Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nothing Better to Do?

I remember one day long ago when the Herb and Skills group got ticketed by the Athens-Clarke County police department outside either the 40 Watt Club or Tasty World. Their crime? Putting band advertisements on telephone poles.

While technically illegal - it is clearly against the rules to put fliers anywhere other than approved spaces in the ACC - if you've ever been to Athens, walked around Athens, played in a band in Athens or watched a band in Athens, you know that plenty folks put their band fliers all over everything you can touch with a staplegun and duct tape. Now, I'm not the "everybody else is doing something wrong, so why can't we" types, but I am one of those "if you're going to enforce the law against one person who violates it, you have to (at least) make the attempt to enforce the law against all people who violate it." What is good for the goose is good for the gander, is what I'm sayin'. You can't just pick and choose who to go after and expect to keep a whole lot of credibility.

Now, I haven't lived in Athens Town for quite some while, and if that particular night was the first prong of a band flier offensive by the ACCPD, then that's OK. I just remember at the time never having heard of any other group being ticketed for band fliers in the wrong places. I had been in Athens for seven years at that point, and had been pals with more than a few folks in bands. That seemed a little odd to me. I was thinking words like "selective" and "prosecution."

I also remember the innocuous "Copyright 1976" graffitti that popped up around Athens back in the day. Oh, to be young again, and not in my 30's.

Fast forward to today, and I'm down in New Orleans, and Dangerblond and Toulouse Street point me over to this crazy news in the art community. (That last link even quotes one of my past coworkers at the Burrito Stand...)

Long story short (though, you should take some time to go read that story and associated links), some guy with grey paint is going after some homegrown artist type and has the NOPD all up in the middle. In a total departure from rational reality, the guy with the grey paint gets to paint over graffitti wherever he sees it in town, and has now locked up the homegrown artist, who makes inspirational and removable pieces for residents of the town to display, with citations from the police that could total over $50,000.

My problem with this exists on many levels, including but not limited to:
-If we have a quality of life division of the city government anywhere, could we please work on the potholes a little more seriously?
-That a city government strapped for funds is actually covering some dude's grey paint budget for a pet project of any kind.
-That the police can apparently get all the paperwork done to cite an inspirational local artist while the same department is having an awful time enforcing the local 'do not murder' ordinance.
-That the police are spending time with something like this while National Guard are still patrolling neighborhoods.
-That volunteer groups are still helping paint our schools.
-That the city's streets are in serious need of lane markers.

In short, homeboy should not have time to go around worrying his head silly over some inspirational guy. This city has far bigger fish to fry

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mardi Gras

Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures

For the next two weeks. For many of my teacher friends, this is their first Mardi Gras season, and if last Saturday was any indication, I'm in for trouble. Kinda like last year, which is what this picture reminded me of.

Kind of Torn on this One

FishbowlDC has a piece that ended up on Drudge Report about MSNBC hosts laughing at GOP speeches. MSNBC does come off as a liberally-slanted network more often that not and I can see how this doesn't help that image. On the other hand, have you heard the speeches in question? They're pretty pathetic. I think what it comes down to is that MSNBC is what it is. Olberman and Matthews make up a large chunk of their ratings success and if this is what they're doing to get viewers, it's obviously working. Good for them. Is it a lack of class on MSNBC's part? Maybe, but I have to refer to my standard rule on class: "Class" is a word losers throw out there to get other people to agree to concessions they wouldn't otherwise make. MSNBC finally has a show that actually appears on ratings sheets. They'll let Olbermann do whatever he wants. And they should.

Professional Video Gaming? (A Soapbox Moment)

Note from Dante: I was going to put up a piece about how pro football is done for the season since the Super Bowl is historically one of the worst games of the year. (It's generally a blowout that's decided in the first few minutes. There are exceptions.) But then I ran across this and couldn't pass it up.

ESPN apparently now has a spot on its website for Major League Gaming. I do not think that word means what ESPN thinks it means. I was thinking ESPN now had a spot for Yahtzee and pro Bingo and non-poker card games and all sorts of wonderful stuff. Then I realized that it was limited to video games. That's OK though. I'd love to see a Pac-Man tounrey or maybe even some fighting games or something like that. But then after reading a few articles on ESPN's site, I realized it was further limited to video games of the first person shooter variety. This is stupid. Let's take a video game genre that's done to death already and make a professional sport out of it? Have you ever actually watched someone play a first person shooter? It's almost as fun as staring at a blank wall. At least you know what's going on when looking at the blank wall. I see this being almost as popular as roller derby or world league football. Wait a minute... no I don't.

Friday, January 18, 2008

State of Affairs

Just mentally prepare yourself for more bad news.

I haven't read about this in the NOLAsphere, so I don't know if anyone has already touched on it. Just to prepare you mind, the references will be, in no particular order: New Orleans, racism, public policy, popular culture, tailgating, housing projects, college football, the national championship game, alcohol, Louisiana State Univeristy and national reaction. Let your head wrap around that for a minute before watching the video. Some of you may not need to watch it at all, or have a stiff drink ready when you do. Especially if you read the EDSBS comment threads.

I came across it on Every Day Should Be Saturday, one of the greatest blogs on the interwebs (who in turn hat-tips Sports By Brooks and the overall video comes from this YouTube Account). I reckon this is where race relations end up on Martin Luther King Jr's weekend all these years later.

I don't really know what to think of it all myself. My opinions towards the local housing issues are complex, and the opinions I have heard about it from folks I know in and around New Orleans are equally complex. But talk like this is not going to help a damn thing when it hits the airwaves. Any salient points that might be made in this video are buried underneath the way it was said. And the way it was said will only feed the distrust and animosity that got us to this point in the first place. Make no mistake, this is why when certain policy issues are brought up, people can play the race card at all.

So for any steps forward, this kind of thing keeps taking us back. Go and look and tell me I'm lying.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To Quote Dave Chappelle,

The University of Colorado mascot is about to find out what happens when keepin' it real goes wrong.

Rebel Flag Tuxedo?

I really don't know what is stranger: that google searching the words "rebel flag tuxedo" and "Confederate Flag Tuxedo" have been hot topics in past days, or that this blog ended up so high on the search list (numbers 6 and 7 respectively).

I couldn't remember writing about a rebel flag tuxedo on this website, evar, in the nearly 3 years I've been writing it. And I didn't, but somehow, it came up in conversation. From April of 2006.


Monday, January 14, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering

The simplest answer is often the right answer.

Exhibit A


Even Instapundit is giving this guy traffic. I'm sure the comments will come fast and furious over there now.

If you didn't think it was important to comment on or write about it, Mr. Reynolds helps direct a huge amount of traffic through his site. We should fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here.

Victory and Defeat

Victory (CS Lewis style) - There's no snow-covered forest and no witches or horsey-men or anything like that but I do now have a lamp post back on my property without paying any install fees to the electric company. Read story here. I'm glad to have that bit of unpleasantness behind me.

Victory (Monty Hall style) - I also managed to find a Wii in the middle of the Wii shortage. A lot of people write off eBay as a locale for scam artists and people selling the unit at exorbitant prices but I looked around and found some very reasonable prices (about 20% or so below retail) on a Wii if you're willing to buy used and willing to buy it with whatever games and accessories the previous owner accumulated before selling. I desperately need to brush up on my Wii boxing and bowling skills because my wife is brutally good at both of them (she even got a Fourth Strike bowling the other day).

Defeat (Moe Howard style) - My wife woke me up Sunday morning because she smelled something burning. I assumed it was the death trap we call space heaters and immediately unplugged ours and took a look. That wasn't it. Turns out our 20 month old son got the iron off the ironing board, plugged it in, turned it on and placed it face down on our carpet. There's a triangle shaped burn mark I don't think we'll ever get out of the carpet. At least our carpet is that new-fangled mostly-plastic stuff so it just smoldered a bit instead of catching on fire. It's also good that the boy fully understood which end of the iron was the business end and didn't touch it. It still annoys me that there's a spot on the floor that feels like a plastic soda bottle. It'll annoy me further when I have to go at lunch today and buy a new iron (and possibly a nice area rug).

How are your personal victories and defeats coming along?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Good Thing I'm From Georgia

Because otherwise I might be pissed.

I mean, that must be the reason I haven't gotten my check for $425,000, right? A simple matter of residency is all. And here I thought the check was going to be delivered the same time as my limosine. I am a liberal, after all, so I was expecting the check and the ride long before now.

Oh, well. It is a little disheartening to know that being From Georgia is keeping me from my $425K payday (Thanks! American Taxpayers), but I take heart in the fact that no other Americans with any sort of media credibility are actively engaged in the pursuit of public policy to wipe my home off the map. I mean, if some West Coast nutcase with a Univeristy of California - Berkeley degree declared, for all intents and purposes, that Federal government organizations should start blowing up the infrastructure in and around Atlanta as a matter of course, I'd have a few choice words to say.

Luckily for the nutcase, if he had said it about Atlanta, most of the folks there would just laugh at him. I mean, we hardly take Neil Boortz seriously, this guy is small pecans. In New Orleans, nerves are a little more raw right now. It has something to do with the fact that few of them have taken delivery of their $425,000 checks here, two years and change since they pulled off this "scam."

(I mean, according to Ann Coulter, all those "9/11 Widows" pulled off a similar scam back in 2001, Ol' Dubya pulled the "weapons of mass destruction" fast one, so why couldn't the folks down here pull off this whole "Katrina Disaster" thing? You pick NOW to catch on?)

Maybe that's hitting a little bit below the belt. But are you kidding me? Is this what passes for American civil discourse these days? Who are these people?

I knew that the news that some coo-coo for coco puffs knucklehead had filled out a litigation form in crayon and sued the United States government for a few quadrillion dollars would couple with the New Orleans haters out there in the elsewhere and end up giving us such gems of American solidarity as this and this.

Though, I'm glad to know that the right wing takes the plantiff's equivalent of Dr. Evil so seriously.

It is a crying shame people still read this nonsense. Luckily, none of the nearly 2 million volunteers to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast did. The America I grew up in didn't abandon cities to disaster, and for the most part, we still don't. We never called the folks of south Florida for "sucking on the teat" after Andrew in 1992. We didn't begrudge the Carolinas' cleanup after Floyd spilled all that hog waste into their drinking water back in 1999. We didn't tell Florida to take a hike back in 2004 when that place got hit with 4 hurricanes in one year. Because we're Americans who understand the term "E Pluribus Unum" and we don't need to thump our chests to prove how patriotic we are, we hammer roofing nails and hang drywall for family, friends and strangers because we get it.

Oh yeah, one more thing, especially for all you who are sitting around thinking about how slimy and bad and teat-suckling us Southerners are: No Americans get voted off this island, we answered that question, as a nation, very, very loudly back in 1865. But if you would like to revisit that particular issue, if you are sooo tired of dealing with your fellow Americans, if having us as a part of your "more perfect Union" is somehow harshing your West-Coast-Penthouse-editing-self-righteousness mellow, just secede.

And don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Update: Many thanks for the traffic being directed here from:

Oyster (and a big HT to him for picking up on this topic)
Ashley Morris (whose rant is a true beauty, and I am humbled to be quoted in the closing remarks of that one)
And Gentilly Girl

Also responding to the nutcases are (so far):

Animamundi & Dangerblond (who just finished Law School at Loyola)

And, if you want to see just how insane some of these people who begrudgingly share a nation with us are, please check out the vitriolic comments over at the American Digest nonsense that started this thread. Patently disgusting.

Double Update: Here's what even more people who begrudgingly share a nation with us had to say. Reckon the view is nice from out there in the cheap seats, hunh?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Better Moment

I couldn't beleive I was listening to a concession speech.

I couldn't believe I was listening to a speech by an American candidate for President, saying these things that need to be said, speaking these words after so many years of bitterness and cynicism tearing us apart as a people.

I couldn't believe it, because for so long we have been without a real national leader who is able to stir the souls of men and women with a voice. For so long, we have been without those men and women who rise to the occasions that face us, we have been without those who know that all the words they are speaking will be marked down for posterity.

Maybe I should stop having so much trouble believing, because Tuesday night, Barack Obama didn't sound like he was conceding anything in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

That's Unpossible!

For those of you not fond of the football news, it'll be slowing down soon. The BCS Championship is over and all that's left is a pretty meh NFL playoff race, but I have to post this. Look at the final AP Poll. There's a certain team from the state of Georgia ranked 2. I never imagined that UGA would finish the AP ahead of USC. UGA even got more #1 votes. Of course on the coaches side, all #1 votes went to LSU as they are obligated to do by BCS rules. USC is 2nd there and Georgia 3rd. Given the number of returning students from USC, UGA, and Ohio State, I can't see UGA ranked below #2 preseason next year (and maybe even #1). They have a brutal schedule but for the first time in many many years, Georgia completely owns its national title destiny in 2008. Way to go, Georgia. Georgia is the largest pool of talent (based on players drafted by the NFL) to not win a National Championship in the BCS era. Hopefully, that will change in either 2008 or 2009.

Monday, January 07, 2008

How right he was...

Quoth Carl: "Look for Hawaii to drop its football program altogether after this embarrassment and focus instead on cliff diving and sacrificing young hotties to their volcano god."

Looks like Carl was oh so right. Junes Jones is headed off to Dallas to be the new SMU coach and with him leaving and Colt Brennan graduating, that just about does it for Hawaii football. That's pretty sad when you get left behind for the C-USA powerhouse that is the Pony Express. At least Jones has decent facilities and will be recruiting far different players the other local teams (except for perhaps the Red Raiders).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dante vs. The Army of Darkness

So here's a fun little story of my quest to restore goodness (well, light at least) to my kingdom (a nice 1.2 acre lot with a 3Br/3Ba house in NE GA). Some time in mid-December we noticed our street light wasn't on. It was dark so I couldn't see what was wrong with it. We decided we should call the power company but never got around to it due to our family's travel schedule this year. Two days ago, I was out walking the dog when I noticed something strange. The street light wasn't just off. It wasn't there. My first thought was, "Who steals a street light?!" I wouldn't find out until the next morning.

Yesterday morning I call the power company and find out that they took down the pole because I wasn't paying for it. This is pretty surprising to me. In our subdivision the developers were paying for the lights until some time in 2004. At that point, the power company sent us letters telling us to call a number and give them our light's id number or it would be turned off. We followed the form and lo and behold when the deadline came, many lights in our subdivision went dark but not ours. When our bill has higher by the amount they said it would be, we assumed we were good to go. Apparently, they left the light on but didn't charge us for it. I'll go ahead and foreshadow a bit and tell you that they never did have a consistent answer for why exactly the light was on but nobody was paying for it.

Back to the call, the first person I talked to on the phone said they would put it back and all we'd have to pay would be the monthly fee for the light. Then the guy in charge of installation called me later that day and told me they were ready to do the installation... for $280. This was war. If we haven't been paying for the pole, I have no problem starting to pay for it now but taking it down without notifying us or giving us the chance to make things right and then asking $280 to put it back up? That's not going to happen. I had to work my way up the chain of people to get to someone who could do something about this. I'll spare you entire conversations and leave it to the knock out punches that got the person I was talking to to pass me on. Keep in mind these are mostly-accurate paraphrases.

Dante vs. Installation Guy
Me: Is there someone I can talk to about this? I'm not paying you $280 for a pole you took down without even telling me.
Installation Guy: Well, I'm in charge of new installation and if we're putting a pole in that's a new install. If I put that pole in, I have to get the $280. I don't know who else you'd talk to.
Me: So you just pocket that installation money?
IG: Uh... No.
Me: Great. Then the person I need to talk to would be whoever you give that money to. Can you tell me who that is?
IG: Just a second and I'll get you in touch with Office Lady [real name redacted] from our office. She can probably help you.
(Dante wins by knockout.)

Dante vs. Office Lady
OL: Well, if you were paying for the light this whole time, you'd have paid over $300 by now. $280 is coming out ahead.
Dante: If you had told me about it before you took it down and given me a chance to make things right then, I'd be a lot more ahead.
OL: We make every effort to inform customers about the status of their lights. It cost a lot to take them down and put them back up.
Dante: Every effort? You sent me a letter 4 years ago! How is that every effort?
OL: Let me talk to the District Manager.
(Dante wins by decision.)

To take a step back for a moment, it's pretty safe to say that if you've ever sent me a bill/invoice/tax form/important letter/etc, I have it in a box in my basement sorted by year and type of letter. Trust me, that's not my idea. My wife insists on that sort of thing and while I was hammering through to the district manager, she was busy collecting all information we had about that light pole. She then called the District Manager herself at about 5PM. The receptionist said he had gone home for the day. My wife asked for voicemail and when it rang over, someone picked up. It was the District Manager. Uh-oh for him.

Dante's Wife vs. District Manager
DM: Well, I don't see the pole on your account. We might've put it under your old account number and forgot to carry it over to the new one. We changed billing systems around then.
DW: No, you changed the account number back in late 2002. My account number on my October 2004 bill is the same as the one on my current bill.
DM: Oh... [realizing we probably had better records than they did on our account]
DW: We did everything you told us to. We followed the instructions on the paper, called the number, and left a voicemail with the information you requested. When our light stayed on and the others went dark, we had every reason to believe that you put that light pole on our account.
DM: The Operations Manager has left for the day. Let me get in touch with him and I'll call you back tomorrow before 11:30AM. [I think once he heard the word voicemail, he realized that we probably did call and whoever was supposed to be handling the request just didn't do what they were supposed to about it.]

At 8:15AM this morning, the power company called and told us that they would install the pole and all we would have to pay is the ongoing cost of running the light. The Operations Manager would get in touch with us to set up a date and time for the installation.
(Dante's Wife wins by knockout)

There's still no pole in our yard so I'm not declaring victory just yet. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sugar Blogging

Stayed up waay past my bedtime on Tuesday night. Me, Sprout, the Pops and my Cousin's husband WC made it over to the dome to catch the game. I haven't seen the Dawgs play live and in person since...since...when, 2005? (Good Lord, SAWB, was it Boise State???) So being able to see the Dawgs play in the Crescent City was a special treat for me.

And this was a well played game for the Dawgs. As everyone absolutely knows, UGA dominated undefeated* Hawai'i in every aspect of the game. Having spent a lot of time biting my nails over the years, I find the blowouts of ranked teams espcially relishing.

Got some nice pics of the family in attendance, and the fans we ran into (all weekend really) were the fans you want to run into when you go to sporting events. The Hawai'i fans were outstanding sports before, during and after the game. In the days before, they were all over the French Quarter and obviously enjoying their first trip to a major mainland bowl. All the NOLAn's I speak to on a regular basis were highly impressed by Warrior fans, as was I. Class acts all of them.

The Dawg fans were what you would expect from a Southern fanbase of 50,000 + rolling into the "Big Easy" to go drinking on Bourbon Street. Lot of really nice folks enjoying the town and friends who live here, and a few really loud obnoxious ones who every local ends up with a story about. Luckily, I only ran into the former, and I saw more than a few making the rounds to the WWII museum on the 31st (it actually looked like an Alumni function at first, but no, that's just what we do). The Georgians I saw or heard about elsewhere in the city were very busy dropping some serious cash in the Crescent City's dining destinations.

We sat in a mixed section of the Dome, with Warrior fans and Dawg fans all mingling. We spoke to some Warrior fans about the food and the culture and found out that the Islanders were really enjoying their trip to this part of the world. New Orleans made a lot of new fans - too bad they live on the other side of the planet. Hopefully they will have some reason to visit again soon. We cheered with some Georgia fans who were young and rambunctious but good in spirit and sportsmanship.

Other things I noticed: UGA President Adams was quietly booed when introduced to the crowd. Hawai'i's fans were quietly clapping and looking at the Georgia fans with utter and total bewilderment at this reaction amongst the Dawgs. After all, they had gone bonkers when their University President, decked out in full fan-gear, was introduced. I had some explaining to do, but it was at that moment that the Warrior fans in my immediate area began to realize how crazy Southern football fans really are. Following that lead, Mayor C. Ray Nagin was quite loudly denounced, heckled, booed and complained about by what sounded like everyone in attendance.

Also, this was the first time I had ever seen an instrumental National Anthem at any major sporting event. One of the reasons I love this town is that, when it comes to big stuff like that, on a national stage, they send out the BRASS. I can't wait to see what they do for the MNC game next week.

Later, I'll publish some of the outstanding text messages I recieved during the game, as my current inbox is brimming with about 30+, and you would have loved hearing the calls from people back in Georgia who were just then realizing that, yes, should Georgia play in the Sugar Bowl, I will be in the room - like they had just realized that the Sugar Bowl was in New Orleans and since I live in New Orleans I might find a way to show up.

What a great, great night. More to come. Woof.

* undefeated in the 2007 regular season, that is...


Heh heh heh. There's really only two Republican Presidential Candidates I would like to see in the general election. One of them seems to have won the Iowa caucuses. On the Democratic Side, I have been unwilling to accept the inevitability of a Hillary Clinton nomination. I like that result in the Blue, too.

Not that the Iowa caucuses mean terribly much anymore, but it is nice to see the underdogs win in Presidential politics so early in the season. I wonder if Obama and Huckabee went out and rounded up some interns from Appalachian State University? Because, let's face it, if the Presidential Race is half as fun as the 2007 College Football Season, this could be a pretty good year.