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Savannah Georgia

 

 

Savannah was the first British settlement in Georgia, named after King George II and thus the one time State capital and one of the oldest cities in North America.  It has since been eclipsed both as capital and in size by Atlanta but retains a southern charm that Atlanta lacks.

It was established on the Savannah river by James Oglethorpe, a social reformer and philanthropist, to provide land and a living to the 'worthy poor' of Britain who at that time were spilling out of the debtors prisons.   Among the crops that were brought from London and trialled by the would-be farmers was cotton.  This quickly became a cash crop in the south of North America feeding the cotton mills of Manchester and Birmingham.  But it was soon realised that the colony's ban on slavery would need to be lifted if the new entrepreneurs were to compete with the nearby Spanish and French slave states that had begun to grow cotton in competition. London duly complied and slavery thus became essential to economic success in this 'free market'.

Savannah is a very attractive city with pleasant parks and some fine old houses including the South's oldest public art museum: "with American & European works spread over 3 themed buildings".  The contemporary Jepson Center was featuring a Rodin exhibition which we decided not to fit in to our schedule, arguing that Rodin's work is replicated in many places.  So we parked the car midtown and walked the leafy streets to the river.  Very pleasant.

 


Historic Savannah - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

 

Wormsloe

Wormsloe is an Historic Estate established in 1736 by Noble Jones, one of James Oglethorpe's settlers, on Skidaway Island.  Noble Jones was the sort of 'jack of all trades' needed to establish a new settlement.  He was both innovative and well educated with: carpentry; surveying and mathematical skills; people skills; and hands-on technical knowhow.  It was he who surveyed and laid out the city of Savannah for Oglethorpe. He later became a member of the Royal Council and a senior Justice.

In many ways it was Noble Jones who was responsible for the success of the colony as he took charge when Oglethorpe was not present.  Like Oglethorpe he was opposed to slavery but in the end got overruled when the new settlers appealed to London.  Australians may remember that Governor Macquarie was similarly overruled and recalled when new settlers appealed to London.  Not in the interests of slavery but for the reverse, his policy of emancipating and elevating former convicts to positions of authority over free settlers. 

Initially Noble Jones built a fortified house on Skidaway Island that commands the river flats.  Again there is an Australian connection.  He manufactured lime by mining and firing aboriginal shell middens that had accumulated over thousands of years of oyster and other shell fish gathering by the natives.  This was then combined with more shells and sand to produce a soft concrete called 'tabby' that's particularly effective in absorbing musket fire.  Later he built a more commodious family home that still stands.   There's even a cricket pitch.  Probably one of the first in North America.

He's buried near the original fortified house, overlooking the river. 

 


Wormsloe Historic Estate - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

From Savannah we would return to South Carolina to Charleston to drop off the car and catch a flight to New Orleans.

 

 

 

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Travel

Israel

 

 

 

A Little Background

The land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea, known as Palestine, is one of the most fought over in human history.  Anthropologists believe that the first humans to leave Africa lived in and around this region and that all non-African humans are related to these common ancestors who lived perhaps 70,000 years ago.  At first glance this interest seems odd, because as bits of territory go it's nothing special.  These days it's mostly desert and semi-desert.  Somewhere back-o-Bourke might look similar, if a bit redder. 

Yet since humans have kept written records, Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, early Muslims, Christian Crusaders, Ottomans (and other later Muslims), British and Zionists, have all fought to control this land.  This has sometimes been for strategic reasons alone but often partly for affairs of the heart, because this land is steeped in history and myth. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The U-2 Incident

 

 

 

In 1960 the Russians shot down an American U-2 spy plane that was overflying and photographing their military bases.  The U-2 Incident was big news when I was in High School and I remember it quite clearly. 

The Incident forms the background to Bridge of Spies a 2015 movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance from a screenplay written by Matt Charman together with Ethan and Joel Coen that centres on these true events. 

Spielberg and the Cohen Brothers.  Who could miss it?

 

 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Whither Peak Oil

 

 

The following paper was written back in 2007.  Since that time the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) struck and oil prices have not risen as projected.  But we are now hearing about peak oil again and there have been two programmes on radio and TV in the last fortnight floating the prospect of peak oil again. 

At the end of 2006 the documentary film A Crude Awakening warned that peak oil, ‘the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum production is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline’, is at hand. 

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