Friday, August 31, 2007

Death and Taxes

One of the big differences I've noticed between "(the people who pretend to be)conservatives" and 'liberals:'

"(The people who pretend to be) conservatives" pay taxes, complain about not getting appropriate services for their investment, and come to the conclusion that the way to fix the problem is to pay less taxes. It's as if they just enjoy the crappy services.

'Liberals' pay taxes, complain about not getting appropriate services for their investment, and come to the conclusion that the people delivering the unacceptable services need to do their jobs better. Then we get called out for "whining" and "blaming" people who are doing crappy jobs.

Just an observation.

On the note of paying taxes and not recieving services, here's a modest proposal: New Orleanians and their 'liberal' allies will stop complaining about the federal government not maintaining the levees if and only if the Texans and their "(make believe) conservative" allies stop complaining about the federal government not maintaining the integrity of the United States' border with Mexico.

I mean, that's only fair, isn't it? Two locations, two federally maintained walls, neither of which hold back the thing the wall was created to keep out in the first place. We'll stop "whining" when you do, Houston. How about it?




(I didn't think so.)

We return you to your regularly scheduled programming at:
Ashley Damn Morris
Leigh C
Suspect Device

Weekly Wrap Up

Lot of fantastic writing from New Orleans this week. If you haven't already, you should click around and get a good sample. Do me a favor and don't just pay attention to this on August 29th. Don't just tune out. History is being written here every day. Again, reciprocal links and a vibrant online sense of community make tipping the hat impossible. Just read.

American Zombie says “This anniversary, I’m 180 degrees from last year,” but prior to that gives an estimation how government corruption and big business can work together to kill you.

Ashley compares New Orleans to Deadwood.

Cliff’s Crib is 100% Full Blooded New Orleans

Dangerblond talks about her evacuation, how 400,000 people did somehow make it out of the city, yet there is still a great deal of hate directed towards New Orleans for those who did not make it out.

The G-Bitch Top 15, as determined by the author herself. And if looking for some recovery money numbers, especially the Mississippi vs Louisiana situation, there are numbers here.

And the MD Filter has even more numbers for you to look at. Thunder ain’t rain.

Morwen gives some personal reflection on two years ago.

It can sometimes seem like one…really…long…day. - Jeffery

“America, we need you to stand with us, not against us. We need you to understand that our recovery is not a political issue. Men have turned it into that.” After that Varg writes about his own evacuation story.

Tim talks about his other lifetime. “We entered the Contraflow two years ago, and we’re still traveling that road, hoping to arrive at our destination before too long.”

“As New Orleans goes, so goes the rest of the nation.” –Schroder.

Ray lets us Gather by the River.

Leigh C: “In my tradition, one lights a candle on the anniversary of one’s death, that person’s yahrtzeit.”

Day 730. Two posts by Maitri.

Traveling Mermaid: “There are very few smiling faces the last two days.”

Sophmom has her roundup, and posits this thought: “I don't understand why so many folks think New Orleans is different and not deserving of the same respect the rest of America expects, why so many who live elsewhere express such vehement, venomous animosity towards New Orleanians and why it's sometimes particularly directed at those who are there doing the work of rebuilding.”

“I don’t want pity, but I do expect a reasonable amount of understanding” from Buras, Louisiana.

Mark Folse reposts “Ghosts of the Flood” from 10/05/2006.

YRHT reminds us about 5am.

Clay: Post Apocalyptic New Orleans.

If you can't see your own home, your own trial, your own family somewhere within the words on these pages, tell everybody at the Big Rock Candy Mountain I said hello.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rising Tide Wrap

Well, I promised a bigger wrap up after a few days, to guage reactions after the initial, but the sheer amount of bandwidth dedicated to the conference is brutal. I'll do what I can, but take note: this is by no means comprehensive, and all the reciprocal links to and from these posts make tipping the hat nearly impossible. That is, except to give a big tip of the hat to everyone who planned this highly successful event, and then again to those who went out and dedicated bandwidth to it. (If I have missed some spectacular post in my moves through the ether, please let me know in the comments section.)

We'll start by linking to Dave Zirin's reaction to Rising Tide II, published in the Houston Chronicle, of all places.
The bloggers represent the best of something beginning to bubble that you won't see on the nightly news, as the two-year anniversary of Katrina arrives today. Amid the horror, amid the neighborhoods that the federal government seems content to see die, there are actual people sticking it out. And they do it with gusto.
All weekend, Dangerblond was the media darling (as it ought to be in a rational world), interviewing on the air live on Friday night, providing the fireworks (described below) on Saturday and data banking for a different news crew Sunday while painting at the same time.

Varg covers Tim Ruppert’s ‘In Levees We Trust’ – “The presentation showed that arguments that New Orleans can’t be saved are garbage.” Tim continues answering inquiries and gives his recap of the conference. Tim's homerun presentation was so far out of the park, it could be considered iconoclastic in dismantling current American mainstream mythology about how this city can recover and about how this nation goes about protecting itself.

Maitri’s already thinking on how to do things better, and wonders how bloggers can accomplish more in the realm of civic activism. This ended up being 'tabled' at the actual conference, and getting more airtime later, after folks had a chance to roll it around in their heads and get back behind their keyboards.

When it comes down to it, one of the big reasons the recovery of New Orleans has been such a mess is the way the city and her people are percieved by the America that exists far from here. We have a huge image problem, some of which comes from the way the city sells itself, some of which comes from the way others slander us. Right wing punditry has directed the national conversation for years on a variety of topics, and proved how important just saying something on the air or on the internet can be.

With that in mind, I can tell you several things the NOLA blogging community has accomplished thus far just sitting behind their keyboards: First of all, major and minor mainstream media are now far, far more likely to describe what happened surrounding Katrina in a different, more realistic frame. Newsweek, Time and local newsprint outlets all over the country have begun to recongnize equally the man-made disaster as well as the overall natural-disaster-only framework that dominated the media after the storm. NOLA bloggers, as well as many of the academic reports, and the non-fiction accounts are responsible for this change in the national conversation. And make no mistake about it, that conversation change is hugely important.

The Second thing is rapid response. There is rarely a paper published anywhere on the internet that cannot be found and responded to, and the folks directing that mythbusting traffic are usually the New Orleans bloggers. This has proved bipartisan, as many left-wing myths have been challenged in the fight against the primarily right wing pundit driven machine. There are people against us out there that have millions of readers, and the only way to challenge them is to respond en masse, with facts, and point out their shortcomings to an even larger audience. Every public dent in their credibility is a win for us and the truth in the larger battles being fought.

I just spent a lot of airtime on that, but it was one of the most important topics of discussion at Rising Tide II. As far as accomplishing more, you have to identify what things must be accomplished and look at how the civilian internet community can drive a solution.

Clay, who came to the conference dressed to the nines, had this to say about the shindig.

Adrastos has a wrap.

And, of course, the fireworks. If you want to see a microcosm of how controversey can drive media, here you go, because more than anything - a singular event at the conference got more airtime and bandwidth than anything else - the assclownery of the communists. I mean, if you think you represent progressivisim in any way, and the seperatists start calling you out, AND one of the most liberal ladies in the state makes it her personal crusade to kick your rear end out of the building, loudly, you may have an image problem. From all reports, dude's image problem begins when his mouth is open.

(Thing is, if this conference had been any bigger of a deal, the biggest toolbag there would have been quoted all over Townhall, by Hannity and would have been invited to speak about New Orleans on the Bill O’Reilly show. Because that’s how the lunatic fringe on both sides keep each other employed.)

But that's my wrap of the whole shindig. Again, if there is anything out there I missed, tack it on in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fast Forward

The second most destructive natural disaster, after Katrina's twin disasters of the natural and man-made, is Hurricane Andrew. Also with a retired jersey, and another double-landfall storm, Andrew was a Category 5 that ripped apart south Florida in 1992 and also landed in the Atchafalaya region in Louisiana.

After reading this article, I wonder what will be written about New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August of 2015.

If I'm still around, I will be 37 years old when that piece is written. I wonder what it will say.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again!

Yes, kids, it's time for the 2nd Annual WHRG Pigskin Prognostication Pickoff! Rules are slightly changed this year, in order to make my accounting easier. Here dey be.

1 - You must pick a minimum of 100 total games, NCAA Division I-A, or NFL, by the end of the regular seasons. Preseason NFL games DO NOT COUNT.

2 - Picks include only the Over/Under and/or the spread for a particular game. Example - picking UGA -2 versus Yech last year, and picking the Under on an O/U of 30 counts as two picks. You do not have to pick both betting items per game.

3 - Scoring this year is slightly changed. We will keep track of wins, losses, and pushes this time around. Pushes will neither help nor hurt you, except in the case of the ultimate tiebreaker, detailed below.

4 - Winner will be declared to be the person who picks the highest number of winning games, minimum 100, with most games picked being the first tiebreaker, and fewest pushes being the second. Example: paT picks 100 games, goes 30-60-10. SAWB picks 103 games, goes 31-61-11, SAWB would win for the season, based on more games picked.

5 - You must select your slate of games every week from a reputable oddsmaker. I'm personally partial to Pinnacle, but you're free to use anyone that I can reasonably look up the spreads from.

6 - You must post your picks for any games BEFORE the kickoff time, i.e. no picking UGA to cover the 7 on OKST AFTER they go up 21 in the first quarter.

If you need a primer on the terminology used here, check this link.

This contest is open to anyone with a pulse, and at least a passing interest in either college or pro football. Post below with your picks for the first week of College Feetball. The winner of this shindig this year will win a shiny paragraph of effusive praise from our patented "Effusive Praise Machine(tm)".

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Two Years Passed

This is the most difficult intro to a post I've written in a while. I should be asleep right now. I should have gone down to a local restaurant to see about a cute young lady who works there. I should have just tuned out and watched television. I should have planned my week a little better in the little time I have. But I didn't.

I started traveling back in time, and when you start something like that, you can't stop until you're done. Because of the internet, you can come with me.

I apologize for not taking you back further.

August 28th, 2005
September 3, 2005

Safe As Houses
August 31, 2005
September 3, 2005

Da Po Boy
August 24th, 2005
October 27th, 2005

September 15th, 2005

and don't start reading this unless you are in it for a time committment, because you won't be able to stop.
August, 2005
And this one is the one that got me, this time through.

Library Chronicles
August 30th, 2005

Day 0
Day 1

Metroblogging New Orleans
August, 2005

Ray in New Orleans
August 29th, 2005

Suspect Device
August 27th, 2005

Wet Bank Guide
August 30th, 2005

Your Right Hand Thief
August 27th, 2005

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Falling Apart

I don't have to tell you what week this is.

There are black days on the internal calendar that rests in the psyche of all Americans. December 7th. September 11th.

And August 29th.

To be honest, the nightmare started before that, and for many, the horror continues even now. Today is August 25, and tonight, families in Florida are grieving. Their loved ones were taken from them in the opening moments.

Two years ago today, a category 1 hurricane named Katrina battered southern Florida and killed 14 people. Over the next week, this storm would march across the eastern United States, causing thousands of deaths in seven states from the Gulf of Mexico in the south, north as far as Ohio.

But it is August 29th that sits at the center of the horror, as the unforgiving forces of nature collided with the failures of man and everything fell apart.

You know what is coming this week, and it will be all over the news. Some will tune in. Some will turn it off. Some will keep on trying to put things back together, one foot in front of the other, as they have done every day since this week two years ago.

Newsweek interviews Dr. Anna Pou about those days, and some of the things that were going on. Hopefully, her ordeal will soon be over, and she will be able to put things back together.

Rising Tide 2 was Friday night and today. Presentations, panel discussions, taking account, dark humor and alcohol. Putting one foot in front of the other. I'll have a better round up in the next few days as more reports are published. It was amazing. If you want to start looking, there's more at the following sites...

Rising Tide Blog
Ray In New Orleans
First Draft

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pick You Up

Sometimes all the bad things in the world can get to you, and a little bit of bitterness and cynicism sneak into your heart and bury themselves there.

But then somebody videotapes an event about three miles past awesome, and puts it on the internet for the world to see. This is truly one of the most badass things I've ever heard of, ever. Just a little restorative for your day.

(HT: Clicked)

Top Five

That's right. The kids are finally starting to live up to the long, glorious tradition we laid out for them in the late 90's. Georgia # 5 Party School in Nation and screw what President Adams thinks of that. You go to Georgia for the education, the music and the parties. It's what we do.

And we don't even have to burn couches to get there.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

But I wish I was.

A while back, I got an email comparing the twin disasters of Katrina and the levee failure to a blizzard in North Dakota. It was the third or fourth time I had recieved that email. Other states apparently plagarized the email and sent it around, as well. It is pretty silly email, one which Snopes has delcared an urban myth. Not content to rely on Snopes alone, I wrote a somewhat long winded response.

This post still gets hits as people get this email in their inbox and at least some of them search for some additional information. One can only hope they realize how silly the email is when they do this, but some folks insist on forwarding it onward. Those folks who do forward it are of the 'self-reliant' phiolosophy of government. That we just don't really need government around, and that if you get caught outside in a storm, well, shaft for you.

Now, before we get to it, this email is not representative of thousands upon thousands of volunteers who have come down to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to assist in this recovery. The email below is not representative of the millions of Americans who 'get it,' and know how important this recovery is not just to the Gulf Coast, but to all of America.

No, this email is representative of people who just don't get it. They get their news from Fox and Sean Hannity and dippy emails that circulate around the globe perpetuating myths and falsehoods. I was tempted to let this go, and not 'feed the trolls' who lurk on the blogs, but I just can't.

The text:
I am willing to bet most people haven't seen snow blowing at 90mph. I strips paint off houses, barns and cars. I live in ND, and yes, most of us feel Katrina was blown way out of proportion. We flood nearly every or every other year. Just a couple years ago Grand Forks was severely flooded and downtown was nearly burnt to the ground. Yet, a couple months after the water receded, you would never have guessed. The mess was cleaned up and people were back at work. People in New Orleans are still complaining about how the government did nothing for them and the mess is still there. Then I read that the blacks down there are complaining that the mexicans have moved in to start cleaning up the mess working for the contractors in charge of the responsibility. I am sorry, but these black people are the same blacks who were more content to get in front of the camera and bitch about how no one is helping them instead of picking themselves up by the britches and cleaning. And, no, there was absolutely no looting in up here during any of our blizzards or flood. We tend to respect other peoples' property. You can argue until you are blue in the face that the fact we have fewer problems is because we have fewer people. I dare say, we have fewer problems, because we are better people. Most of us were raised on farms and are accustomed to hard work and doing for ourselves. My grandpa always said, "Never ask someone to do something that you can do for yourself." I think that pretty much sums up our attitude up here. If the people of New Orleans spent as much time and energy getting their lives back together as they spent getting infornt of a camera and blaming their problems on other people, we wouldn't be having this discussion. People would be saying, "Katrina who?"

I doubt anyone who would say something like this has ever seen a real disaster, or the things a disaster does to a place, that place's infrastructure or that place's people. Blizzards suck, and can be terrible, terrible storms to go through. You should be with us, North Dakota, not against us (and I'm sure many more of you are with us). Or you just don't understand how much your own state does depend on the other 49 to help out when everything goes to hell. It is a shame you pretend to ignore your own issues and poke fun at ours, that you would try and fuel a racial fire and somehow insinuate that most people back in this city aren't working their asses off, against the odds, to do something that so many others seem content to let go. That is a shame.

But if you really feel that way, North Dakota, and you think that most North Dakotans agree with you (because I don't think they do) do me (and us) one big old favor. Secede. If all us po' Southern states are just too much for your advanced civilization to bear along, just let us go. It'll hurt bad without y'all around, and we'll have to sink or swim without you carrying us on your backs. But that's just tough love, right?

I mean, we gave you this option once before, and your ancestors didn't take to kindly to it, but hey, maybe you guys and gals are ready for a change of heart. Maybe its time. But that decision rests with folks like you, North Dakota.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong

Ladies and gentlemen, the Duct Tape Bandit. I loved the end of the video, where the news reporters let us know that the liquor store that ended this particular winner's crime spree are now offering to wrap bottles in duct tape at customer request.

This will make a hilarious (and painful) Halloween costume, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Georgia On My Mind

New to the blogroll is Georgia On My Mind. This is a link-fest for a lot of Georgia blogs (not unlike the List of New Orleans bloggers). Right now, the 16th Georgia Carnival.

Nice work.

And Still the Gray Wave Came Forward

History blogging from Gettysburg from Drifting through the Grift. Fantastic stuff, and pictures. Several pages of it, actually. The monuments really get me. The Pennsylvania at the spot where the Pennsylvanians had to defend their own land for the first time. Defending your own home soil is so emotional, the theme resounds through history with the terrible sound of thunder.

Most of that war was fought on Southern soil, and people still wonder why talking about this war can cause emotions to run high down South, even 140 some odd years later.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Perfect Storm

While everyone on the Gulf Coast of the United States is watching Hurricane Dean and praying we don't have a replay of 2005, when and where this storm ends up landing is absolutely out of our control. (If only it were....)

New Orleanians have spoken for a long time now about 2005 being the Twin Disasters, one natural disaster, one man-made disaster. But there are other man-made disasters that are taking their toll as well, and they can kill just as surely as a failing levee. Crime, mental health issues, and government shenanigans have a devastating effect on both the real quality of life in this city, and the morale to keep up the spirit that keeps this city alive against all the odds that she has faced.

Since I came down here last September, I have been awed by most of the folks I have met. They have rolled up their sleeves and done the dirty work of putting a City back on the map, rebuilt their homes and the homes of others and their businesses, often times without the help of the governments who take a cut of their incomes. They have inspired me at every turn with their determination, their wit and their ability to get stuff done at all in the face of obstacles that, frankly, not many people would deal with. While the streetcars are iconic, the music is loud and the food is amazing, it is the people who live in New Orleans who make this city such a jewel. The world's largest village.

(If he saw what I saw, the taxi driver in Detroit, or - more importantly - the computer guy in Ohio would know that despite all the bad, there is plenty here worth fighting for.)

But this place is being destroyed, and it has nothing to do with the weather or geography. It has to do with the people who run things here. We have to point this out, because otherwise, who would?

The Mayor calls the murder rate a 'double edged sword,' and that gives me the impression that he does not understand the human cost of the proplem. He has mentally checked out of the job of running this city, and uses his position to raise money in cities elsewhere in the nation. (Which begs the question: who the f___ pays for plates at this guy's fundraisers in Dallas and Kansas City???)

The district attorney seems incapable or unwilling to prosecute murderers, but is all too willing to spend the City's money to defend himself against a discrimination lawsuit because he bases his hiring practices on factors other than skill. I'm surprised this isn't the most publicized case in America right now...

But with crime, lack of mental health facilities, and all these ridiculous government actions and incactions, people are snapping for a reason. The uncertainty of the storm in the Carribean will only add to that stress. The weakest and most vulnerable minds will crack wide open first. Most of the time, it isn't as bad as this particular example, but the effects - widespread - can be more damaging overall.

We're probably going to need to get in the streets again, sooner rather than later, hopefully once the weather cools off somewhat. Or maybe a candlelight vigil at night. Or maybe a tent city and barbecue outside City Hall on Labor Day weekend. Something.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Number Four = Dean

This ain't good. All over the blogosphere. All over the news.


Should probably be Erin before landfall. Hopefully not too much stronger.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Don't Get Out Much

Update: Above = places I have been since 2004. Below = places I have been, 1978 - 2003.

(HT: Gentilly Girl)

Define Irony: Roll Tide

I reckon the University of Alabama decided they never wanted an invitation to the Sugar Bowl again, evar. Because you ain't gonna believe this business. Tax breaks for condo developers - in Tuscaloosa???? Guess the Bama boosters wanted to feel just as welcome on Bourbon Street as Tucker Carlson.

As if LSU and Alabama didn't have enough of a rivalry going on, now this. I mean, the recovery from the one-two punch of natural and man-made disasters on the Gulf Coast can still make the national news, but the college football news? On perhaps the most widely read college football blog in the nation? That's saying something.

Thank you, Orson for lending your considerable bandwidth, and exposing your readership, to this issue. If nothing else, the Auburn and LSU fans who read about it will never, ever let it drop. And any help we can get from word of mouth that powerful is very, very welcome.

100 frosty Bourbon Street beverages to you, sir!

(And linkers, be sure to peruse the comment thread on the EDSBS piece, words fail in description.)

Update: 6pm CDT

First Draft has it as well, and links over to the Huffington Post who picked up on the AP wire. Tip of the hat on this link strand from Oyster.

And the m.d. filter refers to it as well, and touches on some additional GO Zone shenanigans.

Cultural Awareness?

It seems that hospital staff in the Lothians have been advised not to eat at their desks/work stations. Now I can think of several reasons why such a policy might be a good idea for hospitals. After all, mouths aren't exactly the cleanest things on earth and constantly putting your hands to your mouth at your workspace might be a bad idea. But that's not the reason for the new policy. The reason for this new policy is that the hospital doesn't want to offend Muslims who are currently fasting during Ramadan. This policy was presented in an e-mail that also included some items such as allowing Mulsims time to pray during Ramadan and to celebrate Eid.

From the article:
"Jim McCaffery, director of acute services and workforce at NHS Lothian, said: "This e-mail was circulated to a number of senior managers as we continue to promote cultural awareness in our organisation.""

Regarding allowing time for Mulslims to celebrate their holiday as they believe it should be celebrated, I fully agree. I have some rather differing views on religion than most of my work colleagues and I understand and appreciate making reasonable accommodations for religious reasons. What I don't understand is expecting the non-Muslim portion of the hospital to change their habits. So what if they eat? I see people eat on days I fast. Big deal.

Fasting is significantly harder in an environment where you're the only one (or one of only a few) doing it. It's easy to forget. You might get your morning coffee without thinking about it. You might be tempted to eat when you're not supposed to. It's hard. Just like not eating unclean food is hard. I can't even eat at Cajun restaurants because they find a way to put sausage and/or crawfish in every darn thing they make. Why is there sausage in my tea?!!!

That's part of religious tolerance though. Religious tolerance isn't walking on eggshells so that you don't offend someone with different beliefs than your own. It's acknowledging that not everyone believes the same thing as you and doing your best to do the right thing despite what the rest of the world does.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Uh-Oh (Enumero Quattro*)

Dammit. I can't wait for hurricane season to be over so I can stop jumping at speculation like this. Fasten your seatbelts. (HT: Instapundit.) Here's the official NHC line.

Update Monday.

*Question mark removed from title.

Best Political Cartoon

I've seen this year.


Ohhh, Snap

He ain't gotta sell nothing, 'cause this stuff here just sells itself. Ain't it funny how much some milquetoast convict starts talking, once they've gone from hand-in-the-cookie-jar to real-prison-time? The flash to bang time just works its magic.

This out of New Orleans: More shenanigans nipped in the bud.

Thank your men and women, and thank you Jim. Keep up the good work. Please.

(HT: Gentilly Girl)

Blogroll Update

New update to the blogroll is one of the best NOLA bloggers from the get-go, but he's moving to a new platform. The m.d. filter is up and running and I'm glad to see it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

500 Miles

from a game we should have won...we ought to burn down that stadium. -Corey Smith

By the time you read this, it will be 20 days until football season, and I will be unavailable for anything productive on Saturdays. Here's just one of many reasons why.

Big HT to Hullabaloo for You

Oh yeah, and our quarterback has a Che-like t-shirt in his honor. It involves a keg of beer and a pretty girl. About damn time they take that red/black color scheme for a drive.

Quick Hits 3: Culture Shock

It is like taking crazy pills.

Back in Athens, the big news is that the city will begin enforcing more strigent outdoor watering restrictions so they can reserve their water for important things like drinking, and encorage folks not to wash cars or water lawns. The usual "Property Owner's Rights vs Public Drinking Water" debate begins yet again.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is having difficulty enforcing the local murder restriction and the Mayor is worried more about 'brand identity' than pulbic safety. This is perhaps the most inappropriate 'two-edged sword' metaphor evar. That's right, folks, if you thought the "chocolate city" quote was the end all be all, you ain't going to believe this train of thought. And it ain't like we can make stuff like this up.

The 'good' news? He's prolly runnin' for governor.

Some folks are obviously very unhappy with the man.

Quick Hits 2: Probablility

The Freakonomics guy is in trouble again, this time, for examining the ways terrorists might attack us. He's looking at the economics of the situation, the low cost, low risk investments a terrorist might consider to do the greatest harm and cause the most terror within the civilian population.

As you might imagine, there are some readers who are not very happy with his estimations, and have gone so far as to call him a traitor et al.

Thing is, I bet every numb-skull sending hate mail has read some Tom Clancy (especially the last 20 or so pages of Debt of Honor, published in 1994, if you really want chills), Patrick Robinson or any of the new terror/thriller novels on the bookshelves.

Or maybe the haters have never heard of something called "The General Staff" and something called "vigilance." A group of people just sits around and thinks of situations that may be dangerous to America, and the activity of knowing where danger may come from, respectively.

(HT: Clicked)

Quick Hits 1: The War

If George W. Bush had been elected President in 1860, I would have been born in a country not named the United States of America, and history wouldn't talk about the burning of Atlanta, but that the only reason Philadelphia wasn't burned to the ground is because Robert E. Lee was a stand up guy.

First hit: A few reasons Iraq is a mess. (HT: Oyster)

We've been at war in Iraq since 1991, and we've already won the whole thing 12-14 times over the course of 3 different Presidencies. The 'Surge' will work, militarily, and will be yet another tactical victory in the Middle East. Unfortunately, just like every other tactical victory our men and women in uniform have acheived so far, the lack of a real overall strategy by the Commander in Cheif means that we'll probably still be in the same situation come November. I hope that doesn't happen, I hope the surge works, the Iraqis get tired of fighting each other, and the Maliki government gets down to business and everything gets fixed. But I've hoped like that since 1991, and you could say it is difficult to take such things on faith anymore.

But the spin machine will run their Blame the LiberalsTM script because somehow the emotional instability of several service industry individuals in San Francisco has more to do with military strategy success than the leadership ability of the guy behind the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or so the people masquerading as conservatives would have you believe.

Then there is The War on Terror (HT: Drifting through the Grift)

And we've been at war with terrorist organizations since 1865. The Klan has been defeated several times in several different incarnations, and we'd better be ready (again) to fight their particular version of anarchy/homegrown terrorism in earnest sometime in the next five years. We found and pretty much defeated the mafia's more blatant shenanigans, but we still have an entire division over at the DOJ dedicated to prosecution of raketeering terrorism. We helped pressure the IRA and Britain to calm things down a bit, but that may not last very long. We moved a lot of the cartel related terrorism to Columbia and Mexico, and have been quietly fighting there for almost a decade, but every once in a while it sneaks north across the Rio Grande and it is easy to blame illegal immigrants, it is just the nature of a true war against terrorists.

Point is, we are still fighting all of these things, and never delcared 'war' against them (except for Drugs, but we saw how well that has worked out for us), because we knew they were not nations to be defeated, but individuals to be caught and tried and punished as necessary. We also knew that such behavior is almost universal, that as long as there were people there have been crimes and terrorism, and that we would have law enforcement officers chasing people who engage in such behavior ad infinitum ad nauseum.

We staunched many of these terrorist activities due to excellent police work, people picking up cold case files years later, and the dedicated work of our law enforcement community who operated under much different civil liberties restrictions than we have today. While there is always the romanticism of ass-kickery that can be found in American Mythmaking films like Mississippi Burning and The Untouchables, those things oversimplify for entertainment's sake the amount of mind numbing investigation and late nights that went into building cases against terrorists, back in the time where all people accused of terrorism could have lawyers.

But there will always be terrorists we need to catch, and someone will always take a beef too far and go from fist fights to dynamite in the heart of major American cities. Chasing terrorists did not start in 2001, it has been going on for a long, long time. I was born, after all, in Birmingham, Alabama, where four little girls died at the 16th Street Baptist Church in a terrorist attack that you don't see many ribbons for.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Drink Mine by the Gallon

At Lil' Dizzy's on Esplanade.

For those of you who don't know, there ain't a whole lot of sweet tea where I'm at right now. One of the greatest cultural shocks of moving to this cultural jewel of the South was the fact that folks here call me "hillbilly" and "the closest thing to a redneck they know," and that when I ask for tea at a restaurant, it comes as a shock that I have to sweeten it myself. I have been here 10 months, and you'd think I would have learned by now.

From my nuanced palate of the 'house wine of the South', the best in New Orleans can be found at Dunbar's, which is simply so sweet you may pass out when the sugar high fades after lunch. The brew you can consume at Elizabeth's in the bywater is acceptable and tasty. Sweet tea flavored beverages can be found at Voodoo BBQ or Raising Cane's. For the sake of reputations and friendships, we'll not discuss what happened at the burrito stand when some sort of concoction labeled 'sweet tea' was made without my direct consultation and involvement.

But the winner of the 'most like home' sweet tea belongs to Lil' Dizzy's on Esplanade. Not too sweet, not too thin: jus' right. The kind of sweet tea that turns a crappy morning into a fine day and defines why we serve the stuff around sustenence we label 'soul food.'

Yeah, it is that important.

Jackass of the Month Candidate: Frank Beamer

Last year when UGA came from behind to beat Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl, I had the pleasure of watching the game at a VT Grad couple's house and got to sleep in their guest room with a VT blanket on the bed, a VT lamp, and a VT helmet in the room. That was a good day. Turns out VT Coach Frank Beamer hasn't forgotten it either. He's apparently blaming open practices on UGA being able to beat VT. He thinks he was spied on. Maybe he's right but if that were the case, wouldn't we have done something about it before falling behind so far in the first quarter? We must've planned that part.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smack Talk

A few months ago, when Imus got knocked off the air because the man's penchant for obnoxiousness-over-talent schtick got him into more trouble than asshole radio could pay for, there was a large contingent of right wing punditry who were very angry because of what had happened.

Boortz in Atlanta, another of the asshat radio brigade, claimed that people going after Imus were really out to shut all right wing radio down. The ubiquitous 'they' were going after Imus so they would have enough street cred to take out knuckleheads of the not-really-conservative conservative radio. This circular logic was roundly met with nods of agreement by paranoid ditto-heads everywhere, even though right wing radio was never the target; asshole radio was.

Then came another kind of backlash: why weren't the 'they' who were going after Imus going after gangsta-rappers as well? This was a much more logical argument, though not to those of us who have been fans of popular music for the last 15 to 20 years.

You see, back in the day when rap was known as "hip-hop" and could be defended on an intellectual level, there weren't nearly as many nasty lyrics as there was in popular 'rap music' today. I'm not going to say nastiness didn't exist (we've always had Miami, after all), but it was never as prevalent as in current popular culture. At the same time, back in the day, there were far more haters of hip-hop trying to get the music banned and equating 2 Live Crew (nasty) with Tribe Called Quest, Leaders of the New School and Arrested Development (some of the most positive music you could hear of any genre in any timeframe).

So haters of hip-hop music lost credibility because they overreacted to something they did not understand. Therefore, the genre was allowed to use that lack of credibility against almost all critics, and rap was allowed to take an awful turn to the nasty side of the semantical street. Hip-hop as a positive was dropped into the underground, where it started, and the rap you know as pervasive in the popular culture emerged. The nastier the lyrics became, the more records got sold, because the same paranoia of them-against-us that fuels right wing radio fuels rap record sales.

If someone hates you = more money for you, or (H = ez$).

To relate this to the present day, the right-wingers use rappers as an example of the 'they,' and love to point out that folks like Al Sharpton only go after white people who say bad things. "A Double Standard (tm)!" they cry; "Liberal Hypocricy!" they call back. "They see me broadcastin,' they hatin'," rhymes Boortz in Atlanta. And conflict is manufactured and record sales...sorry...ratings go up.

Until they realize the reality of the situation, that it is black people, Al Sharpton too, who are leading the charge to change the culture of popular music. So sorry, y'all. The black community has had far more to complain about rap music in the long run than they ever had to beef with Imus, and they've been fighting this fight for longer than you can imagine. That's why there has been a division forever about what constitutes good hip-hop vs rap. Positivity vs Negativity. Duality. Elevation vs Degredation. U.N.I.T.Y. vs Bangin'.

Sorry y'all ain't been paying attention to the last 15 - 20 years of popular culture, or what your kids have been listening to.

It had nothing to do with Imus, he was just the biggest fish taken down in the larger war, and that takedown is having a huge affect, culturally, in the right direction. And as I said before, I will never complain when part of the problem falls for any reason, and Imus was definitely part of the problem.

We got a long way to go, but this is a step in the positive direction.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Back in the day, when you thought of the United States, you thought of big infrastructure projects. The Transcontinental Railroad. The Panama Canal. The Golden Gate Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Tennessee Valley Authority. The Hoover Dam. The New York Subway System. Railroads. Airports. The Interstates brought to you by Eisenhower. The nation of Japan and the whole of Western Europe.

Thinking back reminds us that we used to rebuild continents and defeated enemy nations because it was economically, socially and politically decided to do so, but at the same time our greatest 'nation building' projects could be found here at home. (DADVocate reminds us of this.)

So is it that they don't build 'em like they used to, or are we just not keeping them up like we used to? And when was it decided that we were going to stop paying attention? Because this affects us all. Drifting throught he Grift even has a map to share. But don't stop there, because this ain't just about bridges.

Levees fail and inundate an American city, steam pipes start exploding in New York City and a bridge falls in Minnesota. Think even further back: the Boston Big Dig started falling apart the week it opened, the entire North Eastern power grid shut off one day and California still can't get their water and energy issues straight. You think these things aren't related? You think somewhere along the lines, negligence to upkeep infrastructure isn't going to jump up and bite you in the ass? And don't try pointing a finger, because this problem is obviously bigger than one man or agency. It has turned from a red tape issue to a cultural one. Forget gay marriage and stem cells, forget which nation we will invade next (Iran or Pakistan?), we need to come down the hierarchy of needs pyramid a few dozen steps, Bubba, because we've got bigger fish to fry than advance culture war red herrings or projecting power abroad.

Vigilance and taxes are the price of freedom. They are also the price we pay to be the most connected nation in the world. One of the reasons this nation is a great nation is because sometime long ago we decided that we were going to work on big projects together in the public interest, and we set our minds to it and went out and did it. The solutions are not difficult to find, it is just making sure the solutions are being implemented - that's the catch.

We'd better start partying like its 1899 and get on this business before we actually end up being transported back to the 19th Century against our will. Riding the Mississippi River ferry was a novel experience last night, it does not need to become a necessity.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New To the Jukebox

I have added, just today, Magic Girl and Mars Fariss to the Jukebox, reminding me, again, just how many absolutley phenomenal musicians I went to high school or college with.

Community Emergency Response Teams

I've been in New Orleans for 10 months now, but I have yet to hear about any organization along the lines of something like this. It has probably gone on, but has escaped my attention. I mean, I know they had to have programming like this back on Island City, especially with FLETC right across the river, but I never heard about it back there, either.

The idea is to bring programming to the citizens and actually train local groups as first responders. The definition is pretty basic: first aid, search and rescue, firefighting, other stuff that saves lives (yourselves and others) in the failing hours. I can't imagine how important this would be in times of crisis.

I'm going to get an email into the Louisiana coordinator in Baton Rouge and find out if DHS are running any such programs in my area, and see what it would take to get involved. If they aren't running such a program in NOLA right now, I'm going to bring it up at the Rising Tide II Conference to guage interest in getting one down here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Why buy the formula when you get the milk for free?

So the vast vast vast majority of new mothers produce milk when their babies are born. I think we all know that. (I hope we all know that.) It's free, plentiful (after you get going initially), and studies show its the best thing for your child to eat in those early months. Many mothers still opt to buy formula to feed their children instead. Quite frankly, bottle feeding is just easier, especially in that first few weeks.

New York City hospitals are trying stop new mothers from bottle feeding. Their approach is to ban advertisements and stop the giving away of free formula packs at their hospitals. I've got to scratch my head on this one. The milk that's free anyways will be used more often than the formula that has a free sample up front and then massive costs down the road just because that initial free batch of formula is no longer available? Somehow I doubt it. What you feed your kid is your own business provided you're not seriously endangering them. But come on! Are you really going to switch because of lack of sample packs and posters? If so, then maybe you should shelve that idea to become a parent for a while.