Sunday, February 26, 2006
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Pardon me while I rub the cobwebs from my atrophying grey matter and pull myself up out of this Katrina slump I'm in, but I've been getting the impression over the last couple of years that this administration was setting us all up for some kind of "corporate" takeover. I was really thinking they'd sell us to China, and I was thinking that might not be all that bad. Contrary to what Sister Valery told my classmates and me in the first grade about what the Chinese did to Catholic missionaries, I didn't really expect to have my fingernails uprooted by bamboo shoots.
But turning over six of this country's ports to the United Arab Emirates? Can we really be that much up for sale? Look at our history, people!
Oh, pardon me, this administration doesn't dwell on the mistakes of the past. It looks forward. Bullshit. Just how much of that bullshit are we going to swallow as we mutely make our way up the narrow winding planks to the slaughterhouse?
Somebody, calm me down.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
The temperature was in the low thirties last night, and there you were, all corseted and bosomed out for the Krewe du Vieux's C'est Levee parade. The bitter chocolate you gave me was perfection for breakfast. Thank you. Burp.
...during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas....
[The recipient of the Vice-President's pellets, Harry] Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and found a second covey.
Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," [Katherine] Armstrong told the Associated Press in an interview.
"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."
Other witnesses reported seeing certain members of the covey of quail high-fiving in mid-air as they flew away to safety.
The Office of Homeland Security has been alerted and is securing the nation's borders and air spaces. All communications between coveys of quail are being monitored. Word from the White House indicates they may have had advance notice due to NSA vigilance.
Meanwhile there are other reports indicating this tragedy might have been averted had not many of the FBI's quail translators been laid off due to budget cuts.
Film at eleven.
Monday, February 6, 2006
Forensic engineers investigating the levee failures say the layman's translation of that section amounts to a "gotcha" clause for those who believe the walls failed through faulty design and not because they were overwhelmed by a storm that exceeded design limits.
"It says what every engineer knows: If you build walls to 14 feet, regardless of the design specifications for the expected storm -- 12 feet or 10 feet or 13 feet -- those walls must hold water to their tops," said J. David Rogers, a forensic engineer on the National Science Foundation team investigating the failures.
"That's a basic rule in engineering, whether you're building dams or floodwalls. And those floodwalls were 14 feet in New Orleans, and all the evidence says they weren't overtopped.
"So, yeah, this was a human failure, not a natural disaster."
Since overtopping has been ruled out as the cause of failure along some canal walls, experts in and out of the corps have debated whether the water inside the failed floodwalls was higher than the 12.5 feet maximum listed as the design capacity. But Rogers and other engineers said Section 4b makes that discussion moot. Because the walls were built to 14 feet, to account for wave splash, any collapse below that level means the design failed....
Experiments run by Team Louisiana, a group of engineers working for the state, as well as by National Science Foundation investigators based at the University of California, Berkeley, show the soils beneath the 17th Street Canal and the floodwalls began shifting laterally, causing the walls to fail, when the water level inside the canal reached about 10.5 feet above sea level.
"We've seen the same pattern at the London Canal," said Robert Bea, a member of the National Science Foundation team. Bea said low spots along the Orleans Avenue floodwalls that allowed water to spill from the structure prevented it from failing. "So it's pretty clear that these walls failed before they reached design specs, which were 11.5 to 12.5 feet."
Like Rogers and other engineers interviewed, Bea said the focus on those storm-related design specifications misses a more important point in the debate over whether the projects failed or were overwhelmed by nature:
"If you built it, it must hold" is the rule in engineering, Bea said.
Judge Judy would probably rule against the U S Corps of Engineers in this case, and be pretty nasty about it, too.
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Our newly elected state Republican Party Chair has a point to make.
Although he acknowledged that the Federal Emergency Management agency should have acted more quickly, (Roger) Villere says Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, and other state officials did not help the situation. He says if they had done their jobs, there would not have been as much suffering.
Villere said state leaders should come up with a sound spending and recovery plan for the billions of dollars the federal government has allocated to hurricane relief instead of begging for more. The Bush administration has committed about 100 (b) billion dollars in aid to the Gulf Coast for hurricane recovery efforts.
So all the "important people "screwed up. This is news? What mud was he shoveling in the aftermath of these two storms? Now he demands that these same "leaders" who could not function five months ago need to come up with a plan to spend a portion of the 100 billion dollars allocated to the entire Gulf Coast to repair the city? I'm none too sharp, but wasn't there a Republican plan to restore New Orleans? Oh, yeah, the Baker Bill.
But so what, all of this is old news. As Jim Hoagland points out in today's Washington Post:
President Bush's 2006 State of the Union message has been widely dismissed as an inconsequential affair already headed for history's ash heap. But the speech leaves an astringent aftertaste that brings it to mind days after its delivery.
The bitter aftertaste comes primarily from Bush's perfunctory treatment of reconstruction efforts for New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. It was a curiously missed opportunity for a president usually eager to spotlight stories of human valor and to promise disadvantaged citizens better tomorrows. Speeding past New Orleans verbally is unlikely to have been an accident....
The annual exhortation to the nation is a political document rather than the outline of policy directives and priorities it pretends to be. But that does not mean it is worthless or short-lived. Topics are carefully scrutinized for their political appeal and effect, and the promises put forward are intended to quiet down or fire up specific audiences delineated by opinion polling. These speeches are barometers, not so much of what presidents are thinking but of what they think you are thinking....
But it was his words, or lack of them, on New Orleans that give lingering pause about the White House's reading of the political state of the nation and particularly of its race relations. The omission reinforced my concern that as time passes, more and more Americans will treat the tales of heartbreak and intractability that still emerge from New Orleans as we do dispatches out of Darfur or Pakistan.
The suffering is awful, really; somebody must do something, but it is hard to know what. Let's put a check in the mail and talk about something else. We will do anything for Louisiana, as James Reston once said of Latin America, except read more about it.
I can relate. Myself, I'm turning to the Arts Section now.
Saturday, February 4, 2006
Why do we mourn this quaint outdated little building with the riotous neon sign that used to flash "Coliseum"?
We will have a Mardi Gras, our elected - what? what can you call them? "officials" sounds so formal and correct when in fact we all know them now as being nothing better than common "gimme-something" people. Anyway, there will be a Carnival. And we'll all be alright.
Don't worry that our fire engines still cannot maneuver through the clogged streets of those remaining neighborhoods that have people living and working in them.
Don't worry that the thin blue line of the NOPD is stretched tighter and thinner than it has been in generations. (A word of advice to anyone planning on coming here: lower your eyes in the presence of a police officer. If you look him straight in the eyes, you might trigger a reaction like you'd get from a rottweiller raised to fight.)
And don't worry that there is still only one hospital operating in the City of New Orleans. Tulane University Hospital should be re-opened within a week or so. Then we'll have two.
It will all probably turn out just fine.
Friday, February 3, 2006
Is there a theme here? Have I tapped into some local zeitgeist?
(Note: this editorial makes reference to Mr. Powell's earlier editorial at the Washington Post. You can read it here.)
Today in class, I was explaining how much of New Orleans is going to be the next Disney production and my students thought that it was a capital good idea. They don't get the Big Easy because their hearts and souls and brains are the Big Empty. Like our sot-in-chief.And today, the Washington Post came out with this:
New Orleans, the theme park?This idea has fast become the most common topic of conversation down here: the awful realization that there are people who just don't get it. Hell, as close as Baton Rouge is, and as handy as New Orleans has been for the Red-Stickizens to come on down and sow their pollutants, those people don't get it.
Frightening as it sounds, the prospect of this sultry, eclectic city rising from the muck of Hurricane Katrina as a sterile imitation of itself is becoming an abiding preoccupation.
The other night I spent some time talking with Aletha, well, listening to Aletha. Aletha is a skinny little black woman about whom it is sometimes said, she wears her wigs too tight. Well, it wasn't on too tight this time as she explained how, in order to get her medicines now, she will have to produce documents showing her wages for 2005. Now where do you think those documents might be? But not even the realization that someone is basically telling her to just lie down and die got her pressure going as much as her recent call to FEMA asking - again - for help.
"This woman said to me, 'Isn't it time you considered making a move? Have you considered the possibility of relocating to some place like Minnesota? Think of it as making a new start.' I don't want to make a new start. I'm in the mother-fuckin' middle of my mother-fuckin' life. Why the bitch want to tell me, 'Make a new start?'"
They just don't get it. Maybe other places are just cities and towns, houses or apartments to lie in for a while.
New Orleans isn't like that. It's history. It's neighborhoods. It's sitting on your porch or stoop, passing time with the people passing by. It's spider-webbed generations of blood families as well as fabricated families of outcasts and outlaws who could not survive anywhere else, but down here contribute needed spice to the gumbo of our daily celebrations.
Yes, we bitch and moan a lot. Who the hell doesn't? We all hate the meter maids, but we sure wish there were a lot more of them in town right now to deal serenely with the clutter of cars and trucks from Texas (sorry, Jaye), Georgia, and Mississippi that stick their asses in driveways, on sidewalks, and on corners. Not long ago there was a fire in the Quarter that forced a group of locals to bend at the knees to lift a parked car and move it from its corner perch so a firetruck could make a turn.
You could make a case for road rage here when you find yourself following a fat old woman who's just puttering along the street looking from side to side as you're trying to get to work earlier than the time you're supposed to open your doors. But she's my fat old woman, and I want her back.
Speaking of fat, I once saw a group of tiny black children following a portly white man down a street, chanting about his size. He gave as good as he got by telling them he could always lose weight, but they'd always be black. They laughed their heads off because they'd gotten a rise out of him, and he laughed too. They belonged to each other.
Everything we dislike belongs to us as much as what we love. We belong to something much more than a place. If you just can't get it, and you don't care much about what is happening here, then I'm sorry and sad for you.
Terrible loss is a fact of life. It's as universal as birth and death. If you live, you will lose. Some losses will be terrible, bringing about a lifetime of grief. All you can do is just go on. Or not, as we're seeing more and more frequently here now.
But I give you a promise. When - not if - an unspeakable devastation wipes out your way of life, we will care about you. You see, you belong to us, too.
Thursday, February 2, 2006
High winds from an overnight storm and at least two tornadoes ripped up trees, collapsed several houses, knocked out power for nearly 30,000 people in Kenner, Metairie and Lakeview early Thursday.
According to Officer Juan Barnes, a New Orleans Police spokesman, several streets were closed between Fleur de Lis Drive and Pontchartrain Boulevard because the tower at the old Troop B headquarters had been knocked down. The 700 block of Robert E. Lee was closed due to downed trees and wind debris forced the closure of the 6800 block of Canal Boulevard.
Barnes said houses collapsed at the following locations: Germain Street and West End, Filmore Avenue and Canal Boulevard, the 700 block of Crystal Street, the 6800 block of Canal Boulevard and the 300 block of Harrison Avenue....
In Kenner, Armstrong International Airport lost power and the storm forced the closure of one of its concourses, according to airport spokesperson Michelle Duffourc. There were no reports of any injuries.
A piece of an extendable jetway used to board passengers was torn off and slammed into another jetway. Motorized runway luggage carts were overturned and several windows were blown out.
"There's more damage to the terminal than I saw during the hurricane," Duffourc said....
Just more debris to let sit and rot while we sit and watch our leaders preen and crow. Hell, we elected them, why don't they work for us? I'd like to see Blanco and Nagin pushing brooms or clearing sheetrock.
Just more debris to let sit and rot while we sit and watch our leaders preen and crow. Hell, we elected them, why don't they work for us? I'd like to see Blanco and Nagin pushing brooms or clearing sheetrock.Naw, they couldn't handle that either.