WPSU

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome to Dixieland

Both of us want to take this chance to say a heartfelt thanks for your expressions of sympathy over the last two weeks--it means so much to both of us.
In the news: A SlowBoat's-eye view of Fort Sumter, South Carolina,
where the Civil War started 150 years ago this week. 

We've back on the boat today, and heading north up the Chesapeake.   Back in Homer, Mom pointed to the map and raised her eyebrows: "You're going to be way out THERE?"

Yup!  Back in the groove: dodging crab pots, waving to the Coast Guard, scoping for loons, which are starting to show their spring checkerboard plumage. Sixty-four degrees and feels like 40, wearing all my fleece.  It's bittersweet. After all, the seed for this trip was planted two years ago when Cap resolved to give his dad a treat by renting a boat and cruising the Erie Canal.

Driving south Tuesday we crossed the line into Virginia and the first thing we saw was an elaborate fireworks establishment, flying the Confederate flag over a billboard that read: "Welcome to Dixieland."
The 33-star flag over Fort Sumter
More info HERE

Dixie!  If you consume any media at all, you may have noticed that Tuesday also marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. This trip has floated us past so much Civil War history. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, we visited Fort Sumter, where the first shots were fired on April 12, 1861.

Our trip focuses on energy technologies, not American history or social justice. But these are hardly monolithic topics.  From an economic (and a "principles of physics") perspective, the institution of slavery WAS an energy technology. It was a way to accomplish work.  Slave owners used cheap human labor instead of other energy sources, such as hydropower, wind power, steam power, and horse or mule power.



The former Slave Mart in Charleston.
Click HERE for an amazing radio interview with
a woman who portrays a slave at Colonial Williamsburg
Slavery was not only immoral, it hid the true cost of energy consumption. Hey! Kind of like our economy today.  Labor was cheap then; energy is (comparatively) cheap now.

If slave-owners had instead been required to pay a living wage to their many employees, the antebellum economy would been quite different. And if WE had to pay the hidden costs of using fossil fuels, OUR economy would be quite different too.

OK, enough musing.  Welcome back to the SlowBoat blog, and we're glad you're along for the ride.

Keep reading (new post below) below for the latest boat news.

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If you want to visit SlowBoat, we expect to be in Annapolis sometime between Saturday, April16, and Monday, April 18.  Send email to slowboatcruise@gmail.com

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