Saturday, September 03, 2005

Why Not Fire These F*ckers Now Instead of Waiting?

CNN with some excellent examples of the extreme distance from reality that Chertoff and Brown are existing in. (Nod to Andrew Sullivan of all people)

On hospital evacuations:
Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.

On the overall federal response:
Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.
And what the hell has happened to the Preznit's handlers? They used to do a better job than to let him say shit like this:
The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)
Yeah, well, as long as the rich white guy's going to be okay.

But some folks that I wouldn't expect to are getting it. Even Newt Gingrich:
"I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
There's been a lot of talk about Chimpy and members of the cabinet being reluctant to cut their vacations short to deal with this but what no one has asked is, why the hell were the president, vice president, sec. of state and chief of staff all on vacation at the same time? I've heard for years from Repuglicans about how they understand business and how they'll run government like a business - well, in business you don't all leave town at the same time. You ALWAYS make sure someone's minding the store. They could also take a cue from business (especially my business - Information Technology) when it come to handling disaster - the bigger the problem, the higher the heads that are on the response calls, soaking up details, asking questions and making sure that everybody (especially the customer - which in this case is US) knows that the big guy is the chief motherfucker in charge! You don't make any damn assumptions, you publicly ask questions of the guys below you (and hope like hell the answer is that they've already done it) and you constantly talk to your customer and TELL HIM THE THINGS YOU'RE DOING TO HELP HIM - long before he thinks to ask. Chertoff, Brown, Bush... fucking useless.

We know that Condi's been catching "Spamalot" and buying shoes in New York, but it hasn't been as clear which undisclosed location Cheney's been hiding in. But then I picked up a copy of Weekly World News at the drug store last night and found him - he's apparently hiding out in Fort Knox, wearing a crown and making everyone call him King Dick. The article hasn't made it to the web edition yet, but it's in the newspaper so it must be true!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Some Gets It, Some Don't

I've never been the biggest fan of Gov. Mike Easley, but I'm damn proud to have him for a governor today:
This is not only a state problem, this is also a regional and a national problem. We are hoping that the Department of Energy will take some action as soon as possible. I have tried to get direction from DOE, but they have not yet responded. In the meantime, I am asking all North Carolinians to conserve gas. Some stations are already out. Wait for more information before making Labor Day travel plans. We are taking steps to ensure that emergency vehicles have the supplies that they need, police, fire and rescue. I am immediately suspending all non-essential state government travel. I am asking state employees to carpool wherever possible. I am also asking all our citizens to be smart about their fuel consumption. I am asking them to carpool if they can and to limit non-essential road trips.
Mike gets it. I have been one of Mel Watts' biggest fans:
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Rep. Mel Watt, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee announced today that when Congress returns next Tuesday, they will introduce legislation to protect the thousands of families and small businesses financially devastated by Hurricane Katrina from being penalized by anti-debtor provisions contained in the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, scheduled to take effect on October 17, 2005. Reps. Conyers, Nadler, and Jackson Lee released the following joint statement:

"We are concerned that just as survivors of Hurricane Katrina are beginning to rebuild their lives, the new bankruptcy law will result in a further and unintended financial whammy. Unfortunately, the new law is likely to have the consequence of preventing devestated families from being able to obtain relief from massive and unexpected new financial obligations they are incurring and by forcing them to repay their debt with income they no longer have, but which is counted by the law.

When the Judiciary Committee considered the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act earlier this year, Ms. Jackson Lee offered an amendment to protect the victims of natural disaster like those now devastated by Hurricane Katrina. While the amendment was defeated on a party line vote without any debate, we hope that in light of recent events our colleagues will recognize the importance of protecting our most financially vulnerable Americans.

The legislation we plan to introduce will prevent new bankruptcy provisions from having adverse and unintended consequences for the hundreds of thousands now facing financial catastrophe by providing needed flexibility for victims of natural disasters in bankruptcy proceedings.

Our common sense bill will insure that we do not compound a natural disaster with a man made financial disaster. We hope to obtain bipartisan support for expedited consideration of this critical legislation."

Mel gets it. On the other hand:

FEMA has released to the media and on its Web site a list of suggested charities to help the storm’s hundreds of thousands of victims. The Red Cross is first on the list.

The Rev. Pat Robertson’s “Operation Blessing” is next on the list.

FEMA don't get it (but apparently radical Christian cleric Robertson does, but not in a good way). Then there's my vote for Dickweed of the Day:
"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican said in an interview about New Orleans Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill.

/* snip */
"We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild too. Stubbornness."

There are "some real tough questions to ask," Hastert said in the interview. "How do you go about rebuilding this city? What precautions do you take?"

I don't think Dennis gets it. On the third hand:
I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.
Jack Cafferty gets it.

I got the Sundance running tonight since it gets twice the gas mileage that the XTerra does and made sure that I did all my errands while I was out to make the trip worthwhile. We've talked about what we can manage to do walking or taking the bus or me bicycling for the next few weeks - quite a lot if we try. I've got to get over to Carrboro tomorrow to proof the studio tour maps and I'm planning on taking the bike at lunch, despite the muscle pull. I noticed that the gas stations nearest us on Airport Road have gone from $2.59 to $3.29 over the last 36 hours - 70 cents in less than two days feels like price gouging to me. But hell, I'm not worried about that - I'm worried about the homeless and dying and a federal government that has now shown the world that we are unwilling or incapable of taking care of our own. JennySlash keeps asking what it's going to take to run those sonsabitches out of the office (okay, the 'sonsabitches' was probably my term) and it's a damn shame if it takes this kind of a disaster to do it, but if even their lack of response to this crisis doesn't do it then there's just no hope for us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nawlins Twilight

Like everyone else, I've been watching the coverage of the catastrophe in the Gulf and reading about it on the web (as Lex pointed out, the best place for real news and some damn fine writing has been the New Orleans Times-Picayune site at This is clearly the worst disaster in the US that anyone living is going to remember (except for maybe a couple of centenarians with memories of the Galveston hurricane or the San Francisco Earthquake). For now I'll leave speculation of whether more could have been done to prevent the flooding in NO, whether the evacuation plan left the poorest third of the city to their own devices, whether the misadventure in Iraq has sapped resources needed to prepare for and react to this hurricane and whether there's going to be anything to rebuild to others, although I reserve the right to chime in later. For now I'm just going to give the Red Cross some money, get over there and give them a pint of blood, maybe say a prayer or two to a deity that I'm pretty sure doesn't exist, do my best to follow Gov. Easley's request to limit driving and think good thoughts at the poor folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that are having to deal with this.

My experience with New Orleans has been uniformly bad. The first came on one of the great American summer vacation road trips when I was 10 and we were heading down from Nashville to Houston to visit Mom's sister and her husband, who was working at NASA Mission Control. We stopped in New Orleans for a couple of days and Dad got talked into sitting through one of those swampland property pitches in exchange for a bus tour of the city and dinner at some touristy restaurant. The tour was cool, Jackson Square was cool, walking down Bourbon Street with the barkers flashing the unholy sights of the strip joint interiors at my prepubescent eyes was cool, but it was August - a million percent humidity and a million degrees Fahrenheit and so I made the mistake of drinking the local water. This caused two problems - the first being having to hold it in while Dad listened to what seemed like a 47 hour long sales pitch. The second was becoming violently ill and purging at both ends by the time I we got to Lake Charles. I swore I'd never go back.

My only other experience (yes, I broke my promise) was many years later when I went down to New Orleans (again with the August!) for the SHARE users conference. I didn't know anyone else there, but the first night I met a couple of guys from IBM and got talked into going to the Court of Two Sisters for dinner. Horribly, ridiculously expensive and the bastard waiter wouldn't split the check, so I ended up having to use almost all the cash I had (this was before ATMs were ubiquitous) to cover dinner. I basically ate at the hotel (the Fairmont) the rest of the week so I could charge it to the room. I did find a really cool bar - the Bourbon Street Saloon - that despite the name seemed to be where the locals that worked at the other bars hung out after hours. I hung out there a couple of nights, talking to the bartenders and feeling right at home - enough so that I ran back to the hotel and brought 'em a tape of the Pressure Boys one night which they proceeded to play the rest of that evening. But then the inevitable hit - I drank the water, got sick as a dog and woke up miserable the next morning to no water in the hotel and a fucking hurricane on the way. It was Hurricane Danny, which was never stronger than a Cat 1 and ended up hitting between Lake Charles and Port Arthur, but I decided to get the hell out and remember being driven down I-10 to the airport through axle-deep water and near-tropical force winds at a very high rate of speed by a cab driver that spoke no English.

Despite my experience, I've always suspected that if I could get to New Orleans sometime OTHER than August I'd really love it. I hope folks can find a way to rebuild it - primarily because it's a lot of people's home and it's a vital part of the economic machine but also because it holds a pretty unique place in the national consciousness that it would be a shame to lose. I promise that despite my bad experiences, I'll go back and spend some hard earned dollars down there once things are back in business. Just not in August.

Strained but not broken

Went to the doctor yesterday and he's pretty sure that nothing is broken for which I am quite grateful. I say "pretty sure" as he didn't see any reason to x-ray unless I really insisted, since the treatment for a cracked rib and for a badly pulled muscle is pretty much the same these days. Rest, painkillers and ice - the only difference is that ribs take about 4 weeks and muscles shouldn't take more than a couple. Still hurts when I try to take a deep breath and trying to sneeze is both painful and comical, but I do think it's starting to improve.

Note to mapgirl: hope your ankle gets better fast!

Monday, August 29, 2005

This and That - Last Monday in August Edition

I think I may have cracked a rib mountain biking yesterday (I'll know tomorrow after a trip to the doctor). Before you chide me for taking chances or acting like a big doofus at my advancing age, you should know that I took a spill at the end of the ride when I was actually being too damn cautious - I slowed down too much going up a curvy little hill to get around a gate and lost my balance and chewed dirt. I probably otter take more chances rather than trying to play it safe.

I want to know why neither Freakazoid! or Earthworm Jim are available on DVD!!! Dammit, who's in charge here?

So who knew that Lysol was once advertised as a feminine hygiene product (and apparently a birth control method)? Apparently a number of folks. Just.... ouch. (Nod to apostropher for first mention.)

Oh, it has come to my attention that occasionally this blog does not format correctly for folks using Internet Explorer. I've never had any trouble reading it with Firefox but I did try it today with IE and noticed that some titles or text will sometimes not show up. So my suggestion is... stop using IE, dangit!

More Reason for the Existence of the Internets

This collection of Odd Rod stickers is enough reason for me. Much of what I owned from 1969 through the next few years (luggage, notebooks, bedroom furniture, school desks, the dog) was covered in Donruss Odd Rod stickers - looking through the gallery, I can immediately smell that wonderful combination of bubble gum and adhesive. And these were GREAT stickers, man - once you stuck 'em, they did NOT come off. The site also contains a gallery of the Basil Wolverton-esque Ugly cards from Topps and the recent DeKay Hot Rod Super Freaks series that does a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the Odd Rods. Check it out!

Some Good News

They're not big things, in fact they're of no consequence to most people, but they're the little things that make life marginally better and that's something to take note of...

A year after it burned down, the Starlite Drive-In Theater in Durham reopened with a sold-out showing of The Dukes of Hazzard. Our house in Durham was not too far from the theater and we managed to make a few movies there (I think we saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer there, which probably says a lot about why I liked the movie so much) but haven't been in years. We'll definitely be heading back this fall!

A couple of weeks ago, despite a couple of setbacks, House Bill 392 passed and was signed into law by Gov. Easley, raising the cap on alcohol content of beer from 6% to 15% over the objections of the usual suspects. We were perusing the beer cooler at A Southern Season Saturday and overheard a gentleman my age acting like a kid in a candy store as he loaded up on Belgian Dubbels. His wife sort of apologetically said something about not having to make the drive to Virginia anymore...

On the subject of beer, I had lunch at Top of the Hill Saturday and asked the bartender how sales of their cans were doing. A few months ago, they started canning a lager and their most excellent Davie Poplar India Pale Ale primarily for golfers. As I understand it, they were one of the first microcanners in the country. According to the bartender, sales have skyrocketed far beyond what they had expected - they're not only in EarthFare and Whole Foods markets across the state as well as a number of golf courses - they're even talking to Piggly-Wiggly and moving into South Carolina. The owner and the brewmaster were in Charleston this weekend at the same time they got a big mention in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. The IPA is outselling the lager (probably at least in part because of the Carolina Blue can and the renaming of it to Ram's Head IPA). It's damn good stuff, but I still prefer to sit at the bar or on the deck drinking the draft.

So never let it be said that I only post bad news!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Corporate Extortion

JennySlash is in the beginning of a course on global economics in her master's program - my, wasn't the article on the perks Lenovo wants from the local governments to stick around timely? Go see what she has to say...