Wednesday, September 14, 2005
- Order mandatory civilian evacuationsThe last one is the really troubling possibility: that Posse Comitatus could be suspended.
- Dispatch U.S.-based armed forces for emergency search-and-rescue operations
- Grant wider leeway for active-duty U.S. military personnel to carry out law enforcement operations.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and suggest what to some is the unspeakable, if not outright unthinkable: that given the right situation, this president will seek to remain in office indefinitely. That if a major enough terrorist act were to happen between now and the 2008 election, Bush would see fit to suspend the vote "for the duration of the emergency". He would appeal to the American people and enough of them would nod their heads and agree that it "wouldn't be right" to be changing presidents amid wartime. If granted a wider leeway of presidential powers, Bush could probably do so with very little recourse left to any opposition other than outright rebellion.
Of course, I thought the same thing of Bill Clinton some years ago: that he would go to this kind of length to cover up his wrongdoings. I was wrong on that one (thankfully). The thing is, as more time goes by I think Clinton was actually the more noble between he and Bush (and I never thought I'd put "Clinton" and "noble" together like that). I really can't put it past Bush to go for something like this if there were a chemical or low-yield nuke attack somewhere in America. With all the mechanisms he's put in place - and now that he's seeking to put in place further - I'm more than a little inclined to believe that he's looking for some way to use it all to his own advantage.
Yeah, maybe I'm speaking a lot of crapola. But you tell me: do you trust any politician who's asking for more power?
This might be what finally gets Dad to pick up an Xbox controller :-)
Okay, in the top image there's Anakin in most of the Darth Vader armor (for the first time I'm noticing that he's not wearing the gloves) and the droid is lowering the facemask down onto Anakin's head. The next panel shows us Anakin's POV as the mask turns on, giving us the only glimpse in any Star Wars movie of how Vader sees the world behind the mask. The bottom image is just before the mask clamps down with the helmet completely sealing the head.
The "collar" that the mask hooks onto is missing in the first image, even though the mask is already on its way down onto Anakin's face. It mysteriously materializes around his neck just in time for the whole thing to come together around his head. The collar should be there during this entire cutaway to Palpatine's medical facility, but it ain't.
Maybe this'll be something they digitally fix for the forthcoming DVD release. Or for the "Ultimate Edition" six-episode multi set that you just know George Lucas will someday release with EVERYTHING corrected and amended per his grand master vision :-)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Dammit, this isn't the America I grew up reading about. I really do wonder if that America can even come back, or if it was ever really here at all.
Do you think that America is a much greater country today than it was four years ago, before the planes hit?
We reacted the wrong way totally. We should have been like the British, treating this like an enormous act of criminal minds and proceeded to punish the guilty as necessary. Instead we got a country that punishes everybody. Well, everyone except those with power and affluence, 'course. When they got bombed this summer the people of Britain were stalwart. We have been nothing other than coward.
We let them win, because we allowed them to make us destroy who we are as Americans. We gave al Quaeda the biggest victory of its existence, and we dare pat ourselves on the back for being "good American patriots" even as we give away one freedom after another for sake of "security" from the government.
H.L. Mencken was right: "Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses". I know exactly who the jackals are. The problem is there's too many jackasses in this country ruining it for those of us that still care about these things.
I don't feel any bit "patriotic" on this fourth anniversary of 9/11, because there's precious little left to this country to feel proud about. And I refuse to be a hypocrite about it. We've been destroying ourselves ever since. There won't even be an America like this in another five years, the way things are going. You tell me how that's something to honor with empty words and useless gestures.
Local Church's Sign Offends EvacueesWRONG!! You wanna know where the nickname "the Big Easy" came from? Black musicians from the east and further up the Mississippi used to consider New Orleans to be maybe the one place that they could always find work. It was almost too easy to be a paid musician there, and so it is that they came to consider New Orleans the "Big Easy". There was nothing vulgar about the term, and if it weren't for it being so attractive to black musical artists there never would have come the unique sound of jazz (although I've heard some preachers rail against jazz itself as being "evil" but that's a rant for another time...)
A confrontation this morning between an East Texas church and an evacuee from New Orleans. It centers around a sign out front of Woodland Hills Baptist Church on Old Jacksonville Road in Tyler, about a mile inside the loop. Some say the message is offensive.
"I drove by that sign and was just horrified when I saw that," says Kelly Jackman who now lives in Tyler but used to live in New Orleans.
That sign at Woodland Hills Baptist Church reads ,"The big easy is the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah."
Kelly along with her sister Robin Lafont, an evacuee from New Orleans, showed up this morning at the church to talk to the man who put it up, Pastor Wiley Bennett.
During a heated discussion, Robin asked, "What's the point of the sign out there?" Pastor Bennett replied, "The point of the sign is New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and New York City are some of the most wicked cities in America."
Robin, who still has family members unaccounted for in New Orleans, is offended by the sign. "I'm telling you. This hurts. Why would you want to put more hurt, more salt in my wounds and why would you want to do this to me?"
Kelly adds, "And to go by and see this church saying that God did this to destroy these people and basically they're celebrating that by putting that sign up there saying look at what God has done. He has destroyed the city of New Orleans because it is evil."
Pastor Bennett says, "Anybody that's ever visited New Orleans, the very name its self - Big Easy - denotes that it's easy to find sin there..."
Anyway, the pastor of this church... is acting like an idiot, to be nice about it. See, this is what happens a lot when some Christians take it upon themselves to be more an authority on God than anyone else. This guy relishes hurting people, though he won't admit it. Take a looksee at his church's website: obviously a "King James only" outfit. Which explains the horridness of it: King James only churches usually have some of the worst websites I've ever seen. Whenever a church is King James only, that pops a big red flag in my mind: they see that as a license to inflict all the pain they want to, in the name of the Lord. Believe you me I know.
Anyway, I don't believe that Katrina was a punishment from God on New Orleans alone: the most "sinful" part of town escaped practically unscathed. And the "Southern Decadence" gay pride parade went ahead as scheduled, by the way... not that I think anything highly of that (I don't) but that fact alone smacks this notion that Katrina was "divine retribution" upside the head.
Okay, enough ranting here. Time to get ready for church, and who knows if I won't rant about this there either...
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Two days from now will more or less be the official start of pre-production of our next project. Which will be something of an experimental way to make a movie. I'm really excited about what this is going to be, all the things that are going into making it.
All of this is happening under a Republican President, by the way. You know... the party that this kind of thing isn't supposed to happen from.
For anyone who's been paying attention to these sorts of things, Claire Wolfe is more or less admitting that "it's time" now. "I'll never argue with anyone who says the time is already here," she writes: "The only question now is how to be effective. But it's now absolutely imperative to find the way."
I hope and pray she's right.
To their credit, the pieces by Dr. Kelly Hollowell and Jerry Falwell are pretty good this week. Hollowell is contrasting the tragedy of Katrina with that of abortion, while Falwell is generously offering free tuition to students who came out of Katrina at his Liberty University, which I've heard firsthand over the years is a pretty good school, despite some misgivings I've long had about Falwell. I'll still contend that of the three main columnists that WorldNetDaily has on Saturdays, that Kyle Williams's is still the deepest and most articulate. And why WND isn't putting him on the forefront of things anymore, I've no idea.
Friday, September 09, 2005
About twenty years ago there was a movie called Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell. Maybe you've seen it before (probably during one of those hundreds of times that TNT used to run it back in the late Nineties) so you already know it's horribly dated by today's standards. But if you haven't: it was about the Soviet Union dropping paratroopers into the American heartland as part of a massive invasion, which Swayze and Howell and Charlie Sheen and a bunch of other kids take up guns and fight against in guerilla warfare. It was like The Breakfast Club starting up its own militia. For its time it was a dark, morbid flick (it held the Guinness record for "Most Violent Movie" for several years afterward). For two hours it was the kids' turn to kick Russkie butt and take names. Little wonder that it became something of a favorite for adolescent viewers.
I wanted to bring up a scene from Red Dawn, just after the Russians and Cubans and other Communists have taken over this town where Our Heroes used to attend high school and play football. The commanding officer of the invading contingent gives orders to his men to go to some building in town, where it's known that gun registration records are kept. The soldiers then take the records and proceed through town confiscating all the guns that are listed in the registry. It's the most efficient way of stifling opposition before it has a chance to really start. All the guns get taken away from the good American citizens (except for the ones that Patrick Swayze and his gang use to open up a can of whup-a$$ on the Soviets with). Hence, hardly anybody has a chance to fight against the oppression.
That scene from Red Dawn was the very first thing that crossed my mind when I read this news coming out of New Orleans. From the Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle:
Authorities confiscating guns from homeowners in New OrleansI've seen numerous reports that the authorities are going by gun registration lists, exactly as was done in the fictional movie Red Dawn.
NEW ORLEANS — Soldiers and police confiscated guns from homeowners as they went house to house, trying to clear the shattered city of holdouts because of the danger of disease and fire. Police today also marked homes with corpses inside, with plans to return later.
As many as 10,000 people were believed to be stubbornly staying put in the city, despite Katrina's filthy, corpse-strewn floodwaters and orders from Mayor Ray Nagin earlier this week to leave or be removed by force. By midmorning, though, there were no immediate reports of anyone being taken out forcibly, police said.
Police are "not going to do that until we absolutely have to. We really don't want to do that at all," Deputy Chief Warren Riley said...
...Police and soldiers also seized numerous guns for fear of confrontations with jittery residents who have armed themselves against looters.
"No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons," Riley said.
On Thursday, in the city's well-to-do Lower Garden District, a neighborhood with many antebellum mansions, members of the Oklahoma National Guard seized weapons from the inhabitants of one home. Those who were armed were handcuffed and briefly detained before being let go...
One of the most obvious questions that pops into mind is, will the confiscated weapons ever be returned to the rightful owners? Somehow I doubt that they will be.
I understand that New Orleans isn't the healthiest places to be at the moment, but the risk of contracting cholera isn't going to marginally increase simply because one is the owner of a firearm.
All things considered: these are American citizens that are being deprived - unlawfully, and unconstitutionally - of their right to self-defense and self-preservation. For no logical or apparent reason whatsoever other than because those who assume to be the "authorities" have decided that these citizens are incapable of taking care of themselves without "government assistance". Considering how the "authorities" completely imploded last week, I'll trust Joe Sixpack's judgement over that of the chief of police and mayor of New Orleans, thankyaverymuch.
This is the kind of thing that revolutions are started over. The bloody kind, mind you.
I had to make a note of this, if for no other reason than because of my own conscience. This confiscation of guns from what would be normal Americans in any other circumstance in New Orleans is wrong, no matter how it's looked at.
I almost want to say it's funny: I've seen things from some movies actually come to pass. I never thought that one of those movies would be Red Dawn though.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
And when you're finally sick and tired of the bloody thing, aim your shotgun and blast the frog away with the "I Hate That Frog" Flash game. I got as far as 92 meters playing it: how far can you go?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Katrina Victims to Get $2K Debit CardsAt the risk of being called cold-hearted: this is a really stupid thing to do. There's going to be all kinds of abuse opening up with this scheme. And what happens to everyone else who becomes a victim of a hurricane? Do we give them two thousand dollars from the public coffers also?
Sep 07 3:42 PM US/Eastern
By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
The federal government plans to hand out debit cards worth $2,000 each to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff, under fire for his agency's response to the disaster, held a conference call with governors of states with evacuees and described the plan. While many details remained to be worked out, the plan was to quickly begin distributing the cards, starting with people in major evacuation centers such as the Houston Astrodome.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the cards are aimed at providing "some immediate cash assistance to those who are in shelters, those that were evacuated."
Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who participated in the conference call, said the cards will be offered "to people in shelters as well as people who are not in shelters but who have evacuated the area and need help." He said the hope is the cards will encourage people to leave shelters voluntarily.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is administering the program. FEMA officials said the program is aimed at those most in need, so not all families that fled their homes will be eligible...
This smells too much like a political ploy, if anything.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Nothing else to say, 'cept another legend has left us. Say hello to the Skipper and Thurston Howell III up there, little buddy.
Monday, September 05, 2005
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this... this is working very well for them."Now, what kind of person is it that would divy-up the victims of something so impartial into either "privileged" or "underprivileged"?
I'm almost reminded of the "steerage" passengers aboard the Titanic.
Europe plans laser-fusion facilityFusion? Lasers? Tritium?!? I think somebody's been watching Spider-Man 2 way, WAY too many times...
2 September 2005
Laser physicists in Europe have put forward plans to build a £500m facility to study a new approach to laser fusion. A panel of scientists from seven European Union countries believes that a "fast ignition" laser facility could make a significant contribution to fusion research, as well as supporting experiments in other areas of physics. The facility could be up and running by the middle of the next decade.
The laser would be used to compress and heat a small capsule of deuterium and tritium until the nuclei are hot enough to undergo nuclear fusion and produce helium and neutrons. In a reactor the energy of the neutrons would be used to generate electricity without the emission of greenhouse gases or the generation of long-lived nuclear waste...
This now ties with the photo of Jabbar Gibson behind the wheel of the schoolbus as my favorite photo to come out of Katrina.
I think in years to come, what's happened in the Big Easy because of Katrina is going to be a hotly-discussed topic in sociology circles. This has brought out the worst in some people, and the very best in others. Why that happened is going to be well debated for a long time.
I do not hate George W. Bush.
I do hate the things he is doing to this country.
F'rinstance, he is committing treason by letting untold millions of illegal immigrants flood across the border from Mexico. Illegal immigrants and God only knows who else: it's a would-be terrorist's dream come true.
He lied us into a war with Iraq. The reasons for this war have never been consistent. If he wanted to take out Saddam because he was "a bad man", fine, market it like that. See how the American people would feel up to going in on that rationale. The entire impetus - no matter what else has come out since then - for the invasion was the weapons of mass destruction. And there really were none. And now the reason for our war is that we have to stay there to honor the memory of those who've died there...?!?
Bush is the President most far-removed from the American people that there has ever been. This alone is why I don't consider him to be a real President: he's just filling a position, without the sense of honor that comes with that position. You cannot be a servant of the people unless you are willing to meet with the people... no matter how their opinion of things differs from your own.
Bush has employed - and continues to employ - some of the most wicked agents of personal destruction that modern politics has ever known. I say again: why should a good Christian choose to associate with Karl Rove? Witnessing to him would be one thing. Encouraging him to continue hurting people without reason is quite another. Seems there's a thing or two in the Bible about that.
Bush, I hate to say, believes he really is above the American people. God never set up a sovereign or a king over us. He didn't anoint Bush to be the first such either. This kind of attitude isn't going to win him any favorable spot in the history books. He will, at best, be considered a bully on par with Lyndon Johnson.
Bush has gone fully in the face of everything that Ronald Reagan believed about the role of government. Reagan believed in smaller government. Under Bush it has ballooned beyond belief. The Department of Homeland Security is a disgrace to everything that traditional "conservatives" have stood for.
Bush pushed the PATRIOT Act into being. 'Nuff said.
Bush supported CAFTA. Also, 'nuff said.
So many other reasons for not trusting the man. For holding him in outright contempt, even.
Do I believe that George W. Bush is beyond redemption? No.
Do I believe he could still change some things for the better? Yes.
Defending and upholding the Constitution of the United States would be one place to start. So would making himself a real man of the people, instead of some far-away politician literally scared of his constituents.
Admitting that mistakes were made. And he has made some. Nobody's perfect. I would trust the man who DOES admit mistakes far more than I could trust a man who does not.
It's almost funny: for not falling into line behind him as a rabid supporter, and for pointing out his faults, I am called "a bitter little man". If I were to throw my hands up in adoration of the man and not question anything, I would be called "a good American citizen" by the same mindset.
Funny still: in the past 72 hours I have... -blasted Louisiana Governor Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Nagin... especially Nagin - paid homage to the memory of William Rehnquist - condemned Democratic Underground for some vicious things posted on that site - suggested drilling the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge - pointed out that New Orleans officials ("Democrats" mind ya) failed to follow their own hurricane emergency plan
- defended Bush against some accusations he's faced about the hurricane (the issues regarding aid are one thing, arguing that he caused the devastation is quite another)Weighing one against the other, I've been a lot harsher on the "Democrats" in the past several days than I have been on the "Republicans" by a vast margin.
-blasted Louisiana Governor Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Nagin... especially Nagin
- paid homage to the memory of William Rehnquist
- condemned Democratic Underground for some vicious things posted on that site
- suggested drilling the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge
- pointed out that New Orleans officials ("Democrats" mind ya) failed to follow their own hurricane emergency plan
It ain't easy being an unaffiliated individual, I tells ya...
Good lord those were some of the most shameless TV commercials ever made. I actually felt sorry for that poor guy who was being paid to smile into the camera as he explained how Divx players "play both DVD and Divx titles". The really scary thing is that some studios - like 20th Century Fox - seriously considered releasing their movies in the Divx format. Then reality came crashing down upon them when they discovered that most consumers were not keen on the idea of trusting their credit card numbers to a household appliance.
What the heck was Divx? Pay-per-view DVD, plain and simple. You'd buy a Divx disc, which looked exactly like a DVD disc. You take it home and you could put it in your Divx player. It might play your movie two or three times with no problem. But if you wanted to watch it more than that you had to make sure that your Divx player was plugged into your telephone line, because the Divx player had a modem inside that would dial up somewhere and charge to your credit card every time you played the movie from there on out. The encoding on the disc was such that you couldn't play it without proper decryption from Divx Central, only after you'd forked over the money to watch your disc.
This was an idea so bad it made New Coke taste good. Personally, I did not want to plug my DVD player into a telephone jack. I did not want to give my DVD player access to my credit account. I did not care for complete strangers to have a record of what I choose to watch with my DVD player (if I view John Carpenter's The Thing fifty-seven times then that's my own business). I did not want to pay a "user's fee" every time I employed said DVD player. I did not... well, you get the picture.
Geez Louise, who in the world actually bought into this thing, anyway?!
Long story short, Divx bombed. It got yanked off the market and Circuit City offered a refund of some sort to those that did purchase Divx players. And you'd think that a lesson would be learned after such a fiasco, right? Right?!
Blu-ray players to "punish" users who hack their gear?So my Blu-Ray player will connect to the Internet. And this differs from connecting my DVD player to the phone line... how?
Posted Sep 2, 2005, 11:14 AM ET by Ryan Block
Of course the looming next-gen optical format war about to go down between Blu-ray and HD-DVD might be kind of interesting if it weren’t taking place, well, in your very livingroom. But with talks broken down and devices starting to crop up, it looks like the first blows will soon be felt—but aren’t they supposed to be hitting one another and not the end user? Because this little bit in a Reuters piece this morning left us a little unsettled:
On top of that, consumers should expect punishment for tinkering with their Blu-ray players, as many have done with current DVD players, for instance to remove regional coding. The new, Internet-connected and secure players will report any "hack" and the device can be disabled remotely.
Are they talking about PVP-OPM techniques and rejected HDMI keys, or something else far more sinister? Because apparently "A hacked player is any player that is doing something it’s not supposed to do," which open to a pretty fair amount of interpretation—most of which egregious.
If this happens, HD-DVD will become the preferred consumer standard. Practically by default. Blu-Ray will go the way of Divx, New Coke and Betamax (GREAT video quality, horrible business decision to make it only record one hour of footage though). And I can't believe that I might be watching this happen all over again...
Sunday, September 04, 2005
And please, if you can, think about donating to the MDA during this thing.. It's a really good charity, with one of the least amounts of overhead of any nonprofit: whatever is raised at the local level stays at and is used at the local level. Every year Jerry's broken the record for the amount of money that was pledged during the last telethon... let's make him do it again!
EDIT: There is a HYSTERICAL piece by David Grimes at Jewish World Review about the unsolved mysteries of Blondie. Like, how does Dagwood eat all those horridly huge sandwiches and stay so rail thin? Nice readin' in light of today's festivities :-)
...Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company's division of "unconventional resources" have been spending their own money trying to figure out how to get usable energy out of oil shale. Judging by the presentation the Rocky Mountain News heard this week, they think they've got it.There's plenty more at the story's main link. This may be the first really good news on this kind of front to report in a long, long time.
Shell's method, which it calls "in situ conversion," is simplicity itself in concept but exquisitely ingenious in execution. Terry O'Connor, a vice president for external and regulatory affairs at Shell Exploration and Production, explained how it's done (and they have done it, in several test projects):
Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.
Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.
On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.
While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
The bad news just keeps coming lately, it seems. A good man is gone.
I hope people are mindful about that.
This sounds horrible, but I'm wondering how long it will be before "the ghouls" come out relishing the now-vacant Supreme Court seat.
EDIT 11:22 PM EST: Well, that didn't take too long...
Hey. LiferjJudge Ginsberg doesn't look so hot either and may have to be carried out of the Supreme Court building feet first. She'll die with her boots (are made for walking) on. Then GW will get a threeferThat is honestly the #1 thing on their minds right now, believe it or not.
Bush will get a minimum of 4 picks. Ginsburg and that old guy (Stevens?) will be next.And this one...
A good man. God, I wish it had been that satanic witch BaderGinsburg instead.EDIT 11:29 PM EST: I'm not even gonna bother linking to anything from Democratic Underground. There is some real nastiness going on there right now. I did take a look in there and... it's disgusting folks, trust me.
I'd be more ashamed of how some on Free Republic and Liberty Post are treating this. There are some people on those boards practically wringing their hands with delight that there's an opportunity for "their kind" of Supreme Court justice to be appointed.
Funny, but I never thought Supreme Court justices should be "conservative" or "liberal". They should have but one mindset: an abiding love for the Constitution and the desire to interpret it as best as God might guide them. It's not an office for political opportunism.
But hey, what do I know: I'm just a guy with a blog.
Rehnquist was on the court that ruled in Roe v. Wade, I just realized. Turns out he was in the minority on that one, even writing the dissenting opinion. That's the kind of justice I would rather see: a believer in judicial restraint.
I seriously doubt that either of the two sides now lining up is very much interested in that, though.
I'm wondering how much of this was actually followed-through on.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The problem is not so much supply right now as it is a refining problem. Simply putting more crude out there on the market is not going to have any significant effect on gasoline prices.
I've no idea why he would do such a thing, but there it is, defying all wisdom regarding petroleum economics.
Friends of mine have come up to me with almost gleeful self-righteousness and proclaimed,"SEE! SEE! This is why Anarchy can't work!"There's some good thoughts here, I have to admit.
Ironically what is going on in New Orleans (specifically the looting of private property) resembles the behavior of Government and not philosophical Anarchism.
Philosophical Anarchism holds private property as sacred and Government has utter contempt for it. The State's total existence depends on the looting of the citizenry.
What we have on full display in New Orleans is what happens when you put full trust in collective solutions for protection of life, liberty, and property.
You get substantial loss of life, liberty, and property.
Doors never closed at this Big Easy barNice to see that some uplifting stories are starting to come out of this mess :-)
The sign behind the bar says "Never Closed."
That ain't no lie, cher.
At Johnny White's Sports Bar, the weathered oak doors were flung wide open yesterday, as they have been throughout the sweaty days and crazy nights since Hurricane Katrina pummelled this magnificent, gallant and eternally buoyant city.
This was, as far as I could find, the only such establishment in the French Quarter — possibly the only establishment in all of New Orleans — still doing business. It's not business as usual, but damn near close to it. An oasis of conviviality in a metropolis that is waterlogged, without power, and officially locked down. Locked down, as in martial law imposed. Locked down, as in short-tempered cops patrolling the city, bellowing out from their cruisers: "Get the hell off the street!"
But at the decidedly downscale Johnny White's, a clutch of regulars remain defiantly perched on their stools at the tiny, knife-scarred bar, joined here by an influx of hurricane refugees who have managed to wash ashore at a saloon that sailed through the storm with all its facilities intact. "The beer's warm," shrugs one bearded, funky-smelling patron. "But have one on me."
Friday, September 02, 2005
...that it was nobody's fault, but a lot of people were not adequately prepared for this.
If anyone, blame the French, or one lousy Frenchman anyway...
...Because Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville - the founder of New Orleans - conned the King of France to making all the cheap swampland that he swiped up near the mouth of the Mississippi be the new capital of French Louisiana. As New Orleans grew Bienville sold his parcels of land at outrageously higher prices than what he acquired it for. So New Orleans was a town born of a corrupt politician... and it looks like his lack of vision is going to be darn near the death of it too.Feels weird to see that after writing it just less than a year ago.
I've seen a lot of reports blaming the New Orleans disaster on President George W. Bush. That he took away from the budget the funds that would have improved and reinforced the levees. I don't know if it's fair to blame that on him though: even if levee improvements had begun in 2001, it's been calculated that it would take twenty-five years to complete the entire project. I think a lot of things have been botched at the federal level so far as disaster relief goes - things that were far more expedited last year in Florida, f'rinstance - but in regard to the levees, I really can't put total blame on him for this. It was unwise to practically defund the measures, however. But in terms of time to do this, the levees couldn't have been redone even if Bush poured five times the requested budget into doing this.
I'm most tempted to blame the local politicians, namely Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. Nagin especially: he really blew his chance to show leadership qualities on Saturday, two days before the storm hit. He actually conferred with the lawyers to see if he could declare a mandatory evacuation. It had never been done before in New Orleans history. It was unprecedented... but then a situation like Katrina was unprecedented also. This could have been Nagin's moment to take the initiative and earnestly try to get everybody out of town. Who cares about what the lawyers would have thought at this point? I think a lot of New Orleans people honestly thought there was nothing to worry about, that Katrina would change course, because of the city's reluctance to evacuate. A lot of them kept on partying even as the storm lay just off the coast. This is what the history books are going to judge Ray Nagin by, I'm afraid. Blanco showed a similar lack of leadership potential leading up to the storm: she failed to have adequate resources available to handle the situation. Among other things I've heard that the decision to impose "contraflow" on the highways leading out of town actually hampered some rescue/relocation efforts. She also failed to do enough to prompt people to evacuate, it could be judged.
That's how I see things as they relate to the actual hurricane. As far as now goes, it's too early to tell... but I've been disappointed in all three of the above mentioned people. Anderson Cooper was right when he confronted Lousiana Senator Mary Landrieu: the people of New Orleans do not want to hear politicians thanking and congratulating each other while they're starving to death and rats eating dead bodies in the streets. So far that's all the elected officials seem to be doing: posturing for the cameras, and blaming each other. It's way past time for the adults to take over in this situation.
But, ultimately, none of these people are going to be blamed for this. New Orleans was in a horrible geographical situation, and it played Russian roulette with the coming of each new hurricane season. This time it finally happened to get the bullet. It was an act of God, whatever His will was with regards to that once-great city. If any of us here on Earth are at fault, it is only in that we proudly have too much faith in ourselves, instead of remembering that despite all our abilities we are yet at the mercy of forces far beyond our control.
Over the last four years, the message sent by neoconservatives to the rest of the nation has been clear: Get behind the Bush administration's "war on terror" or be prepared to face the consequences. But when the grieving mother of a fallen U.S. soldier tops the neoconservative most wanted list of treasonous, terrorist-sympathizing, America-haters, you know something's up.(p.s.: if anything, yes, I would have to consider myself to be a paleo-conservative. But that's not fashionable these days, is it?)
To paraphrase the Bard, "Methinks the neocons doth protest too much." Perhaps their violent outbursts against criticism of the war in Iraq are nothing more than feeble attempts to draw attention away from their blatant hypocrisy.
Storm Victims Steal School Buses To Flee New OrleansIf they prosecute Jabbar for taking the initiative - that elected politicians refused to show - there oughtta be hell to pay. Way to go Jabbar Gibson!
POSTED: 12:13 pm EDT September 2, 2005
UPDATED: 12:52 pm EDT September 2, 2005
Several school buses were stolen from Orleans Parish, loaded with storm victims and driven out of New Orleans toward Houston in desperate acts to leave the ravaged city, according to reports.
Three school buses were stopped Thursday night in Port Allen, La., just west of Baton Rouge after they were stolen, according to WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge. The evacuees were placed on other buses and transferred to shelters in Texas.
An 18-year-old also decided to take matters into his own hands and stole an abandoned city school bus and drove storm victims to Texas, according to a CNN report.
The teen driver, Jabbar Gibson, 18, said he had never driven a bus before but wanted to save people.
"If it wasn't for him, we'd still be in New Orleans on the Gulf," bus passenger Randy Nathan said. "He got the bus for us."
Authorities allowed the renegade passengers inside the Astrodome but Gibson could find himself in trouble after taking the school bus.
Whatcha wanna bet that this was a non-competitive bid, too?
So it must be asked: was this conveniently timed to "coincide" with Bush's arrival?
A year ago he was much faster in helping out Florida after it got wracked by its hurricanes. Not only that but he actually got on the ground and was shown handing out ice to people after they got hit by Hurricane Ivan.
But I guess when it's not an election year it doesn't matter, right? No way around it: last year's response was political posturing. This year, we're seeing the real George W. Bush. We are seeing a man who has avoided real responsibility all his life, has either handed the task over to "someone else" or botched it completely and found somebody to put the blame on. He's gotten by on family status and political connections. And now there's something that he finally can't spin away or cast blame on: this time the buck really does stop at George W. Bush's desk. And without anyone to bail him out, we are seeing how ineffective and incompetent he is as President... just as he's been ineffective and incompetent all his life.
I know I said I'd lay off so much hurricane commenting earlier but this has to be said for all time, for sake of anybody who might ever find this: George W. Bush is now the worst President that the United States has ever had. Everyone is seeing it now. Even people who don't usually follow politics are seeing how foolish this man really is. Twenty years from now anyone who admits that they supported Bush is going to be spat upon and ridiculed... bank on it.
EDIT: This seems to be as good a time as any to post this graphic that someone sent me yesterday. In true Nero fashion, as New Orleans was drowning our President was strumming a guitar and eating cake...
As anyone who's even casually approached the books knows, New Orleans is a major setting for most of the series. That's where the story of Louis begins in Interview With The Vampire, and we watch Lestat and Louis (and later on Claudia) as the town grows around them. Later we see that it's where Lestat has his headquarters during his other adventures after he arises from his "sleep" in The Vampire Lestat. Rice is from New Orleans and its pretty obvious she loves interjecting the details and spirit of her town in this story.
A couple of times during the past few days I've found myself wondering, half-jokingly, how it is that Lestat would handle life as a vampire in New Orleans post-Katrina. That made me wonder how Anne Rice herself fared, hoping she safely got out. I did some "Googling" and haven't found it reported anywhere yet that she's okay (praying she is) but I did find one lil' item that made me wrinkle my brows. From WDSU.com:
Anne Rice's 'Lestat' Musical To Have World PremiereSo the tale of Lestat is gonna be a musical, with songs by Elton John. Yah I know he's done some ummm... questionable things in the past few years (the "boy scout" incident makes me sick every time I think about it) but let's face it: the guy is a talented musician who's made a lot of real classics. I'm way more than a little curious now to see what he's gonna do with Lestat and Louis and Claudia and Marius and the rest. I do wonder how this kind of horror will translate to the stage though. Let us hope that Lestat: the Musical will have a better run on Broadway than Carrie: the Musical (not joking this actually happened!) did.
POSTED: 9:04 am CDT August 24, 2005
NEW YORK -- "Lestat," a musical inspired by novelist Anne Rice's best-selling "Vampire Chronicles," will have its world premiere Dec. 17 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.
The show is a first for the songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, but John's third Broadway musical, following "The Lion King" and "Aida." Hugh Panaro ("Les Miserables," "Side Show") stars in the title role.
The show's public relations representative, Wayne Wolfe, said "Lestat" is scheduled to play San Francisco through Jan. 29, 2006, before opening on Broadway in March 2006.
Mostly, this has been for my own benefit. As a personal chronicle of how I watched this story unfold. And it's still unfolding, the tragedy is becoming considerably worse if that's even possible. I'm still going to be watching this. But I also need to be "the old Chris Knight" again too. The kind of guy who finds things to laugh at and think about. Anyone who finds this blog, I hope they can go away at least mildly entertained and enlightened, and that ain't really happening right now.
So I'm going to try and cheer up some. Not ignore the Katrina story entirely, but the best thing to do - for me personally especially - would be to keep going, to not let this or anything associated with it bring life to a crawl.
There is something hurricane-related though, that I'm strongly considering that would sorta involve this blog. It may or may not happen. If it does I'll definitely be using this blog for it, if it's at all possible. 'Twould mean doing something a little radical with it, but I'd trust that it would be in good hands.
Anyways, I'll try to be that... thing, that I used to be before all this happened again :-)
Thursday, September 01, 2005
It must be said: there is something very, very wrong with a situation when the person most in authority is Harry Connick Jr., a musician. I'm hearing that Boy Scout troops are being organized to go in and help now too. So far, there's been nada a peep from FEMA.
This will go down as the biggest FUBAR of a situation by the American government in history.
Just out of curiosity I checked the availability of other items. I noticed that there was a lot less baby food and diapers, then again I don't regularly check those kinds of things 'cuz we don't have babies yet :-) Lots of bottled water gone too. Bread: didn't look like any abnormally large purchasing of that going on right now. Also, lots and lots of people out buying tonight: I don't think I've ever seen this particular Food Lion so busy.
I wasn't out doing any real "power buying" but that's what looks like a lot of people are doing right now.
Thought that much of the current situation might be worth making a note of.
Praying he and his family made it to safety.
It's been talked about in conspiracy-theory circles for years how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to be the means by which an evil cabal of politicians will take over. That FEMA has all kinds of rules on the books (and they do indeed, folks, you can look 'em up) that empowers them to deal harshly with their fellow Americans if the word comes down from the President.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think it can now be safely said that we have absolutely nothing to worry about, 'cuz if THIS is the best that FEMA can do in the wake of Katrina, they'll positively come apart at the seams if they tried anything bigger.
It can't come soon enough though. I went out for supplies last night - Lisa and I have decided we will not be making any more trips out than we absolutely have to, and to consolidate the trips out as much as we can 'cuz there's no telling how much gas there is out there right now - and the cheapest I saw gas was $2.99 per gallon. The most expensive was $3.49. Anyhoo, when Colonial gets the whole line going full-bore again we should start seeing a little bit of a drop at least.
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