What the Helen of Troy is This?


I’ve noticed a lot of these blue roses pop up around town. Anyone know what “close the school of Americas” is about? On a side note I think the glue that dripped down the side actually looks kinda cool.

39 Comment

  • The School of the Americas (now called WHISC) is located in Fort Benning, Georgia. It is a U.S. military facility used primarily to train Latin American military officials. It was particularly controversial during the Cold War, when it was discovered that torture techniques were being taught there. Yeah, that’s bad news, but it’s not like Latin American militaries need us to teach them how to torture……

  • What JTH said about the SOA is correct – but I don’t understand your final comment “it’s not like Latin American militaries need us to teach them how to torture……”?

  • Goddamn man, I am sorry but this is ridiculous.

    Yeah, Google.

    This is a government and international city, even if PoP was transmitted by smoke signals in a post-apocalyptic world, you could ask your neighbor (white collar educated, or working class latino) and probably get an informed answer to that question.

    (side note: that’s not glue dripping down, it’s either ink or spay paint intentionally applied to give it that “bleeding out” effect.)

  • Ray Swore: exactly.

  • +1 Ray Swore

    I generally enjoy this blog, but PoP has a lazy habit of asking questions in his posts that could easy be answered by The Google or its cousin, The Wikipedia. Ironically, it takes less effort to Google the answer than it does to type up a post and wait for a commenter to tell you the answer.

    So perhaps it’s just PoP’s cloying desire for attention, then.

  • It’s called content. The only successful blogs are those that have continually changing content, fast, frequent, glorious content. You try creating 10 plus posts a day on a neighborhood blog and not pose easily answered questions.

  • That said, the school of the americas is still training torturers and placing them in latin america to run the drug war abroad in ways that would shock the conscious of most. it should be shut down, although it would just pop up under another name. what really needs to happen is that the people of the world need to stop giving their governments a pass when they torture, train others to torture and perpetuate policies that include torture. USA I’m looking in your general direction.

  • voiceofreason: Content would be looking up the answer and including it with the photo. Instead, PoP throws up a photo, asks his commentariat “What Is It?” and moves on to the next post.

    High quality stuff.

    And +1 on your torture comments.

  • @voice

    10 posts a day is not crazy considering PoP is a full-time thing. Keep in mind that at min 1/3 of them are pictures of doors, patios/decks. reader contributed real estate listings, and/or user submitted pictures. A fair amount are of storefront with info gleaned from the permits int he window, or odd posts cross posted from other sites. Point is, it’s not heavy content.

    I don’t mean to snark, but let me prove my point…

    Last week there was a post about a home near the naval observatory with a question about why it looks kind of odd — because it had a flag out front, I Googled “green yellow red flag” and found it (Mali, Africa.) Quick Google Map of “Mali Embassy DC” shows a street view of it listed elsewhere. From PoP’s description, the house was in a heavy embassy area. Another reader recognized diplomatic plates.

    Conclusion: it’s probably Malis new embassy, or the residence of its Ambassador.

    Anyway, took 5 minutes to find out via Google. A call to the Embassy could solve the question, and probably provide information about the building (saw their homepage, they have about 6 friendly looking people on staff) — did the Embassy move? Is it a residence that used to be an embassy, and what’s its history? Who designed it? Seeing as how its an African embassy, it might have an interesting backstory — what coups saw it change hands, what exactly happens to an embassy when a coup removes a govt? Do they sit tight in DC and pretend they still run the county? Are there competing embassies in the city? How many unrecognized “embassies” are there? Now that is a weird interesting little world of D.C. life that we have no idea about.

    A 15 minute phone convo can answer that, or just a few minutes on Google. My first thought was, “Shit, what insane percentage of a small undeveloped nation like Mali’s does it cost to buy a $3 million dollar home in D.C.?” Cool little fact.

    Right now, Google’s front page says Mali’s GDP is $8.74B, and their per capita GDP is $470, making them one of the world’s 10 poorest nations. Apple calculator says that is roughly .00034% of GDP. Comparatively, that’s like our $13.84T economy spending $4.705B on an embassy somewhere. Guess how much the VATICAN-SIZED embassy in downtown Baghdad costs.. $600M. Yes, if we spent the money Mali spent on their Embassy & Ambassador’s residence, we could buy 8 Vactican cities in Baghdad. We spend 1/8 of what Mali does, and get a Vatican that houses a staff of 5,500. They spend 8 times what we do, and house probably a few of their 6 employees. Say it costs $470 to call a plumber in D.C. and get a couple hours of his time. That’s like one of our embassies paying $46,900 to repair a toilet somewhere. Thats probably what it would cost us to fix a toilet on the U.S. Embassy on the Moon.

    I didn’t mean to harp, was just having fun trying it out. The point is, that took me no more than 20 minutes to Google all that stuff, and I never left the search page of Google.

    It would be cool if posts like this one, had a little background about the School of Americas and a request for the artist (or readers that know him) to email PoP and explain his intent and thoughts behind the poster, and the School of Americas. As is, its like looking at someone’s digital camera sometimes. PoP is free, which is awesome, but it is a full time job.

  • @Ray Swore- The point is not whether or not you can find information elsewhere. The questions are a way of getting discussion going. If you don’t like reading it, then don’t.

  • Ray Swore – dito.
    Quality vs Quantity – tell the story of the city can drive discussion just as much as a simple question.

  • Ray Swore:

    It seems, at least to this reader, that this blog is reader participatory; where the posts incite neighborly participation, comment, and challenge within a shared territory.

    It’s a neighborhood on-line, not a catalog of investigative journalism.

    Through pictures and short narratives parts of Washington you haven’t seen in a while and parts you’ve never seen are brought to us Washingtonians by this modern medium.

    You’re way off the mark if you think our Prince is lazy. This is a commercial medium where our Prince makes it happen, and the wonderful, generous people in the right column make it possible.

    You fail to recognize the work beyond posting and content: the walking of miles a day, and the cultivating, cuddling, and maintaining the roster of advertisers I at least seek to patronize and you can see in the right column >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Ray Swore: Get your own blog, start doing your own research, and write it up. No snark, I will read it. But I can’t stand people who bitch in the comments about a blog being boring. If it doesn’t interest you, don’t read it.

  • VOR – first time I’ve fully agreed with everything you said!

    And @ Anon801 – good point about this blog being reader participatory. This is the only blog (only website, actually!) I comment on; PoP has done a great job of enticing readers to participate, and the knowledge of the combined group is pretty amazing!

  • I think the new columbia heights blog has a better balance of quantity vs quality and provides content that isn’t readily available.

  • Ray-Swore, your post was so long and boring I had to stop halfway through it. Personally I’d rather read through the comments than listen to your lecture. If you think you can do better go for it but I’ll be sticking around this blog.

  • I second Mal & E-Rich – if you think this blog lacks content, is boring, or if the new columbia heights blog is better – don’t read this one!

    Seriously, what’s the point of making snarky comments about the content of this blog? There’s the escape key

  • I like the blog the way it is!!! Así es el maní…


  • Vonstallin

    Well I think its hard to come up with enuff stuff to keep people interest up. stiff competition from all the other bog sites, geographicaly bound to a certain area (would you want to hear about pg county?) every day you have to walk in search of cool stuff.

    He may have known the answer to the question he ask. He probably posted it in a question format to get us talking about it. If every post read like Wiki/google definition not many will post. I’m sure he google/wiki.

  • Gee folks, snarky much? I like the fact that PoP asks these questions instead of using Google or Wikipedia. It is a way of engaging your readers. By the way, there are some of us out there who actually know what these things are, rather than having to look them up.

  • One thing you won’t find on the Google is this little tidbit: The Nazis excelled at training dogs to rape women especially, and the US took that knowledge and transferred it to the Chilean military via the School of the Americas, and the Chilean military made it a central torture method and taught the Argentinian military as well, and now it remains a common method the world over (Sri Lanka used it recently). This is mentioned in an Isabel Allende book and was the subject of much academic debate over the years, and was discussed during the Kerry Commission Iran/Contra hearings of the 1980s, where it was also revealed the School was instrumental in working out cocaine for cash money transfers that started the crack epidemic in LA via Freeway Ricky Ross. Search for info on that, but the dog stuff is obviously not for the faint of heart. Your tax dollars at work, and don’t ever forget it.

  • Keep posting, PoP. I really don’t understand why people would cry about this. Some folks must have woken up wearing their sensitive pants today.

    Another thing a google search might not show is who is responsible for putting these up around town. The commenters tend to know these extra details. And like others have said, it gets a discussion going one way or another.

  • I think of the PoP as a moderator, and his query about this topic was perfect. Anyone who doesn’t know what the School of the Americas was now knows. And you can learn some other interesting stuff along the way, like training dogs to rape and the GDP of Mali in US$. Way to go, Prince, keep it up. Everyone else, too.

  • 22 comments and counting. Google-able? Yes. Would it have driven this much traffic? No. Welcome to the world of professional blogwriting.

  • P.S. I don’t think I’d be reading PoP if he were writing some self-absorbed crap about what an expert he is in all these various fields and we’d be better people if we listened to him. What makes him great is that he finds some really interesting stuff and asks US what we think about it.

  • If PoP didn’t ask these questions then what would we all have to talk and argue about. As for the School of the Americas, if we didn’t train Latin American militaries the region just wouldn’t just magically forsake violence. At least now the US can have a little bit of influence over what goes on there and try to look out for our interests in what is effectively our national backyard.

  • Hmmm, I learned something new today. Enough said, except that Ray Swore dude sounds like a real ass hole. By the way Ray Swore, I stopped reading your post half way through the first paragraph. It bored me.

  • Ops! Is calling someone an ass hole a personal attack? My bad. I just hate negative people…and on a FRIDAY. It rubbed me wrong.

  • Hey K st, we are nobody´s backyard hermano, ¡No volverán!

  • @those knocking POP

    The reason people read this blog is not for regurgitated wikipedia entries. People read this for the posts AND the community. I’m always interested in what 30 people who live near me think about a local issue.

    As for the googling, I can do that myself.

  • Wow, K St — so I suppose that terrorists are just going to be violent anyway so the U.S. government should have no problem with government funding of terrorist training camps?

    Oh wait, we’re fighting a war in Afghanistan, never mind — because apparently it’s wrong when OTHER countries do it but when the U.S. does it, it can be considered having “a little bit of influence” in what is “effectively our national backyard.”

    The residents of Latin America and their democratically elected governments (ok, a few are a bit suspect on the “democratic” part these days, I’ll admit) respectfully disagree with you.

  • I know I’m late to the party, and everyone gets made when you criticize the blog, but I agree that from my vantage, there’s an uptake of easily-answered-yet-unanswered questions floating around here, and it annoys me.

    You can say “just don’t read then,” but I like PoP, and I’ve been reading this blog forever, and I’d like to continue. But yeah, I will get tired of it with posts like this.

    Nothing wrong with a few commenters making that known, and I’m sure PoP would like to know if people dislike some aspect of his blog. It is, you know, his livelihood.

  • @Jeff Vitkun: I too think its incredibly important that you have a place to find out what people who live near you think about a local issue. And PoP is – in its way – a source for that. But given the ultra-wide area covered by the blog – essentially all of NW east of the park, plus Georgetown and Cleveland Park – its tough to say that all of those comments are coming from your neighbors. Beyond that, its hard for me to believe that offering a little more substance would really harm the community forum aspect of the blog. It might, in fact, inform a wider-ranging discussion. Particularly given the slow decline of print journalism, I think there’s an important role for blogs to play. Its just not clear to me how this one – one that is the owner’s paid occupation – is helping to fill that gap.

    For instance, wouldn’t a four part series with, say Muriel Bowser be interesting, thought provoking, and potentially provide new information or insights that you might not otherwise have had access to?

    He recently told viewers of The Traveling Talk Show that, if they want to write a successful blog, they should pick something they care about and stick to it.. If that is, in fact, what he’s trying to do, it seems that what he cares about writing about is real estate and architectural details. But there are plenty of good sites in the DC area that already cover aspects of that. See here, here or here for that sort of thing.

    I don’t want regurgitated Wikipedia entries either – but the dude gets paid. I think he should do something to earn the money (and by the way, plenty of people write good blogs about their neighborhoods in DC, most of whom don’t appear to have any advertising at all.)

    The ANCs do a terrible job of publicizing their activities – granted, they have little power, but its a good way to know about what’s going on in your community. I appreciate that the blog covering my neighborhood goes to those meetings when I can’t and blogs about the goings-on. Every once in a while, a local news story gets picked up from a blogger by a bigger media organization and the story gets greater legs, potentially leading to some action or change. Without PoP doing any sort of research, interviews, or analysis on his own though, its hard for me to imagine that sort of thing happening. Even grass roots actions need leaders to provide the impetus – otherwise its just a bunch of commenters on a blog sniping at each other. Alas, I have a day job, that if I weren’t home sick from today, I would be spending 9 hours today working on. Dan has a luxury in that he’s paid to provide this space – maybe he could fill it with just a little more, that’s all I’m saying.

  • thematt – Bloomingdale has a new local blog now that IMGoph has moved to Trinidad – In Bloom: http://www.inbloomingdale.com/

  • I tried to post, but it isn’t showing. Am I blocked?

  • It says this is a duplicate entry, but there’s no original posted..

    Try this again… Hey — didn’t mean to invite all the scorn and sour the atmosphere here.

    Anyway, I’m with “the_matt” though. I don’t need Wiki regurgitation, but I do think a little more content and personal & neighbor anecdotes would be for the benefit of this blog and its readers (and Pop’s effort at maintaing his sponsorship.)

    I brought this up, because PoP is Dan’s source of employment, so although it’s none of my business how he writes and I can take my eyeballs elsewhere, it does kind of leave an itch in my pants knowing that he is essentially a journalist. When I look at his work from that perspective (that he is a member of that profession), I just think he’s not meeting the same expectations we’d apply to a neighborhood newsletter or similar small publications.

  • Jesus.. the rest of it was lost. oh well. no offense

  • Just a couple of points on the issues of the Army’s School of the Americas (closed by law nine years ago) and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation which Pres. Clinton and the Congress created in public law to replace the school. Not one piece of evidence has ever been found that indicates either institution contributed to any crime of any sort–NONE! The Wikipedia entries for both were posted by opponents of the organizations; every attempt to correct the record is denied because those of us who actually work with or for WHINSEC are considered ‘biased’ on the issue! Finally, WHINSEC has both military and civilian oversight, including members of Congress who review its performance every year. Every report (available to the public on the federal committee database) says the Institute is doing what the Congress directed, and doing it well–morally, ethically, and legally. You can come see for yourself, any work day.

  • Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.


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