Our Lady of Paris

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

Once upon a time way back in the day when I was still wet behind the ears, I was a draftsman. I worked with architects and structural engineers drawing all kinds of buildings and structures, from public schools to bridges, churches to foundries.

There was nothing like the unlimited promise of virgin vellum beneath my graphite, waiting to become something realized in two dimensions before it became real in three dimensions. I still miss that feeling, watching the crisp expanse of white and grey lines become a building I would eventually see built across town.

You can imagine what a structure like the Notre-Dame of Paris means to someone who made a living working with designers, builders, and craftsmen responsible for buildings used by the public. What an immense challenge she must have been to the artisans of her time, all working together to make this incredible monument to human skill and dedication.

It has also meant a lot to me because some of my antecedents were French and Catholic. My family can trace them through church records to the 16th century and the religious wars which destroyed earlier churches and ravaged Notre-Dame at one time. Their lives were shaped in some way by the politics that worked through the French Catholic church and Notre-Dame.

Some of my family lived within sight of the cathedral at Rouen; others lived within sight of the cathedral at Poitiers, both of them built using similar flying buttress architecture like that of Notre-Dame de Paris. Though not all my family were Catholic at the time, it was a family member who was very tight with the church who was selected to assist and travel with the brethren of the Society of Jesus in what would become Quebec. Were it not for this relationship between this ancestor and the church, I would not be here writing this in North America today. There are millions of us across the country who share similar heritage.

A day after the fire started, what’s left after the flames’ destruction looks better than it could have though I remain skeptical about the scale of loss. I haven’t worked with restoration of structures this old, but I’ve worked on recovery for a number of projects, some of which were damaged during construction and repairs. They are nearly always more challenging than initial estimates.

At this point I want to interject and make a point about Glenn Beck’s utterly ignorant and irresponsible remark yesterday, intended to stir religious hate. He knows jack shit about construction and restoration, let alone how to care for 800-year-old antiques. Anything he says is uninformed on this topic.

It would have been incredibly easy for the cathedral to catch fire during repairs. If you’ve ever run a power saw and hit something metal, you know sparks are a realistic risk. There could have been problems with electrical equipment; we don’t know if there was any aged wiring installed in the roof.

Nor was this France’s “9/11 moment” as Beck called it. This wasn’t a terrorist embedded in a construction crew, working diligently for months to assemble a massive scaffolding platform around the flèche (spire) of the Notre-Dame, taking down the copper statues, waiting for the perfect moment to drop a match out of religious hate. What idiotic poppycock.

Meanwhile, within reach of aged tapestries, hundreds of votive candles continued to burn in the nave throughout the fire. Sure, Beck, it was a terrorist on the roof when a determined terrorist could simply have walked in through the massive Portal of the Judgement smack in the middle at the west end of the cathedral.

Construction accidents like this happen. I’ve worked on projects that had major failures, most often due to contractors unintentionally skipping a step in the project plan, and the investigation afterward can be grueling. It’s why these kinds of restoration jobs can be difficult to bid out — imagine trying to underwrite this particular job.

What will make this restoration job different and possibly easier is the wealth of accumulated knowledge from other church fires and restorations — like Sweden’s Katarina Church or the cathedral of Reims — as well as data gathered about the Notre-Dame

One data source certain to be employed is the digital scans made of Notre-Dame by art historian Andrew Tallon. Though he died in 2018, his work documenting the cathedral’s structure will live on in the restoration to come. Thank goodness for his personal obsession with Notre-Dame assured a digitized image which also indicated structural weakness from centuries of aging before the fire which must be repaired.

Some of aging, reported on last year, had already been under repair — and here we are, faced with an even larger repair.

At least this time the repairs may last longer than the ones done after Victor Hugo wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame. France has begun a campaign to phase out fossil fuel vehicles with Paris leading the way. Air pollution has hastened the decline of buildings like the Notre-Dame as emissions are acidic and eat at structures. By this summer diesel vehicles 20 years old or older will be banned from Paris; eventually, all fossil fuel vehicles will be banned from Paris by 2030 and all of France by 2040.

Perhaps by then the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris will be completed to face a cleaner future.

What burned yesterday:

This graphic isn’t particularly good quality but it does a reasonable job of depicting the greatest portion of the building affected by fire — the roof trusses above the stone vaulted ceiling as well as the metal cladding.

Here is another older drawing of the Notre-Dame in cross section (source unknown):

What we don’t know yet is how much of roofing over the aisle/gallery on each side of the cathedral may have been involved or damaged by water used on the roof above. Nor do we know how much of any flammable items were damaged inside the church, from pews to the organ, nor do we yet know the full scale of the damage to the church’s once-magnificent stained glass windows. It appears the famous Rose windows may have been saved.

This link shows the Notre-Dame’s metal roof — note the grey lead in contrast to the verdigris copper statuary which had thankfully been removed from around the flèche during the ongoing repairs. The lead has all melted or vaporized.

Note also in the image at this link the stonework shows decay; the basic-to-neutral Lutetian limestone has been softened by acid rain caused by air pollution. Let’s hope the reconstruction project will address these problems at the same time as they have begun to threaten the stability of the structure.

And no matter what you hear about the reconstruction project to come, it’s still too soon for an assessment as the stones are likely still warm and have not fully cooled to pre-fire temperatures. Rapid cooling of the stone may continue the fire’s damage, causing cracks into which water and pollution can settle and expand, breaking stones.

It is, however, a perfect time to talk about funding the work ahead and whether the work will duplicate the original as much as possible or incorporate contemporary technology to ensure a longer span of time between future repairs.

This is an open thread. Do bring all your discussion about Notre-Dame de Paris here, though.

155 replies
  1. Vern says:

    Via TPM: Federal Judge Says Barr Stirring Concern About Mueller Report Redactions


    “… At the hearing, Walton denied BuzzFeed’s request for a preliminary injunction requiring Barr to release the report, including all material required to be disclosed under FOIA, by Thursday under FOIA.

    Yet Walton said in court Tuesday that he may demand a copy of the unredacted report so that he can determine whether the redactions were made properly.

    ‘That’s something we will have to work through. I’ll have to think about it,’ Walton said, per Politico.”

    • Rayne says:

      They’re not separate. The Notre-Dame, owned by the French government, has gone without necessary maintenance for too long because France’s democracy hasn’t been able to force its billionaires to pay enough taxes. They only show up to make a splash when some big tragedy offers them a chance to look like a savior.

      The Notre-Dame had actually been trying to raise funds in the U.S. for its repairs because American culture is more charitable.

      • Jockobadger says:

        Excellent work Rayne and you could not be more right about American v. French charity. I lived in Lyon for almost three years when I was in college and then afterwards. I lived with some French folks and came to know them very well. They were wonderful to me and I love them still, but they could be, well….a bit hard-hearted to people they weren’t directly acquainted with. Not sure how to say that really but there it is. Anyway, I worked for Dire Straits and Toots and the Maytals while I was there, so that was fun. Also, I agree with cfost below. As an engineer, I’d recommend metal trellis-work with oak cladding, but that’s not trad. First they’ll put up bullet-proof scaffolding and false-work and then we’ll see. You’re also dead right about the limestone – water, esp water with sulfuric acid in it, is it’s archenemy. Thanks for the hard work.

  2. cfost says:

    When I was 19, my girlfriend and I backpacked thru Europe. While in Paris, we happened upon an afternoon organ recital at ND Cathedral. The thunderous music, while the light faded in the stained glass windows: ineffable and unforgettable.
    I too have considerable construction experience, including fire restorations. I can think of a number of scenarios similar to what I have seen, which would explain the fire and its ignition. I read some of the online speculation, and it appears that there is a great deal of conspiracy-mongering going on, by known propagandists.
    Rebuilding the roof with oak timbers (historical purity) would be nice but unnecessary. Many would consider it sacrilege, but I see no reason not to rebuild with engineered lumber, or even metal. Stronger, lighter, resistant to bugs and rot.

    • Rayne says:

      I wouldn’t gamble this structure on the adhesives in engineered lumber which has a lifespan of 50-80 years. Traditional timber’s lifespan is 100+ and proven over centuries, unlike engineered lumber.

      I’d rather see them invest in firestops between trusses and a limited number of sprinklers.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Indeed. The elm timbers from the original London Bridge lasted centuries.

        Engineered beams are often made of softwood-based plywoods laid in alternating directions sandwiched between layers of adhesive. Acceptable for domestic architecture expected to last a century or less. I’ve read other suggestions for the use of metal, but I would wonder about how well it ages. I’m not familiar with metal bridges, for example, older than about the 1830s – about the time Hugo wrote Hunchback. Most are a century or less.

        I suspect that selling the French on using that sort of material for their most iconic ancient building would be a waste of time. It would be like persuading a Michelin starred chef to substitute chlorine-washed battery hens for farmyard chickens. France is a big place. It may just have to harvest older growth timber from sources beyond the avenues of Versailles.

        • posaune says:

          The truss work and beam replacement will be a subject of intense study and debate, presumably in typical French method. Of course, finding replacement monolithic wood members is impossible — trees like that don’t exist now. But French engineers have always been creative (a la August Perret), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fabricated concrete amalgam proposed by the materials folks at Poly. It’s been a concrete school, at least since the 1920’s.

          • posaune says:

            I believe that the philosophy of rebuilding of ND will be heavily and thoroughly debated in and out of the academy: exact reproduction or re-interpretation? The French architecture profession may well approach this as an opportunity to contrast historicism with modernity — creative use of materials, dimensions within the structural envelope to redefine “roof” (along with building openings) to an effect not seen since Corbusier. Another example, (although retro, of course): Jean Nouvel‘s stunningly innovative Institut du Monde Arabe, with moving facade apertures timed to the progression and diminution of daylight. Such a stretch could move the architectural center of discussion back to Paris from London.

            • Hobbs says:

              Re: Nouvel’s work: when I proposed going to that museum last year to Parisian friends, they said that a lot of those innovative “windows” aren’t working properly. The building may not be aging well. I’m going by there in June, to see for myself.

        • Ed Walker says:

          I read that some of the beams are 12×12 inches. I wonder if that kind of hardwood is still available in large enough quantities.

        • e.a.f. says:

          Bridges made with metal don’t last that long. We have only to look around North America and the aging bridges which need replacement.

          Your comment regarding the French chef is accurate. OMG, new stuff in Notre Dame, yikes!

          This maybe a time for other countries to “contribute” by checking their forests for acceptable trees and selectively log in other countries. make the Cathedral as green as it was the first time.

  3. Valley girl says:

    Hi Rayne, an open thread! Thanks. You brought the topic up in your last link- the condition of of Notre Dame. I had found the following article before now, from 2017:

    It gives (I think) even more detail and pictures about the crumbling state of Notre Dame, and an effort started ~then for fund-raising for repairs. I read it, feeling the sad irony that it wasn’t until Notre Dame was significantly damaged by fire, that massive contributions were made to rebuild it. A line from a song (Joni Mitchell) kept running through my mind- …dont it always go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…which applies to so many things…
    https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bdMSCdw20

    • Valley girl says:

      p.s. to further Rayne’s point above, the mega-bucks are being contributed by mega-rich French families (or corporations?) and apparently they get tax credit for doing so. Sorry, I can’t give a reference–I’ve read so many articles today I can’t remember where I read this.

      • P J Evans says:

        The company that puts out the “Assassin’s Creed” games is pledging the equivalent of $650K plus whatever other help they can provide – they set one game in Paris, and have some very thorough detailed drawings of Notre-Dame.

        • Rayne says:

          I think this is really nice — giving back to a creative inspiration. Hope other creators who relied on Notre-Dame also kick in.

  4. P J Evans says:

    I understand that the organ, though damaged, survived.
    I’m wondering about laminated-wood beams – that’s something that’s been around at least 80 years, as my father and his immediately-younger brother used it for the legs of the dining-room table they built in HS shop class, back in the early-to-mid 30s. The table was still around in the mid-90s, and pretty solid. (The legs are trestle-style, and at least four inches in diameter; the top is close to two inches thick. It’s not going away soon.)

    • Rayne says:

      You just described indoor, climate-controlled applications. Most adhesives in engineered lumber will last at least a human lifetime in such an environment. While the Notre-Dame’s new roof will probably not be as potentially leaky as the lead cladding over lumber, the attic space will not be climate controlled and probably still be prone to swings in temp and humidity as it has for 800 years given the voids in the existing stone work. And unlike furniture, the roof loads to be carried are considerably more.

      • BobCon says:

        How hard will it be to get the right sized timber? I don’t have a good sense of how many trees there are these days to match what what were used when the roof was built.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t have a clue. I am betting the French are already combing their woods for candidates; they will take it as a point of pride to do as much of this from French resources as possible.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It would take considerable effort to find replacement hardwood timbers of the dimensions of the original. The original apparently used about 13,000 old growth oak trees. The handcut timber was large, often the equivalent of long stretches of 12″x12″s. That will be hard to come by. The same species is used, to ensure as uniform dimensional stability as the wood reacts to changes in temperature, humidity and stress loads.

        The time and cost will be considerable. It will encourage neoliberals and penny pinchers uninterested in art or history, or who want a piece of the action, to press for unwise compromises. I think Macron was unwise to push for a five-year completion so early in the process.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Read this am that the timbers were beech. In all likelihood a mix – just like in the old ocean-going vessels.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I have read only references to oak, over 50 old growth acres of it. Because of their dimensions, each beam came from a single tree.

          N-D’s website says that the oak “forest” of beams was original. [http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/la-cathedrale/architecture/la-charpente/] (Many MSM descriptions of N-D’s construction appear to have been cribbed from that website.)

          An early commentator on twtr [https://twitter.com/GeneralBoles/status/1118175550030397442] suggested the oak supports had been replaced during the mid-19th century renovations. I think that source has been partially debunked. One clue was that the avenue of trees in the accompanying picture were palm trees, not French oaks. (The twtr thread critiquing the original observation is a gem.)

          The roof’s weather covering was comprised of 210 metric tons of lead, roughly 463,000 lbs. Much of that will have been vaporized. I imagine French environmental services are closely monitoring air quality in and near Paris, something that the EPA and New York state did badly after 9/11. Some of it will also fall as soot, which will form a layer on buildings, windows, cars, prams, bicycles, fountains, trees, flowers and lawns. A hazard to people, animals, plants, and the Seine.

          • harpie says:

            I was wondering how long it might take to air dry, if that’s what they decide to do, such large pieces.
            This is what google came up with [note, this specifies “at home”]:

            The traditional rule-of-thumb for air-drying lumber is to allow one year of drying time per inch of wood thickness; this adage obviously only takes a few of the aforementioned variables into account, but it’s at least a rough starting point in understanding the time investment required in order to properly air-dry […]

            • P J Evans says:

              My father cut trees for firewood, and, in one case, slabs of black walnut. It’s quite difficult to cut green wood, and it took a while for the uncut part of the walnut log to dry. (It had been one of the trees on that lot, and was dying of old age, as well as an infestation of termites. The guy who cut it down for us got the rest for firewood.) I remember him using a Teflon-coated crosscut saw (weighted on the other end) on the walnut.

  5. harpie says:

    The Coq has survived!
    9:35 AM – 16 Apr 2019 [with photos]
    This is a Tweet from: Président de la Fédération Francaise du Bâtiment et Pdt Commission Croissance du Medef à Paris, Entrepreneur à Bourgoin et Voiron 38

    Incroyable! Un de nos adhérents du @GMHistoriques a retrouvé dans les décombres le coq du haut de la flèche de #NotreDame Son intuition était la bonne! Merci à nos bâtisseurs passionnés du patrimoine pour leur engagement: Le savoir-faire français est là. #ReconstruireNotreDame

    • Rayne says:

      Unbelievable! One of our members @GMHistoriques found in the rubble the rooster of the top of the arrow of #OurDame His intuition was good! Thank you to our passionate heritage builders for their commitment: The French know-how is there. #ReconstructNotreDame

      The rooster weathervane from the top of the spire! That’s amazing! Especially since it looks like it fell *through* the roof and bounced out under the buttresses!

  6. harpie says:

    The Atlantic has photos here:
    After the Fire: Photos From Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2019/04/after-fire-photos-inside-notre-dame-cathedral/587299/

    A day after the devastating blaze that destroyed the roof and spire of the Notre-Dame cathedral, investigators and photographers were able to get a first look at the damage inside, including the preservation of a number of valuable artifacts and features among piles of debris and a heavily damaged roof. […]

  7. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this post! My heart hurt, watching the spire collapse. I feel a little better after reading this.

    And yay for Le Coq!

  8. Peterr says:

    What we don’t know yet is how much of roofing over the aisle/gallery on each side of the cathedral may have been involved or damaged by water used on the roof above. Nor do we know how much of any flammable items were damaged inside the church, from pews to the organ, nor do we yet know the full scale of the damage to the church’s once-magnificent stained glass windows. It appears the famous Rose windows may have been saved.

    Back in 1984, In 1984, there was a similar fire in the York Minster, another enormous 800+ year old church structure famed for its stained glass. One of the things they learned was that even when the glass remained in the windows, the windows took a huge toll because of the heat. From the head of the window restoration project, as presented by the BBC:

    The Chief Fire Officer asked me if I wanted to go and look at the window more closely. There is a walkway along the base of the window so we went up the tower, 105 steps (and I got to know everyone of those steps very well over the coming weeks) and out along the ledge to the window.

    When we got onto the sill, timbers were still smouldering and the glass was still warm. I could see the cracking of the glass and I spent about half an hour there, then the fire officer said ‘Peter you’ve examined the window from the inside, I’m sure you want to have a look from the outside’. I didn’t answer immediately.

    So they brought one of the fire tenders into position central to the Rose Window. They had these huge ladders in four sections and he said ‘come up with me’, he put a belt around my waist and hooked me on, then the first section went up.

    Then he went back down, leaving me on my own. If you’ve never been up a fireman’s ladder it’s quite scary because as each section goes up the whole thing jars, rather like a train going over points.

    When I was about 35 meters up, which was really quite frightening, the ladder went up and down across the window, so I was able to do a pretty good inspection from the outside.

    When they brought me down to earth, trembling slightly, a few of the media people collared me and asked what it was like. I was able to say that although the Rose Window was as terribly damaged as it could possibly be, I was quite convinced the window would shine again. And I think they were the most cheerful words spoken that morning. . . .

    The piece goes on to describe how they were able to restore the windows, but they had to carefully remove every frame of glass from the structure of the window and then every use a pipette to inject an appropriate adhesive into every little crack in each individual piece of glass, as well as make repairs to the lead that held it into place. Click the link to read the details of the process — it’s fascinating. I would not be at all surprised if they have to do the same with the windows at Notre Dame.

    Just because the glass is still in the stained glass windows does not mean they were not heavily damaged.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly. Heat, high-pressure water, soot, aerosolized metal from the roof, etc., can damage delicate glass or dramatically affect its color and translucence. That the glass hasn’t fallen out of the window does not mean things are OK.

  9. Peterr says:

    Good points, Rayne, about sparks from a saw hitting a nail or an electrical glitch of some kind, all in the context of very old and very dry timber. I’d add one more possible factor: haste.

    I know of several church fires that occurred right before Easter (including one at a church just down the road from mine, back in 1991), all traced back to contractor errors. There’s a lot of pressure on contractors — either from the church or self-imposed by the contractor — to get the project finished before Easter (or at least get it to a place where the church can look as normal as possible before you bring your crew back after Easter), and if someone takes a shortcut, it’s easy for a fire to break out.

    This was a huge project, so finishing before Easter was never a possibility. But I could easily see some of the workers looking at where they were at and wanting to push hard to get X done before they had to knock off work completely from Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As I read her comment, Rayne was at pains to point out that no negligence needed to be involved to spark a fire when using modern tools to rehabilitate an 800 year-old building.

    • Rayne says:

      Yes, the holiday — makes sense there could have been a rush. I looked at some photos from four weeks ago and most of the massive scaffolding around the spire had been put up in that time, suggesting they were really moving along. The copper sculptures on the roof had only been removed this past week.

      When I built my current house more than a dozen years ago, I tried to cut some stainless steel in what is now my kitchen. What a freaking mistake that was. The saw blade, though intended for sheet metal, couldn’t handle the stainless, and I sprayed sparks all over the raw maple flooring. I’m glad I was obsessive about sweeping up sawdust or it could have been ugly if it had caught a spark. Scary lesson learned.

      • P J Evans says:

        My father would do stuff like that outside – better ventilation, as well as much less to catch fire.

        • Rayne says:

          Unfortunately at the time it was the dead of winter and I couldn’t do it in the unheated garage yet it was the next must-do task. Had to locate a manufacturing shop to borrow in order to finish the job.

  10. Anne says:

    I was reminded of an equally horrifying incident in April 1997: a fire in the Duomo di Torino. The TV networks were broadcasting live; everybody in Italy knew that the Shroud was inside. They had built a bullet-proof display case for it. A group of firemen, including off-duty fireman Marco Trematore, rushed in with a sledgehammer. Marco, with what he felt (and everybody else believed) was super-human strength, managed to break the display case. The firemen, surrounded by flames, walked out of there with the Shroud and everybody in Italy breathed a prayer of thanks.
    Days later I read (probably in La Repubblica) that the case had been slightly damaged by some not-so-clear incident and the priests had elegantly covered the cracks with draperies. So the case wasn’t as impenetrable as it was supposed to be, thus explaining how Trematore succeeded. Funny how in all my research today, that 1997 explanation has been scrubbed from the Internet, leaving the only explanation: a miracle.
    The Shroud also survived a church fire in the sixteenth century in France.
    Not providing any links, they were all in Italian anyway.

    • Peterr says:

      You might be surprised at the languages that the EW staff and the commenters here can handle. Don’t let the fact that a good story is written in a language other than English keep you from posting links.

    • P J Evans says:

      I remember reading about an earlier fire that melted a corner of the silver reliquary it was in, and damaged the shroud – water damage, as much as the fire.
      It’s something of a surprise how much has survived from the past.

    • Rayne says:

      I hadn’t heard that story before. If you come across the links again please do share. Google Translate is our friend for those of us who can’t muddle along in Italian. Thanks for sharing that.

  11. orionATL says:

    I have to say rayne i am envious of your draftsman experience. that sounds like a really interesting job where you could learn a lot in 2-3 years. I loved my Jr. high “mechanical drawing”, and used it for decades afterward. alas, I’m not sure this window on a new way of seeing and thinking exists for children these days – gone like art, like music, like p.ed. whether it does or not, I give my grandchildren that wonderful compass kit when the time is right, plus a couple of 45 and 30-60 triangles – girls and boys alike. you can draw castles and cathedrals with them if you wish.

    • P J Evans says:

      I got basic engineering drawing and descriptive geometry in college, and then met CAD at work, where I was able to do things like isometric drawings (which most of the other people couldn’t do, as they didn’t have that background class). It came in handy over the last decade at work, when I was trying to put together multiple flat views to figure out what I was looking at, when we were converting about a zillion maps and drawing to GIS. (Most of my co-workers came out of geography departments, and had to learn to read the maps and work orders. Some never quite got it, including at least one who’d been working with them for at least 10 years.)

    • Eureka says:

      I’ve been lol-ing and reflecting on everyone’s stories as Rayne’s post reminded me (also) of when I took engineering drawing in elementary school at a summer college thing. Though I love my maths and spatials, I felt trapped away from the sunshine and _bored_ so didn’t enjoy the course (we descended the stairs once to see the ‘creative writing’ class nested in atrium sunbeams. Why didn’t I pick that, I wondered.)

      Hopefully your grandkids will get their proper courses as you lament, but the playful approach you’re nurturing will likely serve them just as well.

    • Punctuated Equilibrium says:

      The crinkle of new vellum…whisper of the pencil…glide of the triangle…
      Thanks for the memories.

    • Rayne says:

      They all learn CAD now instead of traditional drafting; I worry there will be no one who knows how to draft using the old school tools. The best work is really art and yet art classes don’t teach this craft.

      • Bri2k says:

        My father was a draftsman who was transitioning to CAD in the early 1980’s when he died far too young. I remember looking with awe at his box of draftsman’s tools (compass, metal templates, fine mechanical pencils, etc.). He used to paint a little on the side as well. There certainly was an art to drafting back before computers.

        Thanks for a great thread Rayne. While my expertise here is limited, I appreciate being able to learn from everyone.

        • P J Evans says:

          My father was an engineer who never did take to CAD, though he loved calculators, and, after he retired, his PC. He still did all his drawings by hand, right up until he died.
          I can still do it by hand, but at work, if I wanted precision (and color-coded nominal pipe diameters), I went to CAD. I only met 3D in the AutoCad class I took – we didn’t use that one at work except to convert stuff out of it – so for me it was just a fancier version of pencil and tools. Descriptive geometry, on the other hand, doesn’t convert well to computer, unless you have full 3D capability.

      • posaune says:

        I, too, remember the crinkle of new vellum and trying to get the graphite to lay while working during summer humidity & heat in architecture studio with no A/C. And, in my first professional job, the old veterans showing me drawings in which they had laid lines on waxed linen using hand-dipped pens. CAD changed everything — especially as to contracting and sub-contracting (working drawings subcontracted to asian firms for overnight uploads).

        • P J Evans says:

          Some of the maps at work went back to 1930 or earlier, so the were in ink on sized linen. A lot had been traced onto film in the 80s and 90s, but many had not – we had probably something like 40K maps, from A-size on up to D-size, scales from 1:120 on up to 1:120000 or more. (I never did find out why they needed that one at 10 feet per inch, since by the time I met it there wasn’t anything there needing that kind of detail.) Most of the A and B-size didn’t actually have a scale; they were more schematics than anything else.

  12. Eureka says:

    EW retweeted ACLU:

    “BREAKING: Attorney General William Barr tonight directed immigration judges to deny bond hearings to asylum seekers. Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process. We’ll see the administration in court. Again.”

    Which reminds me of this Friday SF Chronicle article on Barr DOJ’s broader efforts at immigration policy, also not good:

    Trump’s new attorney general launches fresh changes to immigration courts

    The Justice Department is on the verge of issuing rule changes that would make it easier for a handful of appellate immigration judges to declare their rulings binding on the entire immigration system, The Chronicle has learned. The changes could also expand the use of single-judge, cursory decisions at the appellate level — all at the same time as a hiring spree that could reshape the court.

    The proposed Justice Department regulation change has two main parts. First, it would allow the immigration courts’ appellate arm, the Board of Immigration Appeals, to more easily issue “affirmances without opinion.” Those affirmances are when a single appeals judge, rather than a three-judge panel, upholds a lower court’s deportation decision without issuing an explanation.

    The appeals board would be allowed to consider limited resources — such as a shortage of staff or a crush of cases — to issue such cursory affirmances, something it cannot do now.

    Second, the regulation would change the way the appeals board can make its decisions public — the step that gives those decisions the force of binding precedent for all 400 immigration judges and the appeals court itself. In the past, those decisions have dictated what types of gang violence or domestic violence cases qualify for asylum, for example, or what constitutes a vulnerable population in need of protection.

    Article continues, noting that changes to job descriptions (immigration appeals judges allowed to simultaneously serve at lower levels in same system, and would not have to relocate) that critics fear will facilitate the hiring of judges with the highest deportation rates.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s not a judiciary. It’s a manufactory of hell. Trump wants his 2020 victory and intends to line the way to it with the bodies of migrants.

      Trump may think he can resurrect his version of the Nuremberg laws. Mr. Miller ought to be the one to remind him of the other legal judgments Nuremberg was known for. But it is likely that he is the one behind the changes Barr is happily implementing. See what happens, Bill, when America’s chief lawyer believes the president can do no wrong?

      • Eureka says:

        “manufactory of hell”– quite well put.

        That Barr seems dutifully “all-in” on whatever this admin desires also belies the notion floated by some of Barr-as-noble-GOP-savior. He’s not here to rescue the GOP to ensure a post-Trump survival, he _is_ the party of Trump, quite literally, and savagely. And the GOP doesn’t want to be rescued from anyone, least of all Trump and Miller.

        • Tom says:

          William Barr and Mick Mulvaney are the Palace eunuchs in the Imperial Household, willing to carry out the whims and wishes of the Mad Emperor.

    • P J Evans says:

      Subverting justice for political ends.
      May the entire lot that thinks this is okay spend a few millennia in hell.

  13. Eureka says:

    The weird thing was I had N-D on the mind Sunday night via the Victor Hugo connection; I was thrilled to find that PBS had then-just started Les Miserables on Masterpiece (though shortly after, wondered if that might not be the most relaxing entertainment option, at least at the outset, for these times we are in).

    The echoes of eras…

      • posaune says:

        Hugo is required reading in a number of M. Arch programs, especially those with history and theory components. The chapter on Paris and the part on ND are particularly eloquent. It’s always stayed with me.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The version of la Marseillaise most familiar to American audiences, from Casablanca: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM-E2H1ChJM]

        Here is an annotated version for movie buffs: [https://seveninchesofyourtime.com/cinemas-greatest-scene-casablanca-and-la-marseillaise/]

        And just the lyrics, in French and English. [https://www.thoughtco.com/la-marseillaise-frances-national-anthem-4080565]

  14. phaedrus says:

    The rebuilding of the cathedral in Paris has a 20th century counter part, a very similar cathedral in Reims was destroyed in WW1 by both a fire , worse than this one because the floor had hay on it so both the roof burned off and the lower insides burned. After the fire the building suffered from German artillery fire which destroyed many of the buttresses. It took 20 years but the building was restored.

    This image shows what the building looked like after the end of the war;


    This is the same building in 2008;


    This image from 1926 shows the roof being restored;


    This image is how they rebuilt the interior of the upper wooden roof structure


    The damage Notre Dame suffered is less than Reims did, and the French do have experience.

    As a side note John D Rockefeller donated much of the money used to fund the original work at restoration in Reims.

    I guess suffering through gothic art history class finally paid off, this is where I learned about the Reims cathedral history.

    • orionATL says:

      thank you for this comment and these fascinating photos.

      it amazes and pleases me that the knowledge and craftsmanship are still available as in those roofing photos.

  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Rayne, fascinating, both in terms of the architectural history and detail and the human interest aspect. Indeed, it does seem symbolic in some way that this terrible accident has occurred.

    When I first went to work for the public library system in 1989, I was hired as “Building & Planning Librarian,” a newly created position. I worked on some new building projects, but mostly on more mundane issues. The plumbing and water intrusion ones were the worst. And, of course, low bid work will drive even the most patient person mad.

    I liked the planning part of the job better. One fun project included creating a presentation to convince city officials to convert an abandoned building into a new Main Library. The building is the largest example of Prairie School architecture in the US. But the officials decided to make it into City Hall instead. As you know, conversion projects can be a nightmare. The library was actually much better off getting a brand new building.

    The symbolic aspect of the N.D. fire has made me reminisce on how fiery
    the times were during my youth in the 1960’s and 70’s when there was so much turmoil and tragedy. In intensity, it was much like the times we face today. But there were so many wonderful people lost too soon:
    JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, Bobby Kennedy.

    I was a student at Kent State on May 4, 1970 when the Ohio National Guard killed 4 students and maimed others. Some were protesting Nixon’s planned incursion into Cambodia. Others were walking from one class to another. A day or two before, I rescued my roommates from being tear gassed. I had scouted out an escape plan beforehand just in case the situation were to escalate.

    Later that year Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27. Two weeks later, Janis Joplin died, also at the age of 27. Everything was falling apart. We thought it would never get better.

    Today I have been missing all these people. I especially wonder what Janis would be doing today if she were here.So, I have been listening to her music. Maybe you would like to hear some, too.

    The Epic Story Behind Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”

    (This is a long article, very interesting, but long. If you scroll to the very bottom you can hear the song as sung by Janis. This is the iconic song with the famous line, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” It seems appropriate for today. The other links that follow are to Janis singing her heart out, as well.)


    Take Another Little Piece of My Heart    
      Now Baby

    Try (Just a little bit harder)

    Cry Baby

  16. Ed Smiley says:

    My heart aches.

    One thing that bothers me that I haven’t heard discussed. The yellowish tint in the smoke reminded me of fumes I have seen around deck welding and made me think that the smoke was filled with vaporized lead. I sincerely hope that no Parisians, especially the fire brigade will suffer ill health effects from this, and that health authorities are properly prepared for that possibility.

  17. punaise says:

    Fascinating conversation and facts about an iconic building. A very sad loss.

    Slightly OT: just steps away from ND. at the eastern tip of the Île de la Cité, liés the discreet underground Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation. A very powerful place to visit and reflect.

    • Rayne says:

      That particular memorial made me weep copiously. I’m glad it wasn’t far from the green area at the east end of the cathedral’s grounds where there are some chestnut trees in a small park. I had to stop there to get my head together.

      • punaise says:

        It’s hard to describe the physical space but not the effect it has on one. We’d often take or send visitors there – it’s a gut punch but none regretted it.

        (Setting aside for now the complicity of the collaborateurs – including the Catholic church – who either turned a blind eye or actively participated in les grands rafles that sent so many to their demise.)

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr on Thursday will continue with his quiet reading of Colonel “You Can’t Handle the Truth” Jessup.

    What he means is that neither Donald Trump nor his electoral prospects can handle the truth.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Arguably, Bill Barr, as Attorney General 1.0, did his best work for Poppy Bush after he was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992. That’s when he argued fiercely for the longer list of pardons for senior Iran-Contra perpetrators, which Bush issued while the White House door was swinging into his backside.

  19. Valley girl says:

    The unseen forces behind Brexit and the Trump campaign are deeply intertwined. Facilitated by Facebook. See this TED talk by the most excellent Carole Cadwalladr.
    https:// http://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy
    “Brexit was the petri dish for Trump” Note the name Robert Mercer and his role.
    Also see an excellent and chilling documentary that was aired on German TV.
    Topics: Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage, Bannon, Robert Mercer, Farage & Trump, AIQ, etc. etc. Even DARPA comes into the story.
    https:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFb7u1r7f3A

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Fine catch. Great TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr. She ordinarily avoids public speaking engagements, but felt strongly she needed to do this one.

        • orionATL says:

          thank you valley girl.

          this is one of the most important presentations of the hidden political crisis we are in that I have ever seen. listen to understand the damage that can be done to a representative democracy when new technology facilitating massive interpersonal communication joins forces with the political depravity fostered by the hyperrich.

          Carol cadwaldr is a reporter I have come to trust and admire for her insight and her courage. as with emptywheel, one feels the goddesses of truth and integrity speak to us thru her.

          I cannot emphasize enough – listen to this!

  20. Peter Scheidler says:

    Three observations from the picture on the front page of the NYT today. I believe the picture is taken toward the main alter on the east.
    1. The wooden chairs on the floor are not burned.
    2. The fallen timbers from the roof are not totally consumed. They look charred, not burned to ashes
    3. There are no scorch marks and there is no soot on the walls.
    It looks like the roof caught fire and fell to the floor, but the temperature at the floor never got hot enough to ignite the very combustible chars. It look like the fire was confined to the roof. One could pray the damage is confined to there.

    • e.a.f. says:

      It was such an amazing picture, to see all the chairs sitting here, ready for services. Left like they were just waiting for people!.

  21. InfiniteLoop says:

    The image I’ll remember isn’t the spire falling, but the cross on the altar standing intact amid the debris.

    This Easter fire was an old-growth 12×12 to the head on just how close we came to losing one of the world’s great cultural, architectural, and religious treasures. The slow-moving catastrophe of Notre Dame’s structural deterioration wasn’t motivating the support and funding to secure her future, but I hope the fire will.

  22. punaise says:

    Here a delightful contemporary version of an old classic, by ZAZ. English translation in the video.

    Sous le ciel de Paris
    S’envole une chanson
    Hum hum
    Elle est née d’aujourd’hui
    Dans le cœur d’un garçon
    Sous le ciel de Paris
    Marchent des amoureux
    Hum hum
    Leur bonheur se construit
    Sur un air fait pour eux
    Sous le pont de Bercy
    Un philosophe assis
    Deux musiciens quelques badauds
    Puis les gens par milliers
    Sous le ciel de Paris
    Jusqu’au soir vont chanter
    Hum hum
    L’hymne d’un peuple épris
    De sa vieille cité
    Près de Notre Dame
    Parfois couve un drame
    Oui mais à Paname
    Tout peut s’arranger
    Quelques rayons
    Du ciel d’été
    D’un marinier
    L’espoir fleurit
    Au ciel de Paris
    Sous le ciel de Paris
    Coule un fleuve joyeux
    Hum hum
    Il endort dans la nuit
    Les clochards et les gueux
    Sous le ciel de Paris
    Les oiseaux du Bon Dieu
    Hum hum
    Viennent du monde entier
    Pour bavarder entre eux
    Et le ciel de Paris
    A son secret pour lui
    Depuis vingt siècles il est épris
    De notre Ile Saint Louis
    Quand elle lui sourit
    Il met son habit bleu
    Hum hum
    Quand il pleut sur Paris
    See’est qu’il est malheureux
    Quand il est trop jaloux
    De ses millions d’amants
    Hum hum
    Il fait gronder sur nous
    Son tonnerre éclatant
    Mais le ciel de Paris
    N’est pas longtemps cruel
    Hum hum
    Pour se faire pardonner
    Il offre un arc en ciel


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Lovely, evocative lyrics. English doesn’t do it justice. Under the Parisian sky, even when it rains and the thunder claps, it is brief, and pardons itself with a rainbow. Two musicians serenading love, lovers and Paris.

      • punaise says:

        I considered posting that version (as well as Yves Montand’s) but recoiled at the cheesy choral backing flourishes. Feels like a late-career mailing it it in. Much prefer La vie en rose, Non, je ne regrette rien, etc.

        • Valley girl says:

          Ouch! Just goes to show me that you have a way better ear for French than I could hope to have in 100 life-times.

  23. MattyG says:

    Architect here too and appreciate the hands-on perspective of this post. As tragic as the loss is it is only partial. Rebuilding will be a truly national project for France – and in a way that will recall the collective communal effort that marked the erection of cathedrals across NE Europe during the Middle Ages. I have no doubt or fear that the edifice was documented in minute detail – this sort of historical documentation has been a national priority for some time, both as a testament to the ‘patrimoine’ of the wood and stone of structures of France itself, but as a safeguard against almost assured eventual calamity such as has been experienced.

    As the pre-seeding of stands of oak and elm almost two centuries ago for future use attests – the monuments they wait in ready for are indeed living monuments – time and change are are just a backdrop. I do mourn the loss of all the glass along the great sidewalls and transept, but even this reconstruction will invigorate an entire new generation of designers and artisans. Yes a tragic loss, but also a great opportunity to rejoin the great flow of history which is sadly often seen as a distant past rather than a present.

    On a personal note I grew up in Paris as a kid and knocked about the place on school trips and idle visits as anyone would. While my father was rather unmoved by the Gothic (he had a much stronger emotional attachment to the Norman), I myself was captivated by it, and the Middle Ages more generally.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Over 800 million euros pledged to the rebuilding so far. That excludes, I believe, contributions one would expect to come from the French government and the Catholic Church, plus any recovery from insurers.

  25. Raven Eye says:

    Macron’s “five years” comments were almost as ill-informed as Trump’s “water bombers”.

    I’m not sure that anyone can comprehend the magnitude of the tasks ahead, but a significant milepost would be just the completion of the design and engineering studies.

    Consider that the cathedral has existed in some kind of structural balance for centuries. Changes in one or more of those structural components or systems changes that dynamic, and might shift or increase loads to different parts of the cathedral. Even if old-growth timbers of sufficient size could be found (highly unlikely), would they be handled (cut, dried, etc.) today in a manner that ensured that they would behave the same way today in their relationship with the cathedral that they did over the centuries. Will the new roof end up being supported with a totally new structure, with the old walls and buttresses essentially being converted to curtain walls?

    Regardless (and forgive any speculation on my part), this will be a truly fascinating project with cultural, aesthetic, engineering, and religious considerations all seeking some kind of balance.

    • orionATL says:

      I would expect new timbers to be what is called “engineered lumber” such as lvl (laminated veneer lumber) or glulam. these are extremely strong materials, can be readily made in long lengths and curved shapes, e.g., roof trusses, and can be fireproofed. in fact 8-10 story commercial buildings are now being made of these and other engineered wood framing products in preference to concrete and steel.

      it is an interesting question whether the flying buttresses have retained their strength and can still resist the spreading pressure from a large, heavy roof.



      I can’t determine if the exterior roofing material was metal, e.g. terne metal or copper, or the much heavier slate. surely not wood shingles or asphalt.

      • P J Evans says:

        I think the roof was sheet metal – copper or lead. The sheets wouldn’t have been thick, so I don’t know how they’d compare to slate.

        • P J Evans says:

          That’s about as thick as they’d need for a roof. Not light, but not incredibly heavy, except as a whole. (I have a windvane that my father made – he weighted the “point” end with sheet lead, and it’s about that thickness. It’s easily folded.)

        • orionATL says:

          earl of h. –


          I was trying to guess how heavy the roofing material might be in addition to the trusses and roof sheathing. lead is heav-vy for sure.

          here’s a British roofing company’s code guide. it looks like lead roofing there is confined to more or less flat roofs.


          code 6 at 2.6 mm thick is 30 kg per square meter, 5 mm would be about 60kg (130 lbs) per square meter.

          that’s a big roof on that cathedral! 1300 trusses at one tree per truss.

          I guess I’m going to have to watch what happens over time to see how the the folks who repair the fire damage deal with this weight problem.

          • Rayne says:

            You realize, of course, there was no weight problem on the Notre-Dame. The structure was designed and built for the load it was carrying. The problems with the structure before the fire were primarily due to lack of adequate and timely maintenance and the cumulative effects of pollution over decades.

            • orionATL says:

              whether there was a “problem” in 1150 or not is a semantic problem; with butresses designed for the load one could say there was no problem for 800 yrs.

              whether there is one now is a reality. what material to use for the roofing?what to use to sheath the new roof (to hold the shingles, sheets,etc of roofing.? of what materials to make the trusses (rafters)? have the buttress been compromised by time and deterioration or by the fire?

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            According to the N-D website, the lead roof weighed 210 metric tons, roughly 462,500 lbs. Much of that was burned off into the atmosphere. That’s just the cladding. The whole roof, lead, timber, etc., would have weighed much more.

            The lead-clad portion of the roof was pitched at 55 degrees.

            The number of trees is said to have been 13,000, culled from a stand of old growth oak of over 50 acres.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The current estimate is that it will take two years to assess the damage, make interim repairs, and agree on a plan of renovation. Macron’s five-years start to finish is beginning to look optimistic.

            N-D is one of the world’s great surviving medieval architectural masterpieces. Apart from the sheer logistics, and the historical, architectural, and financial arguments to be played out, Macron the investment banker is failing to appreciate that he is dealing with two of the world’s great bureaucracies: the French state and the Catholic Church.

            • posaune says:

              The city announced today an international architectural competition for the rebuilding of ND. Likely the most efficient way to make decisions about design direction (replication vs. reinvention) by attracting entries that clearly define approach, philosophy, materials, and form. Having the benefit of dozen world class design schemes expertly rendered will jump start the discussion and provide critical visuals upon which to base decisions. Nevertheless, it takes a year minimum to get a real competition program off the ground, and while the other tasks (survey, damage assessments, structural triage) may run on a parallel track, 5 years is just not a reasonable time frame. (p.s. and no, I don’t think it will be Calatrava.)

      • Rayne says:

        Going mention again as I have elsewhere in this thread that engineered lumber has a lifespan of 50-80 years — that’s how long architects and structural engineers plan on it lasting. The problem is that this is NOT new construction in which the engineered lumber will completely enclosed in a climate-controlled environment where temperature, humidity, moisture, and biological agents (ex mice, rats, insects) are not an issue.

        I’ve got engineered lumber cladding on my front porch columns. It’s swelling and splitting at the point where it comes in contact with or is near concrete — my bad, should have used treated lumber instead. This is *exactly* the problem in a remediation situation where new materials meet old.

        And Notre-Dame’s roof cladding was lead. It could be replaced with steel but the lifespan will not be as long as lead, as the now-lost roof proved.

        • orionATL says:

          thanks, rayne.

          i saw that; i had not heard it before. ifv true, there are going to be a whole lot of unhappy building owners from large house on up in the next 40 years.

          nonetheless, there must be some explanation for the growing use of engineered lumber to build entire buildings in Europe as well as the u.s. probably improvements in the product. surely the architects engineers don’t expect a mere 80 year lifespan. but then – with creative destruction the rage – who knows :)

          • Rayne says:

            I worked for a company which designed and sold a mortar product which was supposed to reduce construction time. It was used widely. Massive lawsuits when the mortar began to fail for reasons which in hindsight seem obvious to a non-chemistry major.

            Marketing works. That’s why.

            p.s. I’m going to point out many folks automatically assume the composite product is better, in no small part because of a conditioned response to the word “engineered.” If I did’t grow up in a family of engineers, sleep with an engineer, work most of my career with engineers, I might be conditioned, too. But I’m telling you they are incredibly human and therefore flawed. Engineered lumber is designed to do two things: use cheaper wood and wood by-products in lieu of natural lumber, and provide a consistent product from piece to piece unobtainable with natural lumber. It is NOT designed to last *longer* than natural lumber because there’s no profit in that. Hello, planned obsolescence.

            • orionATL says:

              you wouldn’t happen to be talking about eifs (drivit, etc) would you? did you know they are trying for a comeback. better engineering is the claim no doubt :)

            • P J Evans says:

              There was a brand of HDPE pipe, much used for gas pipe in the 70s and 80s, which apparently failed in the mid-90s and was replaced – as in removed from service and all the places where it was known to have been installed got new piping.
              (I’ve heard stories about the early – 1950s, I think – tries at plastic gas pipe. They did fine in the laboratory, but field testing showed problems. One turned brittle and cracked. Another didn’t do that, but gophers loved it. Which, in an area where gophers are a real problem, got it a definite no.)

        • orionATL says:

          if you use pressure treated on your porch, rayne, be sure to either use kiln dried pressure treated product or to let the p.t. wood dry naturally, otherwise I think you are likely to get splitting again.

          • Rayne says:

            Already have experience with the PTL on the deck and the posts under the cladding — they are in comparatively good shape. The other missing factor was a better moisture barrier between cladding and points of contact with water which can collect on concrete surface.

            Other factor in play: life expectancy. The cladding is already more than a dozen years old, fully exposed to elements including full sun.

            • orionATL says:

              sounds like your siding was stabbed in the back by lack of a drainage plane. I think that was the problem with the eifs disaster too.

              where I live I can tell you from personal observation that if you use pressure treated lumber straight from home depot as columns on a deck or porch exposed to sun (no overhang) you have a good chance of getting cracks and warps in your post. this may not be true in cool, cold michigan :)

  26. e.a.f. says:

    Thank you for the article.

    Watching the news with the spire falling is so emotional. Some thing that old to just catch fire and fall. Its part of our world’s history this building, lets hope they can repair/restore it. Last evening one of the news stations broadcast a segment with some one who had played that organ. The sound is amazing. Having always like the music of large pipe organs, it blew me away.

    All of us need to remember we might want to consider looking after our historic buildings. If we forget where we come from, we may not have a future.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Barr and Rosenstein are holding a press conference tomorrow morning to talk about their redacted version of Bob Mueller’s report. It is likely to be less informative than the usual Readers’ Digest condensed version of a popular novel.

    Rosenstein will be there to give accolades to his boss and to tell Congress and a waiting public that what’s left out is not critical to understanding Mueller’s work or conclusions. Barr is there to paw the ground and mumble. This is old and well-practiced ground for Bill Barr.

    Bill and Rod won’t show their work, however, until a few hours later. Their claims will echo off an empty bookshelf, giving them a little more time to capture the press cycle. They will apparently only publish their redacted report in hard copy. That’s like the old-style litigator who played 52 card pick-up. That is, randomly shuffling discovery papers that are meant to be in a specific, organized form. It’s a mind game meant to delay release of bad news.

    It is more evidence that Bill Barr is not acting as the Attorney General. He is playing Trump’s general counsel, defending him against the inevitable release of bad news to some nasty regulator, who wants to know what Donny has really been up to, ’cause it sure looks like it’s against the rules.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      EW reports on twtr that instead of hard copy, Barr will provide it on compact discs – thirty-five year old digital technology, presumably in read-only form. Oddly, they were the standard digital music medium when Bill Barr was working on his first presidential cover-up for Poppy Bush.

      If it is copy protected, meaning it can’t be downloaded or sent over the Internets, there will be hell to pay. Stonewall, thy name is Barr.

    • harpie says:

      Darren Samuelson reports that:
      3:31 PM – 17 Apr 2019

      NEW: Neither Mueller nor anyone else from the special counsel’s prosecution team will be in attendance at the Barr press conference, Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told @politico. But Carr said he’ll be there in the role he’s returned to handling press on DOJ criminal matters.

      Jed Shugerman responds to this news:
      3:52 PM – 17 Apr 2019

      SCO spokesman Peter Carr didn’t have to make this statement that no one from Team Mueller will be at this spin conference.
      But he did.
      A shot across Barr’s bow.
      A sign Mueller does not support this and is waiting for his time to weigh in.

      Wishful thinking?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Power does not share.

        Plus, I don’t think even the legendary Bob Mueller could keep a straight face at some of what Barr and Rosenstein are likely to say.

      • harpie says:

        This is a good timetable for tomorrow from Judd Legum:
        5:36 PM – 17 Apr 2019

        Tomorrow’s schedule
        6AM: Barr performs interpretive dance inspired by the Mueller report
        7:30: Slam poetry competition between Papadapolus and Stone
        8:15: Dramatic reading of Carter Page FISA application by Giuliani
        9:30: Presser announcing that report won’t be released yet
        10:30AM: All networks run special report of Hannity breathing heavy
        11:30AM: Barr delivers redacted Mueller report to Congress on 264 cuneiform disks
        12PM: Witch hunt officially over

  28. AnotherAnne says:

    I spent two fabulous student years au quartier latin. This thread was good for the soul. Thanks, Rayne and everyone.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Context for inequality, with English: Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population.

    Corporations and aristocrats, naturally, are the principal owners. That may be redundant, it is not mutually exclusive. The English are famous for the opaque vehicles through which they own real estate. The truly wealthy everywhere operate family businesses – professionally managed investment firms – through which they manage their wealth.

    Tying real beneficial ownership to legal ownership is optional and usually avoided. Estate tax returns are equally unedifying: ordinarily, assets are transferred before death or were never held personally to begin with.


  30. errant aesthete says:


    A worthy addition from AP to include in your memorable tribute to “Our Lady of Paris.”

    66 minutes: The frantic race to save Notre Dame

  31. harpie says:

    Cheryl Rofer Retweeted
    9:22 AM – 16 Apr 2019

    FACT-CHECK: ‘Oak trees were specially planted at Versailles in 19th century to restore Notre Dame’s wooden frame if needed’
    FALSE ❌
    Château de Versailles confirms: “The rumour circulating on social media is false.”
    Says it has “no basis in historical fact”.
    Versailles town hall official and Versailles tourism official both said they had never heard any story about emergency cathedral-repairing trees in Versailles before tweets circulating on Twitter today.


  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A couple of points regarding the hundreds of millions pledged by private benefactors to the rebuilding of Notre Dame. One, many thanks. Two, let’s see the money, and let’s keep a public accounting of its receipt and expenditure. Three, there should be no strings attached, or it should be refused and the would be donor shamed.

    The design, process and cost to rebuild Notre Dame will be hotly debated. It will take years longer than Macron’s Kennedyesque pledge of five years from start to finish. But it should not be used as a wedge to force through further neoliberal priorities.

    Let’s have no charge for entry into Notre Dame, whether to see its glories, to attend religious services, or to pray for warmth, a meal, or a better outcome than life usually metes out.

    Let’s have no telling the carers of other cathedrals and historic buildings that they will get no funding unless the bulk of it comes from private mega-donors. Narrowly defined economic value measures price: it has nothing to do with social, cultural or artistic value.

    History and art are not some pavilion on the grounds of an estate, where the mistress and her ladies-in-waiting can pretend to be peasants, milk cows, and view the artifacts of history as private baubles. The French would be the first to say that they are our patrimony and belong to us all.

    • Rayne says:

      This is all well and good except for two things: the Notre-Dame belongs to the French government, and it is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, even though the banks of the Seine are. Moving to have it declared a world heritage site might help resolve how preservation and maintenance is funding going forward while ensuring equitable public access.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Except for the last sentence, my argument would apply to and among the French as well as to a wider population.

      Your argument about a UNESCO declaration would work. But if the designation requires nomination by or approval from the French government, I don’t think they would let a monument so central to Paris, to France and to the French be subject to wider jurisdiction.

      • Rayne says:

        Except the Seine’s river banks are already classified as world heritage sites and the Notre-Dame is smack in the middle of the Seine.

  33. P J Evans says:

    Because it’s Saturday and we need some fun:
    Why do chicken coops have two doors?
    Because four doors would make them chicken sedans!

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