Clarence “Gatemouth’ Brown Dies

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Grammy-award winning guitarist and singer Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown has died in Texas at the age of 81.

He died, surrounded by his family in Orange, Texas.

He had been battling heart problems and lung cancer, and he recently lost his home in Slidell, Louisiana to Hurricane Katrina.

“I’m sure he was heartbroken, both literally and figuratively,” said his booking agent Rick Cady.

“He evacuated successfully before the hurricane hit, but I’m sure it weighed heavily on his soul.”

He had recorded with Eric Clapton and Frank Zappa amongst others, in a career that lasted over fifty years.

He spent most of his life in Texas, but was born in Louisiana. He cited his fiddle playing railroad working father as his main musical inspiration, saying if he could play his guitar like his father could play the fiddle, he knew he was doing right.

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Company Policy

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Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs underneath it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After awhile, another monkey makes the attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace that monkey with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and another attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another one of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Everytime the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they are not permitted to climb the stairs or why or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.

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A Rethink Needed?

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It doesn’t seem wise to be disbanding Federal Emergency Management Agency, and certainly not after the devastation of Katrina. FEMA really came into it’s own after Hurricane Andrew made such a mess in South Florida in 1992. Until now, Andrew had been the costliest natural disaster to hit the United States. It looks like Katrina could surpass that, not only in terms of the financial cost, but the cost in human lives, livelihoods, and suffering.

The writing has been on the wall for FEMA ever since the first GW Bush administration came into office in 2001. Since 9/11 the accent has been very much focused on the prevention of terrorism, and plans to deal with the aftermath of any such activity should it occur.

Whilst this is surely important, one thing is for sure – there will be more hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, and other major natural catastrophes, which are certain to happen again, sooner or later.

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Another Eye to the World