Song of the Day: Phil Ochs on travel bans

Phil Ochs’ song “The Ballad of William Worthy” was originally written about an American reporter who had his passport revoked for violating US travel regulations by travelling from the US to China and Cuba.

But some of the lines are extremely applicable to Trump’s present-day travel ban (which, according to an anonymous source, is likely to be extended to more countries) – especially the situation of all the immigrants who have permanent, legal US residency, but are now unable to leave the country because they then will be denied re-entry.

So, come all you good travelers and fellow-travelers, too
Yes, and travel all around the world, see every country through
I’d surely like to come along and see what may be new
But my passport’s disappearing as I sing these words to you.

Well, there really is no need to travel to these evil lands
Yes, and though the list grows larger you must try to understand
Try hard not to be worry if someday you should hear
That the whole world is off limits, visit Disneyland this year.

But somehow it is strange to hear the State Department say:
– You are living in the free world, in the free world you must stay.

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Quote of the Day: A Mars Astronaut foresees his Death

SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently presented his plan for human colonisation of Mars, and one of the most widely quoted comments has been:

If you want to be on the frontier, where things are super exciting even if it’s dangerous, that’s who we’re appealing to. I would not suggest sending children. Are you prepared to die? If that’s ok, you’re a candidate for going.

which brings to mind the closing lines of W.B. Yeats’ “An Irish Airman foresees his Death” (written during World War I, full poem here):

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Quote of the Day: G.K. Chesterton on Brexit

Regardless of how you feel about the Brexit victory, it seems only fair to give today’s quote to someone who summed up the Leave mood pretty accurately a century ago, and who would presumably be cheering today (from “The Secret People”, full poem here):

They have given us into the hand of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

G.K. Chesterton

Quote of the Day: H.G. Wells on climate conferences

OK, technically speaking this quote (from H.G. Wells’ 1933 novel-cum-essay The Shape of Things to Come) isn’t about climate conferences, but about the world economic conference held in London in 1933 to attempt to solve the ongoing Great Depression through international economic cooperation. But Wells’ description of how the pressure of national interests caused the assembled politicians to fail to agree on any common effort to avert the looming crisis, seems eminently applicable to the succession of largely inconclusive conferences held 75-80 years later on how to combat climate change and global warming. Continue reading