St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

 

 Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. I knew the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was going to have a low response, the more controversial the subject, the more responses. Q: Agree or disagree: Irishman Saint Patrick is celebrated today for bringing Christianity to Ireland, driving out snakes. Strongly agree: 1 [6.67%] Agree: 3 [20%] …

Activity at the Bottle District Site

 

 The eastern edge of my new neighborhood, Columbus Square, has been known as “The Bottle District” since 2004. In 2004, longtime neighborhood business McGuire Moving and Storage Company, announced plans to redevelop the district as an entertainment destination. Noted architect Daniel Libeskind was hired to design the district. The Ghazi …

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Poll

 

 The downtown parade was yesterday, the Ancient Order of Hibernians parade is today in dogtown. St. Louis has a long history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: On March 17, 1820, a small band of Irish settlers gathered to praise St. Patrick. It was the first recorded observance of St. Patrick’s …

New Book — St. Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline by Steve Pick with Amanda E. Doyle

 

 I like music — I have a decent music collection (digital & vinyl), but I’ve never been to a concert. Well, I did see & hear Bonnie Raitt and many others at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2004. Though I’ve lived in St  Louis for 28+ years, I haven’t …

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Sunday Poll: Border Wall Worth a Partial Government Shutdown?

December 23, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Border Wall Worth a Partial Government Shutdown?
 
Please vote below

As you likely know, the federal government has partially shut down because of a disagreement over $5 billion in funding to build a border wall.

The partial shutdown of the federal government that began just after midnight Saturday won’t be ending anytime soon. The Senate has adjourned with no business in the chamber anticipated before Thursday afternoon and, maybe not even then, if congressional leaders and President Trump can’t reach an agreement over the president’s demand for $5 billion in funding for his border wall.

The House and Senate convened at noon Saturday, but no votes were scheduled and many lawmakers have already left town. House GOP leaders have advised lawmakers that they will be given 24 hours’ notice of any planned vote. (NPR)

With the long holiday weekend most of us haven’t noticed…unless we tried to visit the Arch or Old Courthouse:

The Arch, museum and Old Courthouse are all closed indefinitely during the shutdown as part of the National Park Service. The partial shutdown affects nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, including Interior, which runs national parks, and Agriculture, which runs national forests. About 16,000 National Park Service employees — 80 percent of the agency’s workforce — are being furloughed.

Congress held a Saturday session in a failed attempt to find a compromise in the battle over President Donald Trump’s request for $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The government agencies will remain closed until at least Thursday, officials said. (Post-Dispatch)

The partial shutdown is the subject of today’s non-scientific poll:

Today’s poll, like usual, will close automatically at 8pm tonight. Any effort to flood the site with voters will only result in increased revenue from ads displayed.

I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities’ by Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland

December 21, 2018 Books, Environment, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities’ by Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland
 

It usually takes me weeks/months to post about new books I receive, but another book arrived earlier in the week — just when I needed a subject for today.

The future of our cities is not what it used to be. The modern-city model that took hold globally in the twentieth century has outlived its usefulness. It cannot solve the problems it helped to create—especially global warming. Fortunately, a new model for urban development is emerging in cities to aggressively tackle the realities of climate change. It transforms the way cities design and use physical space, generate economic wealth, consume and dispose of resources, exploit and sustain the natural ecosystems, and prepare for the future.

In Life After Carbon, urban sustainability consultants Pete Plastrik and John Cleveland assemble this global pattern of urban reinvention from the stories of 25 “innovation lab” cities across the globe—from Copenhagen to Melbourne. A city innovation lab is the entire city—the complex, messy, real urban world where innovations must work. It is a city in which government, business, and community leaders take to heart the challenge of climate change and converge on the radical changes that are necessary. They free downtowns from cars, turn buildings into renewable-energy power plants, re-nature entire neighborhoods, incubate growing numbers of clean-energy and smart-tech companies, convert waste to energy, and much more. Plastrik and Cleveland show that four transformational ideas are driving urban climate innovation around the world, in practice, not just in theory: carbon-free advantage, efficient abundance, nature’s benefits, and adaptive futures. And these ideas are thriving in markets, professions, consumer trends, community movements, and “higher” levels of government that enable cities.

Life After Carbon presents the new ideas that are replacing the pillars of the modern-city model, converting climate disaster into urban opportunity, and shaping the next transformation of cities worldwide. It will inspire anyone who cares about the future of our cities, and help them to map a sustainable path forward. (Island Press)

The primary chapters are divided into three parts:

Part I: On the Innovation Pathway

  • Innovation Proliferation
  • Urban Climate Innovation Laboratories
  • Goals, Systems, Clusters, and Waves
  • Making a Better City
  • The Rebel Alliance

Part II: Toward Global Urban Transformation

  • The Power of Transformational Ideas
  • Carbon-Free Advantage
  • Efficient Abundance
  • Nature’s Benefits
  • Adaptive Capacities

Part III: Challenges of Urban Evolution

  • The Edge of City Climate Innovation
  • Assembly Required
  • The Next Urban Operating System
  • Going Global

Here’s a three and a half minute video from their website:

I do think cities that resist changing will suffer as the next century nears, whereas those that innovate and adapt will fare better.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Skeptical About Major Earthquake in Their Lifetimes

December 19, 2018 Featured, Missouri, STL Region Comments Off on Readers Skeptical About Major Earthquake in Their Lifetimes
 
The elevated sections of I-64 in St. Louis have been retrofitted to hopefully withstand a major earthquake.

Earthquakes happen all the time, we just don’t feel them. I’m nearly 52 and have never felt an earthquake.

My oldest brother was living in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, my other brother was living in the Los Angeles area during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. A close personal friend was living in Seattle during the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. My relatives in Oklahoma have all felt their frequent, but minor, earthquakes. I’d be ok with never feeling one, but that time may come.

Here in St. Louis we’re part of at least two seismic zones:

With the New Madrid fault just a hundred miles south of St. Louis, it’s long been known that the region is at a greater risk for an earthquake than other parts of the Midwest. But new research indicates that St. Louis is part of an area that has seismic activity of its own.

Geologists have identified a new seismic zone stretching from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau along the Mississippi River called the Ste. Genevieve Seismic Zone. Their research indicates that the zone is capable of producing moderate earthquakes every few decades and has the potential to produce a major earthquake every 2,000 to 4,000 years.

“It’s a roll of the dice, right. If you’re unlucky, it could happen in your lifetime. The odds are not high,” Indiana University Geologist Gary Pavlis said.

A moderate earthquake measures about a magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. Pavlis said they can be felt but would only dislodge a few bricks here and there.

While the Ste. Genevieve Seismic Zone may not produce anything major in our lifetimes, the same can’t be said of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. OK, someone who’s 90 might not see the big one in their lifetimes, but those in your 20s may. It might happen next week.

There is broad agreement in the scientifc community that a continuing concern exists for a major destructive earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone. Many structures in Memphis, Tenn., St. Louis, Mo., and other communities in the central Mississippi River Valley region are vulnerable and at risk from severe ground shaking. This assessment is based on decades of research on New Madrid earthquakes and related phenomena by dozens of Federal, university, State, and consulting earth scientists. (USGS)

Those in floodplain areas might experience the worst of it, because of liquefaction of the soil.

In the recent non-scientific poll more than half don’t expect the big one to hit St. Louis in their lifetimes:

Q: Agree or disagree: A major earthquake will “wreck” St. Louis in my lifetime.

  • Strongly agree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Agree: 2 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat agree: 7 [25%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [3.57%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Disagree: 6 [21.43%]
  • Strongly disagree: 3 [10.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 3 [10.71%]

Hopefully they’re correct.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey

December 17, 2018 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey
 

I have one last book on my desk to post about as 2018 is coming to an end: A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey:

At this time when many have lost hope amidst conflicts, terrorism, environmental destruction, economic inequality and the breakdown of democracy, this beautifully written book outlines how to rethink and reform our key institutions – markets, corporations, welfare policies, democratic processes and transnational governance – to create better societies based on core principles of human dignity, sustainability, and justice. This new vision is based on the findings of over 300 social scientists involved in the collaborative, interdisciplinary International Panel on Social Progress. Relying on state-of-the-art scholarship, these social scientists reviewed the desirability and possibility of all relevant forms of long-term social change, explored current challenges, and synthesized their knowledge on the principles, possibilities, and methods for improving the main institutions of modern societies. Their common finding is that a better society is indeed possible, its contours can be broadly described, and all we need is to gather forces toward realizing this vision. (Cambridge University Press)

This is an academic book, not a quick read or a pretty coffee table book. However, serious topics often require academics to offer solutions to societies big problems.

The following is a list of the 8 chapters from the two sections:

Part I: Sources of Worry, Reasons for Hope:

1. Global Successes and Looming Catastrophes

2. Globalization and Technology: Choices and Contingencies

3. The Expanding Circle of Respect and Dignity

4. The Big Challenge

Part II: Acting for Social Progress

5. In Search of a New “Third Way”

6. Reforming Capitalism

7. From the Welfare State to the Emancipating State

8. From Polaritics to Politics

Chapter 6, Reforming Capitalism, is a favorite topic of mine. I began scanning this chapter last night, but was too tired to absorb much. Will need to try again when I’m more alert.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Think An Earthquake Will Strike St. Louis During Your Lifetime?

December 16, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Think An Earthquake Will Strike St. Louis During Your Lifetime?
 
Please vote below

Last week two earthquakes, 4.4 & 3.3, hit Eastern Tennessee (source).  You’re probably wondering when Eastern Tennessee has to do with St. Louis Missouri, right? Nothing, directly.  It seems they’re in a dangerous fault zone.

The only other regions east of the Rockies with that much hazard potential are in the South Carolina Seismic Zone (limited to South Carolina’s central coastal area) and the New Madrid Seismic Zone (which includes much of West Tennessee as well as smaller areas of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Illinois). (Knoxville News Sentinel)

Oh right, so are we.  Yeah, but were’s not California, Washington, or Alaska.

In contrast to California, however, the consequences here could be more far-reaching because faults in the Mississippi Valley are buried under sedimentary deposits up to a mile deep. These conditions allow seismic waves to travel as much as 20 times farther than they do in California. As a result, a moderate New Madrid quake would shake a seven-state region — Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana — like a bowl of jelly. (Riverfront Times)

Our neighbors in Louisville KY are taking notice:

In 2008, the U.S. government announced that an earthquake on the New Madrid Seismic Zone could cause “widespread and catastrophic” damage in the area and “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States,” according to Reuters.

“The big thing we prepare for is with New Madrid,” Bobel said. “Depending on the significance of an earthquake, Memphis, Tennesee, would be gone, St. Louis would be wrecked.” (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Of course, nearly every article mentions the big earthquakes that happened over two centuries ago:

The 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intraplate earthquake series beginning with an initial earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5–7.9 on December 16, 1811, followed by a moment magnitude 7.4 aftershock on the same day. They remain the most powerful earthquakes to hit the contiguous United States east of the Rocky Mountains in recorded history. They, as well as the seismic zone of their occurrence, were named for the Mississippi River town of New Madrid, then part of the Louisiana Territory, now within the US state of Missouri. (Wikipedia)

While none of us can accurately predict when, or if, an earthquake will occur I thought this would be a timely topic for a non-scientific Sunday Poll:

There’s no right or wrong answer to today’s poll.  As usual, this poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

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