Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Are raw oysters a bigger threat to health than McDonald's fries?

According to this excellently placed (front-page) story from the T-P, 15 people--many of them already sick from something else--die from eating raw oysters each year.

This occurs in a country with over 300 million people, many of whom are overweight. Tens of thousands of us die each year because we are fat and get fat-related diseases.

The FDA's way of dealing with the oyster "menace," we learn now, will be to require processing of raw oysters 7 months out of the year.

Step back: so what we now know is that the federal government refuses to protect the homeland in Louisiana by doing little to restore wetlands and by trying to implement a flood protection system on the cheap. Now the federal government wants to ruin a key industry in Louisiana and one of life's pleasures here that many of us enjoy.

Fat-related diseases that kill millions of Americans are often caused by foods (made poisonous by bad agriculture and then heavy processing) in areas of the country that are more "American" and more palatable than we "exotics" are in south Louisiana. Midwestern corn, for example, is fine, even though it is used to make products that kill many of us.

All-natural oysters, however, kill 15 people a year, but they must be heavily regulated.

Inadequate levees, disappearing wetlands, and screwed-up oysters. This is what the American federal government is doing for us through a combination of inaction and willful stupidity.

UPDATE: Here's a nice link from Jeffrey. While the feds fret about oysters, the Army Corps' head is waving the white flag.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Best Op-Ed Page in America Today; Thanks, Times-Picayune

Although the overarching purpose of this blog is to point to a positive vision of what New Orleans can and should be, sometimes I use that vision to criticize our city's newspaper titan, the Times-Picayune. (It's a "titan" because it's the only one.)

After the storm, the Times-Picayune and its reporters and photographers were heroic, at least for me. Their work kept New Orleans on the informational map; they helped to remind us that we remained a community despite the chaos and destruction. They kept the idea of New Orleans alive even when the reality was that we were dispersed and sometimes despairing.

More recently, however, I have expressed disappointment that the T-P has reverted back to being a "normal" newspaper with silly headline stories. I just want the publisher, Mr. Ashton Phelps, and the editors to know that they don't need to lead with the Saints and kitty cats and naked burglars to get me to buy the paper.

Today, though, I am really proud of the Times-Picayune. What a great op-ed section!


A from-the-neighborhood essay from Dennis Persica about what it's like to use gritty determination and faith to return to a neighborhood in Ray Nagin and George W. Bush's free-market world of rebuilding (and the news is inspiring at the individual level but pathetic at the communal level). Persica talks about jack-o-lanterns, and not because it's Halloween time.


It feels especially good to be a New Orleanian today.

Of course, it helps that I'll be eating home-shucked oysters while watching the Saints play the Dolphins.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

World Class Cartoon Time

What a beautiful thing by the Preservation Hall gang and Mr. James Tancill.

Sustainable Recovery: Carpetbaggers Need Not Apply

Ed Blakely is gone (that's old news), but his departure and other things I'm seeing help me to conclude that we are arriving at a significant and stirring phase of the resurrection of our region.

We are more than four years beyond the levee failures that temporarily crushed our spirits and our confidence in American know-how.

I have been inspired by the ongoing stream of volunteers who come to our city to help rebuild at the micro-level. Church groups, schools, national organizations of every strip--they came early, and they continue to come.

At the macro-level, however, I sense something significant and stirring.

The carpetbaggers are getting bored, and they're starting to leave. You may have experienced carpetbaggers over the past four years. I certainly have.

These are the people who smelled the chance for immediate financial gain from the plight of a city on its knees.

In many cases, we made it easy for the carpetbaggers--witness Ed Blakely. We offered them ridiculous compensation packages because "we" thought that's what it would take to attract allegedly national and international "experts" here to help us.

We didn't have enough confidence in ourselves--in our knowledge, our hearts, our passion, our work ethic.

And so the city and some major institutions in the city squandered precious dollars to bring in people who brought us . . . nothing. (Well, they did bring us heartache and frustration.)

The real action has been at the grassroots. The grassrooots generates its own expertise, and I don't just mean some romanticized notion of the "wisdom of common folk." The new New Orleans features people who take advantage of the explosion of the accessibility of knowledge, and we combine that with hardcore know-how. New Orleanians are great students of human nature. We know what makes people tick.

We are applying all this to building a better New Orleans.

We know how the world works. We can spot a carpetbagger or a "Simpsons" monorail-builder. (Many of our mayors seem to lose that ability.)

We have great meals and and great parties--we know how to live--because we know what motivates people.

We have all that, but because we are naturally a little skeptical--even of ourselves, especially of ourselves--in 2005 and beyond we spent top dollar to bring in "experts" to "lead" us out of our mess.

The good news is that having extracted plenty enough cash to last them for awhile, people like Blakely are leaving now. Four or five years is about all they could take.

The people who remain, natives and truly committed people who came after the levee failures, as well as the people who are still streaming in, are up to something great.

Now is when the resurrection takes a really interesting turn. Our monorail days are over.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Most Important Stories Run on the Last Page of the Sports Section in the Times-Picayune

A few days ago, the Times-Picayune ran one of those stories that should change the outlooks (or confirm them) of any thinking people on the planet.

The story ran on the back of the Sports section.

We are sinking. The Gulf is rising. And our congressional delegation (ALL OF THEM) are in the back pocket of the idiots who are helping to create and sustain the problem.


To Ashton Phelps and anybody else who helps decide what goes on the front page: YOU ARE CLUELESS.


Give me a freakin' break.

You, Mr. Phelps, are what is killing our community.

I love the Saints.

But they don't belong on the front page of a serious newspaper.

Friday, October 02, 2009

ESPN Radio Teases Us Who Dats

The Mardi Gras beads are a bit much, but this made me smile anyway.

I couldn't get the You Tube video to embed correctly, so here's the link.