Monday, October 29, 2007

In FEMA We Trust

I don't even know what to say. FEMA faked a press conference. There was a conference all right, but no press there. Incompetence seems to run rife within the agency but did they really think they'd get away with it? Did they think that the really real press wouldn't figure out that none of their colleagues were present or asking questions?

EDIT: Transcript from MSNBC. Note that even in a fake press conference with FEMA employees posing as reporters, Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson dodges his own damn last question.

Friday, October 26, 2007

no pickoff this week

i was too busy this week to post, much less total last week's insanity. Just pray for the Dawgs.f

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not Even Close

Bobby Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana in a walk. Or what passes for one down in this part of the world. There are a lot of 'firsts' and 'sinces' because of this one. I never thought I'd see it, but every deep Southern state is currently chaired by members of the GOP. That definitely hasn't happened since Reconstruction.

What does it all mean? Nothing. If Jindal is all talk, nothing is gained. But now is his big chance to prove how smart he is in front of the whole wide world. And I think he's been itching for that chance since he was a wee lad. Now, I'm not a big fan of his, and I'm not saying he's going to do a great job in Baton Rouge. But I AM a big fan of the "anything greater than zero = more" philosophy of government, no matter how cynical that makes me. The bar is set pretty low round these parts, so far as leadership is concerned.

I hope he does though, because, from my limited time here, it appears that anything resembling political leadership in this part of the world was more concerned with passing the buck than proving how smart they were. Maybe that's the paradigm shift this place needs. I hope he delivers, and I don't care if he's a Republican, from the crazy wing of the Christian faith or the son of an immigrant. Hell, after this last year in Louisiana, I wouldn't care if he was from another planet entirely.

'Cause now it ain't about the talk you talk, or how you acted before you won the election, or how many demons you fought in college. It is how you behave after the results are in that matters. And, more than any other governor (again) since Reconstruction, Jindal has a pile of work on his desk that's been building for decades, and has grown by orders of magnitude over the last two years.

And, before you ask, no, I didn't vote for him.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Red Tape

The minute you do not respect this, it kills you.

Some folks out there on the right may be downplaying the importance of the public knowing that nuclear armed weapons were flown over American soil, but I think this is one of the most important and telling signs of our times for completely different reasons.

First of all, this is what happens when there is too much worthless red tape in a society's institutions: the important red tape begins to be treated with the same disrespect that the unimportant red tape is. These proceedures were created for a reason, they are not just mindless boxes to check off on a sheet of paper. Unfortunately, I suspect that there are so many other proceedures created for no reason, so many other mindless boxes on other sheets of paper, so many t's to be crossed and so many i's to be dotted - just so some office bean counter somewhere can cover his ass - that people can become numb to the important stuff.

Which brings me to my second point: the second drawback to having such an ineffectual bureaucracy in so many institutions in our society is that few people apparently have the ability to prioritize anymore. We're sweating the small stuff because it has the same amount of paperwork as the big stuff. I don't care if you cut some corners on the log in sheet for toilet paper, I care if you cut some corners on the log in sheet for the NUCLEAR WEAPONS. I don't care if you gloss over your inspection for how many office chairs you have, I care if you gloss over your inspection of the LEVEES AROUND NEW ORLEANS. I don't care if the students have Cheetos in their bookbag at school, I want the guards making sure they don't have GUNS in their bookbag at school.

That sort of thing. And I think it is pervasive. All sectors, all levels, and I really think that's were so many of our problems come from. I think it is a shame that no Presidential candidate or gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana is using a "lets contract the bureaucracy a bit and get the small stuff back in the small stuff pile." It isn't political or ideological, because the paperwork is all still there, it just has a different name on it.

Lastly, I just think about how far we have fallen that we could misplace nuclear warheads and not know about it for several hours. I also would like to have seen the reaction of the young man or woman who discovered the nuclear warheads where they weren't supposed to be.

"Post-flight, check. Wheels inspection, check. Weapons inspection...ummm. Well... Is that... It can't be... Hey, Chief, could you come here and take a look at this?"

"What's the problem?"

"Is that what I think it is?"

"Uh oh."

"That's not good, is it?"

From other side of plane "..hey Chief, you're not going to believe what I found under the wing of this plane..."

The conversation that followed could have been either the single most professional and technical conversation in world history, or the most profanity laced diatribe ever heard by human ears. I can't even imagine the conversations all the way up to Washington on this one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Standardized Tests

Sometimes, death metal is the only way to get through a week where I'm at. Country no longer cuts it, and reggae isn't making a dent. I will need to find the Deathklok album sometime this weekend, if I can make it a weekend without being sick, that is.

I would have enjoyed a delicious dinner Saturday night with Dangerblond and Sophmom had the illness not caught up to me. We had watched the Georgia-Vanderbilt game (and the LSU-Kentucky game) together at Carrolton Station. But when I made it to the restaurant, well, we'll just say that bailing out early was a very good idea. I made it back to Octavia Street just in time, and then passed out for 12 hours. Not only did I miss dinner with the ladies, but I missed a party with some friends, a concert by the Black Rose Band at Circle Bar, and the Drive By Truckers at Tip's.

This is my life now, and why I am absolutely counting down the days (currently 159) before my current misadventure is over. NEVER let it be said I don't go into things without an exit strategy.

It was awesome to hang with the ladies (even if Liprap decided not to come watch feetball, too). They had called me earlier in the day to watch the movie "Left Behind" about the New Orleans public schools, but seeing as I watched that movie last year and my current employment gives me something like a front row seat, I passed on that for the football. But they caught up to me at the bar before I had to beat my hasty retreat, and I had lunch with the Dangerous one on Sunday at Parkway Bakery (Sophmom was already on her way back to the home country).

'Tis good to hear about lives in the real world...if only for a minute.

But since I don't live in the real world, I will entertain a revenge fantasy: when I rule the world, the purveyors of standardized testing will be destroyed ruthlessly with extreme prejudice. Because standardized testing is destroying our society from within. It is the evil mothers warn their children about at night. Be warned. That is where I start when the revolution comes.

Week 8 Pickoff

I know all of our regular reader(s) are waiting with baited breath for this week's post...

Final totals for week 7 -

SAWB 18-18
paT 13-12
Dante 1-6

Overall updated -

SAWB - 104-99-1 - 0.517
paT - 55-71 - 0.437
Dante - 51-61 - 0.455

What'd we learn this week? We learned that there's a reason why the numbers 1 and 2 hold the connotation they do in the common vernacular, because when your team plays like that, they tend to lose.

Pillowfight Pickem's -

Arkansas v Mississippi in what may well be the latest version of Survivor: SEC
Texas A&M v Nebraska - Survivor: Big 12 anyone?
and, because it amuses me so - Miami v Florida State

Notre Dame to cover the 20 against USC, yea or nay?

get em in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Greatest Website Jukebox Evar

One of the greatest things about going to school in Athens back in the day, and I don't know if they still do this, but one of the local rock radio stations would dub Larry Munson's most famous football calls into classic rock songs. This stuff would play during the weeks of football season, and I still feel the chills that run up my spine when I hear them.

Like I said, I don't know if any of the radio stations do that anymore in Athens...but I know the chills still come because one website that put up a whole jukebox of songs with Munson calls dubbed in. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the reasons I read sports blogs, and I salute the team over at the Georgia Sports Blog for this little bit of joy that has come into my life over the interwebs today.

Especially the rendition of "Whiskey River." For those of us who remember the night of October 7th, 2000 and every other Saturday night under Sanford's lights, belly up to the bar at Gnat's Landing on Island City, or far and away with the alums at Carrolton Station in New Orleans, we raise our glasses to running over people and destroying some property tonight.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Battle...

Just a reminder to all the Americans out there who read this, if we lose this Battle for New Orleans, the next place it will be fought is in Birmingham, Houston and Atlanta. We've got plans within plans but the powers that be continue to stonewall for no apparent reason.

All the work that has currently been done will be all for naught without the reinforcements we so desperately need. But with an administration that somehow thought an additional 30K troops would pacify a Middle Eastern nation of teeming millions, and a state government that refuses to get out of its own way to save itself, we're out here with the creeping feeling that no cavalry is coming.

Does it say something that some of the most inspiring words about our nation are coming from someone who wasn't born here? In our short history as a nation, we have been the world's greatest monster-killer, our greatest acheivements have been cheered on by the world (despite what the right wing punditocracy would have you think) and our failures have been mourned by all.

Now, we face the prospect of having failed both abroad and at home, and not having the leaders in halls of power to correct either situation. When we look back at the first decade of the 21st Century, it will be another Tale of Two Cities; but will also be about how we entered a dark time or rose out of one?

Friday, October 12, 2007

What the world needs now...

... is a little bit thicker skin. Some Denver mom is upset because her kid read an email sent home by the school system pointing out that her kid is obese.

From the article:
""The part that upset her the most as she started reading it, there it stated that she was overweight and she started to cry saying, 'Mom, that school tells me I'm fat.' So, it was very heart wrenching," said Flaurette Martinez."

Well, is she? Nothing to be ashamed of. I'm a good 25lbs over my ideal body weight. I'm fat. If you're fat, go ahead and post here and be proud of it. It's part of who you are. We live in a great society that has advanced to the point where a restaurant spends more on labor, retail space, etc than they spend on their grocery bill. You can buy 40,000 or so hamburgers at full retail price with what the average household makes in a day. We've outsourced food! That's how cheap it is. So some of us eat a lot of it?

""If she would have dropped this letter, a student may have found it and may have exposed it to other students," said Martinez. "Anything specific to the child should be mailed. It should not be given to the child.""

If your friends have to find a letter you've dropped to know that you're fat, you're doing pretty good. I wouldn't take kids making fun of you after the letter very seriously. If you've been made fun of pre-letter, it's not like the letter is adding too much ammunition. If it bothers you that much, there are ways to lose weight. (There are also ways to silence bullies but taking that route is generally frowned upon in modern school systems.) At least the schools aren't doing graphical analysis on facial features* and sending home notices that your kid is ugly.

* Using only proportion and symmetry, computer programs are able to identify with a good level of success those who are attractive and those who are not.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Was Foldgers ever cool?

Here's a coffee article from MSNBC's Money Central. Money Central manages to remain the only consistently interesting portion of MSNBC.

The basic background of the article is a bit dated. About 15 years ago or so, youngsters and even not-so-youngsters started going to coffee houses to get coffee. Remember the show Friends being quite contemporary at the time for having a coffee house as one of the main sets? The article skips this and jumps right into its result: people are demanding high-falootin' coffee these days. The coffee houses? Not so much. People drink their coffee on the go more often than not and as a result of the on-the-go and "high-quality" coffee trends, the popular supermarket coffees (specifically Folgers and Maxwell House) are struggling. The supermarket powerhouses want in on the action. Now. 15 years too late. And somehow they can't seem to get a foothold.

The article skips a pretty big demographic when talking about the percentage of coffee drinkers:
18-24: 37%, 40-59: 60%, 60 and over: 74%

What are the numbers on the 25-39 year olds? 18-24 year olds don't generally need coffee. What do they need to wake up early for? Somehow that noontime cup on hangover Sunday just doesn't have the same satisfaction as the 6AM cup on your way to work. It's only after you've been working full time a few years that coffee becomes so attractive. Their argument would be much more persuasive if they included that important 25-39 demographic but I imagine they left it out for a reason.

Then again, with an argument like "How Folgers lost its cool," I'm not entirely sure their argument can be saved. Folgers was never cool. Folgers was the coffe your grandma drank. And you know what? It's the coffee I drink when I can help it. In fact, other than my Maxwell-House-drinking mother, my mother's side of the family all drink Folgers. It's decent coffee. I buy a large can from Sams Club about twice a year and keep it in the pantry. I'm sure snooty would-be coffee aficionados would scorn me for it but who cares? Much like most of my fellow brethren in the 25-39 age group, we stopped trying to be cool back when we were 24.

Of course, if Folgers and Maxwell House had been trying to make inroads into my age group back when we were the 18-24 year olds, maybe there wouldn't be so many in my age group who are already in the habit of buying Starbucks. Folgers and Maxwell House need to hire some mid-90's tobacco executives and build their base young because these days, you need to get people drinking coffee in their youth. I just hope Folgers has the good sense not to tamper with their flagship coffee too much.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Week 7 Pickoff

Last week was beyond brutal to all involved.

SAWB - 15-22
paT - 5-19
Dante - 9-11

Overall -

SAWB - 86-81-1 0.515
Dante - 50-55 0.476
paT - 42-59 0.416

What did we learn? Well, I think we've reinforced why we're not doing this for a living.

On to Week 7!!! Excelsior!!!

Pillow Fight Pickem's for this week are...

GTU v Miami, FL
Western Michigan v Northern Illinois
and, while I hate to pick on the Mean Green, their record forces me into this -
Louisiana-Monroe v North Texas

rest of the drill conforms to normality...pick away, me hearties...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Cause and Effect?

Logic never has been MSNBC's strong suit but I've never seen them be so casual with cause and effect. "How did killer become a sheriff's deputy?" is the title of the linked article's page. Now what does this title make you think? The statement is clearly worded to give you the idea that someone who was a killer is now a sheriff's deputy but that is hardly the case. A sheriff's deputy became a killer. Not the other way around. Just because A -> B, that doesn't mean that B -> A.*

Here's the meat of this obvious abuse of causality:
“The first statement we said to each other was, how did he get through the system?” Franz said. “How do they know somebody’s background, especially that young? It is disturbing, to say the least.”

Background implies things that happened in the past. Unless you have a Police Box that's bigger on the inside or a phone booth given to you by none other than George Carlin, it's going to be kind of tough to get background info on something that hasn't happened yet. If anything, the background of someone so young should be a lot easier to figure out than someone who is older. This guy's background came up clean but he still murdered 6 people. It's a tragedy but it looks on the surface like one that couldn't have been stopped.

I do sincerely hope we don't become a nation obsessed with precrime, because we don't the technology to do anything about it.

* That's a little discrete math for you. -> is the symbol for implies. Given the time constraints of the word "become" it is clearly an implication rather than an equality.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Week 6 Pickoff

Good showing by all this past week. SAWB is inexplicably a) over .500 and b) winning. paT is close to .500 finally, as is Dante.

Last week -

paT - 13-14
Dante - 8-9
SAWB - 17-12(?!?)

Overall -

paT - 37-40 - 0.481
Dante - 41-44 - 0.480
SAWB - 71-61-1 - 0.538(?!?!?)

This week's bonus Pillowfight Pickems -

GTU v Maryland
UCF v East Carolina
North Texas v UL-Lafayette

You know the rest of the drill. There are some delightful lines and O/Us this week. Pick early and often...