Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tonight I had Red Beans,

but the other day, Olbermann had Rice.

Thank you, Keith. Thank you.

You should read the whole thing, (or watch it) but my personal favorite quotes I will share:

However, even through the clouds of deliberately spread fear, and even under the weight of a thousand exaggerations of the five years past, one can just barely make out how a battle against international terrorism in 2007 could be compared — by some — to the Second World War.

The analogy is weak, and it instantly begs the question of why those of "The Greatest Generation" focused on Hitler and Hirohito, but our leaders seem to have ignored their vague parallels of today to instead concentrate on the Mussolinis of modern terrorism.
As someone who chafes under those ill-conceived comparisons and hyperbolic history, this is the one of the best comparisons I have ever heard.

The resolution that allowed the United States to" overthrow Hitler?

On the 11th of December, 1941, at 8 o'clock in the morning, two of Hitler's diplomats walked up to the State Department — your office, Secretary Rice -- and 90 minutes later they were handing a declaration of war to the chief of the department's European Division. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor four days earlier, and the Germans simply piled on.

Your predecessors, Dr. Rice, didn't spend a year making up phony evidence and mistaking German balloon-inflating trucks for mobile germ warfare labs. They didn't pretend the world was ending because a tin-pot tyrant couldn't hand over the chemical weapons it turned out he'd destroyed a decade earlier. The Germans walked up to the front door of our State Department and said, "We're at war." It was in all the papers. And when that war ended, more than three horrible years later, our troops and the Russians were in Berlin. And we stayed, as an occupying force, well into the 1950s. As an occupying force, Madam Secretary!
Y'all remember that 'Germany didn't attack the USA in WWII' email I wrote about recieving? Looks like someone got hold of it up in the State Department, too.

And then, the coup de grace:
But then there's this part about changing "the resolution" about Iraq; that it would be as ridiculous in the secretary's eyes as saying that after Hitler was defeated, we needed to go back to Congress to "deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."

Oh, good grief, Secretary Rice, that's exactly what we did do! We went back to Congress to deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after Hitler was overthrown! It was called the Marshall Plan.

Marshall!

Gen. George Catlett Marshall!

Secretary of state!

The job you have now!


So much for that 'student of history' thing Sec. Rice claims to be. More like a student of alternate reality.

Speaking of alternate realities, pointing out gross chicanery, excellent videos by comedian/newspeople and in the name of fairness and balance, I point you to the big conservative Gotcha! of the week: Al Gore's house, by DADvocate.

I'll say that, while I snickered at many of the quotes, the John Stewart piece left me in absolute tears. Though I question the seriousness with which many on the right have in equating the discredit of Al Gore with the discredit of the global warming phenomena specifically and environmental issues as a whole, I must begina conversation with my fellows on the left side (strong side): we may need a new mascot for the Global Warming team. At this point, Mr. Gore may be doing far more damage to the issue than is wise.

New Suspect in Cheney Assasination Attempt

For those who haven't heard, an attempt was made of Vice President Dick Cheney's life. It was originally thought to be a Taliban sucide bomber. Cheney said he "heard a loud boom." While the suicide bomber line of thinking is still being investigated, there is one more suspect police think could've caused that "loud boom:"


No word yet on if they expect to take the new suspect into police custody or question him about the incident.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

OBV 102

Newsflash(?) College students narcissistic and self-centered.

Filing this one with the same study that proved that plants do better if you water them.

"Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society."

As one of their more immediate predecessors, I find that hard to believe.

"The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such statements as “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place,” “I think I am a special person” and “I can live my life any way I want to.” Who the hell answers 'No' to any of these questions? If I ruled the world, things would suck; I am not a special snowflake; I can only live my life in ways that make me unhappy - those are not desirable responses to that question.

"The new report follows a study released by UCLA last month which found that nearly three-quarters of the freshmen it surveyed thought it was important to be “very well-off financially.” That compared with 62.5 percent who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966." The kicker here: that only 42 percent of the tail end Baby Boomers thought it was important to be well off financially.

Dude, these are college students. They likely come from well off backgrounds and plan to continue their well off lifestyle at some point in the future. Again, who answers differently? "No, I want to be a freegan" is a much less healthy answer.

Do I think the 'you're special' stuff may have gone too far? Probably. It seems real silly sometimes, with limited benefit if all it does is produce narcissistic college students who aspire to be well off financially at some point. Do I think parents need to exert more authority over their kids? Absolutely. But that's a parent issue, not a college student issue.

I got a total kick out of reading that one, though. Glad that UGA and UCLA can team up to come up with something useful every once in a while...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Must...Post...Something...

I am still shaking off some Mardi Gras exhaustion, and I didn't even hit the city as hard as some of the folks I know from work. They take this Mardi Gras thing very, very seriously in these parts, more than whatever the PR machine tells you back in other parts of the USA. I trained for stuff like this at SEC tailgates, dammit. I should have lasted longer. Even with my pitiful Division III-like showing, I still decided to give up beer and liquor for Lent, owing mainly to the fact that I can't, in good consience, shoot or chug red wine.

And yet, somehow I ended up with scars on top of my feet from walkin' around so much and not feeling it. Three of my best friends rolled through town to see this spectacle with me, and there will be an upcoming post about 'the blitz' or 'what happens when three friends get together to eat nothing but fine New Orleans dining for a week.'

So the Crescent City seamlessly shifted gears back down to non-Carnival levels of volume, and my commute from the Broadmoor sublet to my lower Magazine Street kitchen has returned to normal. On Saturday the 17th, said commute took two hours, roughly half of it on foot, and its only a distance of about three miles.

So, in order to follow the cultural climax of the Crescent City, the NOLA bloggers have taken to discussing culture's role in the recovery.

Wet Bank Guide
Da Po'Blog
Maitri
Ashley Morris

The two recurrent themes are thus: "New Orleans vs the United States of America" and "Is it a Fight Over Culture?"

I'll tackle the first quote first.

As an outsider living, working and playing in New Orleans, no matter how deeply related through family ties or new bonds, I am at a disadvantage in these discussions. I am a post-Deluge transplant, and can never have the kind of deep understanding of the cultural fabric that existed in New Orleans before the flood.

The NOLA v USA thing is an intriguing dynamic, but it is one I can empathize with if only nominally. As a member of a kitchen crew for most of my adult life, I know what it is like to have a paranoid, bunker mentality: I may work for the same restaruant as the servers, but they are on a different side than I am. As a Southerner, I can extend that to a worldview: I come from a region that is culturally different and looked down upon by the mainstream.

Though it may seem like overreaction or hypersensitivity on the part of some New Orleanians to draw lines in the sand with themselves on one side and 'Americans' on another, it makes far more sense when you read the words of American leaders in response to the flood from within Orleans Parish. To New Orleans, many American leaders and pundits have said, over and over, on the internet on the radio and on television: 'we will not take a single step back from Iraq where all of them hate Americans, but we will give up New Orleans - a place Americans actually live - to standing water. We question the wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans because of that sea level thing while we reimburse developers in South Florida for creating million dollar homes on landfill. We're going to let insurers take your money for years and not pay you because they contribute mightily to our campaigns and stock portfolios.'

South Carolina shot cannonballs at Ft Sumter for less offense than that.

Every other state on the Atlantic seaboard that may get hit someday by a hurricane or four should be standing in absolute solidarity. That they are not speaks to abandonment on a national level. Every other state that may have home and hearth threatened by Federal inadequacies should be standing in absolute solidarity. That they are not speaks to abandonment on the national level. At least, abandonment on the part of officials. That is what the world looks like from the view in New Orleans, and it can overshadow the next thing...which is far more subtle and recieves far less fanfare:

One report I heard said 1.5 million American citizens have volunteerd time in New Orleans in the past 18 months. More than that on the Gulf Coast as a whole. That they did speaks volumes towards the true character of this nation and the true nature of this debate.

This nation's soul is being tested everywhere, but the vanguard is in New Orleans. Everywhere we are having debates about what government should and should not take responsibility for: defense, education, infrastructure, business regulation, crime, disaster prevention, charity vs economic opportunity. Right now, how that debate ends for every one of those topics will affect, profoundly, the recovery of New Orleans. How New Orleans recovers will affect, profoundly, the way the rest of the United States is eventually governed.

I've already touched on how the battle for public education everywhere is being lost in New Orleans, and the rest of them just line up next to it.

American domestic policy for the next 50 years is being written right now in New Orleans. The social compact we have lived under is being re-engineered. I'm not one to run from honest debate about such things; but this is being done dishonestly: the powers that be know that if they can beat down New Orleans, not many other places stand a chance.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Flat Tax We Already Have...

Tax breaks here. Sin taxes there. They all even out apparently. Boston University economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David Rapson have done a little research on the subject of tax burden and have discovered that we all hover around 40% for our all-inclusive tax rate. From the richest to the poorest, we all pay roughly 40% of our income in taxes. There's a table in the linked article showing tax rate based on income and age. The highest rate is 47% and the lowest is 32% but the rates do not strictly go up with income in any age bracket. For example, those making $200,000 per year pay less in taxes than those making $150,000 or $300,000.

Now this article does come from MSN Money which has all the economic prowess of an Archie comic book so I'm going to have to do a little digging into the source to figure out how thorough the study is and if it's interpreted correctly here but it does seem reasonable on the surface. If I had to wager, I'd wager sin taxes are a big cause for the equality. We all pay the same sin tax on a $30 bottle of scotch or a pack of smokes. It just hits those making less harder. The biggest surprise I saw in the study is that the all-inclusive rate is so low. I figured that after factoring all taxes, we'd be paying at least 50% of our income in taxes but no group even breaks 50% in the study.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Breakin the Law

Lee and Teresa Sipple are quite distraught at the number of speeders going through their neighborhood. Apparently unsatisfied with any law enforcement recourse taken, they decided to invest in video and radar equipment to catch those speeders and turn their evidence over to the police. It just so happens that one of the offenders they caught was Officer Richard Perrone of the Kennesaw Police Department. Officer Perrone has retaliated by filing stalking charges against the couple. To be fair, "the Sipples have e-mailed Perrone several times in regard to the matter" so legitimate stalking may have taken place. However, the massive PR black eye Perrone has taken over the issue has led him to drop the stalking charges. What a nice guy. No word on whether or not he was ticketed for speeding.

I rather dislike police corruption. Even when it's something small like disobeying traffic laws that they darn well should be following when their lights are off or lying about how often they patrol my neighborhood at night (I have video evidence of that one), we need a method watching the watchmen that's not run by said watchmen. Police provide a valuable service to our society but they need to be following the same laws they are enforcing. If they're not, they need to be called out on it and action needs to be taken. Of course we do need to refrain from stalking when taking that action.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Obamarama

So, Slate.com has a pretty funny new feature: tracking evidence in the press that Barack Obama, Candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, is also the son of God.

Blasphemy aside, this stuff is hilarious. Only in the American media, right? Thank God for the free press, as I'm sure there will be plenty from the likes of "Reverends" Falwell, Robertson and Dobson, or perhaps from "authors" Tim LaHayne and the other guy, about how Obama is the Anti-JC come to rip the world asunder.

Oh, wait, that's already started! "Which kooky reverend, Cousin Pat?" you may ask; "what off-their-rocker wingnut that no one takes seriously says Obama will destroy the world?"

The Prime Minister of Australia, that's who.

But you gotta hand it to the Junior Senator from Illinois on his smackback:

Obama, in Iowa a day after formally announcing his candidacy, responded to Howard’s initial comments by saying he was flattered that one of Bush’s close allies had chosen to single him out for attack.

He then challenged Howard on his commitment to the Iraq conflict, noting the United States has nearly 140,000 troops in Iraq compared with Australia’s about 1,400 forces in the region.

“So if he is ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq,” Obama said. “Otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.”

Stormy Tuesday

For those of you who may not have heard, a tornado ripped across New Orleans early Tuesday morning, and the damage was pretty severe.

With all the FEMA trailers and weakened houses already existing in the path of the storm, I find it an absolute miracle that more people weren't killed or hurt. Over on Napoleon, I was awake at 3:15 am CST to the sound of howling wind, rapid fire thunder, and a bright night sky. I laid in bed up until I could hear the plink-plink of hail on the windows, and I knew it was bad when rain began to lash the south side of the sublet, but no other side. Rain falling sideways is warning enough.

I rose to check the Weather Channel, and the screen had the red line indicating a tornado warning - that means tornado on the ground and in the area - and claimed it was Marrero, Arabi, Chalmette and the 9th Ward in the path of the doppler indicated tornado. That estimation was off, as the actual tornado was ripping apart a path from the West Bank, accross the river into Uptown to my west, and onwards towards Gentilly and the Lake to my north.

Several things crossed my mind upon learning this fact:

1. There were no warning sirens that I could hear. Every city should have those air-raid sirens that go off as soon as a tornado is reported or indicated on the ground. They save lives. I understand that New Orleans has a long list of priorities, but those need to be in the works, if they aren't already.

2. There is nowhere to go in the house in which I live. The first floor is completely gutted, and there is no inside stairway leading down. In case of emergency, we are bound to the second floor, and would need to take place in the bathroom, as there is no real hallway.

3. That being said, where I am in a house at all is an order of magnitude safer than anyone living in a FEMA trailer. This underscores the desperate need to get recovery money out of the red tape jungle and back into the real estate. The one fatality to this tornado was an elderly woman in a FEMA trailer waiting on her home to be completed.

Some folks have lost everything they have, twice, to forces beyond their control. Again, they find themselves and their financial security at the mercy of the government and the insurance companies. Thank God for the charities and the communities who won't stop giving.

In related news, precedent is being set by State Farm refusing to write any new home/business policies in Mississippi - and recovery has to have insurance to continue.

Happy Valentines Day Roundup

I've been getting "Happy VD" texts on the phone all day long. Nice play. In the interest of pandering to you happy couples out there I submit these items for your perusal:

Bulldog nation expansionist tendencies continue as Crescent City blogger Jmac and the Missus are expecting. Congratulations and accolades.

I usually mock scientific studies about obvious stuff, but when a husband and wife team up to figure out the subconcious reasons husbands and wives don't listen to one another, it can be an absolute jewel.

I'm still waiting on my damn sandwich...

Heh.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reactionary

Today's political thought brought to you by Hey, Jenny Slater:

"Appalled horror" would be one way of looking at it, I guess. "Peals of laughter" would be another.

OBVI 1101

So I saw a news story that I found rather disturbing. A college in Vermont has banned students from citing Wikipedia as a source. Isn't that rather obvious? Are other colleges allowing Wikipedia as a source? You shouldn't be citing Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia in your papers. You should only include real source material. Am I wrong on this? Maybe it's different for you arts types but we science folk look down on that sort of thing. Citing an encyclopedia is very likely to at least drop a letter grade on any paper you turn in.

Edit: I went ahead and made that leap into the 90's and changed the quarter-system-esque "OBV 101" title over to its semester equivalent "OBVI 1101." Any credit you received under OBV 101 will equate to OBVI 1101 on your academic transcripts.

Clean-Up Notice

Got this from the inbox a few days ago, reckon it is time to spread the word. More on this over at the Katrina Krewe website.

I wanted to touch base about Keep America Beautiful’s latest effort in New Orleans on February 15, at a local charter school - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology. At the school, Keep America Beautiful, Glad and volunteers are going to clean the school yard in preparation for the return of students.

The information is:
WHEN: Thursday, February 15, from 9 am – 12:30 pm CST
Clean-up Event Volunteer Registration: 9 a.m.
Clean-up Effort: 9:30 a.m.
Press Conference: 11 a.m.
Lunch for volunteers served at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and
Technology 1617 Caffin Ave. in New Orleans

This is being organized by Glad - who is donating 150,000 trashbags for Mardi Gras, $25,000 to local clean-up efforts, and $10,000 to Kat Krewe – and is the official trash bag for Mardi Gras.


I need to keep up with these things better so I can take off from work.

Monday, February 12, 2007

12 Feet of 'Global Warming'

Looks like the fine folks in upstate New York have had about all the 'Global Warming' they care to have for one year. 12 feet, 2 inches to be precise.

In other news, the President of the Czech Republic thinks the UN Climate panel is all wet, and this one Crazy Dane dares to publish the theory that 'GASP!!!' Al Gore's Gulfstream V might not be the source of the 12 feet of "Global Warming" that is currently burying the Northeast US.

Discussion, rational and otherwise, below, please.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

All Atwitter

That coughing sound you hear is a million right wingers clearing their throats for this weeks' coming shrill excoriation of popular culture because the Dixie Chicks won some Grammys. I guess anyone who's ever listened to music, ever, will be a bunch of America-hating Hollywood latte sippers by tomorrow morning at the latest.

At least we can take our minds off astro-naughties for long enough to make substandard overplayed country/pop the story of the day. I mean, it ain't like we've got anything important to report on these days.

Updates + History = ?

The War in Iraq is going to outlast three United States Presidents. Two Republicans, one Democrat. This war has been going on since 1991. It has been a shooting war, and we can't seem to find the end game. Seventeen years so far, this has dominated United States foreign policy towards the rest of the world. By the time Bush 43 leaves the White House, we will have been dealing with the Iraq war for a generation. In total years at war, we could have fought the Revolution (1775 - 1783), the War Between the States (1861 - 1865) and World War II (1941 - 1945) in the time that the Iraq question has yet to be settled, and we could have taken a year off in the process. Perhaps it is because, as some suggest, that we are fighting multiple wars in Iraq and none of them are the ones we invaded for in 1991, attacked for in the interim, and re-invaded for in 2003.

In other news, the ramifications and results, the history and reasons, the significance and divisiveness that was Vietnam are still being fought over today. (HT: Cracker Squire) From the halls of the United States Senate to the social investigations. Vietnam was started, in a cursory way, under the Eisenhower administration, expanded under Kennedy and spiraled out of control under LBJ. This lack of control destroyed the Democratic Party's credibility of foreign policy (with the notable exception of some Southern Democrats), ripped the party in half, and kept open American societal wounds festering from the Civil Rights Movement at home. Nixon was able to extricate us from Vietnam, but by that time, Vietnam had done more damage to the United States - in terms of national identity - than any enemy other than the Confederate States of America.

We're still dealing with that damage today. Iraq is not Vietnam. Comparisons are inevitable due to both being wars fought in the media, both being wars that took well over ten years to settle, both being wars where no formal Declaration of War was adopted, both being wars where political ramifications were too highly considered, both being wars that sharply divided the American public, and both being wars where - despite our overwhelming advantage in technology - we were unable to project enough power to end non-traditional warfare. And, of course, the rhetoric from both sides being eerily similar.

But Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is the continuation of Vietnam: an ideological cul-de-sac of foregin policy that leads us to open ended military campaigns that we should win going away but don't, because the strategy at the top is unclear and 'leaders' fear making rational and tough decisions that are required to settle the question. Until that ideological cul-de-sac is closed, we will continue debating the ghosts of Vietnam and Iraq and never settling the question.

This Just In

Obama, running for President. Making official something we have assumed for a long, long time. So long, in fact, we didn't even make any side bets about a possible candidacy on this site, even offline.

But, quite unexpectedly, we learn that Obama is not, in fact, actually black. Don't beleive me? Click on that last link and watch the video. I'm sendin' you to Dr. Morris' site because of the other links, too. Safe for work, just put down the beverage while you watch. Trust me.

Gotta love them 'experts,' hunh?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The War with Iran

Some Democrats may think they won elections in November because Americans are tired of the Iraq war. I'd say one of the reasons they got elected in November is that Americans are tired of the war with Iran, and we haven't even officially begun that misadventure yet.

This week, there was even more rhetoric and saber rattling from high offices in both nations. Y'all remember how every football coach says he's happy coaching where he is, but then three days later skips town en route to another job? Yeah, well, the Bush Administration's been saying for the past several months that "we don't want to go to war with Iran" and it is sounding more and more like the same line. We've known for a long time that the neoconservatives want Iran, and with Ol' Dubya weak in his last two years in office, they may never get another shot. The leaders of Iran, even the real leaders, are chiming in, too.

Hope y'all are ready for the big war, 'cause this one ain't gonna be pretty.

The Bush Administration has already been making their case for war with Iran since the 'Axis of Evil' statment in the SOTU many years ago. Now, we lay out the cause for war, "Iran is attacking US troops." Let that sink in for a good moment, as that is how we have justified every war (save the war with Iraq) since the Revolution. However, after the Iraq War intelligence failures, how far do we trust this administration this time around? My Pops raised me on a story about a boy who cried 'wolf,' maybe they have a different story wherever Dubya's from.

What gets to me is that the US is content to make weapons found in every other battlefield in the world, but if the Iranians make weapons used against us, it is going to be used as a cause for war. I wonder when we're going to use that logic and finally shut down Russia and China for manufacturing the most efficient killer of US troops this century, a rifle called the Kalashnikov.

But oh, those nations have nuclear weapons, we have to deal with them through diplomacy. Is there no better case for Iranian development of nuclear weapons? Notice how their enrichment program suddenly kicked into overdrive soon as the words 'Axis of Evil' escaped the mouth of our President.

Need I mention as well that, at the time those three words were uttered, Iran had a pro-reformist leader whose appeal to the youth of Iran was that he could push a more pro-western agenda? The 'Axis of Evil' nonsense delivered Iran into the hands of their current President, whose reality-defying rhetoric is reminiscent (if far more delusional) than our own. Before "the Beard" was President in Iran, we had a chance for true engagement with Iran, and sanity would have encouraged us to take it. But the neocon eggheads want Iran under the control of the Shah again, 'cause that worked out so well for us the last two times, and will settle for nothing less than that. Even though we do business with China on a very normal basis, a nation far worse in terms of human rights violations and far more dangerous (and we won't even get into our logic-defying alliance with Saudi Arabia's Wahhabist government), this Administration outright refused to even speak with pro-reform members of the Islamic Republic back when there was even such a thing.

Thanks for letting y'all's ideology screw us so badly down the road, fellas.

Ugliness

I wonder how this is going to get explained away? Hospitals dropping indigent and homeless folks off where they don't want to go. It says something about how many indigent folks we have, how hard it is for the medical community to deal with them, and the soul-wrenching ways the medical community - without direction or leadership - is dealing with it.

I know two things: not many medical communities do this with the indigent, but those who do are too much. There has to be a better way.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cartoon Carnage

Maybe I'm just a little 'old school' but doesn't a tough talking American city being brought to a shutdown by cartoon characters mean the terrorists have won? Absolutely and totally, our fearful and skittish society can see threats in anything, and our 24/7 rumour-as-media only helps spread the incitement. Yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre, indeed.

This matter was of course the subject of grand debate for three running nights at that most philosophical of venues: the burrito stand kitchen, and many varied opinions were represented, and forced to realize the ugly truth that, in the post-9/11 world, our worst and most hypochondriac characteristics are able to overwhelm reason and wit and intelligence in the most spectacular fashion - on the air during a slow news day.

A plauge on all our houses.

First of all, the perpetrators. Forget the "post-9/11 world," in the age of "Jackass, "Jackass 2," "Punk'd" and "Kevin Federline," there is now far, far too much market and employment capability for people who should be smoking dope, eating cheetos and sitting on a couch. They're not bathing, they're shutting down American cities, they're jumping down courthouse staircases, and they're laughing at us all the way to the bank. I'm getting sick of this nonsense, and I was sick of it back when all the people my age were introduced to a guy named "Puck" on The Real World: Los Angeles. These kinds of folks should be asking you, "would you like fries with that?" but instead they're making money 'guerilla marketing' substandard cartoon products that appeal mainly to people who smoke dope, eat cheetos and sit on couches. They only gain their 'rebel credibility' because older, more stuck up people hate them, and call them terrorists. Please do not feed the trolls, stop pointing at them, and please bring back real rebels with talent.

SAWB, it is time to start that metal band, and groom legions of fans to kick the asses of people like this.

Boston. So much for all that tough attitude, fellas. Do you realize what you've done? Get ready to see light brites at every Red Sox away game, 'cause if Chicago fans were tellin' the Who Dat? nation to go back to New Orleans and drown, New York is not going to let you guys slide on this one. The rest of us out here in the rest of America's cities are now going to have to deal with a legion of copycats trying to make their own art bomb statement. Like we needed more of that, especially with our own governments incapable of dealing with real problems. Thanks a million or two.

I mean, I want to hear the real story. What? Philly, New York, LA and dem have the cartoons up in their city and no one cares, but some little old lady in Cambridge gets offended at a children's toy flicking her off and calls in the bomb squad? And the first response is to think: wow I've seen a lot of these around, let's shut the whole city down and call a press conference?

'Cause you knew it was a slow news day anyway, and the American media is about as loud and as accurate about breaking news as a rat terrier drinking Volt and smoking crack.

Add to that the indignation later displayed by your public officials. I know you don't normally act like this, Boston, I know you have thicker skin. Y'all are the tough guys, with Pittsburgh and Chicago and Brooklyn, but your security officials are standing there talking about how bad two townies scared them with a pile of toys.

From a security standpoint, this is a nightmare. Two concept artists fouled up security in a major American city for a day. Let's view the failures.

1. These "suspicious, bomb-looking devices" were up in other big cities, and no one took notice. Now, all the terrorists have to do is mask their evil plots behind obscure Girl Scout t-shirts, bad emo band logos, and petchouli and we'll never, ever see the next one coming. Great. All I needed was to stay awake at night dreading the 'Sifl and Ollie Sock-n-Awe' campaign.

This is double compounded by the fact that almost any electronic device can look like a bomb, and that these particular devices were designed to call attention to themselves. So we have a dog-walker on the high and the low failure.

2. Once someone did notice the "suspicious, bomb-looking device-specifically-designed-to-call-attention-to-itself," they hit the mass hysteria button, loudly. In fighting the war on terror, the idea is to be vigilant, not stupid. Call some authorities over so those authorities can investigate, appraise the situation and react accordingly. The idea is not to call the authorities and then call CNN, so the authorities (or whoever is in the authority organizations who gets the call from Wolf Blitzer asking about the terrorist attack) can't investigate properly while fielding phone calls from all superiors, family members, media hounds and other hysterical citizens now fearing Osama bin Laden is hiding downstairs in their basement.

3. As far as the authorities are concerned, I don't know how I would react if I suddenly realized that, quietly, someone had slipped a dozen or so 'bomb looking devices' into important areas in a major American city. Maybe I'd try to have it done quietly as possible, 'there's nothing to see here' style, and try to get a better idea of what we were dealing with. Maybe I'd do the same thing Boston did, and shut the whole party down as quickly and as efficiently as possible, costs be damned, security first. I wasn't there, responding to imminent threats, so I can't make that call.

I do know that afterwards, I'd just be thankful this wasn't a real attack, and if the folks responsible didn't intend to provoke a threatened response, I'd let it go, and itemize it as training in the ledger. So many things can be seen as threatening these days, it boggles the mind. If we plan to adhere to our current state of near hysteria, there are going to be some false alarms, and we're going to have to deal with that. We can't just become boring-land because we're living in the "post-9/11 world" because we don't know what our neighbor is going to think is a bomb.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Open Thread

Four days since the last post, and believe me, I didn't mean for it to last that long, it just did. In the time we've been away, cartoons shut down a major American city (I didn't know until a day later because I was at work), the Krewe Du Vieux paraded through the French Quarter and the Mariny (but I couldn't see the parade, because I was at work), the Colts won the Super Bowl (that I listened to on the radio, driving back from Mississippi), the Department of Defense said we are not planning on attacking Iran (but they've been saying that for about a year now).

So I've been terribly busy, I feel totally out of touch.

Normal posting will resume sometime Monday evening. I know all three of you will wait with baited breath for my return. Until then, please amuse yourselves in the comments section of this post.