1. Lost Civilization, Vortex to Parallel Universe, Mirage, or Poor Journalism?

    This video is making the rounds as a reported lost civilization, vortex to a parallel universe or just a mirage. According to the report from Britain’s ITN, a lush skyline appears on the horizon over the Xin’an River where no buildings exist in Huangshan. The tin foil hat crowd is reporting it as all kinds of things such as “Project Blue Beam” or a parallel universe appearing in our universe.

    Fox News has picked up this story as well as Huffington Post and The Western Australian.

    Project Blue Beam is the alleged NASA backed project to create a ‘New World Order’ through projecting perfect holograms of artificial spiritual messiahs. Because NASA has a dwindling budget between budget cuts, landing autonomous robots on other planets and trying to maintain a manned space program I doubt this allows them funds to do batshit crazy stuff like that.

    While it would be fun that David Deutsch and Archibald Wheeler‘s ideas of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Broken down crudely their theories state that its possible for every quantum event, another universe exists where that quantum event happens differently. A waveform collapses to a different state. Possible? Perhaps. Seeing a ghost city as a result? Not very probable.

    I’ll have to defer to homeboy Carl Sagan in that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    Then there is the mirage theory. While ITN claims this is the case, they leave out the big reason of “why?” Is there a city nearby with buildings like this? Has this happened before? Who took the video? Are there more videos? No real answers. Landing this case squarely in the case of poor journalism.

    Fortunately, YouTube user rulesofethics has answered those questions in the video below. He even gives the Google Earth coordinates:

  2. Will you be here tomorrow? Terrifying Work Safety Instructional Video

    It could be a Skinny Puppy video but no this little terrifying gem comes from ERI Safety. You can even purchase videos like this for the low low price of just $495.00.

    Still, not as amusing as this dark humor industrial film on safety hailing from Germany. At least I think its humor. Slow in the beginning but moments like 4:46 and 6:05 ooze blood colored Teutonic gory goodness.

  3. Public Service Announcement: Bedbug Registry dot Com

    Let me break character here for a second and bitch about my life like it was Facebook and you cared.  If we’ve seemed a little sporadic and uneven in the last few weeks, that’d be due to the moving of TITLE HQ and all the hassles that presents.  Landlords are funny people, eh?  Just as a public service announcement, I now offer the following pieces of advice:

    1. Get it on paper, get everything on paper.  Don’t agree to anything that can’t be put into writing.
    2. Document pre-existing damages.
    3. Check up on your landlord.  Google is your weapon.  A good site to look for anything creepy-crawly in the past (and landlord reaction) is Bedbug Registry.  Spread the word on that one far and wide.

  4. The first day of the rest of your site (thanks Midphase)

    We’re down but not out, I assure you.

    Sometime on Sunday we were knocked off the web for reasons that are still somewhat hazy.  Not to sling too much mud, but we were/are largely kept in the dark as to what happened, what was being done to fix it and when a solution would be coming.  Today, our hosts at Midphase declared our data D.O.A. and resurrected a backup from February.

    So… three months of writing down the drain, just like that.  Gee… way to back things up, guys.

    As a result, in terms of SEO we’ve basically dropped down a black hole, just when we were starting to get an audience going.  To those of you reading this, thanks for sticking with us.  Having people out there interested in what we write, who we interview and the weird little corners we poke around in means a lot to Alex and me.

    Going forward, we’ll be resurrecting the more popular posts through the magic of Google Cache and updating themwith new bits of infocrack.  So get ready for a bit of TITLEOFMAGAZINE Classic in your RSS reader.   To everyone who has linked us and now has broken links on their pages, let me know and I’ll try to match the new post to the old URL.

    Alright, enough whing, on with the show.

    image by Flickr user Kamshots

  5. I therefore pronounce him a Coward and a Scoundrel

    This photo made my day when it arrived in my inbox. I don’t know who snapped it but I figured there had to be a story.

    And there is.

    William Tradewell, the man who declared General Leigh Read a “Coward and Scoundrel” was a member of the America conservative Whig party and slave owner in the Old South. General Leigh Read was a rising star in the Democrat party whose political naivety  cost him.

    Tradewell requested a duel with Read because of Read’s refusal to “apologise for the insult offered” and the feud between Tradewell and Read’s respective political parties. Read, being a poor shot turned him down.

    Another guy by the name of Augustus Alston also offered Read a duel (but no public notice on his ’scoundrelness.’)

    Read accepted knowing he was going up against a man who was a good shot, wealthy, from a nepotistic family, and vehemently opposed the Democrat party’s bank reform bills. Read stood by his position knowing if he was going to go down, it had to be someone who was a “bulldog” of the dying Whig party.

    In Alston’s arrogance, he misfired and Read killed him with one shot. Alston– and pretty much everybody– planned on a “victory banquet” but Alston’s itchy trigger finger and cockiness caused him a critical delay and certain death.

    Even though this was a duel, that Alston initiated, his sisters deemed it “murder.” Alston’s sisters had the bullet removed and recast. They instructed their brother Willis Alston– then in Texas– to kill General Read with the same bullet that killed Augustus Alston. Willis Alston approached Read at a public speaking event a few weeks later dressed in a cloak and hat to disguise himself. He threw off his disguise and the crowd immediately recognized him. He attempted to stab Read with a knife but was foiled when Read grabbed his gun and grazed Willis Alston’s hand.

    A few years later after keeping a low profile Willis Alston caught up to Read and shot him in the back. Willis Alston was arrested but through family connections and $30,000 in bribes managed to escape to Texas.

    Dr. Stewart a Tallahassee native son and friend of Read living in Texas became enraged that Read’s killer lived nearby– and said several insults about Willis Alston. Rather than post a public notice to apologize, Willis Alston approached Dr. Stewart on horseback demanding he apologize for those ill remarks.

    Stewart refused and shot Willis Alston in the stomach. Though injured, Willis Alston fired back and killed Dr. Stewart.

    Again in jail, Willis Alston hatched an escape plan with his family connections. That night though, friends of Dr. Stewart formed a lynch mob and fired endlessly at Willis Alston until he laid dead.

    Just goes to show you America was– and probably always will be– pretty fucked up.

    Update: @ColinPeters found this wonderful painting by Christopher M. Still check out “18? for more on Tradewell-Read-Alston.

  6. Interview with Matt Kish, Whale Artist

    A month or so ago, we gave you the heads up on Matt Kish, the artist behind One Drawing for Every Page of Moby Dick.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about how he came to this project and what goes through his head when he’s doing what he does.

    – – –
    What do you think of when you think of whales?

    It’s funny, I think this might be at odds with what most people think of. Even some of the people that have visited my site and looked at the art. I think a lot of people, when asked about whales, imagine this Greenpeace-y kind of gentle giant. A steward of the seas. Some vast, serene, gently floating creature singing songs in the azure deeps. For me, when I think of whales, I think of them as gigantic and incredibly cool monsters. I know that may read as somewhat juvenile, even in terms of the vocabulary I chose, but that’s because my inner vision of whales was formed at a very young age and after seeing an awful lot of monster movies as well as the 1956 version of “Moby-Dick” with Gregory Peck. I had never seen an ocean, let alone a whale, so the Atlantic and the Pacific might as well have been outer space for all the experience I had. And here, in these unimaginably vast and watery wastelands you had these simply colossal beasts capable of smashing ships to pieces, chewing and devouring sailors, blowing huge spouts of water out of the top of their heads…man, that just blew me away as a kid and it’s just never really gone away. You know how you can look at old books that chronicle the sea journeys of antiquity, and they have those engravings of tusked, scaled leviathans with two or three spouts of water jetting out of these weird curved horns on their heads, jaws like dragons and huge fluked tails? I guess for me, whales have always been like that, if not in appearance at least in spirit. Which is why, for this Moby-Dick project, the pages where I get to illustrate whales have been the most fun for me to do. It’s like being a child with crayons again. Monsters!

    You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you were inspired by ‘outsider art’.  Do you mean that as a kinship in style or just in the spirit of art being a more democratic, non-ivory tower sort of thing?

    It’s really a little bit of both, but weighted much more toward the “democratic, non-ivory tower” side of things. The kinship in style, for me, comes from the fact that I took a few art classes in high school, graduated in 1987, and took one drawing class at community college the next year. Ever since then, nothing. No training in art. No kind of education, formal or otherwise. And until very recently not even any real peer group to bounce my ideas off of and get critiques. My style, although it feels very strange to call it that, is something that I guess just developed over years of screwing around with art supplies and filling my head with all sorts of visual imagery from Jack Kirby comic books to S & M photography. I have so many limitations as an artist. Everything is very flat, there is no depth or dimension to my art, my compositions tend to be very centralized and simple, I focus too heavily on texture and patterns ignoring shape and weight, almost all my lines are straight and drawn with a ruler or template, and on and on and on. I’ve had to find ways to work within my limitations and have never really struggled to change or correct those deficiencies. I definitely have a kind of aesthetic tunnel vision.

    The “democratic, non-ivory tower” aspect of it is especially important and inspirational to me though, and it’s that part of it that I really identify with. It took me a very long time to build up enough confidence to show my drawings to even my closest friends. I don’t know where I picked up the intense fear of ridicule that I have, but at some point in my adulthood I became very aware that to even get a show in a tiny local gallery, an artist generally had to have a BFA or an MFA as well as an artist’s statement, a prepared portfolio, slides of their work, and so on. I never had anything other than a loose stack of colored pencil and ink drawings sitting on a bookshelf. So for a long time, I felt permanently shut out from any avenue of sharing my work. I was never really interested in making art a career, and the allure of something like a gallery show, even in a tiny local gallery, was really more the thrill of being able to share my labors with strangers and see what they thought of it. Of course I was hoping for compliments and praise, but at the very least I wanted to be able to show people something they might not have ever seen before. Beyond that, I had no desire to become part of an art establishment or to be labeled and heaped in with some kind of movement. Anyway, even that felt like it would forever be beyond me because of my lack of credentials, whatever that meant.

    It’s a simple idea, really, but discovering outsider art, and reading about all of these untrained artists making art for personal reasons, whether it was some kind of compulsion or simply the reward or creating a painting, resonated with me deeply. Really opened my own eyes to the fact that I didn’t need degrees or schooling or galleries or artist’s statements or sales to justify the existence of my drawings and paintings. The fact that I was willing to do them, to make something with my own hands, was reason enough. It’s hard to describe now because I realize how basic that idea is, and how maybe when we are kids with crayons that seems as normal and everyday as the sun rising and the grass growing. But somehow I got sucked in, suckered, and slapped about the head and body a bit the the artistic establishment and I got scared. It cowed me, made me fearful. So I hid for years and years until I discovered outsider art and realized it was okay for me to do what I wanted to do.

    Being something of an non-pedigreed, non-certified (read: didn’t go to art school) artist, where along the way did you decided that art was going to be an abiding part of how you live?  Was it a moment or just something that creeped up?

    Again, it’s a little of both, but I can remember some very specific and powerful experiences from my early childhood that had an enormous impact. To start, I have been absolutely fascinated by and smitten with pictures and images ever since I can remember. My parents were filthy hippies, so my childhood was spent surrounded by posters of Middle Earth, album cover art by Roger Dean (all those crazy “Yes” albums, on full gatefold vinyl!) and lushly illustrated picture books from the 60s and 70s. I can’t really ever remember a time when those things weren’t a part of my life so it’s hard if not impossible to determine whether that love of images was innate or whether it was something I took to based on my environment. I learned to read at a very early age and my parents were wonderful in supplying me with picture books and folk tales and illustrated collections of myths and legends. Perhaps it’s because that’s what they liked, or perhaps it’s because that’s what I seemed to gravitate to, but that’s all I read. I can vividly remember paintings by Arthur Rackham, fine pen and ink pieces by Willy Pogany, and even those drawings by Tolkien that graced early versions of “The Hobbit.” I would “read” those images as closely as I read the words, and they came to seem inseparable to me. So I was drawing things — mostly monsters and spaceships and heroes — from preschool.

    Most of what I drew were just imitations of what I saw in my books though, and I can remember being 8 or 9 and camping with my older cousin Jason. He was, and still is, an immensely talented artist, and while we were bored on a rainy afternoon we spent hours drawing together. I was probably running through the motions of drawing the same things over and over, but Jason drew this incredibly bizarre, crescent-moon shaped monster with multiple eyes and tentacles. It floored me. Even the fact that it was an asymmetrical, non monster-shaped monster just blew the top of my skull right off. I remember that as possibly being the first time I saw a piece of art that was different, challenging, weird, and a little upsetting. But all in very good ways.

    After that I started paying much closer attention to what my friends drew and I saw such an incredibly diverse range of styles and imaginations that I started thinking maybe I could do this myself. Sadly, it probably took me 20 or 30 years before I felt like I really had developed a style and an aesthetic of my own, and even today I can see so many influences running through some of my pieces that I worry people will call me a hack, but it’s hard not to let the indelible power of those visions course through me.

    So where do you find your found materials?

    I’ve actually been harvesting this stuff for years. From 2003 to 2005 I worked for a large used book store chain. Customers would bring books in, we would buy them, and then we would re-rice and re-sell them. An awful lot of what people brought in was simply no good. Too old, too ephemeral, too out of date. This stuff we would either price for a dollar or two and put in our bargain section, or just throw out. Employees were not supposed to pick through the stuff that was going to the trash, but the managers generally looked the other way as long as it wasn’t too blatant. I was able to snag a small pile of really interesting things, mostly old text books, encyclopedias, and repair guides. Stuff that was really of no use to anyone, being so completely out of date. At the time, I had no idea what I would do with it, I just thought it was too good and too interesting to throw away. So I held on to it all for quite a few years without using it for anything more than a drawing or two. And then, when the idea to do this “Moby-Dick” series came to me, it seemed like a perfect match since the art is so indebted to the printed words of the novel.

    What about an item makes you want to hang on to it and include it in a piece?

    You know, it’s weird because when I started these illustrations I was doing them all on these old electronics repair guides. Something about those old diagrams fascinates me because their symbols and and all those lines and drawings and letters look almost alchemical to me. Magical. So the thought of all of that unfathomable information, a bit buried but lurking just beneath the paint and ink really spoke to me. It hinted at the deeper themes and mysteries of Melville’s novel as well as the mysteries lurking beneath the sea. After working that way for a few weeks, I began to dig more deeply into my collection of discarded books finding new and more intriguing ways of bringing some of Melville’s themes, the ones that were really important to me as a reader, into the art. So if you look closely, you will see a lot of recurring imagery, not just of electrical diagrams and ships, which are fairly obvious, but of phrases and bits of text, pieces of art, old photographs and so on. Some of the symbolism is a bit overt, some less so, and some probably so personal it seems obscure or random, but every piece of paper was chosen very very deliberately. It has been amazing for me as an artist to see, more often than not, elements in a finished piece that I did not consciously realize were there but which must have somehow made themselves known to me at a subconscious level. For example, on Page 28 I illustrated the aphorism “However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing…” and a caption for a photograph which appears on that page reads “Europe was no longer hospitable to the imagination.” I didn’t catch that at first, but it seemed to work nicely with the place that “Moby-Dick” occupies in the pantheon of new American literature and the role Melville played in carving that out. Another very obvious element is on Page 112, my illustration of Flask, the third of the mates. I knew each of the mates, Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask, were crucial to an understanding of the novel and were all, in some ways, similar as well as uniquely different. The page where I painted Flask is from an old sewing guide and has a large vertical heading reading “The parts of a pattern.” Given that the reader is just now beginning to see and understand the composition of the Pequod’s crew and the manner of her governance, that page fit.

    How do you cut out the time from the rest of life to work on a project of this size?

    It has been very very difficult. Some history is in order here, to give this context. Prior to beginning the Moby-Dick project, my art had been incredibly detailed, time consuming, a bit overwrought, and ultimately frustrating to complete because of this. I had begun to feel really trapped by the media I was using, the way I was working, and the images I was making. It was not at all unusual for me to spend 20 to 60 hours on a single colored pencil drawing. Yes, they were lushly and radiantly crafted, but I was sick and tired of only being able to complete 3 or 4 drawings a year. I really needed something to force me to change and to find new ways of making art. I knew it would have to be something that came with a deadline built in and some kind of preconceeved structure. I had seen Zak Smith’s paintings for every page of Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow” and the idea had always stuck with me. In a flash, it all came together, and deciding to create one illustration for every page of “Moby-Dick” and to complete a piece of art each day seemed like the perfect way to jumpstart this process. I would simply have to find ways to work more quickly but also to make art that I enjoyed and was proud of.

    When I began this project, I was living in an apartment with my wife about 20 minutes from my day job. I had plenty of time in the evenings to work, even if I wanted to spend 2 or 3 hours on a piece, and I could still do laundry and see movies and spend time with my wife. Plus, autumn was coming, the days were growing shorter, and I had less and less desire to go outside as the weather cooled. In November, we moved to be closer to friends and family. But my 20 minute commute became a 90 minute commute. And that’s one way. So suddenly, I am waking up at 5:45 every morning, spending 3 hours in the car every day, getting home at 6:30 in the evening, and trying to squeeze in an hour of drawing between dinner, exercise, laundry, and chores. Honestly, at times, it is a nightmare. In a strange way, I have become more like Ahab in that this has become an endeavor which haunts me and enrages me. I have had some rough nights where I’ve thought of simply disconnecting and giving it up. But something keeps me focused on the endgame, and at times it is a kind of rage. Sometimes, when I am just exhausted and completely spent, the only thing that can rouse me enough to continue this daily pursuit is rage and hate. That is leavened somewhat by the kind comments and emails I’ve been receiving, and that kind of thing has become absolutely necessary to help keep me anchored and stop me from becoming completely lost in this quest to finish.

    And riffing off something you mentioned… how have your reactions changed to the novel as you’ve made your way through the novel for this project?

    Each and every time I have read “Moby-Dick” I have seen more and more of the novel emerge. We could go on at length here about Melville’s multi-layered narrative and how what at first seems to be a simple whaling adventure is everything from a treatise on the nature of America to a an epic with Biblical themes of piety and blasphemy to a metaphysical investigation of the nature of existence and faith. Over time, much of that has been revealed to me and even now, as a 40 year old man, I feel I am only just beginning to see the great outline of Melville’s thoughts. But this journey through, specifically, has forced me to visualize the narrative in a way I never had before. By giving life to each and every one of these sailors, whalemen, and harpooneers, by depicting their ships and the great leviathans they hunt, I’ve anchored it in such a way that I will never be able to un-see what I myself have created. Ishmael will forever more be a symbolic rectangular mask with two wall-eyes and a wave across his face, the man with the sea inside of him. Ahab will always be a towering slab of something metallic, head like a fiercely peering turret. Tashtego has become a lumbering, crow-headed predator. And so on. For me, now, depicting “Moby-Dick” like this makes it forever my own vision. Realized in the fullest with ink and paint and paper, but always my own. I guess I’m more like Ahab, for good or ill, than I might have ever wanted to be.

    – – – –

    A few other interviews here, here and (sorta) here.

    As of this writing, Matt’s still churning them out, day by day, over at http://www.everypageofmobydick.blogspot.com/.  You can buy some of his older art here, including some whaley, sea-monstery stuff.

    For those of you in the Brooklyn/NYC area, Matt will be talking about his quest and showing slides at Pete’s Candy Store on April 19th as part of the Open City Dialogues.

    portrait of Matt Kish by Aaron Cael

  7. Getting Riced on Chhaang

    If the Yeti was going to step out of seclusion and make a little coin endorsing some hooch, it’d likely be chhaang.  It’s a mountain-man good times and ceremonies kind of beverage from the Himalayas and one of the mighty drinks to claim the title Nectar of the Gods.  Even the recipe is kind of mystical, yet casual, basically amounting to showing off some rice and then letting it hang out and think deep thoughts in a bottle.  Via Momo Tours:

    1. Cook 5 kgs. Rice
    2. Spread cooked rice on large sheet
    3. Take off clothing and roll around on it
    4. Wait till rice becomes room temp
    5. Take 3 pieces of tibbo yeast and crush
    6. Spread evenly on the rice
    7. Close up cloth, make into bundle, and keep covered with blanket, to keep warm
    8. 24 hrs. Later wake up and smell the godly whiff
    9. Put fermenting rice into plastic bucket by hand (not the cloth too you drunk.)
    10. Leave if possible,for one month
    11. Open lid of tightly sealed bucket
    12. Take out as much mix as required
    13. Mix with cold water
    14. Strain
    15. Mix brown sugar according to taste
    16. Drink and proceed to hold conversation with tibetan gods.

    Alternate recipe here: Chhang

    Back in my Osaka days, I hung around with some righteous Nepalese guys in a foreigner tachinomiya where every now and again someone might produce an unmarked bottle and pour a few sharp ones for those assembled.  It had that raw taste of fiercer liquors like rustic tequila or your lower grades of arrack.  Definitely the sort of thing that leads to excited talk and nights that go far later than originally planned.

    Plans are maturing around the ol’ TITLE HQ to see about expanding our brewing operations to chhaang.  We’ll keep you posted.

  8. Boris Rose, King of the Bootleggers

    Sucker for buried treasure that I am, the story of Boris Rose, jazz bootlegger supreme caught my attention as I perused Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays [preview]

    Around 1940, Boris began dubbing 78RPM records to 10-inch red vinyl disks with hand-written white labels.  He would sell these dubs of Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and other great early jazz musicians to anyone interested in buying them….

    Over the years Boris captured thousands of hours of recordings that likely did not exist anywhere else — his was easily the largest private collection of its kind anywhere in the world.  Eventually Boris began recording every sort of broadcast imaginable — he even recorded the soundtracks of entire movies as they were broadcast over television.

    What Rose became known for is the bootleg LPs of these recordings from old 78s and live jazz radio broadcasts.  He sold these records commercially, complete with liner notes and illustrated covers, under the names of invented “foreign” record labels like Alto and Radiex.  Despite being fairly prolific for a unauthorized distributor, the vast majority of his recordings have never been released.

    Boris Rose died on the last day of the 20th century, leaving his collection to his daughter Elaine.  The recordings remain in storage, largely unheard by anyone other than Rose himself an presently unavailable anywhere else.  That’s thousands of hours of unheard sounds sitting in a storage shed in the Bronx, an archive that’s hard to fathom.

    r a n d o m g o o g l i n g p r o d u c e d l i t t l e m o r e i n f o on Mr. Rose.

    illustration by Brendan Burford

  9. Haiti: Humanitarian Invasion

    A hotly debated aspect of the global response to the Port-au-Prince earthquake has been the role of military forces in providing aid and security.  Several dominant narratives have emerged:

    • The always popular ‘They’re looting! What savages!’  This can be used as either a justification for one’s indifference to the situation or as a call for an aggressive posture.  Pretty standard media response after any disaster that affects a non-wealthy demographic.  (Just once I’d like to see CNN helicopter footage of Tori Spelling looting in a burned over Malibu neighborhood.)
    • The “How dare you say they’re looting!” The BBC’s Matthew Price assures us that no one in Haiti would dream of getting violent over food and water and instead are peacefully expiring in the streets from the fumes of Western paranoia, arrogance and stinginess.
    • The U.S. hegemonic invasion line taken by Chavez, Cuba and the usual gang of disgruntled European political figures.  This isn’t helped by the Heritage Foundation kinda sorta maybe y’know almost hinting that we ought to be doing exactly that.

    It is apparent that in discussing global events, shades of grey are not popular.  Bold strokes get pageviews but offer little in the way of constructive thinking.  Unfortunately this overshadows discussion of the practical matters of the relief effort.  Like the seemingly incongruous fit of military forces to a rescue and repair operation.

    To most, “military” calls to mind a destructive force projected against a country’s enemies.  True, but the ability to project force requires a massive portable infrastructure that can sustain troops, allies and civilians in dangerous and deprived circumstances.  The upshot of the U.S.’s massive spending on defense is that their portable infrastructure is far more extensive than that of NGOs dedicated to disaster relief.  Airdrops, water purification, clearing port facilities and building and operating airstrips are all functions that the military excels at beyond the capabilities of NGOs or the private sector.  Haiti’s crumbling infrastructure was inadequate to accommodate a massive influx of aid, personnel and equipment even before the earthquake.  When the quake crippled the primary airport and clogged port facilities with crane wreckage, the U.S. military (and the F.A.A.) was pretty much the only game in town for getting things running again.

    What particularly interests me is how this sort of relief work has become more and more integrated with the core mission of the U.S. military.  Think of  projecting “soft power” and giving targeted aid to developing areas as the equivalent of preventative care, hopefully preventing the need down the road for the chemotherapy of military intervention when societal breakdown foments violence and desperation.  The example foremost in my mind is the lack of large-scale, competent reconstruction and restoration/extension of basic services like electricity and running water in the wake of U.S. military “victories” in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The ability to provide these, along with a basic measure of security, are a primary battlefield between an insurgency and a government, as shown in Iraqi insurgent attacks on the power grid and the present Maoist Naxalite uprising in India.  When the controlling power in a region cannot provide the basics of life, they lose their support.  Using the mobile infrastructure building capacity of the U.S. armed forces is an important way to boost support for friendly governments and bolster the rule of law.

    Further, distributing aid in a damaged area is a rough business.  Even before the earthquake, the U.N. has been having a tough time fighting armed gangs, defusing food riots and adequately distributing aid in a country ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt.  In desperate situations, there’s a sharper sense of survival of the fittest.  With the Haitian police force largely overwhelmed, some men with guns riding along with the rice and tents might not be a bad idea.

    The trouble with doing this in Haiti is that the U.S. military has a long history of invading and occupying small, weak nations in the Western hemisphere.  The U.S. has serious work to do to repair the its image.  An efficient, dedicated response to Haiti’s infrastructural challenges would go a long way towards that work.