zambia dialup

A guide to the Internet in Zambia:
Almost very other business company in the world or home has a telephone line. This is one of the prerequisites for getting connected to the Zamnet Internet Services. Apart from the telephone line, two other essential components are needed for Internet connection, these are a Computer and a Modem…It is imperative for a dial-up client to have all the three components in a working order otherwise it becomes difficult to connect to the Internet.

1990 ancestry maps

Great mapping of the ancestry results from the 1990 census. It’s fun to see where everyone ends up:
The Finns in northeastern Minnesota (and the Swedes and the Norwegians who each went a few miles further west), the Poles along the Great Lakes (and in central Nebraska), the Slovaks in Pittsburgh, the Belgians in the Upper Peninsula, the Czechs in central Texas (where they thankfully make Shiner Beer), the famous Utah Danes, the western Iowa Dutch, the Germans all over the Midwest, the Michael Dukakis-led Greeks of Massachusetts, the Irish in Boston and Mississippi (!), the Italians in Jersey, and finally the English, who despite once owning the damned country, seem to have left their mark disproportionately in Maine and Utah.
Finally, of interest to my Cajuncentric worldview, we have the French and French Canadian maps, both of which leave south Louisiana swimming in a sea of red. (And which also serve to prove that (a) the southeast Texas border counties are almost as Cajun as south Louisiana, and (b) north Louisiana is really just southern Arkansas and nothing to get excited about.)
I should also point out that the 1990 census also included “Acadian” as a separate ancestry category (although I can’t find a map for it). I’ve got no doubt that category had a similar, although more pronounced pattern (with perhaps a flicker of color in Maine or Massachusetts).

africa email, centurion

One complication of planning a six-week trip to Africa: You can no longer automatically delete all emails from African-sounding names with subject lines like “IMPORTANT INFORMATION” or “Opportunity For You.” Sure, 99 percent of them are still spam, but they aren’t all spam anymore.
Anyone puzzling over my absence from this site last week should know I was in Centurion Risk Assessment training in the Virginia wilderness. This is the how-to-be-a-war-correspondent-and-not-get-killed course I mentioned some time ago. Among the things I learned in my 2.5 days of training:
– How to sweep vomit out of an unconcious person’s mouth.
– How to deal with a person who has just shot himself in the arm but is still holding the loaded gun while you treat him.
– If someone’s brain fluid is dripping out of their ears, that’s bad.
– If you’re cleaning an entrance wound caused by high-velocity ammunition, be sure to sweep out the little bits of clothes that probaby got sucked in by the ammo’s advance pressure wave.
– If you’re standing behind someone about a fire a Russian rocket propelled grenade — don’t. (Unless you’re more than 40 meters back.)
– How to tell if artillery rounds are getting closer to your sorry ass or farther away.
– Dim your headlights and turn on your interior dome light when you’re approaching a suspicious road checkpoint at night.
– How to give an effective bribe without insulting the bribee.
– How to make a stretcher out of a blanket and six rocks.
– What to write on someone’s forehead if you’ve applied a tourniquet to his leg.
– What chemicals can quickly stop the bleeding when a pig’s femoral artery has been cut.
– If you’re being kidnapped, fight like hell unless it’s clear the kidnappers have superior weaponry.
– If an injured man has a totally inappropriate erection, he’s almost certainly got a fractured pelvis.
– If you find yourself in the middle of a minefield, slowly clear your surrounding area with an improvised metal divining rod, applying pressure below ground at a 30-degree angle, then lying down to clear your way out of the field.
– Don’t buy a bullet-resistant vest that hasn’t passed the California ice pick test.
– If a grenade’s about to go off in front of you, get down on the ground with your head away from the grenade. Cross your feet and keep your mouth open. Running does no good.
– If you need to smash through a car that’s blocking your path, hit it just behind the rear wheel.
– If ambushed at a checkpoint, get out of the car and slither backwards (not forwards!) on your stomach.
– If you’re going to a riot with Molotov cocktails, don’t wear nylon.
– If you’re attacked by dogs, go for the snout.
I bet I just saved a few of my readers’ lives.

idiots on cajunness

Remember that WaPo piece I linked too last week, about KBON radio down in Louisiana?
A week later, the Post printed two letters to the editor quibbling with facts in the article. The facts I quibbled with in my post? Nope, other facts — facts that are actually accurate. (Warning: Those who get bored easily in my Cajuncentric posts should skip ahead.) Let’s start with the unoffensive letter:
The one item I might take issue with is labeling this interesting culture “Cajun” rather than “Creole.” While the people we dealt with [on a visit to south Louisiana] spoke a French patois, and there are certainly “Cajuns” in the area, our contacts seemed to be a mix of Spanish, black and French who prided themselves as being unique and Zydeco as being theirs and theirs alone.
Martin Prochnik

Martin’s right that calling the area “Cajun” is limiting. It’s like calling parts of Boston “Irish” or Harlem “black” — largely accurate from a demographic point of view, but not exhaustive.
Many blacks in south Louisiana, for instance, resent the fact that everything is labeled Cajun. (Like the local university’s sports teams, the Ragin’ Cajuns, who play at Cajun Field during football season or in the Cajundome during basketball season.) There have even been occasional protests to that effect.
My only quibble with Martin is the idea that if you’re not of direct Acadian French descent, you’re not a Cajun. Cajuns are primarily Acadian French, but plenty of Germans, Spaniards, and non-Acadian French snuck into the gene pool along the way. There are lots of Cajuns with names like Romero (Spanish), McGee (Irish), and Stelly (German).
It was intermarriage with these other ethnic groups that really made Cajuns Cajuns and not just Acadians. While some have maintained some of their ethnic identity (notably the Germans), most have assimilated into their Cajunness. I’ve never met anyone in south Louisiana who considered himself “Spanish,” for instance.
My grandfather’s last name is Benton (Irish), and he’s just as Cajun as my relatives with French names like Mouton, Dugas, and Breaux.
Anyway, on to the offensive letter:
I enjoyed Steve Hendrix’s article about Eunice, La., KBON and the surrounding area. I have two comments, admittedly sort of nit-picky:
– Zydeco. The term arrived in Cajun Louisiana with the advent of MTV. Zydeco sounds similar to and is a rip-off of authentic French or Cajun music. The pioneers of this music — anyone over 35, clubs, dance halls and music stores — call the squeeze-box music that I love so well simply “French” music.
– Creole. There are more definitions of “Creole” than I can count. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a Creole in Louisiana’s prairie parishes, and I don’t think there is such a language in south Louisiana as “Creole French.” The many Germans who settled in these parishes brought the accordion, which is the defining instrument of French music. And yes, they do use Creole mustard, but mustard alone does not a Creole make.
Sterling H. Kelbaugh
Thurmont, Md.

Um, Sterling, nope.
To call zydeco an invention of MTV — either the music or the term — is insulting. Go read Michael Tisserand’s The Kingdom of Zydeco — he traces the use of the term back to the 1940s.
Zydeco and Cajun music have developed on parallel (and regularly crossed) tracks since World War II. The simplistic way to put it: Cajun music is the music white Cajuns played. It draws largely from country, folk, and Western swing, and it usually features a fiddle. Zydeco is played by south Louisiana’s French-speaking blacks and is influenced more by R&B, blues, and rock. It’s usually got a rubboard, no fiddle, and more prominent guitar.
But there’s plenty of crossover — much contemporary “Cajun” music shows a very clear zydeco influence.
Yes, old folks do often lump Cajun and zydeco together under the umbrella of “French music.” (My grandmother does exactly that, for instance.) But there are also a lot of old folks who lump Nine Inch Nails, John Denver, and George Clinton together as “rock music.” That doesn’t make further genre definition illegitimate.
And calling zydeco a “ripoff” isn’t just insulting. It’s plum ignorant.
As for Sterling’s second sterling argument:
– “You would be hard-pressed to find a Creole in Louisiana’s prairie parishes.” That might be news to the thousands of African Americans in south Louisiana who consider themselves Creoles. (In 1982, some of them even formed a cultural-preservation group whose acronym is CREOLE to ensure that Cajuns aren’t the only ethnic group associated with south Louisiana.)
– “[A]nd I don’t think there is such a language in south Louisiana as ‘Creole French.'” Again, that’s news to linguists and researchers, who recognize Creole and Cajun as separate (although obviously related) dialects.
It appears that in Sterling Kelbaugh’s world, black people have never contributed anything to south Louisiana. Dumbass. I hate it when the clueless position themselves as experts.
This concludes the latest lengthy chapter of my Cajun Education Project.

myla goldberg

If, like me, you’ve been listening to The Decemberists‘ new album Her Majesty The Decemberists nonstop lately, you may have asked yourself the question:
Who is Myla Goldberg?
As in the album’s track six, “Song for Myla Goldberg.” Well, turns out Myla Goldberg is a novelist, author of Bee Season. Looks like a good read, and Myla seems like an interesting, vaguely crushworthy type. (Any book that combines spelling bees and Jewish mysticism is all right by me.) And judging by her publicity photos, the epithet in the band’s line “Seraphim in seaweed swim where stick-limbed Myla lies” seems appropriate. (The Eliza mentioned in the lyric is the book’s main character.)

red stick ramblers and sea ray update

Bands With Members I Went To School With Update, No. 1: The new Red Stick Ramblers album comes out tomorrow (Tuesday). Their first was terrific, and I’ve no doubt the second will be even better. (The Ramblers, for those not in the know, combine traditional Cajun music with Bob Wills-style Western Swing and Django Reinhardt-style gypsy music. Lots of fast fiddles and beats made for dancin’. I went to high school with mandolin auteur Josh Caffery.)
Bands With Members I Went To School With Update, No. 2: The new disc from Sea Ray, Brooklyn’s finest band, is out October 21. But it’s available for direct order now. Mark my words, indie rockers — I’ve heard most of the new album, and these guys are about to blow up. Get in while it’s still cool. (Check out the review in this week’s New York magazine. I went to college with I-Huei and Greg.)

kbon piece in wapo

Very entertaining piece in yesterday’s Post about KBON, the amazing Cajun/Zydeco/swamp pop/New Orleans R&B/all-around Louisiana music radio station in Eunice, Louisiana. (Eunice is about 15 miles from Rayne, my hometown.) The reporter, Steve Hendrix, became addicted to KBON over the Internet and decided he had to make it down to Eunice to see the station itself.
It’s a good piece, skipping a lot of the more absurd Cajun stereotypes. I’m even willing to look past the sprinkling of errors. (It’s Geno Delafose, not Gino, and Opelousas, not Opalousas. Eunice is due west of Opelousas, not “just north.” All of his pronunciation guides are also screwy: Aucoin is OH-kwahn, not aw-KWAN, boudin is BOO-danh, not boo-DAN, and Savoy is SAHV-wah, not sav-WAH.)
But I do like that Hendrix agrees with me that the Cajun Music Hall of Fame is “modest” (which is code for “it sucks and Josh should start a better one“). And he does a great job of hitting the station’s community tone — particularly these two quotes from the station’s DJs on air:
“Baby chicks! Baby chicks! Baby chicks! Ms. Emily at Fisette’s Feed and Garden Center in Opelousas has just received a large shipment of baby chicks. Get your baby chicks now and by this winter they’ll be just the right size for the gumbo pot.”
And this one: “And one final announcement before we go. If you know David Thibodeaux and his fiancee, Dana, they want you to come to their wedding this Saturday. They said they didn’t have time to get out all the invitations. So if you know Big David and Dana, come on out. It’s gonna be a good party.”

pitcairn, leon salt fired

Leon Salt, the man who runs Pitcairn Island has been fired. Longtime readers will remember I went to Pitcairn, one of the most remote inhabited places on earth, in 1999 and wrote a few stories about it. (Main one here [part one] and here [part two].)
Pitcairn’s in a heap of trouble nowadays, since seven of the 45 islanders (and six other ex-Pitcairners) are now facing child rape and molestation charges. Allegedly, sex between adult men and girls has been a Pitcairn tradition for decades. The men are set to go on trial next year, and island supporters fear that if the trial could tear the island apart and empty out what’s left of its minuscule population. It’s an amazing and tragic story.
Leon and I had a few squabbles regarding my trip to Pitcairn, but I never had any doubt he’s a good guy with the island’s interests at heart. His superiors are alleging he tried to obstruct justice. I’ve got no idea, but the most heartening thing about his sacking is this quote: “Believe me, I will have a lot to say on this very shortly.” Since there aren’t any reporters who cover Pitcairn on a regular basis, there’s been a weird lack of information on the trial and the investigation. I’m really looking forward to hearing what Leon has to say.

post hurricane life

I’d like to thank all of you for the concern you expressed about my welfare in the middle of Hurricane Isabel. (Oh, that’s right — I didn’t get any such expressions.)
Washington has a reputation as a city that overreacts to weather. Predict a half inch of snow and the whole district shuts down. Yesterday, the city shut down the Metro (subway) network at 11 a.m. — with the sun shining bright and barely a breeze in the air. Isabel was a big nothing here.
We Pew Fellows decided the time was right to have a hurricane party, and shortly after midnight (when Isabel was supposed to be doing its worst to D.C.), we felt the time was right for a walk. We moseyed, a bit tipsy, down 17th Street, past the Old Executive Office Building, past the Ellipse, through Constitution Gardens, and to the Vietnam memorial. The weather was gorgeous, the wind was great, and the streets were abandoned. A terrific night.
On the other hand, every event/class/meeting/interview I’ve had scheduled for the last two days has been cancelled. Lack of structure typically means lack of productivity for me — must battle that.

weird links

A few things I’ve been storing up to link these last few weeks.
When pointy-toed shoes attack: “A few well-heeled women are even requesting surgery such as toe shortening and nail narrowing to lessen the pain without reducing their fashion quotient. Other remedies include collagen injections that add temporary padding to the soles of the feet.”
Trendsetter: “Michael Jackson…arrives at the Santa Barbara airport yesterday wearing pajama pants – while carrying an umbrella, a fishing rod and an electric fan.
Donut demands: “The 17-year-old had received and eaten a free doughnut from Krispy Kreme, 7501 Peach St., about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The teenager stepped back into line and asked for another free doughnut…When a Krispy Kreme employee refused to give him one, the boy left. The teen returned a short time later with a McDonald’s bag covering his head, with eyeholes torn out so he could see. He stepped back into line and asked for a free doughnut. When he was refused again, the teen fell to the floor, flailed his arms and legs, and demanded a free doughnut.”
A bright Lem Lom: “Police say tracking this thief was a snap. The loot was a computerized tracking device that uses the global positioning system and Internet technology to keep track of jail prisoners on home detention. ‘He apparently didn’t know what he had because he would be awfully stupid to steal a tracking device,’ said correctional officer Thomas Roth, who runs the home detention program at the Rock County Jail.”
Stoooooopid: “A young man who told friends he wanted to jump from a moving car to earn a tattoo leapt from a Subaru at 40 mph Monday afternoon and died almost instantly….He had told two friends in the car that he planned to jump…But the friends didn’t think he would do it…’The person who jumped had been telling his friends for the last month that he needed to jump from a moving car so he could have a traumatic incident in his life so he could get a tattoo,’ [the cop] said.”
No comment: “A Department of Motor Vehicles employee reported to police Tuesday that she received a suspicious postcard from a customer that showed a banana being shot with the wording ‘(banana=DMV).’ Investigators are trying to locate the man for questioning…The employee told police, Moxley said, that the man approached her at 3:20 p.m. to have his license application processed and when he was asked for proof of address he handed her the odd postcard. ‘We don