulled up to improve the water supply and drainage and there was a 'boil water warning' for part of the time.

At regular intervals groups of buskers entertain the passers-by with New Orleans Jazz.  This varies in quality from excellent to: "please stop that tuneless racket". 

 


New Orleans Jazz - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

The city is blessed with several museums.  Principal among these is the huge National World War II museum near Lee Circle not far from our hotel.  We know quite a bit about WW2 so decided that given out time constraints The Museum of the Confederacy across the way could more relevant to the South and informative.

Lee Circle is of course named after Robert Edward Lee, the most successful of several very effective generals who commanded the armies of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  Until recently his statue stood atop a large column at the centre of the Circle, a la Nelson in Trafalgar Square.   But now all the Confederate generals have been removed from the city and reside together in a warehouse, from whence they may be sold to the highest bidder on condition that they will not be displayed in public ever again.

We wondered when the Museum, that has busts and portraits of these great men and that still proudly sells Lee dolls and tin soldiers, would be shut down, or at least get a name change.  History wars are afoot in this here town!

 


Confederate Memorial Hall and Civil War Museum just off Lee Circle or is it just 'Circle' now?

 

 

 

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Travel

Laos

 

 

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a communist country, like China to the North and Vietnam with which it shares its Eastern border. 

And like the bordering communist countries, the government has embraced limited private ownership and free market capitalism, in theory.  But there remain powerful vested interests, and residual pockets of political power, particularly in the agricultural sector, and corruption is a significant issue. 

During the past decade tourism has become an important source of income and is now generating around a third of the Nation's domestic product.  Tourism is centred on Luang Prabang and to a lesser extent the Plane of Jars and the capital, Vientiane.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

'Teddy, Teddy, I'm pregnant!
Never mind Mary Jo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'

 


So went the joke created by my friend Brian in 1969 - at least he was certainly the originator among our circle of friends.

The joke was amusingly current throughout 1970's as Teddy Kennedy again stood for the Senate and made later headlines. It got a another good run a decade later when Teddy decided to run against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Australia and Empire

 

 

 

The recent Australia Day verses Invasion Day dispute made me recall yet again the late, sometimes lamented, British Empire.

Because, after all, the Empire was the genesis of Australia Day.

For a brief history of that institution I can recommend Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Scottish historian Niall Campbell Ferguson.

My choice of this book was serendipitous, unless I was subconsciously aware that Australia Day was approaching.  I was cutting through our local bookshop on my way to catch a bus and wanted something to read.  I noticed this thick tomb, a new addition to the $10 Penguin Books (actually $13). 

On the bus I began to read and very soon I was hooked when I discovered references to places I'd been and written of myself.  Several of these 'potted histories' can be found in my various travel writings on this website (follow the links): India and the Raj; Malaya; Burma (Myanmar); Hong Kong; China; Taiwan; Egypt and the Middle East; Israel; and Europe (a number).  

Over the next ten days I made time to read the remainder of the book, finishing it on the morning of Australia Day, January the 26th, with a sense that Ferguson's Empire had been more about the sub-continent than the Empire I remembered.

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