Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everything Looks Tougher in "Oktoberfest Germanic"

Blogging from Island City in preparation for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (not actually going to the game, but watching from St. Simons Island surrounded by family and friends is always a treat), I came across this brutal Georgia/Florida comparison on EDSBS.

You don't have to know a thing about football to enjoy that link, I promise.

Furthermore, and on a strange Halloween/Emergency Preparedness Note, that post reminded me to share the fact that the University of Florida may be the only major state university in the country to have an emergency preparedness plan in the event of zombie infestation. Which may be the only good thing there is to say about the University of Florida.

(HT: MSNBC)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Trainwreck "Specter"cle

I just saw some polling for Arlen Specter's reelection and thought it worth posting since I've made some rather strong predictions on the subject. I wonder if he can see the train coming. I'm not sure it would make a difference but does he see his own marginalization? Sestak is gaining tons of ground without even getting his hands dirty. To me the most interesting numbers are the general election comparisons. Against Sestak, Toomey gets 28%. Against Specter, he gets 31%. That means that out of the undecided voters, 3% sure as hell aren't voting Specter. That number has nowhere to go but up unless something drastic happens. And nothing drastic will happen.

Band Aids as Infrastructure

What all has to happen for this country to start taking infrastructure seriously?

Though the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland is closed indefinitely, at least it didn't straight up collapse (like some levees or other bridges you may have heard about recently).

The telling quote is this one: "The rod that fell Tuesday was erected last month during an emergency repair job. It was holding in place a saddle-like cap that had been installed over a cracked link discovered over the Labor Day weekend."

Glad to know this problem was caused by trying to quick-fix another problem.

Is this how we do things now? Risk a "5,000 lb piece steel falling out of the sky" during the evening commute becasue we don't have the stones to properly maintain and fix things when problems arise? Doesn't anyone remember the "stich in time" saying?

You know why the decision was made for a quick fix in the first place. A REAL fix would cost a lot of money, and cause significant inconvenience. Government spending money is bad. Inconveniencing commuters is also poltically unpopular.

How's that working out for you now, folks?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome, Uhh, NetRightNation Readers!

Portal to the conservative blogosphere....

Don't quite know what to think of this, but the Ray Nagin Coloring book post showed up on the NetRightNation "state blogs" section.

Under Alaska.

I guess you could color me confused. Maybe something Dante or SAWB wrote on other posts pinged some algorithim they use to search for right wing blogs.

I'm in OK company, though, I saw Your Right Hand Thief's post on Scabies on the same spot. Except his was under the "state blogs" section. For New York.

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Voting Republican Again?

Dammit. Looks like I might be voting for a Republican candidate again soon. This happens almost every time I go to a voting booth.

I mean, I identify as a Democratic Party member. I'm registered as a Democratic voter. I've been a participating member of a County Democratic Party back in Georgia. I try to be as big a partisan hack that I can in everything I do, as evidenced by my moonbat ravings on this blog. I discreetly work at Super Secret Liberal Takeover Headquarters.

And yet.

I don't see any party affiliation listed on her campaign website. But from what I hear, she's GOP. We'll have to see.

Because I'd much rather have positive, real action like this than deal with nonsense like this. Regardless of party affiliation.

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Conservatism, Con't.

Icarus at Peach Pundit examines the modern state of conservatism as an ideology by pointing to this column by Jay Bookman, that also examines the modern state of conservative ideology.

Both are fantastic reads, if you follow any politics at all.

One major point, especially in Bookman's column, is that conservatives are better suited to be out of power than in power. This isn't a new observation. Fellow HR contributor Dante has often noted the strenght of the GOP as an opposition party.

Also, be sure to note the Bookman & Peach Pundit comments point that "Ronald Reagan would be considered a liberal by modern conservatives."

That says a whole lot in and of itself.

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Ray Nagin Coloring Book

SAWB just forwarded me this link from CBS News. How have I not heard of this before? Brilliant.

I noticed on the webpage that Hizzoner's coloring book is part of a sort-of series, the first installment being the George W. Bush coloring book. I bet C. Ray will look on this as a victory, as it keeps his "brand" out there.

A telling quote from the article: "Nearly 4,000 Nagin-related T-shirt and gift designs are available at the Web site CafePress.com, a figure that puts Nagin on par with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and indicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich."

What fine satirical company our mayor keeps! Palin/Nagin 2012! No wonder he takes off to foreign lands every chance he gets.


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Entropy & Development

Jeffrey at Library Chronicles links to this op-ed on the Jack O'Lantern effect in New Orleans.

The Jack O'Lantern effect occurs when a neighborhood that was once dense and fully populated ends up with only a few homes surrounded by vacant lots (like a traditional Jack O'Lantern smile). It is reasonable to expect that this would happen in New Orleans after the flood, due to the lack of dynamism in the Crescent City economy on the one hand, and the inconsistencies of various recovery plans and funding mechanisms on the other.

And that is before race and politics enter the conversation, as Jeffrey reminds us: "At the time of the "footprint debate", people were still openly fantasizing about cleansing the city of "undesirable" residents."

After reading that, I found a Daily Dish link to this article on Detroit as an urban laboratory.

With pictures helpfully illustrating the Jack O'Lantern effect in Detroit.

The Detroit article goes further to boost and illustrate the prospective bright spots of having a major urban center empty out, but I'm not sure urban agriculture or urban hunting grounds are sustainable. That's the cynic in me though, I absolutely respect these folks' creativity to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

One thing that really caught my eye were the real estate prices. Folks in Detroit buying houses at $500 - $2000? The article goes on to explain what buyers are able to do when housing is that cheap.

Hearing such things, I can only think of the history of places like Athens, Georgia, where the urban core's real estate value plummeted with the opening of malls and loss of population to sprawl. The value loss made things more affordable for artists, musicians, writers and the like to move in. You could afford to live somewhere while going to school, waiting tables and spending long nights awake in your studio. Bolder souls opened bars and music venues and galleries, but not the chic "gentrification" style you usually think of when you hear that.

There is a reason Athens became a burgeoning center for creativity, culture and the arts. Hell, I remember sharing band practice space in a giant warehouse on the edge of downtown. The University of Georgia's College of Art rented part of that building for senior art studios. UGA eventually went ahead and bought the whole building, renovating it for their own purposes. Artists and musicians migrated to other parts of town, again, where the rents were cheapest and the noise complaints were fewest.

From conversations with folks in New Orleans, it sounds like that sort of dynamic used to be at play here. Unfortunately, NOLA is bucking the trend. Yes, there are Jack O'Lantern neighborhoods. Yes, there is an overabundance of blighted and wrecked property. Yes, the same city footprint holds almost 130K less people.

But rents and property values here are through the roof, making life harder for the creative classes (or at least the ones I talk to). It doesn't stop there, also affecting the students, the young couples, regular working class putting food on the table and the folks who would be the foundation of our Mom & Pop business class.

Doubtless, this city's culture sustains a self perpetuating group of artists, writers, musicians and the like who have always and will continue to buck the odds. But one wonders what types of things we would see if the pressure valve was released just a little.

And because I would love to find a practice space that doesn't involve a commute to Kenner. I weep whenever I see underutilized warehouses in the Marigny and Bywater, with no sound of horns or drums generated within.

One last thought on the article comes from these two quotes, which seem to place NOLA on par with Chicago, at least in the "efficiency" of government realm:

"In many cities where strong city government still functions effectively, citizens are tied down by an array of regulations and permits that are actually enforced in most cases."

I wouldn't call that "strong" government functioning "effectively," because this happens in plenty of cities, large and small, with dysfunctional governments whose civil service staff thinks they might gain some advantage to stifling citizen creativity (or at least increase some sort of fee to the city coffers). None of that behavior fixes the streets. Hence our discordant public discourse with respect to the role of government, it always seems to engage in that which angers citizens most effectively.

"In most cities, municipal government can't stop drug dealing and violence, but it can keep people with creative ideas out."

Entropy is a product of time and use, but also of misplaced priorities.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Traditional Americans

Sometimes a memory only sees what it wants to believe - Black Crowes

Andrew Sullivan points us to this rabble-rousing post from Pat Buchannan.

Quick question, Patty, what America, specifically, do you come from? Is it the one where Christianity was "purged" from schools that taxpayers paid for in exchange for some other religion? Or was it the America that removed religion so Protestant kids didn't have to be exposed to Catholic prayer? Maybe it was the one where children weren't allowed to go to school based on the color of their skin? Perhaps the one where half the population fled areas where this "integration" thing was supposed to take place, and took their tax dollars with them?

Is it the America that sees its Christian faith mocked in movies and television, or is it the America that won't stop flocking to such puerile movies, paying $10 a ticket, and then spends the same money the next week watching a moview where grown men get kicked in the balls and have sex with applie pie? But not too late on a Saturday night 'cause they got to be at church on Sunday?

Maybe that's the America that feels the need to prove how faithful they are to other believers by raising giant Ten Commandments monuments and crosses all over public lands, the "Christian" version of balloon boy's father - doing what they can to turn controversey into a paycheck?

And let's talk about all those shuttered factories being shipped off overseas. Those were great places to work back in "traditional America," weren't they? Oh, how we miss those heady days of child labor, no regulation to speak of and being beaten while asking for better pay and working conditions. What about other industries? What ever happened to the idyllic fields of sharecroppers and the honest day's work boring holes into the West Virginia mountains, dying early from broken backs or blackened lungs?

Oh, you mean more recent than that? I guess we should ask the blacks and the women how they felt about getting paid less than co-workers, if they were able to get those jobs at all.

I reckon that in Buchannan's "traditional America," illegal aliens didn't just walk into America and live high on the hog. No, "back in the day" they had to get jobs in the aforementioned factories and fields and mines, with the same "access" to poor educational conditions and overcrowded emergency rooms that other at-risk populations had access to. All the while, they had no legal recourse if, say, their foreman paid them a pittiance or subjected them to terrifying, dangerous and inhumane working conditions all in violation of US law.

No, we've lost that tradition these days, haven't we? It is so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And the thing "traditional Americans" have the most to be upset about is the "affirmative action" of Barack and Michelle Obama. You know, the rules that said Obama got to start off election night with 35 more electoral votes than John McCain.

"Traditional Americans" don't need affirmative action. They live by the sweat of their brow alone, in the solemn dignity that comes from NOT being part of a demographic systematically, culturally and legally denied educational, economic and political opportunity for at least 400 years. No, the last 50 years of freedom (which all those good "traditional Americans" welcomed with open arms and smiling faces - not police dogs and fire hoses) should have erased the previous 4 centuries by now.

Get a grip, Patty. The only tradition we Americans have is that of constant change. Things may not be good right now, but they are for some folks. When the folks who have it good look back on these days, their memories will be fond. That's the point, there's not really a time anywhere in the past where it was truly peachy for everyone all at once. In every era from colonization to now, you've got some folks having the time of thier lives, and some folks mired in everything bad society had to offer at the time.

But we keep marching forward, as clumsy as we are, usually looking back to where we were as the idyllic place we left.

It is because we don't like to think about how ugly the past really is. The all-good, traditional America of which you speak never existed. That feeling of loss you have is the same one you felt when momma and daddy told you the truth about Santa Claus.

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Fox in the Henhouse

More folks are giving Fox News the business this week.

At any other network, accusation of bias might even lead to some soul-searching and behavioral adjustment. At Fox, by contrast, complaints of unfairness prompt only hoots of derision and demands for "evidence" and "proof," which when presented is brushed off and ignored.


But Fox News finds an unlikely fan in the form of JMac at Beyond the Trestle.

In the end, I think we ought to just call Fox News what it really is, which is a very savvy business model that has a built-in base of viewers and guaranteed ad revenues.


What really works is simply not watching the 24 hour news cycle, and its all encompassing focus on Washington D.C., New York City, and today's scandal du jour. At this point, news is so infused with useless punditry that I get more information I didn't previously know from the likes of Lou Holtz and Mark May on College Football Gameday. I have more important things to do than watch talking heads make fun of other talking heads at rival networks while calling the conversation "news."

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parallelocandygram



Jeffrey at the Yaller Blog continues his comparison between former President George "Ol' Dubya" Bush and soon to be former Mayor C. "Stands for Cuba" Ray Nagin.


You might think the only common trait between "Heckuva job, Brownie" and "Chocolate City" is the fact that Republicans worked tirelessly to get both re-elected, but there's more. Similarities go beyond delicious instant baked goods, as well.

I had never seen the striking graphic before today, but it is priceless.

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Some Things Will Never Change

Just when we're sheltered under paper, the rockets come at us sideways.
- Meat Puppets


Finally, someone writes a truthful, easy to read article about missile defense.

The bottom line? Strategic Missile Defenses Don't Work.

The caveat? Strategic Missile Defenses Make the World More Dangerous.

That's really the most simplistic explanation of this subject that I can come up with. The article goes on to describe why.

So, why is Obama supporting any type of missile defense even as he dismantles Ol' Dubya's lunatic money hole of international destabilization? His plan calls for a missile defense sytem that is less expensive and more mobile, but has the same problems of "being ineffective" and "making things more dangerous."

One word answer: politics.

There is a lot of government money, and lobbying, tied up in missile defense. That dog has been barking for a lunatic money hole of international destabilization since the Reagan years, trying to fatten someone's bottom line. The only real good we have out of it is the increase in missile technology and radar that have been developed because of the program.

Obama also realizes that, at some point, Republicans more beholden to missile defense ideology (money) will be back in office.

With the technology advances being good, but the deployment proving problematic, Obama wants to set up a vehcile for missile defense investment that is less expensive and less destabilizing.

There is also the "Democrats want America to be weak" meme, propogated by partisan hacks, moneyed defense interests and sustained by individuals unfamiliar with the terms stability, rationality and reality. By keeping some form of missile defense, Obama hopes to quiet at least some of those voices.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bicycle Diaries

I wonder what it would be like to live in a city with actual, enforceable bicycle laws. This article in Slate got me thinking about riding bikes, and how we handle it in the South.

As a disclaimer, I grew up on ridiculously bike-friendly St. Simons Island. The locals knew that their bread was buttered on the side of easy living and margarita drinking, and took steps to ensure tourists and locals would be able to move freely from condo to beach without needing a car to do so. Public dollars were spent either widening the bicycle/pedestrian paths that already existed or putting in new ones.

Thus began my animosity towards "pro-bike" culturalistas who constantly eschewed the bicycle path to ride in the middle of narrow two lane roads at all hours of the day. While I can excuse racing bikes who haul ass and don't want to run the risk of running down the dog-walking population of a retirement community, I became livid when the casual cyclist from some northern state would lazily troll down the middle of my lane all helmets, child seats and orange flags a flutter.

I have seen similar behavior exhibited on the streets of New Orleans. As if we didn't have enough bad drivers around this city, we have to deal with an increasing number of bad bicyclists.

For example. Prytania, Magazine and Freret are all too narrow for the existing two lanes of auto traffic and on street parking for either side. Drivers on these streets constantly plow into parked vehicles. Those drivers maintaining the road usually have to cross the center line for whatever reason to avoid obstacles in their own lanes. And yet, each of these roads lies within a street grid where a lower traffic, parallel road exists just a block away.

Now, from one bicyclist to another, why is there any reason whatsoever to add to this automotive chaos a bicycle? I ride all over the city, and have never had the need to stay on any of those three streets for more than a block.

Next example? Esplanade Avenue. There are some parts of this street where bikes don't really have a choice, as several streets nearby run at odd angles. But Esplanade is two lanes on either side, so there is room for most of the route (there are some bottlenecks). But there is still on street parking, people entering and exiting vehicles, traffic moving left to avoid you on your bike, and other cyclists trying to pass your swerving nonsense to the left.

From one bicyclist to another, how is it acceptable to be texting someone while in transit on a bike? On a rough road? With moving traffic and pedestrians all around? As if this wasn't dangerous enough. I ride all over the city, and I get texts and calls all the time while riding. Do you know what I do? I PULL THE F OVER if I need to take the call.



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Express Lane Catholicism

It is interesting that the Vatican would make it easier for disaffected Anglicans to become Catholic, but mainly from a technical theological standpoint. What it really demonstrates is how good the Holy See's public relations staff has gotten at this point, when a shuffle of Church bureaucratic proceedures makes headline news.

Notice the attempt to manufacture controversey between Catholics and Anglicans on the one hand, and the attempt to stir the culture war "this is about homosexuals" meme on the other.

All in all, this is a notable change in Church circles, but I wonder if it will affect any more than a few thousand people worldwide.


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Until He Is Dead, Dead, Dead

Because we shouldn't have to suffer this individual to live. Good on the St. Tammany prosecutors office, for denying the plea deal that would have given him life in prison.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I guess if Johnny Depp got himself a multi-million dollar pirate themed franchise out of Disney, the proposed pirate-themed museum in the great, historical seaport of DOWNTOWN ATLANTA shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to anyone.

Though folks who grew up in the Golden Isles (where Blackbeard buried treasure), down the coast from Savannah (a city that had to worry about actual, you know, pirates back in the day) might take that a little out of sorts. I guess the plannin' folks couldn't find any better place in the whole state of Georgia for a pirate museum.


I'm just sayin'.




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Clumsy

in case you realize that sometimes you're just not OK, you level off, you level off, you level off. But its not alright now. You need to understand, there's nothing strange about this. - Our Lady Peace

Ready for Tennessee hangover week to be over, hoping it doesn't snowball into an orange Tennessee hangover season. We do this by....going back to Tennessee.

Doug at Hey, Jenny Slater! has your preview.

I'll only be rooting for one team in Black & Gold this weekend.


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interrupt this Program

I was watching/listening to the Obama town hall meeting at UNO when the sound cut out. Thinking I'd lost the connection, I flipped on the browser window. There was a screen of a video camera outside of an aircraft, with the voice of someone cursing and looking for something in the sky.

This was a little unnerving. I wondered what program would break in.

I'm pretty sure it was news of a six year old taking off in his family's baloon aircraft.

I hope this story has a happy ending.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

First of all, let me be clear:

Yes, he's only been in office 10 months. Yes, he visited the city as a Senator and a Candidate. Yes, the vast majority of New Orleanians were startving for change, and drank deeply from the glass half full of promise and ideas of an Obama Presidency.

When the electoral votes were counted, I danced on the corner of Broad Street and Bayou Road with Vietnam veterans and Mardi Gras Indians.

In those 10 months, we have seen much positive change as a nation. I absolutely believe we are moving in the right direction after the last 8 years of absolute lunacy. I have constantly enumerated why. I also absolutely believe this will take time. I was never one to think that Obama had superhuman abilities, and I knew patience would be required. I will not be disappointed by this Administration's national moves, unlike some liberals to my left.

All that being said, I expected him to take New Orleans more seriously than a a 3 hour, 45 minute visit, with takeout from Dooky's Chase.

I mean, if you aren't even in town long enough to visit the restaurant for your gumbo, can you even really say you've been to New Orleans?

And, what about Mississippi? You're their President too, whether they like it or not.

If the GOP ever wanted to have an issue where they could point out where "Change" and "Hope" were just a marketing strategy, they don't need to make up stuff about health care reform or the stimulus, they just have to point to the federal efforts in the recovery of New Orleans.

However, they won't. They'll keep going back to the well of fantasy-land death panels and birth certificates, because an indictment of Democrats on New Orleans is an indictment against Republicans as well. Politics are about partisan gain right now, not about actually fixing things.

I've said it before, and I will say it again: New Orleans is THE crisis point for domestic issues. Public education problems? Check. Infrastructure falling apart? Bingo. Health care crisis? You betcha. Environmental disaster? In droves. Crime? Yup. Weak metal health facilities? We got that. Housing crisis (of a different nature)? Check. Incompetent federal social programs? Yessir. At-risk race relations? And how. The list could go on.

The problems here are cultural as well as political, so if you can fix them, hell, just show foundational improvement, you have a blueprint for taking on what ails the rest of the nation.

About the only "change" New Orleans has seen in a positive light is the reappointment of US Attorney Jim Letten. He's been the vanguard against the public corruption since the Bush administration. Obama ignored partisan politics and kept him in his position, which was a welcome change from the overpolitization of the Department of Justice under Bush. I was hoping, and still hope, to see more of this type of pragmatism.

There are still things to do, and sending cabinet secretaries (like Arne Duncan's visit charter schools that did not flood) or stopping in for takeout will not give an accurate assessment of what is going on here. The fundraiser in California is important, but not as important as this city.

Updates: Cliff has a more reasoned and patient view of the President's visit.

Leigh C wonders if people are too busy making goo-goo eyes at the adored President to ask the important questions.

Tim knows what he'd like to have heard. (Thanks for the Tweet! I was wondering where those links were coming from.)



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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ants In Pants Glances

we're sick of being jerked around, wear that on your sleeve - R.E.M.

This has been the longest I've dwelt on a UGA loss in years. I literally cannot stop reading posts in the Georgia-based blogosphere (and neither can the rest of college football, taking note of this fanbase's tears of unfathomable sadness).

But the most excrutiating meme this season is the words coming from the previously elite college football program I root for. If you haven't been following it already, we don't have time to catch you up all the way. But this is just a little bit of an example. In addition to the "well, we've won games in the past" line of thinking, we've heard a steady stream of excuses that just don't seem to make sense (like the wind, the kicker and the youth of our players adversely affecting the special teams during the LSU game).

Luckily, this is sports, where the journalists and fans won't let silly excuses stand for very long. Luckily, we've already started to hear some more frank assessments of the situation. We will know in the next few weeks, and definitely by the end of the year, just how rough of a situation we are dealing with, and what will be done about it.

I was thinking about that today in a cultural sense, and then I saw something that brought it all together.

Contrast results-demanding sports journalists and fans, if you will, to the journalists and "fans/activists" of our nation's politics, who will let politicians and pundits say anything they want for years on end, without challenge. Observe the obfuscation of consensus fact and shared history that keeps "fans/activists" in the dark about real effects and costs of policies.

Tonight, John Stewart took CNN to task about this very type of behavior. Tore. Them. Apart. is more like it. If you thought what he did to CNBC's Cramer was bad, you're going to love this. Watching the first segment is sufficient.

To bring the segue full circle, Stewart also interviewed Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security. It was a painful interview, and she engaged in enough "coach speak" style dialouge to give no useful, interesting or funny information. She just laughed at Stewart the whole time.

And, yes, she has a code name. How uncomfortable.

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Stormy Monday

Parkway Bakery

Rain ain't unusual in New Orleans. Especially this year. But I haven't seen a gully washer like this for a while. Alli, Kim and I enjoyed some dinner at Slice on St. Charles, and ended up sittin' for a bit because the rain was so heavy outside. It didn't last for too long, so I didn't think there'd be any problem getting home.

How wrong I was.

My shortcut between Calliope/Earhart to Jefferson Davis Parkway was a lake. Jeff Davis itself was awash, and though I might have made it, I didn't want my wake to inundate cars nearby. Looking into the outflow canal once I was on Earhart, the water was less than a foot below the top of the floodwall. I had to turn around, figuring that Carrollton would be flooded, too.

Broad was clear, but almost every side street from the pump station to Orleans was pooled. On Orleans, all the cars were up on the neutral groun (well, most of them) and I took my turn testing the depths of the street, again, driving slowly to avoid casting a wake into the houses and businesses fronting the curb.



I got home and, after checking my roommate's car for damage (none), I set off on foot to get some pictures. The water stuck around for a very long time. Though there was a swift current pulling it to the pump station, I had to wonder: did the drainage pumps not sync up with the lakeshore pumps? Is that what caused this much backup? Or did we really just have that much rain while I ate my pasta?

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Walking Dead of the World Unite

And you know where they're going to try and break the record? New Orleans, on Halloween no less.

I won't be around to see it. I will be going back to Georgia that weekend. There is only one place safe for me to be on October 31, 2009. And I will be at that place, surrounded by many individuals who know my personal psychoses the best, hoping I survive the night.

With Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, the world may split apart at the 30th Parallel North that night. I hope it does, as there will be only one thing that could cause the kind of excitement needed to set off such a chain reaction.

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Instantaneous Karma

Sometimes the cosmos just up and lays the smack down on yo' stankin' ass. File this under "epic fail" or "when keepin' it real goes wrong."

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Dimetapp & Felony Assault

A Florida fan from Atlanta experiences his second trip to a game in Baton Rouge.

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Drown in Alcohol

follow me into the desert, as desperate as you are -Soundgarden

We may have lost the game, but we haven't lost our sense of humor. Even when we lose on offense, on special teams, on defense, giving up 310 yards passing to a quarterback compared to a catfish, for the 3rd time in 4 years, and our ability to challenge for championships in the SEC, do we EVER LOSE OUR SENSE OF HUMOR?



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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Others Receiving Votes

disillusion vb to leave without illusion or naive faith and trust

Some of y'all may have heard the news from Saturday. No, not about LSU's respectable home loss to Florida (though I know that hurts). Take heart Tigerland, it could be worse. It could be so much worse. You could running interventions to talk your fanbase back from the ledge.

My purple and gold clad neighbors, you may have to enjoy the good natured ribbing from other SEC fanbases about your gameday attire or your inexplainable association with corn dogs, but you will never have to face the ignonimy and ridicule of being in the fanbase of the first SEC school to lose to head coach Lane Kiffin.

Rubbing giant rocks of kosher salt in this wound is the classiness of the Tennessee fans I know (Like DADvocate, and Leigh C.) who will make it impossible for me to boil up enough misdirected anger to take out frustrations any way other than wondering what ails the previously elite college football program I root for.

So this week is recovery week. Taking inspiration from Bulldog in Exile, who titled a post after a highly appropriate Drive By Trucker's lyric, my recovery will dwell deeply in music. If Tennessee is going to beat us like it is 1990-something, I'm going to go to that old medicine cabinet of angsty, angry, introspective sounds that got me through middle school, high school and the Jim Donnan years at UGA.

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Beer Blogging in New Orleans

Phase one of my self-prescribed UGA vs. Tennessee result recovery was to go have some food for the soul. Since I was already Uptown, I rolled down Oak Street to Squeal BBQ. I prepared to rip apart a fantastic pulled pork sandwich, when I struck up a conversation with a stranger at the bar. About beer. And crazy college behavior. And football (and rugby). And prosthetic limbs. And goalposts. And, blogging about beer.

Recovery underway.

Which reminds me I have to do some more restaurant reviews on this site. Soon. As soon as I can get this out of my head.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Tribalism in America

DADvocate discusses the Roman Polanski situation and links to this post at Alexandria.

When scandals hit, people often argue them on conservative vs. liberal lines: it’s conservative prudery and repression (if you’re talking about the Catholic Church) or liberal depravity (if you’re talking about Hollywood).
...
But, seeing that the “conservative” Catholic Church and “liberal” Hollywood show the same failing, I have to suspect it’s mainly something that transcends conservative vs. liberal divisions; tribalism, privilege, the ordinary human tendency to want to defend and excuse People Like Us, ones that perhaps you know personally as way too congenial to have done the awful deed (or, if they’ve done the awful deed, not to be judged as somehow very different from anyone else who might have done that awful deed.
These are fantastic points, and are not just limited to this particular situation.

I think about these ideas when lines get drawn in other situations. We see this anytime police are accused of wrongdoing. We see it when people are encouraged to vote for race over policy. We see it when one political party calls the other "against-America" for partisan reasons. It manifests itself most clearly with "inferred justification."

The list could go on and on. So think about that next time you develop an opinion on something. One of the greatest things I was ever taught by my master teachers in public school was to think critically and look at any problem from different points of view.

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Premature eNOBELation

Uhhh, what?

I'm as big a fan of President Barack Obama as the next center-left Southern Democrat, but the Nobel Peace Prize? Already?

That's taking things a little far.

Here's where a working knowledge of college football relates well to the political arena - especially on the subject of "hype." Now, I understand that hype usually comes from the pundit class and folks on the sidelines. (Please see also: Georgia's preseason ranking, circa 2008.) At some point the pundits/sportswriters/award committees are projecting their own biases onto their hype recipients. Fairly or unfairly, it is then up to the hype recipient to live up to expectations or disappoint.

I pretty much knew what I was voting for (because I actually listened to the speeches) and understand what the words "pragmatism" and "realism" mean. I have seen plenty of the change I can believe in, and I am all for it after the luncacy of the last 8 years. (Please see also: US Attorney Jim Letten's reappointment; Stop-production on the F-22; Obama's non-intervention intervention in Iranian election protests; Notre Dame speech; Cairo speech; Focus on Afganistan; Dismantling Bush II's Fantasy "Missile Sheild" in Eastern Europe; etc.) I will not be disappointed in Obama, because I paid close attention to the last 8 years, and that gave me a pretty good idea where the next 4 years would be going if we had elected the other guy. That we aren't going in that self-destructive direction is success enough for me.

But there are folks out there who thought Obama would come in and literally save the planet superhero style. Apparently, this group of people include the Nobel Peace Prize committee, who are basically giving him one of the most prestigious awards on the planet just for being elected. While I can understand some enthusiasm in the face of the last 8 years's worth of global meltdown, you need to give the new guy some breathing room to deliver something of note to hang his hat on.

What happens if, in 4 years, we're still trying to get out of Iraq and Afganistan? What if there is a new genocide in Africa we can't stop? What if Israel goes to war with Iran and takes us with them? How empty will this award seem then?

Some of these folks will have blinders on where Obama can do no wrong, and all the change they don't get will be the fault of others. I think more of these people will end up disappointed because we didn't elect a superhero, we elected a man. One with a good plan, but not one that is infallible.

Luckily, I absolutely believe that the White House was shocked by this news. I don't see how they can think this is anything other than a political liability. His only recourse could be to not accept the award.

The only people who will express unfettered joy at this announcement are right-wing-talk radio and Fox News, who's strained credibility just got a shot of androgen with another suspect left-leaning group piling on the "Chosen One" narrative.

Update: I guess that's a good title for this post, 'cause we're getting a lot of traffic this afternoon. Welcome Blog of New Orleans/Gambit readers (and thanks for the link, guys)! We're getting a lot of Facebook links today, too.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hate Week By Any Other Name

College football fans want to win regular season games as a means of satisfying ancient and perpetual blood feuds. They want to win bowl games in order to demonstrate that the vendettas they've endured that season made them tougher and meaner than whatever their extra-regional bowl opponent thinks they've been through that compares. - Jeffery

I've got nothing on college football this week other than to tell you I'll be at Carrollton Station in New Orleans before lunch comes to the Central Time Zone. I'll also be hoping they don't switch coverage of the game in the last minutes (I'm thinking of the UGA vs. Kentucky game last year). Yes, this is UGA at Tennessee week, and that usually means a drinking-fueled primetime television spot that eliminates my entire Saturday for anything productive. Because of each program's woes this season, the game kicks off at 11:21am in my neck of the woods.

The kind folks at Carrollton Station are opening the bar early just for us. I will be having coffee with my whiskey.

More entertainig than that mental image = Some of the best UGA vs. Tennessee smack talk on the web (because I know you've been waiting to hear some) can be found at Hey, Jenny Slater! and Snarkastic. Click over and read both. If you're goofing off this afternoon, read a little bit of the backstory and understand why this is even funnier.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Outrage & Lawsuits

When disaster strikes, and you have to walk out of it on foot, make sure you know which bridges pedestrians are allowed to cross. Otherwise, you may run into trouble with the police. That's the newest explanation for authorities stopping on-foot evacuees from leaving New Orleans in the days after the flood in 2005.

Those actions say: "No, we're not going to help you. We're not even going to let you leave. You have to go back into a flooded city with no food, water, electricity, sanitation, or medical help because foot traffic isn't allowed on the bridge. Too bad you didn't have a better evacuation plan in place before hand, folks. Now move along before we gun you down."

Shame isn't a big enough word.


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Friday, October 02, 2009

Barr on Czars

Back during the Clinton administration, I couldn't stand Bob Barr, and thought him a fringe of the right wing. Then again, at that time, I was far more partisan that I am today. Now the country has extended to the right and left in such extremes, I feel like I have more in common, politically, with Barr than with many of the leaders of my own party or the other. Though I still disagree with a lot of what he says, he hits the nail on the head a whole lot of the time.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Walking Softly With Big Sticks

Even more scalps on Jim Letten's* belt.

Talk about being in the pocket of the trial lawyers. A St. Bernard Parish judge and two lawyers got busted for wrecking the criminal justice system with fraud.

Here's how it works: you get arrested. Instead of pay for bond, you "hire" a lawyer. The lawyer keeps the cash and splits the fee with the judge. The judge then lets the arrested party out of jail on something called a "personal surety bond," where no money has to be put up to get out of jail. I guess doing this is cheaper than just fronting the cash or property for bond (it must be, since judges set bond, right?)

Dante will be pleased, the big fish in this case runs as a Democrat. Though I guess this one took the "change" motif to mean the change in his pocket.




(* Though seriously, Jim Letten, US Attorney for SELA, is yet another example of Obama's change I can believe in. The President kept this US Attorney for this job, despite the fact that Letten was originally a Bush administration pick. You know Bush, the one whose administration liked toying with US Attorneys for political reasons....)

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Talking About the "R" Word

One interesting thing the election of President Barack Obama has done is to really open the cultural discussion on race. To be more accurate, I should describe it as a "shouting match" instead of a cultural discussion. But even with all its ugliness and misrepresentation, we are still moving forward as a society. A lot of veneer has been ripped off the top of "how people really think" in the last 10 months, and these years will (hopefully) be seen as a cultural turning point.

Years ago, I worried that the charge of racism would become overused in talking about our culture, economy and shared national institutions. I wasn't the only one worried about this, and a lot of folks (on the left and the right) saw this coming as well. That day is at hand.

"Racism" has been used so much in our common narrative that it has lost a great deal of its meaning. This is unfortunate, for it strains the credibility of actual and real racism as it works in our society today. And there are still plenty of places we can go to find it. This article in Slate examines just a few.

This manifests itself in many ways.

There are going to be individuals who disagree with President Obama's policies because they are racists. But that does not mean that all or even most individuals who oppose President Obama's policies are doing so because he is black. Many, many individuals I know who disagree with this administration's initiatives have always opposed such initiatives. People have legitimate gripes with the policies. Hell, I have legitimate disagreements with some of the policies, and I voted for Obama!

Because of this, when Jimmy Carter gets on television and says that most of the opposition comes from racism, he does himself, the administration and the country a terrible disservice. First of all, it keeps the conversation on the straw man (racism) rather than on the reality (the policies). Second, it encourages a liberal version of Bush's "with us or with the terrorists" worldview (Carter's being - "you're either with us or you're with the racists"). Third, it encourages the media to see the discussion on race as the primary national policy discussion, which it is not.

Carter's one reasonable point was that, as a son of the South, he knows all the "code words." Now, I hate code words, but I'm not so naive as to pretend they don't exist. I learned while teaching not to assume prior knowledge, however difficult it is to give the benefit of the doubt. But people who oppose Obama's policies legitimately need to understand that these conversations are not happening in a vaccum.

There is a long history of what "state's rights", "secession", "seperation of schools" and hanging (in effigy) meant. As a younger son of the South, I can understand how many younger folks may not fully grasp this history, and think some terms and images to be completely devoid of context. Those who even have an inkling of what these terms and symbols might mean are being completely disingenuous in the face of history to act shocked, SHOCKED! that some of these things have loaded meaning. If you want us to take your criticisms seriously, keep your criticisms rational, reasonable and focused on the legitimate policy concerns you have.

Two last things:

Black politicians who are accused of corruption need to actually answer their allegations instead of first calling the allegations racist. Their apologists need to realize that, if anyone is stealing from public coffers, especially in more at-risk districts dominated by minorities, those crimes affect minorities the worst.

White pundits need to stop labeling every program designed to help minorities as "reverse racism." To qualify for "reverse racism," the socio-economic playing field has to be drastically more equal than it is today. Pretending that the socio-economic playing field is anything close to leveled out just because Barack Obama got elected President is a laughable assertion.

Update: One more thing to think about is how our nation addreses (I would say "ignores") black-on-black violence. While DADvocate gets a little more political than I would to discuss this topic, his points are well taken. Like Fight Club, we do not talk about black on black violence in our society, and it is the most devastating thing towards the social, cultural and economic advancement of at-risk minorities. Some of that silence comes from apathy, to be sure. But plenty of folks who have tried to address the problem were called "racists" just for bringing it up.


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