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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

Spain and Portugal

 

 

Spain is in the news.

Spain has now become the fourth Eurozone country, after Greece, Ireland and Portugal, to get bailout funds in the growing crisis gripping the Euro.

Unemployment is high and services are being cut to reduce debt and bring budgets into balance.  Some economists doubt this is possible within the context of a single currency shared with Germany and France. There have been violent but futile street demonstrations.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Australia in the 1930s

 

 

These recollections are by Ross Smith, written when he was only 86 years old; the same young man who subsequently went to war in New Britain; as related elsewhere on this website [read more...].  We learn about the development of the skills that later saved his life and those of others in his platoon.  We also get a sense of what it was to be poor in pre-war Australia; and the continuity of that experience from the earlier convict and pioneering days from which our Australia grew.                   *

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Opinions and Philosophy

Science, Magic and Religion

 

(UCLA History 2D Lectures 1 & 2)

 

Professor Courtenay Raia lectures on science and religion as historical phenomena that have evolved over time; starting in pre-history. She goes on to examine the pre-1700 mind-set when science encompassed elements of magic; how Western cosmologies became 'disenchanted'; and how magical traditions have been transformed into modern mysticisms.

The lectures raise a lot of interesting issues.  For example in Lecture 1, dealing with pre-history, it is convincingly argued that 'The Secret', promoted by Oprah, is not a secret at all, but is the natural primitive human belief position: that it is fundamentally an appeal to magic; the primitive 'default' position. 

But magic is suppressed by both religion and science.  So in our modern secular culture traditional magic has itself been transmogrified, magically transformed, into mysticism.

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