Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ex-Aide Details a Loss of Faith in the President - New York Times

This article will be making an impact in the news cycle.

The subject of the article sounds like a real political hack -- the sort of hack we can expect to be elevated Bremer-like to be in charge of something big, like FEMA. He doesn't really say when the disillusionment set in, but does mention Katrina and 2005 in the same breath as Cindy Sheehan.

I wrote privately recently my thoughts on why Bush is a disaster and why they are trying like hell to change the subject on the levee flood..

"If a hundred billion dollar loss comes from three decades of bad federal spending, [ that was cumulatively not even a billion dollars] what is lurking in the known time bombs: medicine, demographics, pensions, expansionist diplomacy and aging miltary infrastructure, stupid teachers educating stupid kids; asteroids, bird flu?

America hates us for exposing the 'chickens coming home to roost'. Better to malign the messenger/victim, particularly when they are undereducated, mostly black, and kinda like Puerto Rico in their being a part of the 'real' U.S.of A.

Much better than slander the victims than to face the fact that the 'Empire' was probably bankrupt/overextended a generation ago and is careening off the cliff now. "

But I guess the road to disillusionment is a windy one.

Fix This NOW, Google

So Congress, the Associated Press, and other bloggers are now noticing what Clio and Melpomene noticed months ago.

Can you imagine the immediate outcry if Google Maps still had New York's World Trade Center in its pictures? And yet this drags on for a much worse disaster.

I smell evil.

This is the beautiful school where I used to work in St. Bernard Parish. Or at least this is what Google wants you to think that it looks like. Trust me: it doesn't look like this any more, after 8 feet of water washed through it. Last time I went there, there was a leathery, preserved fish sitting in dried mud near the front door.

UPDATE: You tell 'em, Mr. Milling. The Corps and President Bush want to treat coastal restoration like some sort of regular project. If the feds don't help us (or at least STAY OUT OF THE WAY), Google Maps will just be showing open water in 20 years in south Louisiana:

"When we started this in 2001, the first thing on the table was what to do with business as usual," Milling said. "And if it's business as usual now as far as the corps is concerned, we might as well move everybody out of south Louisiana and say the hell with it. We understand we don't have all the answers, and we understand that we're not going to get them.But the risk of not beginning now is the destruction of south Louisiana."

Pray for Arch

Look, he's a pretty conservative guy, but he's also an unassuming, good man who actually likes and trusts people who don't have collars and black clothes on.

He had a stroke today. He doesn't deserve that. Archbishop Hannan is head and shoulders above the oddballs who are running the Catholic Church today.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Don't Consult with Those People; Just Take Their Pittance and Sinn Fein It

Yesterday afternoon, Garland Robinette was interviewing Mister Donald Powell, the man put in charge of Gulf Coast Recovery. Garland asked Mister Powell if he had been consulted about the new city recovery plan that will focus on 17 areas. Mister Powell said he had not and had not been invited to the press conference announcing the plan.

Garland got sarcastic and horrified that Nagin and Blakeley had not brought Powell in on this. Powell did not seem upset at all, emphasizing that he and feds are happy with a recovery that is locally planned and driven.

Now, I am no fan of Nagin, but I have this to say to Garland and anybody else who thinks we should be consulting with the feds on everything we do:

President Bush and his hack cronies have had every opportunity to drive this recovery with funding and a sense of urgency and priority. They refuse, ignore, and mislead. As I've said before: This region needs FDR, and we get Warren Harding or Millard Filmore.

1.President Bush says we've gotten $110 billion for recovery, when everybody knows that's for the whole region, not for New Orleans, and a good bit of it is insurance payments that our citizens paid premiums for.

2. He refused to mention us in the State of the Union. He actively opposes our getting the same waiver on the 10 percent rule that everybody else has gotten in lesser disasters.

3.He has refused to spearhead fundamental reform of the Army Corps of Engineers. (Read the article in Gambit this week about the pumps. You'll vomit.)

4. President Bush has "philosophically" committed to a market-driven, limited-government recovery, and he has Mayor Nagin talking the same line. (This will go down in history as a mark of laziness and lack of willpower and head-in-the-sandism, not as an intellectual commitment.)

So this is an underfunded recovery overseeen (NOT) by cynical and distracted federal "leaders."

No, Garland, we shouldn't consult with these people. We should take the money that they nudge to our local market-driven recovery, and we should do whatever the hell we want with it.

We should build a military force with it, if we really want to get their attention.

A little 21st Century Good News!

RocketPlane Kistler and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement To Assemble the COTS K-1 Space Transportation System in New Orleans

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nice Cans!

We have cans. Really nice cans. Angus Lind, quit yer whinin'! I like these things.

My can devours a couple of large pizza boxes--with lots of room to spare--faster than Berto goes through a big cup o' Dome Foam, quicker than Ashley downs a Dome Bloody.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Corps team blames poor levees

Corps team blames poor levees
"The report again concludes that "particularly inadequate" designs of levee walls along the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals resulted in their failure, despite storm-surge water not overtopping them."

Follow up: Better blog posts about this here.

Unconscionable, So Let's Make Some Calls

Action alert: please read below, particularly the bolded section. Universal Health Services has $264 million of insurance money in hand, and has done NOTHING to rebuild or reinvest at their sites in New Orleans East and St. Bernard (or anywhere else in our community). According to their website, they are the third-largest healthcare system in the United States of America.

It's time to start calling them and asking them what's up. And if their answers are as unsatisfactory as I think they will be, we need to TELL THEM what's up.

You can call Universal Health Care at (610) 768-3300. Ask for Alan B. Miller, Steve Filton, Kevin Gross, or Debra Osteen. Those are the top four executives. I'm going to make some calls today and tomorrow and will report back. Won't you do the same?

$264 million buys a lot of healthcare facility. Thanks to the T-P for the information.

A lingering question for the community is whether hospital care will be available nearby. Both Lakeland Medical Center on Bullard at I-10 and Methodist Hospital are owned by Universal Health Services Inc., one of the nation's largest hospital operators. Both hospitals remain closed.

Officials at Universal Health Services did not return several calls to their headquarters in suburban Philadelphia. A reporter was referred to a February 2006 statement on the company's Web site that offered no updated information.

On the company's Web site, the list of facilities no longer includes the 306-bed Methodist, 54-bed Lakeland or Chalmette General, which is being demolished.

In August, Universal Health Services announced it had reached an agreement with its insurance company to settle for $264 million all hurricane-related claims tied to its four Louisiana properties: Methodist, Lakeland, Chalmette Medical and River Oaks Hospital, a behavioral health facility that continues to operate in Harahan.

Despite the insurance windfall, little restoration work is visible at the Bullard site.

News & Events - The University of Sydney

Shouldn't he be spending more time in New Orleans?

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Enjoyed the Couric-Edwards Interview

I thought Katie Couric asked the right questions, and I really liked the Edwards's answers.

John Edwards started his campaign in New Orleans. If there is one candidate who seems to get what's going on here, it is he. (Whether he would be effective in doing anything about it is a different question, given the people he would have to work with.)

Anyway, it's subject to change, but as of today I'm voting for the guy.

Of course, my recent votes have included the likes of Ralph Nader, Virginia Boulet, and Mitch Landrieu. And you know how all of that worked out.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Presidential Debates Should be held in New Orleans!

Presidential Debates in New Orleans? How about Roussel Hall? Anybody have an in there?

This isn't our first time to talk about this issue?

Balkanize Nagin Away

Peter Gordon's Blog has an explanation of the recent Forbes article that called for breaking up the City into different pieces. Something that was discussed here earlier.

Chris Rose Makes the Librarian Famous

Well, sort of . . . Here's Rose:

(In fairness, I also Googled "Chris Rose is an idiot" and got one hit, but it was in reference to the Fox Sports broadcaster, not me. There was however, one hit for "Chris Rose is a douchebag," and that did indeed refer to me.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Follow-Up Question from Mr. Clio Following Mr. Mel's Post

Question to all you people arming yourselves:

What is more likely?

A) You will use the gun you've bought to kill an intruder or otherwise succesfully defend your home and family.

B) Someone in your home will use the gun you've bought to hurt or kill a member of your household, or to commit suicide.

HINT: What happened more often in New Orleans last year: suicide/domestic violence or defense of one's home with a handgun? > News > Nation -- New Orleans residents are arming themselves in nation's murder capital > News > Nation -- New Orleans residents are arming themselves in nation's murder capital

Cafe Hayek: How to Succeed in New Orleans

Cafe Hayek: How to Succeed in New Orleans

Tornado Damaged the Virtual Neighborhood Too

Anybody know what's up at Third Battle?

I miss those folks. They add a lot to the conversation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mayor Curly Is A Liar

Thanks to WDSU via the T-P, we can watch and listen to his recent speech.

Is there any doubt what "our people" means in this speech? Not to me.

Nagin's "assurances" that he was talking about all "our people" from New Orleans is utterly ridiculous.

Humid Haney is dead right. Nagin is Dubya. Dubya is Nagin.

Put Bush at Bob Jones University, and he becomes an anti-Catholic, homophobic bigot.

Put Nagin in front of conspiracy-minded African Americans, and he becomes a conspiracy-minded African American.

What's pathetic about both Nagin and Dubya is that after saying questionable things, they get in front of other people and act dumbfounded that people could "misinterpret" their comments.

Listen to Nagin's accent in the speech, then compare it to the way he speaks in a news interview with WWL or some other large outlet.

Listen to Bush in front of a Southern audience.

Gutless. Pandering. There's no there there.

Crisis: Rising Prices

Other blogs will rightly document the rising costs of insurance, construction, and even Jazzfest tickets.

But it's only at World Class New Orleans that you will read alarmist prose about the rising cost of Heavenly Hash Eggs, the World's Greatest Easter Candy.

At Sav-a-Center this morning, I noticed that a single Heavenly Hash now costs 59 cents. Yow.

And yet still I will buy them. Lots of them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Found the Fans Missing from the Arena for the NCAAs

They're on the Saints' waiting list:

Stat of the Week
The Saints, who never sold out the Superdome for a full season in history until last season, now have a season-ticket waiting list of more than 20,000. - INSIDER - Andy Katz Blog - INSIDER - Andy Katz Blog

No, 300 years of history says we'll make it, too.

Jeez, this poor bastard thinks New Orleans can't recover from a hurricane.

Just like in 1915, 1940, 1947, 1965 and 1969 we are just sitting on our ass and waiting for Brad and Angelina to fix everything.

I'm a little swamped, but if you'd like to let him in on a little cross cultural understanding, he's linked.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nothing Like a Bi-Partisan Mess...

Still Not Fixing the Army Corps - New York Times
Why do I have the feeling that ten years from now, it will still be news that the ACOE is a disaster.

Takes One to Know One

As Mr. Mel (and later the T-P) tell us, May Ray Nagin wants to talk about conspiracy.

Mayor Nagin is very familiar with conspiracy.

A reasonable definition of "conspiracy" is an undertaking with a nefarious connotation constructed by parties whose only commitment to one another lies in the questionable enterprise itself.

As Oyster (even while spawning) has repeatedly reminded us, the most recent election had conspiracy written all over it. What were conservative Republicans doing supporting a "Democratic" mayor who is soft on crime?

Why did Mayor Nagin thank President Bush (no friend of New Orleans) loudly and proudly and FIRST in Nagin's post-election victory speech?

Who should be worried about a conspiracy?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Can this guy get any more bizarre?

Nagin Suspects a Plot To Keep Blacks Away -

Plot is so detailed it is said to involve people at all levels of society, from common street thugs on 701 releases up to the President's State of the Union Address. Plotters have replaced most elected officials with 'Manchurian Candidates' who think it as much progress to have a summit between the Police Chief and DA as it is for Condoleeza Rice to mention the word 'North Korea'.

Press, by reporting extensive mistakes and missed opportunities, is complicit.

Army Corps of (Non-Licensed in Louisiana) Engineers is busy designing complex systems that don't work.

Louisiana's Road to Nowhere program just a mirage designed to give lip service to victims while keeping decision making away from Poor, Black, Catholic, Democratic, Urban (pick one) and consolidate it in the hands of White, Protestant, Rural legislators (pick any two). Strange acronym company from out of state hired to be the Cajun Halliburton.

Yeah, it's a plot all right. Good thing we've got Nagin driving the Scoobie Doo bus and solving these conspiracies.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Every Potemkin Village Needs its Idiots.

The Army Corps of Engineers has proven itself to be unworthy of our trust. Like any bureaucracy, it has a strong ethos of self-survival. As an example, parse closely this juicy quote from the pumps scandal...

"Let me give you the scenario: You have four months to build something that nobody has ever built before, and if you don't, the city floods and the Corps, which already has a black eye, could basically be dissolved. How many people would put up with a second flooding?" said Randy Persica, the Corps' resident engineer for New Orleans' three major drainage canals.

Randy, you are an idiot. Do you realize, that to those of us whose homes 'dissolved' – to use your word- into the levee breach flood, the fate of the Corps of Engineers is not a priority. I am attaching a photo of parts of my home that were 'dissolved' in the flood, namely the ceiling that collapsed when the attic flooded.

What has my anger at a Bushehr level of critical mass is that it is possible to infer the rationalization of the ACOE for everything. Because it is an unaccountable bureaucracy, the problem isn't bad engineering that results in loss of lives, property, or livelihoods – the objective consequences of their failure.

No-- the problem is being held accountable.

In a second flood, basically, Randy is worried the ACOE could be dissolved. So, rather than being honest about the risks of their bad decisions --- and informing those affected of the risk that were taken-- the ACOE has once again chosen to hide the truth and leave the perception that the situation was better than it really is. To the detriment of those who may face the consequence of these decisions.
This impulse to build 'protective' projects that do not work and then intentionally deceiving those who would be protected by concealing known flaws fits the definition of criminal negligence...
Criminal negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the public and that are the foreseeable outcome of acting in a particular manner.
In this case, the duty is not just to build projects that work, but also there is a duty to inform the public of those projects which will fail if they face the circumstances for which they are designed.
In the 17th street canal litigation, it is likely to come out that the foundations were known to be insufficient to hold the column of water that would occur if the canal was filled. [No surprise here, it failed catastrophically at something like 30% of its design loading].
With the pumps, the Corps has only compounded the problem. If they shut the floodgates, and if the pumps are not working, then the Baldwin Wood pumps in the City will fill the canal with water. We know the foundation is inadequate when the canal is 30% full, so the floodgate pumps must work or the Baldwin Wood pumps have to be turned off, which results in citywide flooding from rainwater until the floodgates can be re-opened.
This is crucial information and the impulse to ignore the duty to disclose the known risks is negligent.

Friday, March 16, 2007

One would think....

Crime Scene NOLA: The 10-point crime plan
That it would not take this long to put together such sensical plans. Calling this 'historic' only shows how grossly inept the system has been.

Noon (EDT) update: Trackback to an original Melpomene post

It was said, "World Class is not going to come from above, only from within". We shouldn't expect Don Powell to crack the whip at Eddie Jordan, Chief Riley or the ACOE. We need to hold them to the fire.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Bees Are Gone; The Questionable Pumps Are Still Here

1. The Uptown Bee Guy came and collected the swarm. They are now happily manufacturing honey is his backyard, honey that you can buy at Whole Foods. My neighbor took pictures, which will be posted soon.

2. From Fix Da Pumps and Spocko's Brain (worth going to just because of the cool picture of Mafia Spock), we get the grit about what's wrong. The memo that spills the red beans is here. It sounds bad. Real Bad. (Thanks to those two blogs for their work.) I hope the Senate grills those people today and then actually DOES something.

"Task Force Guardian" sounds hollow coming out of the mouths of the ACOE and President Bush, don't it?

If the ACOE were in charge of bee removal at my house, what would have happened?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Well, At Least Somebody's Moving INTO My Neighborhood

Look who showed up in front of my house between this morning and this afternoon. The good news is that there is a guy Uptown who raises (?) honey. I got his phone number off of a jar of honey I bought at Whole Foods. He's coming tomorrow morning to take care of these guys. I think he's going to take them back to his place on on Short Street and raise some more honey.

How Come the Word "Bush" Ends Up Connected to So Much Failure that Is Profitable?

Check this link from Florida (our Florida correspondent Mr. Mel can follow up on this between 18 hour days and Rioja):

The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush's promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.The 2006 hurricane season turned out to be mild, and the new pumps were never pressed into action. But the Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly. . .

The drainage-canal pumps were custom-designed and built under a $26.6 million contract awarded after competitive bidding to Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla. It was founded in 1926 and supplies flood-control and irrigation pumps all over the world.MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved.

If they're already in trouble, how'd they get the ACOE contract?

Looks Like Something Out of Goodfellas

b.rox has discovered the House of Crocs.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bits and Pieces

1. We changed our clocks overnight, weeks before we normally do. I'm indifferent about the early change, but let me ask this:

Where was the groundswell of opinion that forced this change? While the wetlands in my region die, Congress felt urgent pressure to shift the schedule for Daylight Savings Time?

The profoundly anti-government, anti-interventionist Republican Congress felt the need to make the ultimate government intervention and CHANGE TIME???? Meanwhile, we languish in our "market-driven" "recovery."

2. In the 3/5/2007 issue of the New Yorker, the following lines appear. Guess which major American city in the Gulf Coast region this describes:
In November 2002 . . . The city was going nowhere fast . . . a city with a population of three hundred and eighty-six thousand had been on the verge of bankruptcy and was recovering from a junk-bond rating from Wall Street. F.B.I. raids on City Hall were not unusual, and a handful of top city officials had been arrested and jailed. Crime and police brutality, particularly the reckless police shootings, had done serious damage to [the city's] reputation . . .

Sounds pretty bad, huh? And yet the NFL decided around that time to put this year's Super Bowl in that city--Miami.

Which leads me to ask why New Orleans can't host a Super Bowl TODAY--much less the piddling , insignificant little freak show that is the NBA All Star game.

The description above made me feel a little better about our situation. We can fight through this.

3. Da Po Blog does his usual phenomenal job crunching numbers and making us think. In this case, he made me think something I had not thought before (though I have no doubt that somebody has blogged on this):

What if Richard Pennington had not run a ridiculously bad campaign in 2002? What if he was our mayor when Katrina was approaching and hit, and when the levees failed? What if Pennington were the mayor now? I have to believe the Chief would have been a better emergency and recovery management mayor than Mayor Curly.

4. Clio II, Clio III, and I attended Friday night's Voodoo game, courtesy of a very special and generous host. We behaved ourselves in the Marriott Super Suite. The game was great; learn more about the game from nopickles. It made me think that we should make the NBA irrelevant and just enjoy football year-round, with baseball as a nice summertime diversion. (Yes, I just offended angels and saints and bears oh my with that last statement. She would not be happy to call baseball "a nice summertime diversion.")

5. I very much enjoyed seeing Doctah and Mrs. Ashley, Mistah and Mrs. Oystah, and Mistah and Mrs. Berto at the Fete Francais yesterday. Mrs. Oyster looks her usual lovely even as she prepares for the imminent production of another pearl.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Piling On

I wanted to post, but I don't want to push Mr. Mel's vitally important post down the scroll, so I'm linking to it with this paragraph. Be sure to check it out.

I can't claim to be ready to file emotional bankruptcy, but the emotional credit card balances are awfully high. And the interest rates and minimum payments are going up.

Last week I learned that the region where I'm trying to raise four kids will have essentially dissolved into the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico within 10 years. By 2020, surf's up on Camp Street.

Now I'm reminded that if one of them gets sick or injured, I might get faster service by driving to another city for hospital care. (I can confirm from personal experience the dire situation in emergency rooms.)

Secession, a river blockade, a pipeline shutdown. Join me, Mr. Mel. I'll help you turn that anger outward, and I'll pay for the Rioja.

Lesson One: Donald Powell makes me want to vomit. On him. After an all-night binge of Ketel One screwdrivers and Hubig's Pies (peach, sweet potato, and banana). How's that for turning oneself inside out?

UPDATE: And another thing . . .
NPR led with this story a couple of days ago that essentially parroted the BGR's criticism of the Unified New Orleans Plan.

Our mayor talks about a market-driven recovery, but it really looks like an indifference and incompetence driven recovery. Efforts to make a plan are criticized from all sides.

We get criticized for having no plan by a president and a political party that are radically anti-plan. Multiple efforts to develop plans are ripped apart by various groups in very predictable ways: "don't move those people to my neighborhood"; "don't move my neighborhood"; "you can't make me do anything with my property." People who usually vote for the restricted property rights party suddenly become libertarians.

This is nuts.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm Filing Emotional Bankruptcy

To my inbox:
I am sorry. I'm sorry that I haven't called you or called you back in a while.
There are a few dozen emails in my inbox that have never been opened from friends and family. Something like two dozen personal voice mails are saved on my cell phone, I haven't listened to all of all of them. I have a few Christmas cards sitting in my briefcase, I am hoping to get the strength to open them by July. I couldn't call at Christmas, or for New Year's or for birthdays. I've missed births, weddings, birthdays. The list is astounding. I don't really know why this has happened. A few years ago, two or so, I was a vortex of sociability. Not today. Each and every one of the missed calls, letters, emails, etc. feels to me like receiving a bill I can't pay with a giant 'PAST DUE' stamp on the envelope. So,I am declaring emotional bankruptcy. The overall size of my social obligations now so greatly exceeds my capacity to cope that I am throwing up my hands.

Normally, in a bankruptcy, the debtor lists all assets and liabilities and proposed a restructuring plan, or a liquidation. As a banker's son, it seems an appropriately efficient mechanism for me to have what is called a 'judicial confession' of these chronic obligations and detail just why I am not able to live up to them.

Depression is anger turned inwards. I was diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder in 2001. It is a disorder that is managed, but not cured and can only get worse. All this is consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD that I recently came across:
The second way that symptoms are produced is by persistent avoidance. The avoidance refers to the person's efforts to avoid trauma-related thoughts or feelings and activities or situations that may trigger memories of the trauma. This so-called psychogenic (emotionally caused) amnesia (loss of memory) for the event can lead to a variety of reactions. For example, the patient may develop a diminished interest in activities that used to give pleasure, detachment from other people, restricted range of feelings, and a sad affect that leads to the view that the future will be shortened.

So, when I get the call or email every few days from someone who is concerned that I have not called in many months or called back recently, etc. so, it's like a dunning notice from my friends, family, etc. all the time. It is appreciated on one level, but...

What's there to talk about. I just did one of these recently:

Yeah, MY life sucks.
YOUR life is just like it would have been if all the events that ruined mine had never happened. That's really great. Ok, well that said, I guess I gotta go. Glad that was meaningful for you.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, working for a company that has a 24 hour pace and a 90 day billing cycle.

Here is why.
In early August of 2005 I lost my job. A few days later, I was pulled over for a traffic stop and was arrested on a minor traffic charge that was outstanding for several years. My classmate-attorney-friend who handled the case dropped the ball. I spent 20 hours in two jails while two of my best 'friends' took an alcoholic detour to a strip club with my bail money.

Then, I evacuated in anticipation of Katrina, had my community, my home and all my possessions needlessly destroyed by 13 feet of water. Then I went to Virginia and took a job that, while challenging, was the most stressful job I had ever faced.

I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Red State America comment on the news all September about New Orleans – while my home was under water mind you – and say the most un-Christian of things. Bastards.
But, I had a job to do. I spent 2 months delivering what was really 3-4 months worth of work. My reward was to be given six months of work in a 90 day deadline. I missed the deadline. I failed, and one yuppie manager launched into me for not delivering what it took to make him live up to his ego. On March 30 of 2006 I had the first complete breakdown of all of this. It wasn't pretty.

The work was canceled in April. In the meantime, She and I were mostly separated, and her father was having a liver transplant, which – thank God – went well. She had left her job in December and had by now came up to Virginia to be with me. We spent a couple of days together, packing up my meager post- apocalyptic possessions and having them shipped to Florida.
We spent our tenth anniversary together in Naples, FL. We sold our destroyed house. It was untouched by human hands after being open to the elements for seven months.

I spent several months trying to put together a business plan for the consultants I was working for in Virginia to do work in the Eastern Time Zone building new business. That failed.

She took a job working for a national charity foundation. In typical fashion, she worked incredible hours, believing in the mission. I went a volunteered to help her. After all, this was/is one of our favorite charities. It was a frustration. Most of her ideas were thwarted by a moronic bureaucrat who was the self described smartest person in the room.

During the whole campaign she worked on we raised $190,000 in about six weeks for sick kids. By any measure, it was an increase of magnitude from years past. Except that the 'Movie Business' accounting used by the Director made it look like less of a gain than it truly was. Idiots. It's one thing to believe in the mission, it's another to find that you are working for someone who could never even aspire to be as incompetent as Rumsfeld.
In early December, I got offered a contract to work for a company that is building their wireless network here in Florida. I am presently about 70% through with their build in one town and have just been given their project in another. This is a relatively lucrative contract, and I am glad to have the opportunity to do the work. However, like everything in American business, they are a company that puts unreasonable timeframes on the work to satisfy Wall Street. I am thriving in this position, but to do so, I am working 10-15 hours a day, six to seven days a week. I typically commence work between 5 and 6 a.m. And often am getting calls and emails well past 8 pm, when the workday ends on the West Coast. The client has no problem calling me at 10 pm on a Friday, but I don't get to wake them up at 2 am on Monday to reciprocate.

One of the things that I have said to myself since the hurricane to make decisions, is “What would a Korean, or Cuban, or Nicaraguan (or Iraqi) immigrant do right now?” inevitably, that answer is to work. Net, net even with the sale of the house, and living with Her grandmother, we are probably 3-5 years from financially being where we were in August 2005; which wasn't all that great.

So, I am still driving a $900 car that has no air conditioning in Central Florida.

And, I am still living with Her Grandmother. This is some sort of benevolent arrangement that harkens more to post WWII Europe than the consumerist American Dream we once owned.

And then there is New Orleans... As our President once said with prescient irony, “Heckuva job, Brownie”. I am glad that we live where they can criminalize telling true statements to the New York Times, but can't find a court martial anywhere for the criminally negligent death of 1,300 Americans, at home, on American soil, in peacetime, at the hands of a homicidally incompetent quasi military bureaucracy that has Congressionally pre-empted power on all matters within its jurisdiction including justice, equity and accountability.

In the past year and a half, I have been on and off medication for my depression. Originally on Wellbutrin, which was working o.k., I changed doctors in Florida and spent a few months on Geodon, which worked for a while, but then really made me feel badly. I quit taking it, and have not scheduled any more appointments with that doctor.
I know that my depression is part of the reason that it is hard to communicate with many friends and family. The other part is purely logistical. I have about 50 or so family members, a couple dozen close friends, a few hundred acquaintances and over two thousand contacts in my PDA. If everybody wants to talk about, 'What's up with you?' once, that is hundreds of times I have to tell the same story. Well, it is an important story. And it has a political/legal component, so unlike most of those with opinions, I don't want to engage in hyperbole when discussing the issues.

Well, even if you are an expert, the open ended question is not simple. As one exam I had in high school said, “1066, discuss fully”. Where to begin. And why am I telling this same crappy tale again and again. Don't you people read the New York Times? they have a reporter in New Orleans. Why doesn't the Houston Chronicle give you anything besides race baiting local criminal stories and wire reports from the AP on New Orleans.

If you Auslanders want to know what is going on, read online. The Times-Picayune is doing extraordinary reporting about all aspects of the flood, the failures, the post amargeddon chaos and the thin hope that reason will triumph over chaos. In short, don't expect me to be the filter for your information. I can't. I don't have the time, and many of my local contacts, like myself, are lost in the diaspora.

Why not learn something yourself about Louisiana culture before it vanishes. Don't outsource your appreciation. Live it.

Yes, I am avoiding dealing with the outside world. No, it's not your fault. I just don't want to talk about me. I am trying to get my life together. I am not all that well, there's not much you can do. If you want me to be lively, witty, entertaining, or interesting; sorry, I really don't have that capacity. I am emotionally bankrupt.

Upset? Call your Congressman. After all, Louisiana got exactly the quality of hurricane protection that Iowa truly wanted to pay for. That is to say, none.


The Saints are speaking with Mike Vanderjagt. Are they speaking to him about being our kicker, or about working at Parasol's?

The last thing a "liquored up" kicker needs is New Orleans. The last thing New Orleans needs is a liquored up kicker.

I'm not saying Carney is the be-all, but I'm not sure the guy who Parcells cut is our answer. I've seen him miss too many clutch kicks, and I've seen Carney make a lot of clutch kicks.

UPDATE: From the link above, see this comment from the kicker:
"I'm not a real big Colts fan right now, unfortunately. I just don't see us getting better. . . . Coach Dungy, he's just a mild-mannered guy. He doesn't get too excited, he doesn't get too down and I don't think that works, either. ... I think you need a motivator, I think you need a guy that is going to get in somebody's face when they're not performing well enough."
And now the Colts are Super Bowl champs, and didn't become champs until they got rid of this guy.

Does Payton really want the kind of guy who says this?

Monday, March 05, 2007

In Honor of Coach Payton

I had the chance to hear Coach Payton speak live earlier today--check Berto's site for an excellent account of Coach's speech. In honor of that, here's a message I found from a good friend in the vicinity of where Berto and I sit in Section 635. I've spent many good times with Fleur D'Licious, and I sport a Fleur D'Licious bumper sticker on my vehicle.

Billy Hunter Will Go to New Orleans

Billy Hunter will be in New Orleans
Now, maybe he can see for himself rather than relying on -- can we call it-- a prejudice?

Newt Gingrich Says New Orleans Residents Were Uneducated Victims of Katrina » Red, Blue, and You

Newt Gingrich apparently spoke about New Orleans recently. Here is a link. I'm not sure how to take this, what do you think?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Putting 2 and 2 Together

As I said in the last post, this Sunday's T-P is a significant one.

Read this line from the Last Chance article:

"We had opportunities in the 1980s to really stop this, to get ahead of the curve. And people still don't seem to realize this isn't something we can wait on. While we were arguing over what to do, the process was gaining speed."

I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that bit of analysis.

Then read about Edwin Edwards in prison. While we were squandering an oil boom during his reign in the 1970s and laughing through his restoration in the 1980s and 1990s, our coastline was disappearing.

With all due respect to the Krewe du Vieux, Screw you, Edwin Edwards.

Fight or Flight?

As I read Part One of the T-P's "Last Chance" series, I thought a few things:

1. I am reading perhaps the most important article I've read in quite awhile.
2. Much of how I spend my time will look like fiddling while Rome burns in 15 or 20 years.
3. I need to turn my anger into real action, or move away, but not sit still.
4. The article feels a lot like the prophetic series on New Orleans's lack of flood protection that the T-P ran 6 years ago.
How can this NOT be the defining issue of our time? Here's the key part of the article as far as I'm concerned:

Unless, within 10 years, the state begins creating more wetlands than it is losing -- a task that will require billions of dollars in complex and politically sensitive projects -- scientists said a series of catastrophes could begin to unfold over the next decade.
In 10 years, at current land-loss rates:
-- Gulf waves that once ended on barrier island beaches far from the city could be crashing on levees behind suburban lawns.
-- The state will be forced to begin abandoning outlying communities such as Lafitte, Golden Meadow, Cocodrie, Montegut, Leeville, Grand Isle and Port Fourchon.
-- The infrastructure serving a vital portion of the nation's domestic energy production will be exposed to the encroaching Gulf.
-- Many levees built to withstand a few hours of storm surge will be standing in water 24 hours a day -- and facing the monster surges that come with tropical storms.
-- Hurricanes approaching from the south will treat the city like beachfront property, crushing it with forces like those experienced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Katrina.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stomped by the Levithan.

New Orleans to Declare War on the U.S.?

Somewhere between the $77 Billion claim and photogenic celebrity rebuilding efforts lies a different approach. Here's a link to a blogger that has a good sense of satire.

But, in a fantastic world class moment kudos to the French for their help.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

$77 Billion

Holy Cow. I wonder who got the check at Nagin and Bush's lunch.

What's for Lunch Today?

Well, if you live in New Orleans and go to a nondescript little cafeteria on the campus of Loyola University New Orleans, you have this, from Dunbar's, for $6.99. Smothered pork chop, sweet potatoes, rice and gravy, greens, and a roll or cornbread. The pork chop peels off the pone with a plastic fork. You don't even need the knife.