Friday, July 25, 2008

Solid (Black and) Gold Saturday Night

A Woman Scorned

Don't exactly know what to think about this jilted bride getting awarded $150,000 because her fiancee left her, but I'm terrified at the precedent this sets.

So is this justice or bullshit? I'm torn, but my gut reaction is bullshit. I mean, yes it sucked that she left her high paying job, moved to another state and moved in with the toolbag she was going to marry, but that was her decision. She said yes. She decided that it was a good idea to trust that man.

How many other women (and to be completely fair, men) have been whalloped in such ways? At least three of my boys have been jammed up in similar ways by former girlfriends and fiancees, and they would have been laughed out of court had they sued for monetary and credit damages.

Does this mean they now have legal standing to persue action against these women?

In other thoughts, this is why a marriage license - issued and certified by the state governments - is so important. They are binding legal contracts backed up by the power of law. That's why divorces require lawyers. But up until that legally binding contract is signed...?


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Its Only In Your Mind...

Yup. I was going through the news today, and guess what I found? The housing crunch, in addition to hammering folks who got caught up with the fast and loose play of banks and mortgage lenders, is now affecting responsible homeowners who have made fiscally sound decisions, too.

I didn't have to tell many of you that, though, did I?

But don't worry, this is just a mental thing. It's all in our imaginations, and by talking about it, these good and concerned American citizens are just enabling us to create more excuses and whine a little more. Oh yeah, and it is all the media's fault. Not the banks and financial institutions, not the lending agencies who didn't do their homework, not the people who spent and spent and spent themselves in to hock, not the government watchdogs whose jobs it was to regulate these practices...nope. It are teh media, dey bad.

Well, they are. They should have been on this story years ago. But Paris and Britney and....you know. Write enough fluff stories, y'all, and watch what happens when something real (or mental) sneaks you after class.

And unfortunately, we - the working, responsible taxpayers - DO have to fund this enormous bailout. Because just letting all these folks and banks and lending agencies earn a just reward would teach them a lesson, but probably collapse our economy in the process. That's why we have to have educated people watching the economy to hedge against stuff like this.

What gets to me is that these bailouts aren't going to do any real good: the people who got us into this mess, those CEO's and CFO's who made the decisions to underwrite this ridiculous financial policy, will not get their just deserts. They'll take their golden parachute millions and MBA's and go work for some other institution, lying in wait for things to calm down before they run their next scam. Hopefully, the people who got really snookered this last time will learn a thing or three as they move into their more modest accomodations.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Burn Notice

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson

Because they're always going to try the old switcheroo.

(HT: Dangerblond)

P.S.: As far as the city council meeting is concerned, I think it is time we begin applying the following six rules to politics in this town. I've already seen that our Saints fans know and live by these rules, would it be so hard to expand the scope?

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Marketing Majors

"i bet someone in his campaign actually speaks german.

It appears that Sen. Barak Obama will be getting a little crap from the right-wing because he advertised a speech he made in Germany. I agree fully with Herr Gillett's take on the matter.

And, after all the staging President George W. Bush's administration engaged in, how dare any right winger call out Obama for advertising a speech with handbills and posters? FYYFF.

I've said before that today's right wing is having problems because they're a bunch of marketing majors with nothing to sell but a brand name that used to mean something. I was wrong. They aren't even marketing majors anymore, because they don't understand that you're supposed to advertise an event before it happens. And when you do that, it is good to use advertisements the locals understand. (I would love to see Obama use this theory in Appalachia when he gets back, though. Twofers!)

Try to read as many nefarious things as you can into this, O right wing!. Obama was giving a speech and he wanted people to hear it. Maybe some McCain staffer should take notes.


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Not One Drop

The energy crisis has forced us to change the question from "should we drill now" to "how should we drill now." Not a question of "if" but "when." But the biggest concern should be the "How, How, How?"

Because the "environmental wackos" who are wary of environmental damage don't have far to look in order to prove their point.

The right wingers will continue to say that our energy crisis is caused by environmentalists. Tell that to the Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parish residents who get to worry about their drinking water for the next few days. Tell that to the American businesses losing money because river traffic has to be stopped. I can smell the fuel oil from Mid-City.

But the mythology will start cranking up soon enough: just like the "not one droppers" continue to falsely claim no oil-based environmental damage in the face of the 2005 hurricanes, they will now find something else to blame for what happened on the river. I'm sure the collision was caused by some unncessary government regulation, a liberal politician, or some environmentalist somewhere.

But we know the truth:

That's what happens when you let Robert Novak drive the boat.


Update: I am apparently thinking along the exact lines as Oyster on this one. He even provides some Limbaugh linkage, and one to Shakespeare's Sister. Good stuff.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Categories

While I was away in Georgia, and not watching the news, Hurricane Dolly blew up out of the Gulf of Mexico, going from depression to hurricane in just a few days. She made landfall as a category two hurricane but then began to degrade as quickly as she strengthened. God willing, south Texas and northern Mexico will be spared too much damage, though it is awful early to be making estimates.

Hopefully, the moisture will move north into Texas' drought stricken hinterlands and bring some much needed rain, but we're probably looking at a lot of flooding and runoff rather than the kind of rain the area needs.

And again with the levees? With breaks now having made the news in Louisiana, California, the Midwest and the attention they have gotten in south Texas at the Rio Grande, can we have a serious debate on this nation's water-control infrastructure?

Furthermore, a new report, while focusing on areas affected by Katrina and the Louisiana levee breaks, examines who does NOT want to evacuate in the face of a hurricane. Numbers apparently hover around 27% of the population 'refusing to evacuate' between 0 and 20 miles of the coast in the Southern states.

I personally think that number is rather low, but I reckon it depends on a case-by-case basis.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Starbucks Closings

So Starbucks is closing 600 stores in the near future. Wall Street Journal has a list of the 600. I wasn't too surprised to find a lot of them that were closing were either right next to another one or in an area rural enough to not really need a coffee shop. Here are the ones I'm familiar with on the closing list:

Buford, GA: I'm not sure which one this is but Mall of Georgia II should tell you something. I'm guessing it's the one across the street from the mall but it may be the one actually in the mall. Either way, it's always crowded but I imagine that crowd will move across the street to the open one.

Duluth, GA: One of these is actually in the Gwinnett Place Mall. This is a mall that's home to a Rent-to-Own store and can't hold a full food court. I'm not surprised it can't hold a coffee shop either. The other is in a declining shopping center very near the mall. There's still at least one (maybe two) open in the area.

Pearl, MS: This is actually the last Starbucks I've been to. I wanted coffee and it was Sunday so the Chick-Fil-A I passed by earlier on my trip from Dallas to Atlanta was out. It's one road down from another one. That might fly in New York City, but not in Mississippi.

Desoto, TX: I've never been to this one but it's at Pleasant Run and Hampton. Desoto is a craphole and has been for some time now. Pinpointing a center of the craphole would undermine the crapholiness of the entire town. But for the sake of argument if there were a center, it would Hampton and Pleasant Run. It's not the town the Griswolds got lost in during Nation Lampoon's Vacation but it's pretty close these days.

Duncanville, TX: I've driven past this one. It's not in the best location logistically and there's one at the mall less than 5 minutes away. Once again, not the best neighborhood but there are far worse places you could be in Duncanville.

Red Oak, TX: I guess my old hometown isn't high falootin' enough to keep a Starbucks in business. Generally speaking though, Red Oak has always been a younger sibling to Waxahacie and Desoto. They can barely hold down a What-a-Burger. Red Oak is generally-speaking a poor town that has held onto its rural roots long after the rest of the area has given them up.

Arlington, TX: I've only been to one or two on this list and without looking them all up by address, I don't know which one is which. The street names I recognize are all right by a very large mall area and middle income residential area in Arlington. (Imagine north Gwinnett for those of you familiar with the Atlanta area.) There are a million of those suckers all right next to each other in Arlington. I'm not surprised to see so many fall, especially since the area is littered with the most doughnut shops south of Canada. I just can't see Starbucks effectively competing there.

What about ones you folks know from the list? Are you seeing the same trend I am here?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tale of Two Developments

One in downtown New Orleans and one in downtown Athens. Once city developing, the other redeveloping.

One might look at the two articles and see that Athens covers initial development rather critically. This looks anti-development and such critiques may slow the process of getting stuff done. There is a lot of ink given to the amount of sidewalk space and parking lot use. This despite the fact that hotels in Athens will always fill up year-round (the industry is underrepresented in downtown Athens), so the business is going to give the owners a return on investment and create a few needed jobs in Athens. It will also increase vital foot traffic down a portion of College Avenue and Washington street that aren't well traveled - affecting several businesses on the north side of Athens' downtown. Even still, the Athens media is pointing out flaws in design in an attempt to drive all important (and, in Athens, powerful) public input and voice.

On the other hand, New Orleans and the state of the Louisiana are trying to figure out whether to buy an existing skyline-scale building and renovate it or just to build a new building from the gound up. The purchase is a building that apparently doesn't have business going on inside it, and it is right across the street from the Superdome. This leads to some questions concerning why a building across the street from a stadium would still remain empty after renovation. It also begs the question that this building will be considered for government office usage, and that condos, retail, restaurants and watering holes will be a secondary consideration.

Concerns only grow after learning this information. For instance, what is taking so long? I can only assume that the building's owners have been waiting to see if the government will scoop up this building for some time. Then again, could it be that no other businesses want to locate inside this building? I simply can't imagine that to be the case.

So I wonder which development will go in quicker: the one with criticism on the front end to ensure building in accordance with existing city plans, or the one waiting on more 'government studies' to determine a cost/benefit analysis that should have been conducted a year and a half ago.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hartsfield-Jackson OK Corral

Well, since we were talking about Atlanta earlier today, and gun control issues over at DADvocate's blog, it only makes sense that a synergy of gun control and the Atlanta airport would come across the newswire this evening.

While Georgia recently relaxed many concealed carry rules, a new argument has arisen concerning carrying concealed weapons around the Atlanta airport. While the new Georgia rules are really a red-tape issue clearing up some rather selectively enforced gun laws, the idea behind carrying guns around a large, crowded international airport gives me pause.

I know its a big airport, but we have enough trouble with folks forgetting to take their hunting revolvers out of their bags before boarding as it is. After all this country has been through because of some security lapses at airports, is it too much to ask that we keep airports as a DMZ?

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Horizon Line

The National Hurricane Center is currently watching a group of thunderstorms in the Atlantic. They are expecting some development in this system over the next few days. Conditions are listed as favorable for sustained development.

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Very Stupid Things

Yup, what I'm talking about is the cover of the New Yorker. What's next, 'satirical' cartoons of Obama's face darkened like OJ's on the cover of Time? John McCain piloting Air Force One while Obama shoots it down? Perhaps some cartoonist could lampoon McCain's "surrender statue" that they have on display in Vietnam? I can only imagine the indignation that would come from something like that (and I'm sure we will see something like it in the coming days).

I'm a big fan of political cartoonery and of free expression, but it is time we start lambasting some of these people on grounds of taste. There are far, far better ways to lampoon the knuckleheads that believe their false emails than to provide graphics for their fantasies on the covers of magazines.

And again with the "fist tap?" Are you kidding me? What a crappy way to sell magazines.


Update: Suspect Device's take on the matter.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Is Atlanta?

"If BET could design a city it would look a lot like this one."

I've been talking to a lot of people recently about the city of Atlanta, and the article caught my eye. Another interesting take on this southern metropolis that dominates the South.

Strange, how a place where I've never lived can have so much influence on my life, but that's just the way things are in my part of the world. I literally can't go three days without getting caught up in a conversation about the things Atlanta does right, the things that Atlanta does wrong and how in the world they've been able to pull off their tremendous growth.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Would you like some cheese...

...to go with your WHINE?

As I've grown up, I've come to associate the act of "whining" with complaints about frivious problems or problems that were easily solved. I experienced a lot of this growing up. I spent more time whining about mowing the lawn than it actually took to complete the task, for example. I had several roommates in college that whined about not having enough time to do their schoolwork while they spent hours on the couch watching daytime television. That sort of thing.

In a macro sense, the right wing has been calling my side of the aisle "whiners" for a long time. They've made a whole lot of money out of doing so. The entire careers of the Coulters and the Limbaughs of the world have been made on this line of thought alone. I routinely get emails (like the ones that say Obama is a Muslim and that Germany didn't attack the United States in WWII) that lay out how whiny everyone is when they live in America and complain about problems here. (If you don't like it, shut up and leave, etc.)

Yes, I live in America, and I've got it pretty good when compared to residents of places like China, India, France and Sub-Saharan Africa and places like that. I know this, and I'm proud to live here.

But even here we have problems. Some are frivilous and most are not. What really is infuriating is that they are all fixable problems. Most of them would be readily solved if we had serious people taking them seriously.

What is additionally infuriating is when you call out that a serious problem exists, and people call you a "whiner" for doing so. I always thought that problem-solving was a skill to be valued, not insulted. (Maybe this is why we can't seem to solve our own problems these days?)

So what happens when former Sen. Phil Gramm gets a hold of the microphone and begins to address economic issues? He goes on to say that all the worry about the economy is a "mental recession" and that "we have sort of become a nation of whiners." I guess us Americans have just imagined ourselves into a tough situation, that when we complain about high gas prices or not being able to sell and buy homes, we're just whining like babies who don't get their way.

And it is all the media's fault? This argument from the right wing is one that is consistently losing steam. There are a lot of issues with the media, but they've been awful slow on the uptake for the current situation. The housing market, the gas prices and the restructuring of the American economy have been huge stories long before now - and the media's focus was more on the Paris Hiltons of the world.

While Sen. Gramm is right to say that we have tremendous natural advantages, the problem is making the most of those advantages. That's something we have seemed wholly unable to do in many sectors of the economy. I mean, how else can you explain all our advantages being turned into a dismal 1% growth rate? That's a real problem, and pointing it out isn't "whining," it is a legitimate concern.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Our Favorite Mayor... (Update)

I haven't talked to our man formerly-in-Florence in a while but have kept up with the Florence Mayoral race through the news. For those not in the know, Stephen J Wukela (not to be confused with American television producer Stephen J Cannell, producer of such wonders of modern television as the Greatest American Hero, Quincy ME, and The A-Team) beat Frank Willis (not to be confused with Willis Jackson/Drummond, a character in the popular American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes) in the Florence Democratic primaries by a single vote. There's some minor mudslinging going on. Willis is claiming that one of the voters doesn't actually live in Florence so he's contested the results with the Democratic Party board. The Party board told Willis to suck it so he's taking matters up in court.

Arrows aimed firmly at Wukela's back, former Florence Mayor Rocky Pearce smells blood and plans to run as an independent. Election rules dictate that Willis cannot run as an independent if he loses the primary but I'm not sure if that is Party rules or State rules. So at the moment, there may be two man race in the general election. I kind of figured as much. A youngster (in political years) dethrones or at least comes very very very close to dethroning the sitting mayor. No matter who wins the primary, there's some room to bust in there and take the prize as an independent. If there's going to be at least one independent in the running, it would probably be in the Democratic primary winner's best interests to have as many independents as possible. No sense in letting the opposition gang up on you.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wrongs

Yeah, this little news item is not going to play well. There are plenty of places where stuff like this happens. But nowhere does it fit into the local narrative better than right here in New Orleans. No matter what you hear or where you live, behavior like this should not be acceptable to any professional organization.

Police work is hard enough without folks publicly undermining the instituion. My sympathy goes out to all the hard working law enforcement officers who do the right thing, act as professionals, work crappy shifts and have to deal with all the bad things society throws at them - and then have to deal with the public backlash and broken trust because of things like this.

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there is no way of speaking about it logically

The above is your must-read link for the day, though reading it spun my mind off in a completely different direction.

I think hard when I read these words, as a now former teacher in the Recovery School District in New Orleans. When Orson writes, "Then, you have a new saddest thing in the world to put on the gold medal podium of sad things, because the stories and circumstances are even worse when you hear them for yourself," I have to stop reading for a moment. I drift off into the year's memories, so fresh and raw even in July.

Two other quotes really strike home for me based on my experience. The first: "Those of you blessed with impulse control, discipline, and a solid ethical foundation didn’t pull it from the aether; it came to you via a series of benefactors, witting or unwitting, who helped you become the person you are.

There are places, though, where these benefactors do not exist. In some cases sport and coaching provides it for them.
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And the second: "Seeing both sides of the coin–the potential realized and the horrific waste–sports is really the primary academy for many football players. It is their ethics class, their economics lesson, their surrogate family."

I think of this when looking back on my year of teaching, and knowing deep down, with the same faith that I have that should I jump into the Mississippi River I will get wet, that teaching my students the rudimentary fundamentals of football and team sports was the most important thing I did this year. These lessons were more important and lasting than anything I taught them in actual class, and gave them a far greater sense of self and accomplishment than anything that came out of a book.

I also remember how thin sports-as-class and sports-as-extracurriculars were on the ground this last year. I'm sure this isn't just a problem in New Orleans, either. We sacrificed a great deal in order to focus on English and Mathematics. All that sacrifice for a score on a test.

And behavior problems were the biggest single challenge faced by the schools this year. Ever wonder what class helped teach sportsmanship? Ever wonder what class helped teach how to work as a team to acheive goals?

The mind can only take so many hours of academic practice a day. At some point, the energy of young people must be released in other ways. Should we wait for that energy to explode while sitting in the classroom for the sixth straight hour? Or, would it be more productive to spend some time focusing on things like music, drama and team sports, where the kids can focus that energy while using their minds at the same time?

That's one of the solutions Ethan asked about. It isn't the only solution, but it is one of them. Especially for anywhere experiencing a high number of broken households, children coping with attention issues, a desperate lack of structure in their personal lives and health problems caused by obesity issues.



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Friday, July 04, 2008

We Still Can't Hear You



Because we've had the volume up at 11 for the last 232 years. It still pisses off the neighbors and makes the old folks nervous. Good. Rock n' roll ain't noise pollution and neither are we.

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2008 # 2



Bertha has a lot of open water in front of her for the next few days.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where I Growed Up

Yes, this is what I used to see every day. It was a hard, hard life, as you can imagine. Your online vacation postcards.

Courtesy of BlogBrunswick.