Hell and High Water. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country. It’s home to the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex, where billions of gallons of oil and dangerous chemicals are stored. And it’s a sitting duck for the next big hurricane. (Non-interactive text version)
"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
Khrushchev Tours America - His shoe banging incident at the UN and the the Kitchen Debates with Nixon are well known but less attention has been given to the time Nikita Khrushchev went to Hollywood. He met Marilyn Monroe and other film luminaries but he was denied a trip to Disneyland (previously). [more inside]
On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Texas - which had previously endured one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history: The 1900 Storm. The waters receded and life went on for most of the island's residents. The same was not true for the approximately 40,000 live oak trees which were killed in the area by the saltwater stormsurge, many of which were planted just after the hurricane that devastated the island in 1900. One by one, the trees died and had to be removed. Some residents refused to accept this, and instead hired artists to carve the now-dead trees into works of art. Some became sea birds. Some became angels. The trees outside the fire department became a dalmatian staring longingly at an uncapped fire hydrant. Others became frogs and dogs and squirrels. Mermaids and dolphins suddenly jumped out of asphalt and cement. Someone even decided that the town really needed a Tin Woodsman. Another person decided to have a geisha carved on their front lawn. I can only imagine that a very small art critic demanded that Spongebob Squarepants be carved on the side of his or her house. They range in size from 2' tall hoptoads to 20' tall eruptions of seabirds. And they're all on display for you to enjoy! See a list of sculptures here. And a suggested walking map to view the sculptures here. And a slideshow with many pictures of the sculptures here.
"Girl, he died a hero with tons of people loving him." A jack-of-all-trades worker from Florida came to Houston to help clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, and was killed while trying to save three dogs on a freeway. At first, it seemed the man, while praised as a local hero, and receiving tons of support in death from animal lovers, would remain an unknown loner in death as he had been in life. Then a Google search and an exchange of e-mails led one Houston woman to the man's daughter, living in Pittsburgh. The young woman had been searching for her father for thirteen years.
Has there been a media blackout in the wake of Hurricane Ike? The following remarkable exchange between a local reporter and TX Governor Rick Perry (during a press conference) regarding the restricted access to the Bolivar Peninsula suggests Federal officials have still not allowed news helicopters to view the devastation in that area. That the peninsula remains restricted for returning residents is perhaps understandable, given the destruction, but it is less clear why media access to the area should remain restricted.
Those who judge hurricane risk merely by their Saffir-Simpson category number (1-5) are not getting the entire picture. Another (coincidentally-named) IKE (Intergrated Kinetic Energy) proposes an improved method of classifying hurricanes, one that takes into account their size and separates the danger components of sea surge (which kills 9 out of 10 hurricane victims) and wind. By that measure, Hurricane Ike is the most dangerous storm in 40 years. Ike's path reminds many of the greatest natural disaster in U.S. History, the Great Hurricane of 1900 (91 minute History Channel video on Google) which killed thousands due mainly to the great sea surge. After that the 17' Galveston sea wall was built and it has never been topped since by hurricane waves. Hurricane Ike may change that as current wave heights (WVHT) being reported by buoy data in the vicinity of Ike are well over 20 feet. A computer-simulated "Hurricane Carly" shows the results of various sea surges for the Galveston area (with graphic graphics): Play with real-time data and forecasts for the western gulf with the experimental nowCoast.
Ukulele Ike. We know his quavering, tentative, high tenor voice from his voice work as Jiminy Cricket, but Cliff Edwards -- aka Ukulele Ike -- was much more than that. Wikipedia offers a brief introduction to the man, his life, his works, and his lonely death. But, to my tastes, the best introduction to this once hugely popular singer is the man's own voice (mp3 links).