The Rotting, City-Sized Pile of Texan Waste

Bruce Sterling: “A 30-mile scar of debris along the Texas coast stands as a festering testament to what state and local officials say is FEMA's sluggish response to the 2008 hurricane season. (((Okay, great, blame the feds, but what about the next storm surge?)))

Two and a half months after Hurricane Ike blasted the shoreline, alligators and snakes crawl over vast piles of shattered building materials, lawn furniture, trees, boats, tanks of butane and other hazardous substances, thousands of animal carcasses, and perhaps even the corpses of people killed by the storm.

State and local officials complain that the removal of the filth has gone almost nowhere because FEMA red tape has held up the cleanup work and the release of the millions of dollars that Chambers County says it needs to pay for the project.”

via Beyond the Beyond – Wired Blogs

Grand chieftain of anthropology lives to see his centenary

Claude Lévi-Strauss

“France celebrated the 100th anniversary yesterday of the birth of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. This was not just a centenary. It was a genuine birthday. Claude Lévi-Strauss, the father of structuralism and modern anthropology, born on 28 November 1908, is still alive. His work, after going out of fashion several times, is more alive than ever.”

via The Independent

As an undergraduate studying social anthropology at the height of the romance with structuralism, I got lost in Levi-Strauss and ultimately disenchanted, when papers I wrote doing structuralist analysis of myths and other cultural phenomena were praised even though in my heart I thought what I had written was gobbledigook… that you could get away saying anything in a structural analysis if you knew how to couch it. I do think The Savage Mind is a paradigm-changing masterpiece, showing that other cultures’ ways of making sense of the world partake as much as ours do of ‘scientific method.’ But delving deeper into structuralism was my first experience of that ’emperor-has-no-clothes’ feeling about a venerated discipline that I have had so often about cornerstones of post-modernism. (Perhaps I shouldn’t be admitting this; perhaps it means I didn’t really understand structuralism, but in that case neither did those grading my papers, did they?)