Return to the Index

GP 21 September 2005: Acadia and Other Deviations off the Beaten Track

Acadian Ambulance Service.  Last week we talked a bit about how federal, state, and city officials fiddled while Louisiana washed away.  Our tale of the nation’s disintegrating infrastructure depressed a reader or two, though we only meant to say that it is now the 21st century and we’ve got to be getting where we are going next.  It is morbid to quiver over what’s past, but it is simply exciting to hone in on the future.  Little experiments and initiatives here and there are showing us the way forward, even hinting at what our next world will be like.   

None more so, apparently, than the Acadian Ambulance Service in Louisiana, which maintained both its communications and its ambulance rescue services throughout the Katrina debacle even as everything else foundered around it.  A combination of satellite phones, good management, and a willingness to break bureaucratic rules kept it ticking (see www.acadian.com/katrina%20news%20clippings.htm ).  It was one of many heroic examples where things went right and lives were saved.  John Tierney of The New York Times contrasts it with FEMA in “Going (Down) By the Book,” September 17, 2005 (www.nytimes.com/2005/09/17/opinion/17tierney.html).   We cannot think of a company that better qualifies for our Agile Companies section of the Global Province and we will add it when we get more accurate details about Acadian’s operations.  For a heartening account of its team in action, even in the face of government paralysis, read Robin Judice’s plea for help from her husband, Dr. Judice, who was out at Louis Armstrong Airport beavering away for the afflicted against all the odds (www.lightningfield.com/2005/09/0215_message_from_new_orleans.html). 

Elephantiasis.  This Sunday the New York Times proudly introduced its funny pages, just a century too late by its own admission.  Don’t rush to get there since the section is neither particularly funny nor at all what we mean by funny pages (www.nytimes.com/2005/09/18/magazine/18funny_intro.html). 

What the Times is giving us is “the graphic novel, genre fiction and the humorous first-person essay.”  We’re sure you will remember that the funny pages are supposed to have funnies, accessible to young and old alike.  Blondie, Dick Tracy, Peanuts, Terry and the Pirates, Our Gang, Brenda Starr, Alley Oop, There Oughta Be a Law, and on and on.  In perhaps another hundred years, the Times will get it, but for now, it, like the government,  is turning something simple into a complex and inert elephant that can’t put one foot in front of the other.  We need a little Light and Verity here, not a convoluted graphic novel. 

When we were growing up, we steadfastly avoided the ponderous, cumbersome, labored Times in order to read the much more lighthearted New York Herald Tribune, whose liberal Republicanism and patrician evenhandedness was much more refreshing than the agonizing guilt-riven stew of the Cadillac Left cooked up by the bright fellows out of City College and the gothic gifted writers from straitened families in the South who dominated the Times.  And, above all, the Tribune had funnies while the Times had toothaches.  Today, of course, we are reduced to reading the wordy Times, since the Tribune and the stratum that generated it have simply disappeared.  By the way, Clay Felker and the bunch who put together New York Magazine were splinters out of the Tribune

Nobel Feynman.  Now for a funny guy.  We all have to regret that we, or most of us, never met Richard Feynman.  He was a consummately brilliant physicist prankster wag who, for instance, entitled a talk about nanotechnology, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” (www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html).  Countrymen, we ask you, are you going to read about “plenty of room at the bottom” or would you prefer to wade through thick esoteric stuff called “nanotechnology”?  You can learn about his last prank on the Global Province at “Feyman’s Last Caper.”  We even took place in this last boondoggle.  Feynman, incidentally, won the Nobel Prize in 1965, and he solved the riddle of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.  You will love his books, including Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Fenyman.  His daughter, Michelle Feynman, is out with a volume of his letters called Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track.  That title is perfectly descriptive of the amazing Feynman.  

And, life suggests, a whole bunch of good things are happening—at the bottom. 

P.S.  Acadia, of course, stems from the Cajun tradition in Louisiana.  After the French and Indian Wars, the British kicked distrusted locals out of Nova Scotia, many resettling in yet another Acadia—Louisiana.  In their blood, many Louisianans know then what it is to be uprooted in the face of disaster. As we remember, Longfellow memorialized this expulsion in “Evangeline,” which was required 9th-grade reading when literature and tradition still bore some relation to one another. 

P.P.S.  We are hoping that you did not miss China’s Mid Autumn Festival on Sunday; we had some passable Chinese food which is an accomplishment in itself (www.chinavoc.com/festivals/Midautumn.htm).  For mooncake recipes and accounts of worldwide celebrations, see www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/harvest-moon-festival.htm#moon_festivals.  Naturally we passed by Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day on Monday, since we are busy denying that the years are passing by.  See www.japan-guide.com/e/e2062.html

P.P.P.S.  For some other big changes coming up at the Times, see The Onion at http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27145.

Back to Top of Page

Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

Home - About This Site - Contact Us

Copyright 2005 GlobalProvince.com