• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

A Confederacy of Dunces

Much as I dislike George Bush, there seems to be more than enough responsibility to go around for the disgraceful post-Katrina efforts, and we’d better learn our lessons quickly before the next U.S. disaster, natural or man-made. Rudy Giuliani can’t be there to bail us out every time.

  • Generations of Louisiana governors and NO mayors who lined their own, and their friends’, pockets at the expense of the state’s and city’s poor.
  • Also from the last article, “Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack. But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters. In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service.”
  • The shameful treatment of tourists and international visitors caught in the crisis. Ten million tourists visited New Orleans last year, and the rebuilt city, when it’s up and running, might benefit from some of those tourist dollars. I remember reading on the NO Times-Picayune website (I can’t seem to find a link for it now) that “At the Wyndham Canal Place, which housed 1,500 guests, employees and their families during the storm, guests were turned loose if they couldn’t get out on their own.”
  • The blinkered and less than constructive comments by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other African-American leaders.
  • News outlets ignoring much of the devastation beyond New Orleans, especially in Mississippi, where entire towns and cities are gone, too.

    Last Thursday, The Houston Chronicle reprinted this article from 2001. Apparently no-one in any position of authority read that, either.

    More than 16 years ago, John McPhee wrote in The Control of Nature,

    Something like half of New Orleans is now below sea level — as much as fifteen feet. New Orleans, surrounded levees, is emplaced between Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi like a broad shallow bowl. Nowhere is New Orleans higher than the river’s natural bank. Underprivileged people live in the lower elevations, and always have. The rich — by the river — occupy the highest ground. In New Orleans, income and elevation can be correlated on a literally sliding scale: the Garden District on the highest level, Stanley Kowalski in the swamp. The Garden District and its environs are locally known as uptown.

    Torrential rains fall on New Orleans — enough to cause flash floods inside the municipal walls. The water has nowhere to go. Left on its own, it would form a lake, rising inexorably from one level of the economy to the next. So it has to be pumped out. Every drop of rain that falls on New Orleans evaporates or is pumped out. Its removal lowers the water table and accelerates the city’s subsidence. Where marshes have been drained to create tracts for new hosing, ground will shrink too. People buy landfill to keep up with the Joneses. In the words of Bob Fairless, of the New Orleans District engineers, “It’s almost an annual spring ritual to get a load of dirt and fill in the low spots on your lawn.” ….

    In the early nineteen-eighties, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a new large district headquarters in New Orleans. It is a tetragon, several stories high, with expanses of sheet glass, and it is right beside the river. Its foundation was dug in the mainline levee. That, to a fare-the-well, is putting your money where your mouth is.

    Among the five hundred miles of levee deficiencies now calling for attention along the Mississippi River, the most serious happen to be in New Orleans. Among other factors, the freeboard — the amount of levee that reaches above flood levels — has to be higher in New Orleans to combat the waves of ships. Elsewhere, the deficiencies are averaging between one and two feet with respect to the computed high-water flow line, which goes on rising as runoffs continue to speed up and waters are increasingly confined. Not only is the water higher. The levees tend to sink as well. They press down on the mucks beneath them and squirt materials out to the sides. Their crowns have to be built up. “You put five feet on and three feet sink,” a [U.S. Army] Corps engineer remarked to me one day. …”

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