The Politics of Energy

I try pretty hard not to write about politics overmuch, it angers and tires me, and I suspect it does the same to you, especially this year, when the noise level decidedly indicates hearing protection, much like an unmuffled chainsaw. Still, it matters, so let’s let Bill Whittle tell us why.

Don’t be this woman!

via Dealing With Women

Let it Burn!

By Davide Roveri  @DavideRoveri‏ via Twitter

And so 350 years ago, yesterday, the King’s baker in London, did not properly attend to putting his oven out, and London burned. Thus the Great Fire of London. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary…

Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast today, Jane called up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose, and slipped on my night-gown and went to her window, and thought it to be on the back side of Mark Lane at the farthest; but, being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off, and so went to bed again, and to sleep. . . . By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down tonight by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower; and there got up upon one of the high places, . . .and there I did see the houses at the end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side . . . of the bridge. . . .

So down [I went], with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it began this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding Lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus’s Church and most part of Fish Street already. So I rode down to the waterside, . . . and there saw a lamentable fire. . . . Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies, till they some of them burned their wings and fell down.

Having stayed, and in an hour’s time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody to my sight endeavouring to quench it, . . . I [went next] to Whitehall (with a gentleman with me, who desired to go off from the Tower to see the fire in my boat); and there up to the King’s closet in the Chapel, where people came about me, and I did give them an account [that]dismayed them all, and the word was carried into the King. so I was called for, and did tell the King and Duke of York what I saw; and that unless His Majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire. They seemed much troubled, and the King commanded me to go to my Lord Mayor from him, and command him to spare no houses. . . .

[I hurried] to [St.] Paul’s; and there walked along Watling Street, as well as I could, every creature coming away laden with goods to save and, here and there, sick people carried away in beds. Extraordinary goods carried in carts and on backs. At last [I] met my Lord Mayor in Cannon Street, like a man spent, with a [handkerchief] about his neck. To the King’s message he cried, like a fainting woman, ‘Lord, what can I do? I am spent: people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses, but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it.’ . . . So he left me, and I him, and walked home; seeing people all distracted, and no manner of means used to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tar, in Thames Street; and warehouses of oil and wines and brandy and other things.

The city was, of course, a tinderbox, being built of half-timbered buildings, covered in pitch, and with thatch roofs. And in fact, fires had become common since the invention of the chimney in Tudor times. But I can’t think of one between London, in the 13th century, and Chicago in the 1870s that so caught the imagination or  was quite so fearsome.

Last night (local time) London commemorated it with the burning of a mock up on the Thames. It was quite the sight itself. One could pretty much imagine what it must have been like, and watching Old St. Paul’s collapse, was quite moving. I’m inclined to think, they talked too much on the live feed, but still, it was much better than merely hearing about it.

As Rebecca Rideal noted here, 1665 was not a great year for England. It started off with a naval defeat from France, continued with the last outbreak of The Plague, and then this. One of the things I do like about this video, and British TV in general, is that they have a group of actual historians (and good ones, as well) who do a fair amount of presenting, you saw several of them in this video.

A spectacular, and moving, commemoration of one of history’s magnificent, and terrible tragedies. Well done.

In the Rear View Mirror (Redux)

Speaking of the UChicago and such things always makes me a bit nostalgic for the Region, and I’m just going to go with it today. It seems we run this article every once in a while, and I like it. As Mary Hopkins sang long ago, “Those were the Days”.

Well, it’s been an interesting week, hasn’t it. But it’s Saturday and we’re going to forget about it for now. Remember back when we were in school, and the closest we came to paying attention was hearing that somebody’s older brother had been drafted and hoping they wouldn’t be off for the Nam? Pretty good days they were. I grew up in Northwest Indiana, yeah the part of the state called the Region, Yup, like a few other bloggers you might know of, I’m a Region Rat, and we were and are damned proud of it too.

It was called that because of our heavy industry, you wouldn’t be wrong if you read that as the steel mills. We all knew people who worked at USS, or Inland, or even at the new Bethlehem works. I can still smell it in memory and I can still see the flaring stacks lining the lakeshore, there was little like it west of Pittsburgh. Where I grew up you could watch the coal drags come in on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and if you knew where you could see the ore ships come in from the Missabe on the lake. If you didn’t know, that what the Edmund Fitzgerald was.

And that was what a lot of our folks did for a living, steel, American steel. Most of it went to Detroit, to make American cars, first by rail and finally by what were called Michigan Trains, semis (doubles and triples, mostly) that couldn’t go anywhere else other than that piece of I 94 between Gary and Detroit, because they were so heavy that they would destroy any other road. Out where I was, was a bit too far out to commute, mostly though in those days.

My first ride

My first ride

Most of my buddies were and are farmers, the other great Indiana industry, once clay tile had been invented and the swamps drained. Before it was dredged the Kankakee river had occasionally flooded itself 20-40 miles wide, and it made wonderful farmground in the floodplain, once it dried out enough to work.

But none of that mattered to us kids, sure most of us worked, usually for our parents at least from junior high on, but there was time for sports, girls, and fun. Given that this is Indiana, the sport was basketball, and specifically high school basketball. Texas may love high school football but, Indiana high school basketball was the closest thing to a secular religion any body was ever going to see.

My high school was a good example, we were one of the waves of township consolidations in the early 60s, when I was there, our enrollment was about 250 or so in high school, our gym seated 2300 and had never not been sold out for a home game. Of course, it helped that we were pretty good, in the first four years of that gym, we lost two home games, both in overtime, by a total of four points. And every year we were the Sectional runner-up to Michigan City Elston, the largest school in the state, one year by 15 points. they won the State that year, Indiana didn’t used to do effete snobbery like classes in basketball.

If you’d like to know more about that, find the movie Hoosiers, it’s based on a true story, the 1952 Milan team, who beat South Bend Central. By the way, if you do, that fieldhouse they’re paying he final in, it’s the Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, and it was built mostly for the State finals. Once the tournament moved beyond the Sectionals, it was all held in College venues, Purdue, Indiana, and Notre Dame among them. Tickets were simply unavailable. And if that wasn’t enough, there was always Branch McCracken and the “Hurrying Hoosiers” or Purdue alum John Wooden, out at UCLA.

And after those games there was often a sock hop, and while sometimes there was a DJ, there was always a live band, and some of those DJ’s you’re going to meet here today. Why? Because Chicago was a huge music center in the 60s. You see in those days we all listened to AM radio, FM barely existed, and even 8 tracks were uncommon (and expensive). By the way did you know that for a few years you could buy a record player that mounted under your car dash-they actually worked pretty well, too.

But those AM radio stations, in Chicago there were two who did what we would call top 40 now, although then it was more just plain current rock, both 50,000-watt clear channel stations. Anybody that was around can tell you about WLS and WCFL even all these years later. They were part of our life, back and forth we went, second button on the car radio was usually LS and third CFL. Like all the early American call letters, they meant something, WLS stood (originally) for the World’s Largest Store (Sears Roebuck and Co.) and WCFL for the Chicago Federation of Labor.

The clear channel thing meant that in North America there was no other station on that frequency, 890 and 1000 Kilocycles/second (hertz) respectively. Especially at night, you could hear them from Pittsburgh to Denver, and down to the Gulf of Mexico, depending on some variables. And those bands I mentioned, I’ll be you’ve heard of some of them, here, let’s let them talk for themselves

But like Bob Sirott said there, it didn’t last all that long, when I was in college we started listening to the FM album-oriented rock stations, although like he said, Chicago came with us, that was about it, although that was a lot.

This is what it sounded like

But like all good things, one afternoon the music died, here’s Superjock, Larry Lujack himself to officiate

Good days they were


Former NFL coach Buddy Ryan dies at age 85

81369015-chicago-bears-defensive-coordinator-buddy-ryan-super-bowl-xx-850x560A sad day indeed. I think all of us remember if we’re old enough when pro football was fun. Yeah, we all cared you who won and lost, that’s what competition is all about but we also knew that other things were more important than football. I grew up around Chicago, in Northwest Indiana, and I can remember a bunch of us who played high school football, going down to Rensselaer, Indiana to watch the Bears summer camp. I can also remember Walter Peyton, Sweetness himself, running up and down the dunes at Dunes State Park, in full pads, for hours. If you wonder why his knees held out for all those years, well, a lot of it was conditioning.

But in ’85, as we watched daBears, we had a saying, “If they don’t score, we can’t lose”. We said that because the Bears had quite likely the best defense ever seen, anywhere, and a lot of that was Buddy Ryan. Yep, he had trouble getting along with Ditka. Talk about two strong personalities yoked unwillingly together! But they managed, somehow.

And the lessons they taught, first they taught us to work hard and win, that we had to really want to succeed, and do it right, and with discipline and teamwork. They also taught us to relish the fight and to have fun while we did it. Looking back, there was something very American indeed, about that team, some of them just plain didn’t like each other, but when the ball kicked off, that simply didn’t matter, it was time to play the game, and to win it. A lesson many of us need to learn again. It wouldn’t hurt if we also relearned the lesson about leaving the game on the field.

Buddy died last Tuesday, from cancer, and something in me died with him. When I played the game, I was a defensive tackle, and watching how his teams did it was inspirational.


Oklahoma born and bred, Ryan entered the coaching profession in 1961 with the University of Buffalo following his service in the military. From there, a career as a defensive troubadour began, winding its way through New York, Minnesota, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Arizona.

“Without Buddy Ryan … I’m just a guy,” legendary Bears linebacker Mike Singletary said on an ESPN documentary about the 1985 Bears. “He’s someone that you meet, and you think he’s the toughest, meanest guy that you’ll ever meet. But he loves you. He just doesn’t know how to express it. But you know it when he looks at you.”

Added Mike Ditka, the head coach of the 1985 Bears, on Tuesday morning: “Buddy was such an integral part of the Chicago Bears and the ’85 Bears, it was unbelievable.

“There’s no way we win anything without that defense, without his coaching and I think everybody understands that. We won because of our defense, we can never forget that. That’s just the way it was.”

Ryan turned conventional football wisdom on its head early on in his career. He never understood the coddling of NFL quarterbacks, and famously surmised that “a quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back.” He believed that quarterbacks made too much money, attracted too much attention and acted with an unfair sense of entitlement — and he spent nearly his entire career torturing them.

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey issued the following sentiment:

“Buddy Ryan was the architect of the greatest defense our league has seen. He was brilliant when it came to the X’s and O’s of the game, but what made him special was his ability to create an unwavering confidence in the players he coached. From the day he was hired in 1978, his defenses bought into more than the scheme, they bought into him and took on his personality. Buddy was brash, intelligent and tough. He was a perfect match for our city and team, which is why George Halas took the extraordinary step of keeping him at the behest of his defensive players while transitioning to a new coaching staff in 1982. We will always be grateful for Buddy’s contribution to the Bears. He is one of the team’s all-time greats. Our prayers are with his family.”

via Former NFL coach Buddy Ryan dies at age 85 –

So are mine, He was one of the greats, to be associated in our minds forever with the likes of Sweetness, Papa Bear, Ditka, Mike Singletary, and the rest of those guys who we simply loved watching, and you know, we met a surprising number of them, and they were pretty great guys as well. And even more, they gave back to the community, and they had fun through it all.

See your later, Coach, and rest in peace.

Guns, Islam, and Orlando, and a note on Brexit

A note if you haven’t heard: Brexit won, everywhere but London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and fairly decisively. I’m not going to say any more because Jess and I both cared very much about this, and we disagreed, and we agreed not to gloat, whoever won.

So, while we all catch our breath, perhaps some Bill Whittle on Orlando. There are some quite graphic images in the video, so be warned, but then again that’s how life is, as well.

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