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When Will It Bring Forth a Mouse?

Watch the skies Mount St. Helens continues to labor, producing further steam and tremors. For those of us watching events from a distance, it would be hard to ask for better weather for the occasion: being, after all, a mountain, St. Helens is often surrounded by clouds or haze that would interfere with viewing, but these past several days have been of the pristine, clear blue sort. (I previously mentioned my sister and her family to the south in Washougal, Washington, but I suspect the better long distance views have been available to my brother- and sister-in-law, who live in Winlock, about 40 miles west and slightly north. The side of the mountain shown on the Mighty Volcanic Webcam points roughly in that direction.)

Attention Conspiracy Theorists -- The webcam photo captured above was taken 30 minutes or so after the most recent steam-venting eruption. As you can see, the activity had already begun to subside by the time this picture was made. Note, however, the upper right-hand corner, in which our intrepid camera has captured evidence that the current movement of fresh magma may be associated with the presence of Black Helicopters. Draw your own conclusions.

Blawg Republic

Welcome if you will Blawg Republic, an online aggregator of legal and law-related weblogs. Not only does the site gather and correlate a large and growing number of RSS feeds, each of its sub-categories generates its own feed, thus allowing you to collect your choice of feeds of feeds and to refeed them back out via your own feed. And so on. (It's a Circle of Life thing, it seems.)

Although my lawyerly pursuits intrude themselves here only occasionally, this Fool site has been included in Blawg Republic's "General Law" category. A perusal of Blawg Republic's Blawg Directory reveals that, for the moment at least, my more-truly-legal weblog (you know, Declarations and Exclusions) has the "Insurance Law" category all to itself. No doubt as the site's coverage expands and fine tunes itself (it only launched this week) that category will expand to include such worthwhile sites as Dave Stratton's Insurance Defense Blog, Professor Martin Grace's a tort et a travers and the anonymous but knowledgeable Uncivil Litigator. The more the merrier, says I.

News from the Big Woo

St_helens_captureMy sister and her family live in Washougal, Washington, about 40 miles to the south and west of Mount St. Helens, so she's forwarded along to me a link to the U.S. Forest Service webcam pointed at the volcano. The mountain seems to be launching its eruption at the moment, which is why you probably can't get through to the camera, here, due to heavy traffic.

Alan Sullivan -- who has done a sterling job of construing satellite imagery of assorted hurricanes these past weeks -- has turned his attention to another natural force and has been keeping a view from the webcam at the top of his page, although he too is suffering access issues.

The Big Woo, supra, is also a volcano, but does not exist except in fiction.

UPDATES: You may also have better luck accessing the camera's images via this link.
There's video available here. (Sure, it's a Fox station, but the story is probably reliable nonetheless.)
Finally, I've taken the liberty of uploading an image I captured from the webcam at about the start of today's eruption. Click the thumbnail above for a larger version. (The camera is located at the Johnson Ridge observation center, about 5 miles from the mountain itself.)

FINAL UPDATE (Really) 2:15 P.M. PDT: You can probably get through to the webcam with relative ease now as the eruption has proven, initially at least, to be a brief one. Alan Sullivan has put up a post featuring the seismograph trace to accompany his original report.

Here's some detail from the USGS press conference:

When asked, 'What happens now?', Major responded with, 'We’re going to keep a close eye on the seismicity and if it ramps back up, it will be an indication that it’s not over; and if the seismicity dies down, that will show that it’s a one shot deal.'

Sounds like a reasonable assessment to me.

The Herbalist Speaks of Liberty

David Giacalone posed a religio-political teaser for weblogging law Professors Bainbridge and Grace:

[S]ince politics are everywhere, I wonder how being a libertarian squares with being a devout Catholic. Sincere inquiries from an apostate.

Martin Grace has responded here, and may have more to say later. I have no qualifications to address this question myself, and I wouldn't even bring the matter up if I hadn't stumbled last night upon an Example From Literature that may be relevant.

Yesterday, I posted a quotation from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel, The Leopard, which is my evenings' reading this week. The book follows a Sicilian prince, Don Fabrizio of the House of Salina, during the early 1860s, as Garibaldi and company bring about the ouster of the Bourbon monarchy and the unification of Italy, with the accompanying rise of the bourgeoisie and decline of the old nobility. Among those attached to the Prince is the Jesuit Father Pirrone. In the latter part of the book, Father Pirrone takes a few days away from Palermo to visit the tiny hamlet of San Cono, where he was born. San Cono, we are told, is today "thanks to the bus . . . almost a satellite star in the solar system of Palermo, but a century ago belonged as it were to a planetary system of its own, being four or five cart-hours from the Palermo sun."

In the evening in San Cono, Father Pirrone sits in his room talking with a group that includes a local herbalist. The conversation turns to the changes being brought about by the post-unification regime. Father Pirrone advises that they all must "face up to the reality of this atheist and rapacious Italian state now in formation, to these laws of expropriation, to conscription which would spread from Piedmont all the way down here, like cholera. 'You'll see,' was his not very original conclusion, 'you'll see they won't even leave us eyes to weep with.'"

These words were followed by the traditional chorus of rustic complaints. The Schiró brothers and the herbalist already felt the new fiscal grip; the former had had extra contributions and additions here and there, the latter an overwhelming shock: he had been called to the Town Hall and told that if he didn't pay twenty lire every year he wouldn't be allowed to sell his potions. 'But I go and gather the grasses, these holy herbs God made, with my own hands in the mountains, rain or shine, on certain days and nights of the year. I dry them in the sun, which belongs to everybody, and I grind them myself, with my own grandfather's mortar. What have you people at the Town Hall to do with it? Why should I pay you twenty lire? Just for nothing like that?'

Thus literature teaches us that even a good, simple 19th century Sicilian Catholic prefers his God-given liberty to the petty depredations of the state. Next question, please.