It's like Mardi Gras meets the bombing of Dresden...
Monday, September 26, 2005
The Merits of a Steak and Jam Sandwich

Blogger has been pissing me off today. It won’t let me post pictures, and it has deleted two posts I’ve attempted to put up already today. But, I’m at work and have nothing else to do so I’m trying again. (and yes, I’ve heard the definition of insanity)

I really tried to be late to work today. I got up late, read Playboy while I pooped, showered, ate, watched Sportscenter (more than half of those I do at work on a regular basis- regular meaning everyday) and I was still on time (roughly). If trees are silent when no one is around to hear them fall, can I be late when no one is here to notice?

A quick question on the my favorite topic- the Iraq war. Charles and J. Morgan (I can't link since he has no blog...) have been staunch believers in the theory that the war had nothing to do with WMD’s and that the administration knew that WMD’s did not exist when we invaded. I’ll quote J. Morgan here in reference to what I just said and also to make the overall post a little longer (ie well-written). “We invaded Iraq because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Since that was - and was, even before the war effort, almost certainly known to be – untrue.” Excluding utilitarian claims on the legitimacy of the Iraq war (unless really, really necessary), what was the motivation for Bush to lie to enter a war under pretenses he knew to be wrong where ultimately he would be exposed?

On one hand, looking from this angle seems to logically confirm the failure of the intelligence community. It is unlikely that Bush (Sieg Heil!) and other party members would be willing to sacrifice themselves for the war in the absence of some strong ulterior motive. Basically, Bush either believed the same reports as everyone else OR he is an extremely principled (in the sense that he is willing to lie and ruin his legacy for some principle) leader who deliberately lied to advance some hidden agenda. If you feel that the latter is true- what is this agenda? (I will accept guesses, hypotheses, and/or theories on this agenda. However, if the theory is of the conspiracy nature, the standard of proof is that much higher.)

Also, the title of this post only concerns the fact that I’m eating a dry, steak sandwich and have no sauce of any sort. All I have is grape jelly, and I’m entertaining the notion…

Thursday, September 22, 2005
More Real Time
Addendum: This isn't really worthy of its own post, but these sentences are why I make sure to read every Jonah Goldberg piece I can find-
The porkbusters fight is fun now, but not since early cave men tried to train grizzly bears to give them tongue-baths has a project seemed more obviously doomed to end in disappointment. Expecting Congress — of either party — to give back pork which has already been approved and passed into law is like expecting crack whores to give refunds days after services have been rendered.
Folks like me had been playing the role of Don King for months, promising the fight of the century only to find that John Roberts was Mike Tyson and the entire Democratic wing of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and I use the term in its most catholic sense so as to include Arlen Specter) were the cumulative equivalent of one of those obscure doughy bouncers King threw in the ring to keep the pay-per-view green rolling-in. Instead of the image of Biden, Schumer, and Feinstein pummeling Roberts up against the ropes on C-SPAN to the sound of Brian Lamb shouting “Only in America!” we got the sort of submissive urinating you usually find when poodles are put in a pit bull’s cage.

So I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher like I often do and former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was attempting to say that a majority of black were living below the poverty line. Bill Maher promptly called bullshit and pointed out that a majority were middle class, shutting up Willie Brown long enough for Joy Behar (host of such inanities as The View) to point out, "If it wasn't for social programs like welfare most of them would be poor." (paraphrased)

Is it just me or is that the most racist thing you've ever heard? She basically just said that black people can not succeed in America if not for liberals giving them enough money to escape poverty.

and, uh... keep up the good work on the previous post, I hope we aren't done with that yet.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Celebrity Deathmatch: Saddam vs. Milosevic
Last night I watched The Horrors of Hussein on the History Channel. Documenting the rise of Saddam to power through the decades along with his growing tolerance and appreciation of sadistic methods to ensure loyalty from the populace, the show chronicled the evolution of his torture machine from his early days as head of the secret police up until his removal from power. Much of the show revolved around interviews with survivors of Iraqi prisons who told about being beaten with electrical wire while hanging from a hook by their hands (which were tied behind them) or having their rectum ripped out by a piece of jagged tube. However, I found the most interesting part of the show to be some videotape of a younger Saddam smiling and smoking a cigar while an informant calls out 20 names of over 200 off the Baathist elite that were gathered in a closed doors session. As he called out the names of these "conspirators" who were then led away, you could see the rest of the crowd starting to frantically scream support for Saddam in eliminating these enemies in an effort to save themselves. To reward them for their allegiance, Saddam then offered the remaining leaders the honor of executing their colleagues.

This morning, while reading the news, I started wondering if their was a sizeable difference in human rights violations between the Iraqi regime under Hussein and the situation in Kosovo a few years back during the Clinton era. Some statistics-

- Internal displacement of 900,000
- 250,000 killed in 1991 uprising
- 400,000 children dead of malnutrition
- 10,000ish executed in prison
- 50,000-100,000 dead in chemical attack on the Kurds, including this kid

- 800,000 displaced of which thousands were raped and beaten
- approximately 10,500 dead

A quote from CNN, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, said events in Kosovo justify sending troops. "We can't stand by and let that killing continue," he said. "That kind of brutality should not be allowed anyplace in the world because it encourages it in other places." hmm...

Same senator, different war. "The arrogance of undiluted power in the hands of elected officials who are not bound to respect the law is manifesting its deadly consequences every day as Bush's Iraq invasion unravels into non-stop bloodshed and carnage. The human toll is staggering and there is no let up in sight."

I'd be lying if I said I understand, so basically, I'm looking for responses and opinions on US intervention in the Balkans (compared or compared not with Iraq) and I want to know if there is a threshold of human rights violations that demands intervention. Have at it.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Day Trading & Election 2008
I opened up an Ameritrade account today with $2,500. The general manager at the club here is a genius with money and the stock market (he's 37 and retiring next year for you doubters) so I'm just going to tag along and see if I can make some money before the tuition check comes due and I lose it anyway.

Now my question regarding the presidential election in 2008. For the last five years (and most likely for the next three) the Democratic platform has consisted of one issue- Bush hating (Incidentally, this issue also comes up while watching seventies porn, and no- I didn't write this just so I could use that joke). With Bush's approval numbers dropping below forty or so percent, many on the left have taken this as some kind of victory. However, I'm not sure if this strategy has any long term benefits for the Democrats. Bush is gone in 2008 regardless, Cheney isn't going to run, and all the other high profile administration Republicans are black- so what is the long term benefit of Bush hating? Portraying the Bush administration as racist isn't going to matter if Condi or Colin run, and claiming that any high profile Senate Republican is a warhawk won't work that well either when all the Democratic senators voted for the war too. Even if Bush's approval rating dropped below 10%, would that change the outcome of the 2008 election? Does anyone thing that there is going to be a significant enough "Bush-contamination" effect on the Republican nominee to influence the outcome of the election?
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
As Chief Justice, Roberts should make the Elderly UnConstitutional
As I'm scheduled to work today but don't really have any specific things I need to do, I've spent the last couple hours reading The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes and watching some of the confirmation hearings for future Chief Justice Roberts. From what I can tell (most likely little) it appears that Roberts is engaged in the most vigorous ass kicking of the largest group of incompetent senators ever to gather in one confirmation hearing, fulfilling early predictions that Roberts would run intellectual rings around them. To their credit, most of the senators have realized this and have resorted to making their questions in the form of mini-speeches about their favorite issues to minimize Robert's face time and mask their own ineptitude.

Every time I sit down to watch a political event on TV, it always leaves me wishing that we put an upper limit on ages in politics the same way we do a lower limit. Living in Florida gives me a new found appreciation for the horrors of aging. A quick story about one of our members who is a great deal younger than Senator Byrd, for example: Clarence is playing golf in a group of other old guys and gets out of his cart, takes a few practice swings and addresses a mushroom. The other guys yell, "Clarence, that isn't your ball!" and he responds, "It is so my ball!" He then attempts to hit it (I'm sure very feebly) and it just mushes on the face of his club. Granted Clarence might be a good deal more senile than Senator Byrd, but they are both still way too old to be able to affect American policy in ways other than lobbying for cheaper coffee at McDonald's and draining money out of social security and medicare.

Incontinence is always funny.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Crank it up, Fuckers!
Updates to my blog will be infrequent at best for a while since the internet has kicked off in my house for some reason, and I have no idea how to fix it. My computer says I'm connected to the network at full speed, but none of my internet applications will work. It isn't a problem with my computer, because the laptop no longer recieves a wireless signal either. I've plugged and replugged most everything, so if anyone knows how to fix it let me know. Also, I haven't ruled out the possibility that we just haven't paid the bill- so it may be much simpler than that...

Also, while at Barnes and Noble the other day splurging after making $200 for a three hour lesson (hit balls, played nine holes, hit balls, looked at video- my job is sweet!), I purchased Blink by Malcom Gladwell (which was excellent), The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (which I haven't read yet), and a compilation of The Chronicles of Narnia, which includes the book The Silver Chair, which got me thinking of the band Silverchair- hence the title of this post.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
If It's on Fox- It must not be News
From last night's special report with Brit Hume:

Fox News' Brit Hume: First, the focus of all of the attention has been FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, what is FEMA?

Fox News' Major Garrett: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2,500 full time employees, 4,000 stand by employees. The mission statement very simple: prepare, respond, help, recover, reduce risk. How does it do it? By coordinating with state and local entities and other groups The Salvation Army, Red Cross, dedicated to helping the needy when disaster strikes.

Hume: So FEMA is relatively, it isn't very labor intensive it mostly works through other agencies?

Garrett: It works through other agencies. But it has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. And in this crisis, It is a bit a victim of its own bureaucratic boastfulness. Earlier this year the new national response plan released by the Department of Homeland Security promised this - "seemless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local and state capabilities." In the minds of many Americans, this one did. And FEMA, at least initially, in the minds of some, did not respond enough.

Hume: The words seamless don't exactly spring to mind. But look, they are down there, The Red Cross, for example, is there.

Garrett: Standing by, ready.

Hume: Standing by, ready. Why didn't FEMA send The Red Cross into New Orleans when we had all of the people there on that bridge overpass and elsewhere. Why not?

Garrett: First of all, no jurisdiction. FEMA works with The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other organizations but it has no control to order them to go one place or the other. Secondarily, The Red Cross was ready. I got off the phone with one of their officials. They had a vanguard, Brit, of trucks with water, food, hygiene equipment, all sorts of things ready to go where? To the Superdome and convention center. Why weren't they there? The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security told them they could not go.

Hume: This is isn't the Louisiana branch of the federal Homeland Security? This is --

Garrett: The state's own agency devoted to the state's homeland security. They told them you cannot go there. Why? The Red Cross tells me that state agency in Louisiana said, look, we do not want to create a magnet for more people to come to the Superdome or convention center, we want to get them out. So at the same time local officials were screaming where is the food, where is the water? The Red Cross was standing by ready, the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security said you can't go.

Hume: FEMA does, presumably at some point, have some jurisdiction over some military forces. Of course, the first responders there are the National Guard. Why didn't FEMA send the National Guard in? You heard that cry from many people.

Garrett: FEMA does not have jurisdictional control over any state's National Guard, only the governor does. The governor in this case, Kathleen Blanco, A democrat, did use the Louisiana National Guard for some purposes, did not deploy them in massive numbers initially and they were not used to move any of these relief organizations in and they could have been for the very same reason I talked about earlier, the state decided they didn't want the relief organizations where the people needed it most because they wanted those people to get out.

Hume: But even today we know that Governor Blanco has now decided that a mandatory evacuation may not be necessarily after all. But we can go into that later. What about the use by her of the National Guard to impose law and order during the early looting and all of that?

Garrett: She had a choice, as I am told. She could have taken up the offer from FEMA to federalize all of the activities in Louisiana, meaning that FEMA would be in control of everything. Not only law enforcement, but everything else. She declined to give them that authority. So essentially FEMA was trapped between two bureaucracies. One the Department Of Homeland Security where many of its decisions have to be reviewed and in some cases approved, and a recalcitrant state bureaucracy that wasn't going to give them the authority they needed to make things happen, among them, the National Guard.

Hume: What about this evacuation problem? It's clearly was something that New Orleans faced, knew it faced to some extent.

Garrett: And the city [sic] of Louisiana. They have a whole plan that contemplates dealing with an evacuation in the effect of a hurricane three, four or five. Their own plan says, 100,000 residents minimum from the New Orleans area will have to be evacuated. This plan makes it clear ...

Hume: You mean, can't get out on their own.

Garrett: These people will have not have their own vehicles. Not only that, It stipulate that these people are disproportionately poor, sick and in need of special transportation assistance. Brit, I think in these circumstances, bureaucratic language is important. Let's go to this. This is what the state says: "the Department of Health and Hospitals has the primary responsibility for providing medical coordination for all of the special-needs populations, i.e. hospital and nursing home patients, persons on home health care, elderly persons and other persons with physical or mental disabilities." Brit, I don't think you can come up with a better description of the people we saw, day in and day out, at the Superdome and the convention center, than this very population that the state's own plan said needed to be transported to a safe place and provided services.

Hume: Apparently no plan, no provision, no facility for doing that.

Garrett: No facility for doing that. Not only that, those who reviewed the plans the state put together before were critical of it. In 2002 the New Orleans Times Picayune had a whole story about this saying no one believes the evacuation plans are possible, feasible or will be carried out. They proved to be accurate.

Hume: It sounds like the state will have much to answer for in the investigation coming before Congress as well as the federal government.

Garrett: It appears to be.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Real Time with Cognitive Dissonance
I have something to admit- I enjoy watching Real Time with Bill Maher so much that I'm DVR'ing every episode. It isn't that I agree with much of anything Bill Maher says, it's that the rhetoric and dialogue that consumes most of the show is so ludicrous that I can't take it seriously. Most of my entertainment comes from Bill's celebrity guests who apparently get all of their political knowledge from the same DNC memo read by Cindy Sheehan.

Last night's celebrity guest was Bradley Whitford, and apparently he assumes that playing a politician on the West Wing is tantamount to the real thing.

"I only get my picture taken when leaning to the left."

(Why can't google make google images work as well as the rest of their products? Is there any reason google imaging "Bradley Whitford" should return a picture of Patrick Swayze, even if he is much, much cooler?) Generally, Maher has at least one semi-competent Republican on the panel of three to provide some semblance of balance. Not tonight-

Maher: "I'd like to point out that we don't have a Bush defender here on the panel as we usually do..."
Bradley Whitford: "... or in the country"

Hmmm... not so whitty when writing his own lines- and as obviously false as that statement is, it was probably the least ridiculous thing to come out of his mouth. Not content with that, Whitford soon followed it with something dumber.

Whitford: "With the pictures we're seeing, they've revealed themselves.. as... we see that the Republican agenda leaves a lot of people behind... you mentioned that these people are a bunch of Jesus freaks- Where is the Christianity?!"

I'll tell you- setting up relief and aid stations or organizing donation drives, not setting out in a leaky boat wearing a flak jacket with a personal photographer. I have a theory that explains this- Cognitive Dissonance. In fact, the more I think about it, cognitive dissonance has to be the explanation for a vast majority of liberal policies. Let's take Mr. Whitford for example- he obviously has something against Christians, most likely because Southern Evangelicals are one of the main reasons why a certain douche didn't get elected President in 2004. As a result, the 1.4 million google hits for "Religious Relief Efforts Katrina" and close to 400 news stories are powerless to change his opinion. I would bet that he drives by at least two trailers parked by the side of the road accepting donations for Katrina every day, and that both of these are sponsored by either Churches or Faith Based Outreach Organizations. I do, and I have a nine mile drive to work through the middle of horse farms. As for the Republican agenda hell-bent on leaving blacks behind, it probably wouldn't make any difference to point out that New Orleans has had a solidly ensconced Democratic leadership for the last forty years, resulting in one of the poorest and most corrupt cities in America (Ok, I can't directly prove that, but it is an interesting coincidence) . Apparently the Federal government is both out of line in keeping judges from actively rewriting law, and also in trusting state officials to take an active role in responding to the most damaging hurricane on record. As Bill Whittle says,
"A person of some modest education might have remembered that the worship and adulation fostered after 9/11 was for the NYPD and the FDNY. No one was buying FEMA hats after 9/11, because FEMA is essentially a mop-up agency. It's the first responders, the local governments, that will determine if a city will live or die. The State -- that means, the "governor"-- has the sole authority to mobilize the National Guard, and the governor of the state of Louisana was not only slow to do that, she turned down NG assistance from several OTHER states as well. The President does not have the authority to drop precious egg salad sandwiches from Michael Moore's missing helicopters. We do this ON PURPOSE. We limit the power of the federal government, as those of us fortunate enough to have spent time in Civics, rather than Self Esteem classes, are aware. This is so that we do not develop a central power so strong that eventually we end up with idiot inbred royals, or Presidentes for life, on the face of OUR money."
Apparently Mr. Whitford is not blessed with "some modest education." What's that you're saying? You need more examples proving cognitive dissonance? We need only wait for Whitford to open his mouth.

Whitford: "A lot of these people can't leave because they live in poverty, they can't fill the car with gas, this may be obnoxious, but in a time of soaring budget defecits... I have gotten a quarter million dollars in tax relief, that's obscene!."

Once again, don't let reality interfere with what you heard on the red (or in this case blue) phone from DNC Headquarters before the show. It makes sense to assume that a tax cut will reduce the amount of revenue collected by the government, causing a budget crunch and eliminating the money alloted for the public dole, right? Wrong! Cutting taxes has increased federal revenues recently, in the same way it did during the height of Reaganomics. Why did Jude Wanniski (he helped introduce the Laffer Curve and supply side economics) die of a heart attack within the last few weeks? Most likely from dealing with idiots such as Bradley Whitford. If Bradley Whitford is ashamed to get that money back, why doesn't he just give it willingly to the government? Oh, that's right- because he'd rather buy a tesla coil and make a feeble attempt to cover up his enormous forehead.

(Aside- About this time in the show, African American author Mary Frances Berry tried to shift at least a little of the blame onto New Orlean's Head Incompetent Mayor Nagin and Lousiana state officials. Bill Maher countered with this impeccable logic- "But FEMA is a Federal agency, the federal emergency.." (really? thats what it means? the letters stand for words?) and then he is cut off by Michael Eric Dyson, who starts on some irrelevant FEMA tangent proving my suspicion that to the left, minority and women politicians are above reproach- even by women and minorities.)

Finally, a link to some video of New Orleans police officers working hard to control the looting at a local Wal-Mart. (What? Why doesn't blogger have a font dripping with sarcasm?) Seriously, with cops like these, why can't we rescue everyone in an area with no electricity, phones, or roads the size of Great Britain in a matter of hours?
Tribes & the WNBA
I recommend reading this over at EjectEjectEject.

I know that my blog is starting to take on the form of a daily links page, but I can't help it. All this stuff is way cooler than anything I write.

First- read this article on the WNBA by Bill Simmons, and then these emails from his readers... I'll quote some of my favorites.

Wow, reading your article on the WNBA was like watching your friend tell an overweight girl that she looks hideous in that short, mid-drift-baring tank top. You know the backlash will be bitter and possibly lead to a swift kick in the gonads, but the truth remains -- it needed to be said. I commend you -- Bill Simmons -- for taking that risk.
-- Alan B, Lawrence, Kansas

A surefire way to pique interest with the WNBA ... change the rules! Stop pretending that it's an NBA game and start realizing that it's a totally different sport. This should all start with lowering the rim. Think about it, what does the NBA offer that the WNBA doesn't? "Above the rim action." Why should women play with the same size rim as men do when they already play with a smaller ball and can't possibly jump as high or be as strong. This not only would solve the issue of not being able to dunk, but would provide a surprising amount of "unintentional comedy." Think about it, who wouldn't want to have that element added to the game? It's like women's boxing, the pure comedy of watching a woman try and throw a left hook with oversized gloves is hilarious... the same goes for the WNBA. I guarantee this would spark some interest in the WNBA. Not only would it be beneficial to scoring, but instantly supply the dying sport with some excitement, and perhaps a little unintentional comedy!
-- Kevin, Columbus, Ohio

During the offseason, Katie Smith plays pick-up at the same gym as I. Don't get me wrong, she's not bad. If you leave her open, she's usually knocking it down. But any decent athlete locks her down, and she's the ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER IN LEAGUE HISTORY. A handful of the regulars play or played college hoops, none higher than Div. III, but these are not the guys guarding her or being guarded by her. The guys who guard her are the "average" players. Again, just wanted to give you some ammo for the inevitable "some of those players could start for some Div. I teams" e-mails that you receive.
-- Anonymous

The fact that Katie Smith is the all-time leading scorer in league history and you've never heard of her just emphasized the point more. And my all-time favorite email...

The WNBA could be successful if they force each team to add one fairly talented athletic male with limited basketball skills to each team. This would add a lot of excitement to the league as the male would date tons of players on his own team, thus forcing the ownership to trade away ex-girlfriends he no longer gets along with. It would start cat fights in the league. The league would follow this format until the playoffs, when one team was drawn at random and only that team was allowed to keep their male player. I would tune into watch this male dominate the women.
-- Steve, South Porcupine, Ontario

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
March of the Penguins

"I just saw the absolutely beautiful March of the Penguins, which is meant to make you consider the majesty and pagentry of the natural world, but really just left me feeling like, if there is a God, he hates the shit out of penguins. In order to have children in the same place every year, these birds march 70 miles across the arctic tundra, periodically starving and freezing to death as they try to keep eggs warm between their legs. Apparently the cold does something to thebaby penguins developing brains because they are stupid enough to follow in their parents' footsteps the very next year. Talk about the one mistake you don't want to repeat.

Every divergent emotion attributed to the waddling birds looked the same, like some Wild Kingdom parody of Zoolander. I saw this in a theater full of people who kept saying things like, "Look at how much like human beings they are!" Um, not exactly. There's a reason why human beings run the world instead of penguins, and it's on display in March of the Penguins."

That is a post I can aspire to. Making fun of animals, a nod to Zoolander, and use of the phrase "hates the shit out of." Plus, he had an article in

"Hey Buddy, wanna pick snowberries?" "Not today arctic puffin"
I tried watching Batman Forever this morning on Starz, but it is so terrible that even Val Kilmer is powerless to save it, so I'm now watching Elf- hence the title of this post.

Seeing that no natural disaster is complete without Jesse Jackson lobbing race bombs- he had this to say about Hurricane Amistad.
"Certainly I think the issue of race as a factor will not go away from this equation," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN on Friday. "We have great tolerance for black suffering and black marginalization," he added. "And today those who are suffering the most, in fact, in New Orleans certainly are black people." Jackson, who was in New Orleans helping with the relief effort, described appalling conditions: "Today I saw 5,000 African-Americans on the I-10 causeway desperate, perishing, dehydrated, babies dying," he said. "It looked like Africans in the hull of a slave ship. It was so ugly and so obvious."
Arguing that natural disasters are racist seems futile, so I'll focus on the general perception that the relief effort was somewhat "less intense" than it would have been had the survivors been... well.. not black.

While reading Arguing with Signposts, I found some interesting posts regarding the relief effort.
I think there’s plenty of blame to go around but we need some perspective here. First and foremost disaster preparedness is the responsibility of State and Local authorities - in this case LEMA (The Louisiana Emergency Management Agency). There is a state-wide director for disaster relief in every state, that person is called the Governor. There is a local director for disaster relief in every municipality, that person is called the Mayor. FEMA is a coordinating body that assists State and Local authorities in getting the resources they need. Because they are the “go to” people most folks are under the impression that they are in charge, and in fact if the State and Local authorities abdicate control over a disaster area they will take over. Typically after the initial response to a disaster the local guys do just that, leave FEMA in control. That’s because they have the experience and personnel to manage disasters of this scale.

Disclosure: I’m a volunteer coordinator for MEMA (The Missouri Emergency Management Agency), I’ve been through three major floods and a few big storms that generated enough tornado damage to get the affected counties disaster relief. Believe me when I tell you what we are seeing from FEMA now is light years ahead of what I’ve seen from them in the past. Typically it took two to three days just to get the disaster declaration, then another two to three to get FEMA deployed, and of course by then the local guys had been on the ground working around the clock for five or six days and we were more than happy to dump everything in FEMA’s lap. That’s the way the system is designed. Bush saw that and tried to skip a few steps to speed things up, he pre-declared the areas disaster areas and that’s significant - I’ll explain later - but IMO what we are seeing in NO is the result of a convergence of factors:

First, the storm damage was bad, but the flooding has made relief efforts ten times harder than anything they could have imagined. Everyone knew that a Cat 4/5 storm could breach the levies, no one suspected that the breach would come from an internal canal flood wall that had just recently been upgraded. Second, Mayor Nagin’s performance has been absolutely pathetic. This is the worst case of poor planning and criminal incompetence I’ve ever seen. Like I said, Bush declared the gulf coast area a Federal Disaster area on Saturday - two days before Katrina hit. That freed up FEMA resources for local and state coordinators to call on and allowed for the pre-positioning of supplies so they could be rapidly deployed to the affected areas. If the Mayor and the Governor don’t take advantage of this opportunity Bush is to blame? Right. Mayor Nagin waited until the last minute to call for an evacuation of the city, but the poorest people could not evacuate - why weren’t school busses used to get them out of town? Mayor Nagin made the last minute decision to declare the Superdome and Convention centers as refuge relocation points - why weren’t they stocked with water, food, bedding, generators, and fuel? Why weren’t hospitals offered additional resources by the Mayors office? Mayor Nagin made the decision to allow looting and told the police to focus on Search and Rescue, but looting hinders S&R efforts (as we’ve seen) and no one I know could believe that decision. Hell, it’s emergency management 101, preserving order preserves life.

Like I said, there’s plenty of blame to go around, Blanco deserves her share too as, and honestly once FEMA realized that they were dealing with a boatload of incompetents they should have just taken over and let the locals bitch about “federal interference” to CNN, they’ll do that anyway, but ultimately IMO the real culprit in the aftermath here is Nagin, the man is criminally incompetent and should be removed from the scene before he causes more damage.

Hmmm... interesting, besides pushing a ten billion dollar relief bill through- it seems Bush *gasp* was more on top of the situation than local officials. Also, from the same place- "I was under the impression that New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had signed a mandatory evacuation procedure on Saturday, Aug. 27. Turns out, he didn’t order such a mandatory evacuation until Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. That’s less than 24 hours before landfall! As I’ve said several times, emergency management personnel have said for years that an evacuation of New Orleans would take AT LEAST 72 hours."

It's unfortuanate that HRC and other top democratic officials would seek to use misinformation for political gain while dead bodies float through the streets. But hey, far be it from politicians to let facts get in the way of catchy sound bites and soapbox hearings where they can fight over the scraps of public opinion and lobby for relief money for pet projects for their constituents...
and one more quote from Elf.

"This place reminds me of Santa's workshop, except it smells like mushrooms and it looks like everyone wants to hurt me."

I made these with Zatarain's New Orleans Style Yellow Rice.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Labor Day
Because it's Labor Day, I've decided to celebrate just like a union worker- by soaking my employer for the maximum amount of overtime/holiday pay combination possible. Now near the tail end of my twelve hour day, I've done today's version of sailing off the edge of the world... I've seen everything on the internet.

Including this from google news:

Saturday, September 03, 2005
GCC Reunion Tour
Dates for the Grove City Reunion Tour have been set and tickets are available-

I'll be up in PA from Wed 28th through the morning of Oct 3rd

Total airfare- $116.90 BOO-YAH!

I don't have enought for its own post, so I'll lump it here. I watched Sahara last night, and I liked it. I'm not even going to make fun of it, even though it would be fairly easy. Seriously, between Steve Zahn and the merovingian...

... I could have a ball.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Hot Buttons- Political
A quick reference to social darwinism and Hurricane Katrina and then something you might find interesting.

The tv in the shop is on and I caught the tail end of an interview of a mid 30's female survivor. The main thread of discussion was her husband, who didn't make it through the flood. She tried to get her husband to leave, but he apparently would have none of it. Judging by her appearance, I'll attempt to extrapolate the conversation.
Her- "Let's leave!"
Him- "Fuck that, I gotta case a Bud heavy in the fridge and you don't have any days off left at Wal-Mart."
Her- "It's going to flood! and you can't swim!"
Him- "Move Bitch! I can't see the race!" *SLAP*
Cue Hurricane Katrina and see the gene pool improve before your eyes.

Alright, I promised something better... and here it is- I'm still reading The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. I would have had it finished by now if not for doing a ton of work before I went up to NC to finish Level Two GPTP. Anyway, every now and then Stephen Pinker will kick me right in the face and I'll make a note to post a related topic in my blog. Here are some excerpts from his chapter on politics. I'll just post them and see where the comments lead...
"Social psychologists have found that with divisive moral issues, especially those on which liberals and conservatives disagree, all combatants are intuitively certain they are correct and that their opponents have ugly ulterior motives. They argue out of respect for the social convention that one should always provide reasons for one's opinions but when an argument is refuted, they don't change their minds but work harder to find a replacement argument. Moral debates, far from resolving hostilities, can escalate them, because when people on the other side don't immediately capitulate, it only proves they are impervious to reason."
That may be, but regardless of whether I can penetrate the illogical fog surrounding Charles and J. Morgan on issues such as taxation or the Iraq War (which I DON'T want to discuss in this post) I still enjoy trying.

Pinker believes that liberalism and conservatism are "not just political belief systems but empirical ones, rooted in different conceptions of human nature." THIS is where things start to get interesting and why I decided to dedicate a post to it. He proposes that (I'll name drop some dead white men for you philosophiles) where you fall on the political spectrum is a result of your adherence to either the vision of man proposed by Edmund Burke or William Godwin.

In the Burke secular conservativist model (referred to as the Tragic Vision by Thomas Sowell) "humans are inherently limited in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue, and all social arrangements must acknowlege those limits." Contrasted is the "Utopian Model" where "psychological limitations are artifacts that come from our social arrangements, and we should not allow them to restrict our gaze from what is possibly in a better world."

Furthermore, in the Tragic Vision,
"human nature has not changed. Traditions such as religion, the family, social customs, sexual mores, and political institutions are a distillation of time-tested techniques that let us work around the shortcomings of human nature... The tragic vision looks to systems that produce desirable outcomes even when no member of the system is particularly wise or virtuous. Market economies, in this vision, accomplish that goal... no mastermind has to understand the intricate flow of goods and services that make up an economy in order to anticipate who needs what, when, and where."
In the Utopian Vision,
"human nature changes with social circumstances, so traditional institutions have no inherent value. Traditions are the dead hand of the past, an attempt to rule from the grave... moreover, the existence of suffering and injustice presents us with an undeniable moral imperative. We don't know what we can achieve until we try, and the alternative, resigning ourselves to these evils as the way of the world, is unconscionable... People with the Utopian Vision point to market failures that can result from having a blind faith in free markets. They also call attention to the unjust distribution of wealth that tends to be produced by free markets."
Apparently, conservatives (hereby referred to as "Tragicians") assume the worst about an individuals in general, whereas "Utopians" are reversed. Standingoutinthecold took a beating (I think I remember something along this line) for suggesting that liberals are the more illogical, crazy dreamers looking for utopia, and that conservatives are the more grounded, pragmatic realists. However, if the above explanation holds true, it would follow that there is more truth to his assumption than previously allowed.

Ah, shit- it's Friday. Now I'm going to have to wait until Monday for any action on this post. And uh... here is what's wrong with my golf swing.

Notice how inside the club is and how low my left shoulder has dropped

At least I can get back to here... 1000 bonus points to anyone who can tell me why I hit it low left
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Oil Shortages
After a brutally hard day that consisted of playing free golf at one of the nicer private clubs in Central Florida, I had roughly a one hundred mile drive home on some of the back roads and highways that meander through Central Florida swampland. Recently, I can't help but to compare the prices on every single gas station I pass in the hope of saving possibly a whole dollar on my forty dollar fillup. Gas was $2.79 in Ocala when I left, and I was amazed to see that unleaded was still in the $2.60 range in some of the more rural towns on the way. I had three quarters of a tank, but my inner jew forced me to want to stop and fill up before I got back to Ocala and save that dollar. So I pulled over to fill up and found that the first station was out of everything but premium... and so were the next three. Eventually, when I got back to Ocala, I pulled into a Racetrack gas station to grab some Tacquitos and was amazed at the panic. Cars were lined up 10-15 deep at each pump and the tanks were starting to run dry, whipping people into a frenzy- fueled (pun intended) I'm sure by rumors of gas topping $5 in Atlanta.

An off-shore oil rig being pulled off a bridge

Sensing the opportunity for political grandstanding, Senators such as Democratic nincompoop and former space cadet (I don't even know what that term means, but he did used to be an astronaut so it seems applicable) Bill Nelson have seized on the Katrina tragedy resulting in a loss of 25% of oil production as a mandate to express their staggering economic incompetence and solidify their base of environmental wackos. Sen. Nelson (who I will refer to derogatorily as Captain Planet the rest of this post) has proposed that gas prices be frozen and warned that the administration may use this opportunity to push for more drilling.

With our powers combined- we can ignore the key principle of economics!

This makes absolutely no sense because we are facing a SUPPLY problem. Captain Planet's constituents should demand that he enroll in economics 101 and learn the basics of supply and demand. Since we are facing a problem of supply, freezing the gas prices at a lower than equilibrium price will only serve to increase demand- resulting in longer lines and faster shortages, exactly like what happened in the 1970's when Nixon froze gas prices.

The other predominant brainstorm between Captain Planet and friends is to release oil from the strategic national petroleum reserve- what they plan to do when the reserve is depleted and supply is still short is beyond me.

I have two theories regarding the apparent disconnect from reality suffered by Captain Planet and friends. One- they have no idea what the law of supply and demand means, in which case they are totally unqualified to make economic decisions for the country, or Two- Captain Planet is exploiting gas price panic for political gain, in which case Pat Robertson should call for his assassination, and the rest of us for his removal from office.

By definition there are only two solutions for solving this apparent crisis. Increasing the supply of oil or reducing demand for oil. Since Captain Planet and his liberal friends believe anything to do with obtaining oil is evil and refuse to drill in either the Gulf or ANWAR (an amount of land best described as the size of a sparrow fart in the hurricane of Alaskan tundra- which is estimated to be able to produce up to a million gallons a day), I'm waiting for a realistic solution for reducing demand...


I always wanted to have a post that I could update, like I'm spreading some kind of valuable information that's hard to come by.

I've taken a few calls today in the shop from people looking to cancel tee times because of the gas situation. Apparently, a majority of gas stations in the greater central Florida area are either out of gas, running out of gas, or jammed full of paniced (wait... it's panicked... but why?!) people filling container after container. Apparently that 25% of production we lost was the 25% that ends up here- let's hear it for irrational paranoia!
Hurricane Katrina
I've fought it tooth and nail, but I'm going to allow myself one smidgen of a post on Hurricane Katrina.

A) I am of the opinion that hurricanes should be named based on their projected strength- as opposed to arbitrarily. I'm sure more people would have evacuated had Hurricane Brock Samson been bearing down...B) Speaking of evacuating, I say anyone who stayed in New Orleans for the storm deserves the misery they find themselves in. Seriously, you had four days to get your fat ass and some important belongings out of town. It's not like a tornado or tsunami or something that can catch you by suprise- you know you live in a city below sea level, you knew 24 hours beforehand that the storm had sustained winds of 184 mph and was bringing at least a foot of rain, you know your trailer can barely stand up to the wash of truckers driving down the highway, and you should know that the entire Mississippi watershed drains down through your backyard- what the hell did you think was going to happen? If I was the Coast Guard I'd either charge you for the rescue or leave you sitting on your roof...
C) ... On the other hand I believe I feel what you humans call compassion for those who sheltered in the Superdome or just simply had nowhere else to go. I feel perfectly justifed calling Brett Favre a jackass for not evacuating his family, but I'm sure there were a lot of people who either couldn't afford traveling somewhere indefinately (many times officials won't open the roads back up to a city after a small hurricane for days) and/or did not know anyone to go stay with. I've heard scattered reports today that those in the Superdome will be transferred on a seven hour bus ride to Houston (torture in itself) where they might have to stay until December (Yeah, freaking December- one big room, 20,000 people).
D) Speaking of New Orleans, I wish there was someway I could speculate on Mardi Gras. I bet I could get in pretty cheaply at the moment, and if they ever host another one it will be freaking huge! Hell, I'll even think about going- it could be my last chance...