We're staying in Baton Rouge at the Tracy Center. There are some
folks from Catholic Charities who just rolled in and are getting
things together. When I left New Orleans last night, traffic to BR
was OK. During the night, I've heard it took some folks many, many
hours to get anywhere to the East. But the interstate looks to be
flowing rather smoothly through here. What I've seen on the news
suggests all roads out of NOLA are clear or are becoming so. I have
no evidence to back that up but word of mouth and what I'm reading on
the internet. This may have something to do with the fact that we've
evacuated 95 percent of the population of the coastal parishes since
Friday. The Times - Picayune is reporting 1.1 million have now
evacuated the coast to areas north of I-10 and I-12. That is a very,
very good thing.
Now the real waiting begins. As if we haven't done enough of that
already. Waiting for the storm to turn. Waiting to see what friends
and family are doing and where they are going. Waiting in traffic.
Watching as the storm pummeled Haiti and Jamaica and Cuba and knowing
what may be in store for us. Wishing it would just go away and not
hurt anyone else. Waiting in line at the grocery store. Hoping it is
not our turn. Seeing the green and yellow rain bands coming into the
Weather Channel's radar sweep, and waiting for them to start rolling
over our own zipcode. And the waiting is terrible. Everything is
closed in this part of Baton Rouge, so I don't have the distractions
of being out and about.
Not that any sane person would be out and about right now, but I like
having the option.
I'd love to take a nap. I'm exhausted and sore and didn't sleep well
last night. I've had that bitter taste of adrenaline in my mouth for
about 18 hours now. Or that may be the coffee and cigarettes mixing
together because I forgot to brush my teeth before I went to bed last
night. Whatever it is, I can't get rid of it. I feel like I used to
back in Athens after an all nighter.
Went to mass at noon. Prayed. Thanks to everyone out there praying
for New Orleans and South Louisiana. Once you're done petitioning the
Almighty, please remember that we've got a lot of evacuees out there.
Some may have come your way. Drop off a canned good or something at
the local shelter. I know you've got something in the cabinet you
aren't going to eat. And some Crystal hot sauce. Everything tastes
better with a little hot sauce.
I've gotten so many texts and calls and voicemails today I feel like
one of the cool kids. That reminds me, I need to charge the phone up.
Power won't last too long once things really get going, so the phone
and the computer will need to be charged. Cell towers will probably
be down for some hours, so if you call and don't hear back don't worry
Yup. I'll try and be back later with updates.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I'm personally not upset by pointing out the political ramifications of tragedy. There's a difference between hoping things happen and realizing an advantage from it happening. But I really think Moore crossed a line in his delivery. Much more so than the KOS poster did. "I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven." really conveys hope that the tragedy occurs.
EDIT: And just in case you think I'm taking him out of context, the linked article does have a video. I wouldn't blame you or thinking that since I do have fun taking people out of context (but generally point out when I do so).
Friday, August 29, 2008
Then he told me she was a runner up for Miss Alaska and she was a hottie. Who? I asked, still wondering if this surreal conversation was actually taking place. McCain's VP, he said. Who? I asked, confused, confident in my menory that Governor Pawlenty was a dude from the Midwest. Alaska governor Sarah Palin, he said. Who??
For the first time since I could read, it seemed, my father knew something about politics I did not. Not that McCain had picked Gov. Palin to be his VP, but that a Gov. Palin existed at all. How did I miss this?
So the first thing I did was go online and search for anything about her. Apparently some folks thought back in 2007 that this was a possibility, and they were right.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
When Leigh, Amy, a few others and I were blogging about this issue before, it didn't seem to resonate. But accreditation is one of the strongest standards to which school systems are held, and in other places, losing accreditation is a big deal. Plenty of accredited school systems have their problems, to be sure, but when compared to NO schools, we're talking about apples and oranges.
My example, the link sent to me by SAWB is this one, concerned with Clayton County (GA) schools losing their standing. There are a number of links on the page all pertaining to the story, and many of them are worth the read to help figure out why accreditation was being yanked from Clayton County, and what moves are being taken by the locals and the state to get it back.
One that caught my attention was that an area judge recommended the dismissal of four school board members, and the Governor created an executive order to do just that.
(For complete disclosure, there are some accredited schools in New Orleans, less than ten public schools belong to the Orleans Parish School Board. More than fifty belong to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.)
I'm off to the burrito stand to make some food, but I'll sink my teeth into this a little more in a bit. Gotta do something to pass the time in between NHC bulletiens...
On a more serious note, this isn't expected to last. There will probably be a slowdown in rate of growth. But that's coming from the same groupthink that thought we'd be well into recession by now.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We could always count on the right wing telling us how New Orleans should be bulldozed, but I never thought it would come from the left. I sure never thought it would come from the left to score political points during the Republican National Convention. Well, fuck these people. They are the same ones who want more soldiers to die in Iraq to encourage anti-war sentiment at home. They want the terrorists to win because that's what they think America deserves. They love it when tornados tear up some church in small town America because congregants were likely to vote against them.
And now they are hoping that people die in a hurricane so other people attending a politicl event will be upstaged and embarassed. The "timing" is just "too perfect." For a hurricane. That will destroy homes and businesses and schools and take lives and wash away all the hard work everyday Americans have been putting in for years to make something right.
I wonder what these idiots would have said if someone got hit a week earlier? Fay didn't upstage the DNC, so I guess if you're hoping it hits, you're hoping it hits much, much worse.
So much more "reminding power," yeah?
Fuck these assholes. These guys aren't liberals or progressives. They are two bit political operatives who couldn't hack a real job making this country better, so they thought they'd bitch about it. They are the low hanging fruit, though no one has yet told them. I'm done defending people like this. I know there are some conservatives who read my site, have at them. Wait till talk radio gets a hold of this news, I wonder how your "political reminders" will look then.
Down in the cone of death, there are folks taking time out of their busy evacuation-planning schedules who are loudly pointing this lunacy out, trying to shout down the band, indicating the unacceptability of wishing harm on anyone to score political points.
I'm sure there's more to say, but I'm off to help a friend move some keepsakes upstairs. Because a hurricane could be here early next week.
UPDATE: Well it didn't take long. For the right wing to start making the same sort of statements, reminding us how much they just want to bulldoze New Orleans. And this ain't their low-hanging fruit, either, this is (as Oyster points out) Glenn Beck. The Beckster also mocks actual facts, and doesn't want to spend a single taxpayer dime in any 'flood zone,' so keep that in mind Iowa, Florida, Coastal Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina.........
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'll not mince words: this ain't good. While there is still a lot of time for the path to change, somebody is going to get hammered by this one. As for me, I started making sure a lot of my things were together starting yesterday.
For the rest of us, here's some preparedness items to think about, especially the keep your gas tank filled up suggestion.
Besides creating a plan, stay organized and focused. This storm is far away, so you have time to get things together, but don't put it off.
When preparing to evacuate, be sure to have all your important papers together: prescriptions, bills, insurance papers, identification cards, firearms registrations, vehicle registrations, etc. Figure out what clothes you want to take. Figure out what keepsakes and pictures you want to take. Figure out how you will deal with your pets. If you are leaving any firearms, please make sure they are locked up.
If you leave your home, be sure to turn off your utilities, and, for God's sake clean out your refrigerator. Fill up your bathtub with water before you go.
If you live in an area that can flood, and are lucky enough to have a second floor, put some stuff up there. Bring yard furniture or other stuff that may fly around inside.
And make sure your family, neighbors and friends are all aware of the situation and are taking steps to mitigate their risks as well.
I'm off to top off the tanks.
Monday, August 25, 2008
And if you don't like college football, and are preparing your own snide comment about the sports fans, then do as Orson says:
Take that deathless witticism ready to spring from the mental toaster oven like a shit-filled Hot Pocket, and go have that snack by yourself, anger ninja.Now, onto the previews: Florida Gators and LSU Tigers - including a Warren Zevon reference!!
Begin Original Response Post:
ONLY 1,248 WORDS PRE EDIT!!
I wanted to write this sounding as official as possible, then I thought about how hollow such responses always sound in the ‘letters to the editor’ section of any newspaper. As one of the organizers and the moderator of Rising Tide III’s Education Panel*, some folks are pretty firmly raking me over the coals all over the internet and have been since about 12:15 pm CDT Saturday afternoon. After one hour and ten minutes spent discussing one of the pressing topics concerning public education in New Orleans, I was happily dining on the delicious BBQ plate from J’anitas outside. I had no idea that inside there were folks experiencing shock and dismay and outright anger about some things that had been said on the Education panel minutes before.
I dragged my ass out of bed on Sunday and started reading the responses, not to the Education Panel but to the conference as a whole. To be completely honest, when I came across the first post solely about the Education Panel, I thought: “sweet, that ain’t how I saw it, but at least they were tuned in .” And then I kept reading, and reading, and reading. Page after uploaded page of folks digesting certain comments, wholesale critique of political points made, charges of bias and a whole online debate erupting in the blogosphere about one hour and ten minutes on Saturday morning. I know this is an exaggeration, but it feels like the NOLA blogosphere doubled the number of posts about education in just under 24 hours.
Now I could say “my job here is done,” pat myself on the back, and claim that my overall master plan for involvement as one of the organizers of this panel was to “highlight this issue and encourage healthy online debate about these topics,” but that’d be so much bullshit my parents would smell it back on St. Simons Island.
I could get all offended and defensive that folks are questioning my abilities as a moderator and an organizer, my overreaching political bias**, my general inability to promote balance and counterpoints, etc.; but getting defensive would only ignore the very valid points and concerns many folks are making.*** Hearing those valid concerns are why I feel the need to respond. I only hope the folks I am responding to can keep their own hackles down long enough to see their concerns addressed.
Since this is my primary response, there is one thing we need to tackle off the bat. I will respond to content, bias, political and policy concerns at a later time. One of the big problems people run into when talking about education – which is a notably emotional and divisive topic – is structural in nature, and that’s what we need to deal with first.
The emotion: it is easy to get defensive and angry when talking about education. If you are a parent, teacher or student, there is always someone saying something you don’t like. That is, if you substitute the word “like” with the phrase “believe in with conviction.” They are sharing an experience that is wildly different than your own, and every anecdote is loaded with biases, politics, experiences, hopes and disappointments. This makes discussion about education issues infuriating, and someone always leaves unhappy with what was said. And when I use the term “unhappy” I really mean “offended, defensive or sickened.”
This is compounded by the fact that so many people will listen to a conversation and psychologically focus on only those parts where their beliefs and experiences are challenged the harshest and most boldly. If the discussion is actually about challenging beliefs and experiences harshly and boldly, then folks are going to have big, big problems with what was said. That’s also not something to shy away from.
But emotion has to be balanced. People didn’t come up with their opinions Just To Piss You Off, they have reasons or experiences to back up their concerns, and the listener has to understand that. As I’m reading all the critical posts, I am keeping this in mind as well.
The structure: a lot of folks are critiquing the Education Panel for the time we spent on one topic matter. Though I believe we touched on several issues, the conversation kept coming back to one primary topical framework. Part of this is my responsibility as a moderator to move things along. But also, as a moderator, it is my responsibility to make sure we have explored a topic as completely as possible and that all my panelists have had a chance to give their opinions and build on the conversation. The benefit of a panel discussion (a real one) is the ability to really get your teeth into something. This was Rising Tide III, after all, not Around the Horn.
For the record, there were other topics on the notes that we wanted to discuss, we just weren’t able to get to them in the timeframe and still faithfully give them the attention they deserved. Honestly, you should have seen the original list of topics we started with back in June when we started getting this thing together. Other organizers politely reminded us we would only have an hour and fifteen minutes of time during a conference that was going to have a keynote speaker, a film and two other panels. Perhaps if we had been able to explore topics on behavior/discipline issues, special education issues, test scores and vouchers, we would not have been perceived as so slanted.
Panelists were also chosen based on conference considerations and relevance. While I would have loved to bring in 15 people representing various organizations, demographics, and professions; set them up on different panels and then switch them around World Series of Poker style, we just could not do that within the framework of Rising Tide III. So we pared it down. Even then, I thought our panel was keenly diverse through profession, interest in education, and interest in internet media to be relevant.
Concerns were raised, several times and by the more left leaning panelists and organizers, that the Education Panel not turn into a charter school bashing session. As the moderator, I believed my own more conservative opinions and ability to play Devil’s Advocate, as well as the various issues we planned to go over, would keep such a thing from happening. I assured my fellow organizers such. Then I assured them again. And again. And then: moderator fail!!!1!1!**** The result of not having the time to explore other issues (behavior and special education topics would have turned into an RSD bashing session) did leave a rather anti-charter impression, in retrospect. My opinions as to the balance of the discussion are something I will touch on later when I go over content, bias, political and policy concerns.
To conclude this primary response, however, I ask that everyone to look back at their criticisms and understand our constraints based on structural issues. Think about how you would plan an educational issues panel discussion, who you would invite (with considerations given to internet media interest as well), what topics you would cover, those topics in priority, and what you could fit into an hour and fifteen minutes. Then think about the list of people who would probably be offended or get defensive over what was said on your panel. Once we have a meeting of the minds on that, we can start talking about the good stuff.
* To be referred to in future posts as the Democratic People's Republic of Education Scholars Striving to Impede Neoliberal Goals (DPRESSING)
**That sound you hear is the howling laughter of people in Georgia and Tennessee who have been counting the days until someone from New Orleans considered me a 'liberal' or 'progressive.' That would be 719 days for you kids keeping score at home.
***Don't hate; appreciate. Better act like you know.
****I can still had barbeekyu. Nom.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Things were a little more exciting for my family on St. Simons Island back in Georgia. They didn't get the kind of rain and flooding Florida saw, but the winds pushed the sea higher than they're used to on Island City.
All photographs are courtesy of Wendy Armstrong (my mom). You can also view the map I created using Google to demonstrate where the pictures were taken.
These pics above are of 5th Street. St. Simons Elementary School is about a half block away. When I was growing up, we'd come to 5th Street to boogie board, and the only time you saw water this high was when a very powerful storm was in the Atlantic. Hugo did this, too. Erosion is a huge problem here, and you can see the concrete barricades they've had to put up to protect the street and the expensive oceanfront condos. The rocks only used to be a few feet above the street. They've added somewhat, as you can see. Shortly before or after this, waves of 8 feet were being reported.
At low tide, the Pier is at least ten feet above the water.
At Gould's Inlet, this boardwalk was constructed several feet above normal high tide. But since I went away to college, storms have torn it up again and again as the waves rock its pilings and rip out its sides. I was standing on it during a Nor'easter once, and when the waves came through it would pop the decking up and suck loose boards out from under it.
This is the highest I have ever seen the water from this vantage point. During the Spring tides, and big storms, the central marshes of the island would fill up, to be sure, but you could usually see the marsh grass above the water. I have never seen wave caps like this. When my mom was taking these pictures, my dad gave me an excited call. He had never seen anything like this either. He has lived on St. Simons Island since 1983. If you've ever wanted evidence of how important wetlands are for storm protection, here you go.
Here's local paper's take on the event.
Ben at Island Profiling also has some pictures and descriptions up.
In no particular order:
Adrastos is still talking about Lee Zurik’s eyebrows.
Cliff has a fantastic prologue that really explains why we wanted him on the education panel. He represented, for damn shure.
G-Bitch sums up her best moments of the conference.
Jeffery points to the Times-Picayune article about RTIII and provides a roundup of his own.
Huck Upchuck's reaction about internet personalities needing to socially interact a little more. I'll chalk that up as another vote for more Geek Dinners...
Liprap goes over important notes from the keynote speaker.
Maitri has the comprehensive liveblog of the event. Keynote; Education panel, Journalism panel; Politics panel, the Ashley Awards; and provides a wrap-up. She also has a 345 word per minute typing speed, it actually breaks the sound barrier in a subtle way. The only other explanation: she can plug her brain straight into her laptop.
Swampwoman expected the event to be disrupted by authorities.
Clay wraps up his thoughts on the education panel; the journalism panel; and (of course) men's fashions.
Greg Peters extensively breaks down things that went on before lunch; noting that he missed the fight; and provides not just one but two wrap-ups.
Dirty South Bureau was just happy to be there yesterday.
b.rox asks a post-conference question of the education panel and also details the fight.
Dorophoria raises many valid concerns about the education panel, as does Tisserand. As the moderator of this panel, I'm going to have to respond to these and other concerns that are being raised about what went on there yesterday.
Clancy DuBose (and his new blue shirt) was inspired by what he saw.
Operating at a more reasonable speed is Tim, who chimes in Monday morning, and Pistolette, who blazes away on Sunday evening.
Oyster begins his epic wrap up this (Monday) morning, and really reiterates some of the most important things to take from RTIII.
And E chimes in real quick.
Sophmom discusses the attendance explosion, the afterparty and links to pictures!!!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Not that I expected retractions or admissions that failed policies had been abandoned, that new leaders and directions were given opportunity to bear fruit; I know better than to expect such from politicians. But maybe I expected a little more explanation by the folks in charge and a little more introspection from their mouthpieces. What we got instead was this insanity producing narrative of catch phrases that took credit for policy changes without acknowledging that there had been a need to change the policy, hinting that the forced change had been the plan all along and that the world exists in a vaccum.
(Of course, this was a masterful use of marketing, as you could literally see liberals and progressive come unhinged while administration members and supporters talked in such ways. This, when coupled with video feed or evidence of said liberal or progressive coming unhinged, was then marketed back to the population as a whole as part of the "unhinged liberal" sales pitch used so brilliantly by the right in recent years...)
One of the last notes Zakaria makes (on page 4) is that, as both presidential candidates work to seperate themselves from Bush policies, whoever wins should pay close attention to what policies have evolved to work in the last years of this administration. It is the cautionary tale of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, reinventing the wheel or - most tellingly - doing exactly what Bush did with what was working for the Clinton administration's last years.
On the political note, I agree. One of the hallmarks of US policy during the Cold War was the consistency from one administration to the next. There seemed a lot more "realpolitik" consensus on many issues involving foreign policy - even on decisions that came back to haunt us. Shame we can't seem to keep what works and work on what needs fixin'.
But one thing to consider as well is that the candidates are both trying to fight the Bush administration of 2001 - 2003 because the administration still publicly acts like it is still 2001 - 2003.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says an undisclosed donor wants to buy at least one SeaWorld park, then free the animals and replace them with virtual-reality or animatronic displays.
Ok, virtual reality is more than a bit lame these days. We're all over the Lawnmower Man but animatronic displays? Oh, hell yes! Maybe The Rock-afire Explosion can find some work again. I'd be ok with Billy Bob replacing Shamu as the face of Sea World.
On a more serious note, Sea World is the only attraction in Orlando that's actually worth what you pay for it. It would be a shame to see any of the Sea Worlds turned into an amusement park without rides (which is what this proposed Sea World would become).
For one example of how this is done, please see the 5th paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party". Even though no behavior was changed, and the game is still played, and most fans still call it by the old moniker, the colleges, the SEC and the sports networks have made a cosmetic change purely as a response to interest groups.
Some of this can be traced to the overall philosophy of what college is really for, and of course, the wisdom of having a vibrant population of 18 - 22 year olds hanging around each other (half can buy alcohol, the other half cannot do so legally) in what amounts to a consequence-free zone.
It also comes down to issues involving the military, voting rights, marriage and the age at which someone can drive a car. To put a finer point on it, it is acceptable for us to send our 18 year old citizens off to experience the horror of war. It is acceptable for us to allow our 18 year old citizens the right to vote (since not many of them do it). It is legal in places for citizens younger than 18 to get married, however unacceptable it is to do so socially. The driving age keeps getting pushed higher and higher, but is still at 16 when this coming of age traditionally happens.
But the traditional drinking age is 21. Is it any wonder why folks between 18 and 21 flagrantly disregard such a law?
You also have to look at social ramifications of all of the above, and the factor colleges typically play in this debate. Citizens who join the military at 18 are, more often than not, going to bravely serve the US and make the choice to go to college later. These are the folks usually from lower economic backgrounds (that many leftist pundits point out for poltical purposes). Many of the middle to upper middle class citizens who go on to join the military do so by either going to college first or attending the ROTC program while in college.
Citizens who get married at earlier ages also tend to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This also holds true for those who need the right to drive a vehicle to work at 16. If you are in a lower socioeconomic class, your need for transportation in order to work is higher.
But these are all reasons, as I see it, that the adamant resistance to lowering the drinking age and the persuit of draconian penalties for 18 - 20 year olds drinking comes from members of and interest groups centered in the middle and upper middle class. This is the category most likely to be the "helicopter parents" who are the most uncomfortable and fearful about their children growing up, becoming responsible for themselves and facing the real world outside the home the parents have provided and worked so hard for.
But this comes mainly from fear, and it is the insidious fear that the parent feels when trying to talk to their sons and daughters about topics like drinking and sex. Why take responsibility for your own kids, and - Lord knows - your own personal history - when you can advocate that college administrations take this burden instead?
This is a good debate to have, though I expect a very shrill opposition to even speaking about this from the nanny-state brigades.
Monday, August 18, 2008
* Ok, the t-shirt bit didn't really happen.
** I may have taken that out of context.
*** See **
**** I don't have a source for that but you know it has to be true.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
It is unfortunate that such an exhaustive PDF response is necessary to counter what amounts to a crack pot with a publishing deal. I wonder how many hours of work went into the response that could have been better served on other topics, but the current state of American politics demands such. I also wonder how many people will actually read the critique, as it can get wonkish, nitpicky and isn't as exciting as one would expect. (Which also tells me the tone of Corsi's book - probably only 'exciting' to folks who like to see their views validated in print.)
Politically, I think this book fiasco is a wash. The lunatic fringe of the right wing* is who this book is being marketed to, and it isn't like a lot of those folks are going to read this book and suddenly go from Obama supporters to Obama detractors. Ditto with right wing radio and most of their blogosphere. None of these folks were considering voting for Obama in the first place. All it does is validate some crazy opinions out there in the fringe where chain emails are considered footnotable sources.
All over the left, the more important point is to respond to this nonsense. It is the only choice, as we saw what happened when Kerry ignored his critics. Some lefties will use this as their geas for the next 8 - 12 months, proving again that there are enough folks out there who are just on my side of the aisle solely to disagree and not make things better. At some point, the response will go too far, and give way to the next fringe issue in this election.
Who wins? Publishers and media: since they're the ones making money off of this. While the media has been able to effectively and quickly debunk this book, as have campaign operatives for Obama, just by them debunking this crack-pot lends him credibility in some circles of the right. Remember, the right's current election narrative depends on the press supporting Obama a little too enthusiastically. Going after this book only helps that.
On the other hand, it is yet another opportunity to expose the myths promoted by chain emails and books like this about Obama. Every time I read stuff like this, his story becomes more uniquely American, the kind of journey that can only happen in our country and our culture. I can only believe that such exposure will only help the Obama campaign in the center - which is where the election will be won.
* (The lunatic fringe is Not to be confused with right wingers or conservatives who don't support Obama based on real policy reasons, where the presidential debate should be directed.)
Friday, August 15, 2008
Of course Russian is complaining under the guise that they think the missile system is aimed at weakening Russia militarily. This is a farce since they could easily overpower our missile defense with their sheer volume of missiles. There's also that whole thing about the US inviting them to be part of the defense grid and even offering to be transparent with the information obtained and used. It's increasingly obvious that their real beef is Russia's bottom line on the sale of ballistic missile technology (and possibly hardware) in the region affected.
Russia is asserting their power over the oil pipelines and the US has responded by cutting the legs off of their large arms dealing with Iran and other unfriendly-from-our-perspective nations. Well played, sirs.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Mr. Murray ascertains that the post-secondary education system in this country is completely out of touch with society's needs, and I'm more than willing to agree with him.
How many people do you know who barely made it through college, and are now struggling to find meaningful employment?
First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."
You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.
In addition, how many people do you know that did well in college, only to find out that their history/philosophy/english/art/anything-else-that's-not-a-science-degree was more or less a waste of time, as they're now in a completely unrelated field?
From my own perspective, I really could have saved a lot of time and money by just getting into IT to begin with, rather than flunking out of school three or four times. Has not having a degree hurt me in looking for employment? Sure, in some cases, but for the most part, most employers are more interested in the fact that I've got 10 years of valid IT experience than if I managed to stay awake long enough to get a B.A. in something.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This is not to be confused with the fact that Georgia (the state's university's football team) ends up being in all the sports news while Georgia (the nation) ends up in all the international news.
It didn't take long for the college football writers to add their personal brand of humor to the situation, and combine the headlines. Check EDSBS and Hey, Jenny Slater! for exhibits A & B.
Prepare to hear metaphors and analogies to the world event all year as the college football season moves along.
Yeah, we're still at the top of the totem pole. But somewhere along the way, we couldn't hear what was going on elsewhere over the sound of how awesome we were, and now we're learning in a very loud way that not very many folks were listening to the music at our house party.
If you thought we heard the words "appeasement" and "intrigue" in our political discourse before, just wait. Welcome back to "sphere of influence." Now we're going to have to balance our tough Texas talk with our actual national priorities, goals and the realpolitik of any given situation. I mean, could we back up a real pro-Western democracy in Georgia (the nation) if Russia really, really wanted to make a point of it?
If you've got the time, you may want to dust off your old poli-sci textbooks and brush up on your rational actor theories and balance of power models within the scope of foreign policy analysis. (And by being at the top, we're not in the best shape in the 'balance of power' models...just ask the British Empire...)
I was totally looking forward to never having to read Global Shift again, evar.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
From the same blogger who let the LOLcats preview the Vanderbilt - Georgia game.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Let's go back over this stuff:
Major disasters disrupt the Mississippi River region of the United States. Short years later, due to questionable business practices and lax oversight, major financial markets in the United States experience a severe downturn.
A few years later, a rapidly industrializing nation run by a small group of powerful individuals with questionable human rights records host the summer Olympic games in their capital.
One of the world's reemerging powers invades a smaller, weaker nation on its borders. The leader of this nation addresses the major international organization, pleading for action that western democracies fail to give.
"It is us today, it will be you tommorrow."
It is too easy to find conincidences in history. We can read into it and spin it however we choose. But tonight I'm feeling a little 1930's, and I can't shake the feeling.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Now onto the General Election.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Of note: Georgia (the country) is considered pro-Western, an ally in the Global War on Terror and was pushing for membership in NATO. They have coalition troops in Iraq. There are actually US troops in the nation, and Georgia (the country) has also been used as a base to support military activities in Iraq and Afganistan.
So, how will this all play out? Georgia (the country) must now remove troops from Iraq to protect themselves. How will the United States respond now to the invasion of our ally by a nation far more strategically important to us?
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Not near enough. Punitive damages should be severe, and all New Orleanians - all taxpayers should demand it. Send them all the way to Leavenworth, and let them never have King Cake again.
Because this is far, far more damaging to the city of New Orleans, non-profit organizations, race relations here and nationwide, than a few hundred thousand dollars. This could be the smoking gun.
One of the few things that has worked in this city's recovery are the volunteers who have come from all over this nation to help rebuild this city. Another one of those things is how many citizens came back and spent all their free time rebuilding a life here. Now we learn that their efforts, their hard labor in the Gulf Coast heat, in the moldy houses, on the bombed out streets, was used by local "businesspeople" and "government" to line personal pockets with cash. Cash that is desperately needed for the recovery of this city, that people had to fight to convince the taxpayers to buy into.
They wanted to bulldoze this place. They wanted to bulldoze this place. They wanted to bulldoze this place. They wanted to take away everything New Orleanian about New Orleans. But people responded. People here and every volunteer that gave their time turned back that tide to prove the bulldozers wrong.
And now these despicable local contractors and folks inside our own City Hall have given the bulldozers, the right to stand up and say "we told you so, that's the New Orleans we were talking about."
A message must be sent. I want the money back, I want those responsible to go to prison, and I want a pound of flesh for every. single. dollar. And I want it done publicly, so the world can see it won't be tolerated anymore.
"Thank you for your steadfast pro-life efforts and for expanding the definition of abortion to include any activity that results in the termination of human life prior to implantation. This expanded definition will save the lives of more and more unborn human beings as we advance from conscience protections to legal restrictions on abortion. As research uncovers additional causes of miscarriage or preimplantation embryo loss, I look forward to further legislation against caffeine consumption, exercise, and other abortifacient activities among premenopausal women."
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
What a fantastic time to be a Georgia voter and be given the choice of voting for candidates like Bill Gillespie and Jim Martin. Martin has defeated Vernon Jones in the Democratic Primary, and will face one of the most dour and uninspiring Republican Senators - Saxby Chambliss - for Georgia's Senate seat in the fall.
(This is the same, classy Saxby Chambliss who painted triple-amputee Vietnam veteran Max Cleland as unpatriotic and weak on defense, the same Saxby who went all the way to Washington to do little in the Senate besides get his face on TV and rubber stamp whatever the President told him to do, the same Saxby who has overseen our nation's economy crumble over the last 6 years....)
But let's get back to the point, before my blood pressure gets up. Jim Martin's life story is one that reminds you where forward-thinking southern Democrats come from. He reminds me why I am a Democrat, even in a good year to be a Democrat. I share many of the views listed on Martin's issues page. Especially the part about Immigration when he says: "we have to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers." Extra-especially because that's in the top bullet.
He also predicts that Georgia will recieve a "solid whipping" in Death Valley. (HT: Georgia Sports Blog)
Two things about this:
1. Ryan Perriloux wasn't THAT important, ol' boy. LSU will miss Glen Dorsey and Jacob Hester far more than any other players from 2007, but there is still skill, talent and hunger at those positions for 2008. LSU is still a monster team and will still be the class of the SEC West. They have a defense that can chew Auburn and Alabama apart this year, if used properly. I see a two-loss LSU making it into the Championship game by virtue of tie-breakers over the schools from Alabama.
2. "Solid" and "Whipping" when used together, are pretty strong words.
While that sounds like a fantastic idea (Athens has a higher number of venues now than we did in 1996, with some truly outstanding additions), the main sticking point is that Athens-Clarke County now plans to arrest doorguys, servers or bar staff who serve underage folks. This is a step up from the massive fines to the individual and the business that came into effect just a few years ago.
My question: how much is this really going to help? The University and City have added onto the penalties and enforcement mechanisms for serving underage/underage possession and drinking every year since 1996, and the numbers only seem to be going up. Seem to be. Because back in the day, we were smarter about things and didn't 'ride dirty' in circles around downtown. We also had the prescribed method of underage drinking - that time honored tradition of the House Party that seems to have fallen out of favor for Generation Y.
They also have a problem in the fact that their figures from this year - those figures being underage DUI's and the proximity to downtown Athens - don't seem to be taking into account the close proximity of the residence halls where a large number of underage drinkers reside. (I mean, no one bothered to check an overlay of how many of those DUI's came in the Creswell Hall parking lot, either...)
Luckily, all this civic engagement has brought up and led to many excellent ideas. Late night bus service is on the agenda again. Athens has a vibrant cab services, and student groups who will drive you home for free. They even have Zingo now, where someone comes to drive your car home for you with you in it. Maybe they could push to get a streetcar...
But they keep ignoring the one fell swoop that would radically reduce the number of underage DUI's: lowering the drinking age to 18. Laws have to be enforceable for them to be truly effective, and the high numbers of underage drinkers have proven that current enforcement and deterrence is not effective. Unfortunately, that won't happen, because it would require parents to speak to their kids about drinking responsibly, instead of letting them learn about it from the oldest guy in their dorm hall. And who would want parents speaking to their kids these days anyway? It would require kids to start growing up a little earlier and taking responsibility for their own actions when they legally become adults, and who really wants that to happen? Guess we just gotta go arrest the door guys.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
That is a fantastic article though, from its praise of Rev. Sharpton for being quiet for the last 8 months (knock on wood), to the call for "sense"- orship in the face of "right-wing player haters," to the money quote:
"For the first time in American history, an entire community, from sea to shining sea, is being asked to stay on message for a whole year to help a brotha get elected."
Wow. Am I reading that right? One population walking on eggshells to avoid pissing off voters of another population so that a member of the first population won't be called a racist? Like reverse political correctness.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Also looking at two other areas of possible development in the Atlantic.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
As SAWB has noted many times, the 110th Congress (and the 109th, etc) haven't been doing to well. So I'll raise a toast to getting rid of incumbents, especially the Republican incumbent in Georgia's 1st Congressional District. To that end, here's some links to Democratic challenger Bill Gillespie of Chatham County. His resume is nothing short of phenomenal. He maintains a blog, and indicates that he recieved more primary votes in the Democratic primary (unopposed) than the Republican incumbent recieved in the Republican primary (unopposed). That number is important because it demonstrates a strong increase in Democratic voting percentage over the last two years.
Georgia's 1st Congressional District is one of the most solid Republican districts in the nation, and if there is a surge of Democratic support there, that could indicate a high degree of discontent with the way things are going.
It is difficult to work within a system of selective enforcement of laws, byzantine civil ordinances and a layered bureaucracy to prosecute corruption anywhere. That is the nature of the beast, and why corruption and ethics laws are always being talked about while little is done.
This happens in your hometowns, too. But you may not be facing problems on the scale that New Orleans is. Atlanta, Georgia isn't going to sink into the sea if someone is making a little money by overcharging for asphalt to repave 285. In New Orleans, making sure money is spent where it is supposed to be spent is, at this point, a matter of civic survival.
The latest scandal involves a city organization charged with the task of remediating homes damaged by flooding. This organization (called New Orleans Affordable Homeownership, Inc. or NOAH) allegedly took money from state and federal recovery funds, and paid contractors to gut many damaged homes in Orleans Parish. Problem is, investigation of the records indicates that several (if not many) of the properties had no work done, didn't qualify for this aid, and that the contracting invovled several layers of conflict-of-interest.
This has caused a firestorm of controversy in New Orleans, and many residents are up in arms. With the FBI and other investigative groups descending upon the government of New Orleans, I hope that this is the smoking gun that will bring down many of the city's current problems. Even now, I wait for the orders to go out for New Orleanians to march on City Hall demanding the Mayor's resignation.
What is also remarkable is how the whole story came into the public's view, albeit slowly. Internet users who wonder what the 'new media' will look like should use this one as a case study.
It all started with the bloggers over at Squandered Heritage and We Could Be Famous. They started the investigation by getting a list of homes remediated by NOAH on the taxpayer's dime, and going to the homes to verify the work. They published their findings online.
The story was picked up by a reporter at one of the local news stations. the Mayor responded forcefully, blaming media bias, which only increased interest in what was going on. As some City Coucil members tried to investigate, they faced intimidation from the audience, but in the end, werenot deterred from asking questions.
While this was going on, there was a tremendous reaction online to the bloggers and their investigations. The Gambit Weekly, the local alternative paper (like Creative Loafing in the Atlanta or the Flagpole in Athens) did not hide their opinions behind polite words this week. And, finally the New Orleans Times-Picayune decided to pick up this particular story.
The end result, so far, is that the organization has suspended ongoing business pending investigation, but even here, the city attorney is noted as criticizing the Inspector General for investigating the program without notifying her office. The bloggers and reporters were already admonished for conducting their own investigations. My hope is that this doesn't stop there. This is a another switcheroo by folks caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
So, take note. The big story is that citizens are fighting the powers that be to end corruption, forcing government oversight of an issue and wasted public funds that may have gone unnoticed. New Orleanians are fighting for this city tooth and nail and doing investigative jobs we count on paid watchdogs to do. The media has had to be bludgeoned into covering this story. Once the City Council got into it, they faced jeers and intimidation, and the city attorneys are criticizing the IG's office from doing their job. Getting lost is the fact that this whole thing started with concerned citizens and the power of information on the internet.
Also taken for granted is the ability of citizens to air their concerns and investigations publicly and online, but this remains exceptional. This is an example of the internet being used to hold the powers that be to account, and that is good news all around.
And I'm still waiting for the news that the citizens are marching an City Hall.
Friday, August 01, 2008
His response: You have many individuals who support you fervently and with great passion. I don't understand it; and I want to understand. What am I not getting?
I am not a big fan of any candidate this year. But there is one candidate who is lauded and praised and hyped to a degree that is unparalleled according to my memory. Hagiographic may be the appropriate term, although - according to one ad from the other candidate's campaign - we may have skipped canonization and lept to apotheosis.
And I do not get it.
People tell me (with some frequency) that this candidate is just the most fantabulous speaker of modern times. But as my creative writing professor just as frequently warned: show, don't tell. I watched every debate save one (I think). I didn't see it or hear it or experience the light that dawns on the elect. I've also watched and listened to too many election-related speech exerpts and appearances from this year's campaign to have magically missed the epiphany.
What am I not getting? I am told Progress, I am told Change, I am told Hope. I am told that a totally new and different species of politician has stepped up upon the centuries-old planks of the presidential stage. And I don't get it.
Will someone tell me what it is I am missing?
Below I have included an exerpt from an article that currently appears on CNN.com. This is not a smoking gun, this is not a haha, gotcha! type thing. I include it here because it simply illustrates in a benign, meaningless way what I am getting: a politician who looks and who acts and who quacks just like every other politician. For fun, I have appended a few short musings to the end of the exerpt. Enjoy.
OBAMA SAYS MCCAIN RACE CARD ATTACK 'TYPICAL'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama responded Friday to recent race card attacks by Sen. John McCain, saying it's a "typical pattern" for the Arizona senator's campaign.
"I was in Union, Missouri, which is 98 percent white -- a rural, conservative [city]. And what I said was what I think everybody knows, which is that I don't look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates," he said in an interview with Florida's St. Petersburg Times newspaper and Bay News 9.
"There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this," he said. "What this has become, I think, is a typical pattern from the McCain campaign, whether it's Paris Hilton or Britney or this phony allegation that I wouldn't visit troops..."
First question, serious: Has the McCain campaign really been hounding Britney Spears or Paris Hilton?
(Aside: It irks me when people call her just "Britney." It sounds gossipy and familiar, like how a hairdresser might say it. I don't want a president to do that. Please stop.)
Second question, semi-serious, regarding central casting: If the comment wasn't about race, was he referring to his ears?
That's Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Behind enemy lines.
And not in a behind-enemy-lines like normal. Not like the jovial crap-and-banter I get when Atlanta or Jacksonville play the Saints normal. And not the SEC fans at the bar, wouldn't-it-be-cool-if-both-teams-made-the-championship-game normal. After all, LSU and Georgia aren't the biggest of rivalries in the SEC. Matter of fact, I've seen crouching Tiger fans cheer the Dawgs, and frothing-at-the-mouth Dawgs cheer the Tigers. That's what happens when teams don't play each other every year, and share blood-enemies in Auburn and Florida.
But this year, for both LSU and Georgia, the road runs through Baton Rouge in October. Georgia will be kicking off the most brutal four weeks of the most brutal football schedule of the post-WWII era with a trip to Death Valley. LSU takes the mantra "we must protect this house" with earth-shaking seriousness.
And they love pulling off upsets at home.
But I'm going to wear the mantle of fandom with pride and keep raisin' hell at Carrollton Station. All season long, baby. Here. We. Go.
The architects of this great plan? Let's hear it for Speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But, that's ok. You guys just keep doing what you're doing, and ignore not only the majority of people in the country, who, by they way, you're being paid to represent, but also more and more members of your own party. I mean, it's not like this is an election year or anything...oh wait. Yeah, please, by all means, keep leading the Democrat party on the primrose path to hell, like lemmings off a cliff.