Thursday, December 30, 2010


Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues to foul 168 miles of Louisiana coastline

Gary Hayward, the Newfields Environmental Planning and Compliance contractor who oversees the SCAT program, said that large area will be placed into a new "monitor and maintenance" category, once Louisiana state and local officials agree to the procedures to be used for that category.

"With rare exceptions, most of the marshes still have a bathtub ring that we have all collectively decided we aren't going to clean any more than we already have because we'd be doing more harm to the marshes than the oil is going to be doing to them," Hayward said.

The cleanup protocols for each state have been approved by state and local governments, federal agencies and BP, he said.

Louisiana's senior coastal official says the state is monitoring the cleanup, and remains concerned with end-of-year conclusions that the cleanup is almost complete.

That last line I've excerpted from Mark Schleifstein's article references an AP story which also ran on NOLA.com this afternoon carrying this headline.

Cleanup of oil-tainted Gulf Coast nears end

This isn't the first time since the oil disaster began that we've seen a sort of "good news" looking headline slapped up for simultaneous release with a disappointing story. Maybe it's a coincidence but some of us tend to get a bit suspicious about that sort of thing.

Round hole meets square one-shaped peg

Ten years ago I was still young and naive enough to console myself with the idea that one day they'd run out of years numbered in such a way as to permit the sale of these obnoxious novelties on Bourbon Street. But somehow, cheap crap found a way.

Same crap different yeae

Another crappy year behind us. God knows how it can get worse but the evidence tells us a way will be found.

I call bullshit

Can you believe there are three NFC punters more highly rated than Thomas Morstead? I know we're living in the "Golden Age of Punting" but come on.

And this is why they're trying to kill Net Neutrality

Because if they're ever going to "trap" internet users, it helps if they're allowed to make every individual site more or less pay-to-play.

The magazine publishers’ fantasy that iPad users would be trapped in the digital equivalent of an airplane cabin, with the app store functioning like SkyMall, is the latest incarnation of a zombie dream that just won’t die. It’s been around since the dawn of dial-up services (remember Compuserve?) and it fails every single time.

The difference is, I'm not so sure it's going to fail this time.


We're sorry to see Courtney Roby go but, I mean, ARRINGTON, BITCHES! Your world is about to change.

Update: Seriously though. This could be the Arrington moment.

In anticipation of the New Year's Eve celebration

We commemorate the 10th anniversary of history's greatest ball drop.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Navigating flood regions

Yes, it's 2010: The Year of the Unfinished Blog Post. And I was all set to say fuck it once again and half-assedly dump some fragments of what could have been the last two weeks'game recaps when Sports Nation Atlanta had to go and drop this shit bomb on us this morning.
Hurricane Katrina, conversely, is no laughing matter. Ask Roddy White, who found out last week that even though New Orleans has exploited every iota of their 2005 disaster to better celebrate a Super Bowl win, any mention that the "Who Dat Nation" might be a little self-righteous in their usage of Katrina as a plot device is simply off-limits.

Roddy's tweet exposed a loophole that's gone previously unnoticed by most NFL fans: New Orleans is more than willing to capitalize upon Hurricane Katrina as a means of fabricating a redemption narrative for their football team. But those same opportunists squawk with incredulity when opposing fans, players and media treat that horrible disaster with the same triviality.

Before we address this question of whether we have the right to tell victims of horrific tragedy the ways in which they are and are not allowed to "capitalize upon" their misfortune, let's take a minute to look at where this so-called trivialization originates.

American football fans spent 40 years not paying very much attention to the way New Orleans had woven its underperforming football team into its highly ritualized civic and spiritual calendar. New Orleans has a way of elevating or infusing joy into things that other cities may find embarrassing or, worse, take for granted. People think this is a lazy or backward or half-assed place but one thing New Orleans does not do half-assed is love. And New Orleans always loved its football team. For a while last year, people outside of New Orleans were forced to pay some attention to that. And many of those people, as is often the case, just didn't get it.

And that's okay if they don't get it. It's not their city or their team. We do what we do. Other people do what they do. Unfortunately what happens often when people who don't get something are asked to explain that which they do not get is they make something up that they can get. The thing that made the most sense to national media covering the Saints in 2009 was the Katrina meme.

As the Saints embarked on the run that led to their championship last year, the Katrina linkage Godfrey is pronouncing himself brave enough to "call out" as "sloppy grandstanding" wasn't coming from us. It was coming from nationally based commentators and from network television crews covering the games. And it was awful. People could set their game clocks by the first Fox Sports stock footage of flooded homes. There were drinking games themed around it. It was tone deaf and phony and grating and you knew it was coming every time. But anyone with a eye on local coverage or, at the very least, a NOLA-centric Twitter feed knew how annoyed and offended most of us frequently were by it.

From our perspective, the constant flogging of the Katrina meme not only re-hashed and, in fact, trivialized our experiences here after the flood but also called the focus away from a moment in time we had invested decades of communal yearning in the hope that we'd be around to see. Sure, the flood experience was something we could glom onto that a little but it wasn't the reason for our collective mania. When media people who don't know New Orleans very well watched Saints fans dance and parade in the streets for weeks after the Superbowl (without breaking or burning anything, mind you) the best explanation that fit their understanding was that we were exhibiting some sort of post-traumatic episode. How could they understand that this is just how we are? Not everybody gets it.

After the Superbowl, Wang summarized the mood of the Saints fans more than eloquently here. Maybe Godfrey thinks it's "self-righteous" I just thought he pretty much nailed it.

But this? This wasn't "just another Super Bowl" and these Saints aren't just another Super Bowl Champion. This was epic. It was special. Hell, special doesn't even cover it. It was unique. Singular.

And Saints fans aren't the only ones who think so. No, even people who didn't have a dog in the hunt agree. Casual observers got swept up in it. Cynical sports fans softened. Even many Colts fans, with the sting of defeat still fresh, tipped their caps and, to a degree that I'm sure had to have been surprising for them, smiled right along with us and shared a little of our unparalleled joy.

These Saints were a real life Rocky fuckin' Balboa.

Why? Because it was special. Not just because the Saints won, but because of how they won. Because of who they are. Because they did it right. They did it clean. They did it convincingly. They did it with class and poise and discipline and a genuine appreciation for the profundity of what it was they were in the final stages of accomplishing. Not just for them, but for us. These guys get it.

And you didn't have to be a Saints fan and you didn't have to have followed them all season to see it, and to know that there wasn't anything phony about it. The Saints weren't shy about putting it all out there. They praised us as much as we praised them. They thanked us as much as we thanked them. They kept us front and center, and they didn't have to.

And, unlike many in the national media, these Saints clearly understand that this thing didn't just start in September of 2005. No, this thing goes much farther back than that. That they get that makes it real.

This isn't to say that many New Orleanians haven't found... I don't know... call it inspiration in their team's accomplishments that have temporally coincided with these difficult times. But why shouldn't that be okay? Saints fans certainly deserve at least some of that since A) the flood was something that happened to us B) we are all entitled to a little bit of genuine catharsis in these once-in-a-lifetime moments and C) because fuck Steven Godfrey and fuck Atlanta anyway.

Besides, if they're really upset with us for getting too much football in our Katrina or Katrina in our football, they're not even looking at the appropriate season. The way I see it, our true football related "victory" over Katrina was the fact that the joyful ritual of Saints games wasn't permanently removed from our calendar altogether. And this was a victory we realized in 2006, not 2009.

But, as is often the case, they still don't quite get it.

Update: And now SB Nation has taken the post down. Maybe they were attacked by wayward Wikileaks supporters.

This is Les Miles' brain on Christmas

Jello shots

I'm not sure what they put in these but it's about as easy on one's stomach lining as, say, watching Jordan Jefferson operate the two minute offense.

Oh well. 10 more detoxing days left until Carnival season.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Other places to get shrimp

I read this T-P article about Louisiana seafood restaurants a bit bemused at the disconnect between the headline:

New Orleans restaurants seem to have recovered after the BP oil spill

And what the text actually says.

Oysters are still unavailable at some po-boy shops and seafood joints that used to feature them prominently. Calamari, lobster, scallops and mussels are staples on menus where they never were before. And those reasonably priced local shrimp, crab and oysters? No one knows what will happen to those once Louisiana fishers return to the waters in earnest -- or, for that matter, if it becomes clear that they won't return at all.

It's difficult to find a New Orleans area restaurateur dependent on local seafood who believes the crisis is over.

"Is the oyster industry back to normal? No," said Drago's owner Tommy Cvitanovich. "Is Drago's back to normal? We're about as back to normal as we can be."

"It's still very much a battle," said Kathy Williams, owner of K. Gee's in Mandeville. Williams signed the lease on her seafood restaurant's building on April 26, less than a week after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. "For six weeks we had the sign in the window saying, 'Coming Soon. Oyster Bar,'" said Williams, whose family used to own Bozo's, the storied seafood house and oyster bar in Metairie. "I still don't think we've recovered from that, because we've only recently been able to get oysters."

Nothing there indicates to me that these businesses have recovered or even "seem to have recovered" from the oil disaster. I understand that the businesses themselves have an interest in emphasizing the positive (i.e. the fact that there is any seafood at all) from a marketing perspective but I fail to see why it is the headline writer's job to assist them in driving public perception at the expense of transmitting the facts of the story.

Compounding the confusion is the fact that the print edition headline conveys a much truer sense of the article.

Waiting to Exhale

Do NOLA.com's editors read the articles they place online?

Brett Anderson's story is also notable for this nugget from Ken Feinberg.
On Sept. 4, a small group of local restaurant professionals met in Baton Rouge with Kenneth Feinberg. At one point the Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator asked a question.

"He was like, 'Can't you get seafood from someplace else?'" recalled Wendy Waren, vice president of communications for the Louisiana Restaurant Association, who was present at the meeting. "People at the table just gasped. We're like, 'Are you trying to put a nail in our coffin?'"

"I told Kenneth Feinberg, 'Locals want to eat local fish, and they know what good fish tastes like,'" said Pearson, who was also attended the meeting. "'The quality of seafood here is different than the quality of seafood in other places.'"

Feinberg's quote is strangely reminiscent of BP flack Randy Prescott's statement over the summer that "Louisiana isn't the only place to get shrimp." Although that's certainly a coincidence. Everyone knows Ken Feinberg doesn't have any interest in defending BP that anyone ever talks about.

That's a different lie do you remember what was said?

Brees' knee injury wasn't just our imagination.
Saints fullback Heath Evans has told The Boston Globe that quarterback Drew Brees might have coped with a more serious injury than he or the franchise let on earlier this year.

In a story scheduled to be published Sunday, Evans said Brees gutted through an injury that would have sidelined a lesser player.

"Everyone knew he had some type of injury going on, but it was probably an MCL injury that no one else would have dared to play with and he didn't miss a beat," Evans is quoted as saying. "He was out there warring through for his teammates the betterment of our team. Lord knows we're nowhere near as good without (No.) 9 suited up for us. So I think the majority of some of those interceptions came during that span when he was really fighting through injuries that a lesser man would have shut it down and said, 'Forget the team, I'm worried about me and I don't want to get myself hurt worse.' He said, 'No, I'm not going to miss a practice snap much less a game snap.' I thought that those interceptions, at least some of them, came from throwing off one leg for six weeks."

It's good to see them admit this but the bit about the injury being the primary cause of the interceptions is clearly bullshit. Brees has thrown at least one pick in all but three games this year. Funny the way they're happy to lie about an injury while it's happening and then admit it only when it makes a convenient but equally false excuse later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I dare you to have a Merry Christmas

Try to focus on the sugarplums and not let the store window displays give you nightmares.

Creepy Christmas store window

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Must have been short on Boudreaux's Butt Paste

What else could possibly explain Drew Brees's massive consumption rate of Earth Balance vegan butter substitute? Only the best for young Bowen's delicate behind.

Update: And of course the real life answer is the dull one.
Brees's long list of food allergies includes dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs and nuts. "If I stayed away from everything I'm allergic to, I'd lose 20 pounds," says the 6-foot 209-pounder. "Some are minor allergies, some major. I listen to my body and do the best I can." Here's Brees's diet regimen on a nongame day. He drinks water throughout the day and at meals.

Still, I'm not above declaring Earth Balance the new Juicy Fruit.

Delivering deluxe information

For your reading pleasure, the FCC's severely flawed "net neutrality" order (PDF) which basically kills net neutrality by exempting wireless service from the rules.

And here's yet another quick and easy graphic explaining why this is bad.

QOTD and also today's must-read

Roddy White learned that New Orleans people will only allow other New Orleans people to talk down on the city. We are strange like that.
Nobody hates New Orleans quite like New Orleans does.
Five years after Hurricane Katrina and the “federal flood,” as locals call the disaster, the new New Orleans is as much the product of decades of antiwelfare ideology in local and national governments as it is of the unique circumstances of the disaster. Since the storm, a resurgent racist business elite has gained power in the city and region, and instituted a new era of urban renewal—or, as community activists termed it the first time around, in the 1960s, “Negro removal.” Privatization of New Orleans’ public sector has proceeded to a degree that real estate, banking, and industry leaders in other regions only dream of. Federal disaster subsidies have enabled reinvestment in the state’s major economic sectors—oil and gas, shipping, military, and tourism. Characterized by low wages and ecocidal byproducts, these industries dominate state and city politics. Yet New Orleans is held up as a model of redevelopment, its innovations made possible by an unfortunate storm called Katrina.

After the flood we went straight to work attacking our own.

"Brother Letten"?

Is the legal profession suddenly a religious order? When did this happen?
Sean Hunter, the former aviation director at Louis Armstrong International Airport, intends to plead guilty rather than face federal charges of conspiracy and fraud, court records indicate.

The records show Hunter is due in court Jan. 5 for a change of plea hearing. Previously, he and his wife, Shauna, pleaded not guilty to a nine-count superseding indictment issued in September.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten declined to comment.

Hunter's lawyer, Arthur "Buddy" Lemann, meanwhile, declined to elaborate on the upcoming hearing.

"Like Brother Letten, I can't comment one way or the other," Lemann said.

Now playing on Roddy White's Twitter stream

God I hate that commercial.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Of course" they beat them

4 Henry Glover jurors talk about the case, their verdicts

The jurors had heard conflicting testimony as to whether a beating occurred. But when it came down to it, jurors said the evidence was scant. Because so many witnesses admitted lying to either federal investigators or to a grand jury, the contradictory statements were difficult to go on, jurors said.

They particularly pored over one exhibit -- a photo of the men handcuffed at a police compound -- and looked for any signs of bruises, cuts or other signs of injuries.

"Do I believe they beat them? Of course I do. But there were no marks in the picture," Brown said.

The group cleared Scheuermann and McRae of the beating

Point-counterpoint (sort of)

Brian Allee-Walsh says, leave Reggie alooone! And then makes a bunch of points about why Reggie Bush sucks.
My response to all you mean-spirited Bush Whackers is frickin’ lighten up, will ya please!

Granted, the former 2005 Heisman Trophy winner has not put up productive numbers this season. Nor has he come close to justifying his $8 million base salary, in part, perhaps, because a broken right fibula kept him on the sideline for eight games.

In fact, it doesn’t seem that long ago when hordes of Saints fans clamored for him to get back in the lineup, that a struggling offense missed his presence, if only as a clever decoy.

In five games, Bush, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft, has 62 touches for 320 yards and one touchdown. Here’s the breakdown:

-- 26 rushes for 80 yards, a 3.1-yard average, with a long of 13 yards & no TDs.

-- 25 catches for 133 yards, a 5.3-yard average, with a long of 20 yards & 1 TD.

-- 10 punt returns for 75 yards, a 7.5-yard average, with a long of 43 yards.

-- 1 kick return for 32 yards (against Baltimore).

You can do the math. It adds up to very little bang for the bucks.

I understand the fans’ lingering frustration. I agree from a business standpoint: Reggie Bush has not justified his contract or fulfilled the lofty and unfair expectations that come with being the second overall pick.

Meanwhile, Wang makes much the same argument (Reggie sucks) but actually manages to call it that. I'm sorry about the extended quote but there's no good way to truncate this. There is, of course, much more to Wang's post which you should go read anyway.

And here is the part of the post where we pause to "hate" the shit out of Reggie Bush. As always, if you can't handle it, you know where the fast forward button is.

He fucking sucks ass. There, I said it. Deal with it. He's not just "disappointing" because he's "not living up to his salary" or "not living up to his draft status" or "not living up to the impossible expectations." The first two are true, of course. The third is patently false, because nobody expects dick from Reggie anymore, other than his fanboys who continue to make their weekly predictions that "This is the week Reggie totally sets it off to the tune of 200 total yards and 3 touchdowns! No, really! This time, I'm sure of it!" while everyone else sighs audibly and rolls their eyes.

But it's not that. It's not relative to anything. Not his draft status, not his salary, not "expectations" unless you mean the expectation that he just not fucking blow. Because all anyone who's not a fanboy expects from him at this point is to just not blow. And yet, he continues to blow. At rushing the ball (80 yards rushing on the season, 3.1 yards per) and at catching the ball (133 receiving yards on the season, 5.3 yards per) and at "playmaking" (longest rush 13 yards, longest reception 20 yards) and at scoring touchdowns (only 1 on the season) and at returning punts (one 43-yard return, 3.55 yards per on the other 9, 2 fumbles.)

He's the fifth (FIFTH!!!) best tailback on the team in yards per carry and rushing yards per game. That's right, both Julius Jones and Ladell Betts(!!!) have been more productive rushers than Reggie Bush on a per-carry and per-game basis. He averages 35.5 scrimmage yards per game, which is eighth(!!!) on the team. It's (barely) above all four tight ends and Julius Jones. Oh, and it's a good bit higher than Heath Evans. High five! Of course, his total cumulative yards from scrimmage is 12th on the team, above only Heath Evans and Tory Humphrey.

Of his 11 touches Sunday, 3 of them went for negative yardage. Another 3 went for 2 yards per. He had 4 rushes for -4 yards, his longest rush of the day was 2 yards, and he produced a total of 32 scrimmage yards at a rate of 2.9 yards per. His 11 touches were about 10 too many. Especially considering that Reggie's 7 receptions went for a whopping 5.14 yards per, and aside from the one 20-yarder, the other 6 went for 2.66 yards per. Meanwhile, Mean Joe Screen was targeted exactly twice, and one of them "never happened" because the Saints accepted an offside penalty on the Ravens.

I suppose I can kinda-sorta see the logic. After all, Reggie had posted season-highs against St. Louis last week with a whopping 14 touches for 61 scrimmage yards. And surely Sean Payton figured that Reggie would be able to out-speed an old Ravens defense on a short week. What he failed to account for is what most of us have known for an excruciatingly long time now: Reggie Bush is probably the most football-stupid player on the roster, and his keen awareness of his own so-called "explosiveness" is every bit as big a hinderance as the so-called "explosiveness" is a help in the first place.

He's the Aaron Brooks of tailbacks. And, much like the Aaron Brooks of quarterbacks, a very large and very loud subset of Saints fans are going to continue to flatly refuse to acknowledge it until Reggie spends a season in Oakland and can no longer find a job in the league.

Market sentiment is a series of ones and zeroes

If a computer program can determine the general mood of the market and make resource allocating decisions based on those determinations, then what the hell do I need this invisible hand for?
Math-loving traders are using powerful computers to speed-read news reports, editorials, company Web sites, blog posts and even Twitter messages — and then letting the machines decide what it all means for the markets.

The development goes far beyond standard digital fare like most-read and e-mailed lists. In some cases, the computers are actually parsing writers’ words, sentence structure, even the odd emoticon. A wink and a smile — ;) — for instance, just might mean things are looking up for the markets. Then, often without human intervention, the programs are interpreting that news and trading on it.
Don't look now, but I think Wall Street may have finally killed God. The God of the free market anyway. We are told the actual God was killed years and years ago by either Elvis' hips or the sale of K&B to Rite Aid but scholars continue to debate this. Meanwhile the Market God has been replaced by what appears to be a matrix of spam bots tweeting at one another all day and night. Just remember that Phase 3 is profit.

Some of these programs hardly seem like rocket science. Working with academics at Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame, Dow Jones compiled a dictionary of about 3,700 words that can signal changes in sentiment. Feel-good words include obvious ones like “ingenuity,” “strength” and “winner.” Feel-bad ones include “litigious,” “colludes” and “risk.”

The software typically identifies the subject of a story and then examines the actual words. The programs are written to recognize the meaning of words and phrases in context, like distinguishing between “terribly,” “good” and “terribly good.”
I am horrifically pleased to read this. (Really) But I do wonder what these programs do with two news items whose actual subjects appear to be in contradiction.

For example, today we read that oil prices are up. And when oil prices go up, the news analysis is full of scanable context.
“Crude oil is the most highly correlated and best proxy for the global economy,” said Richard Ross, global technical strategist for Auerbach Grayson.

After trading sideways for much of the year, oil investors are starting to look forward to rising demand in the U.S. and emerging markets, and those hopes have been bolstered by an extended run in the stock market and gains in the Dow Jones Transportation Average , Ross said. “When there’s velocity of commerce, that’s going to manifest itself in higher oil prices,” he added.

But wait. One thing about that rising demand in the U.S. we're starting to look forward to. It was just yesterday that we picked up our T-P and found this widely printed Associated Press story.
After seven decades of mostly uninterrupted growth, U.S. gasoline demand is at the start of a long-term decline. By 2030, Americans will burn at least 20 percent less gasoline than today, experts say, even as millions of more cars clog the roads.

The country's thirst for gasoline is shrinking as cars and trucks become more fuel-efficient, the government mandates the use of more ethanol and people drive less.

"A combination of demographic change and policy change means the heady days of gasoline growing in the U.S. are over," says Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the oil industry.

So what are we doing here? Are we looking forward to rising demand or hunkering down for long term decline? I know I wouldn't want to be a Wall Street spam-bot in this situation. Luckily I still have Google Ngrams to play with. They seem to have a pretty good knack for this sort of advice. That is, if you know which questions to ask.

"...once the banking center of the South"

The older I get the harder it is to explain to people that our little boutique resort and movie set was once a big vibrant city.
The merger in which Whitney will be folded into Hancock, a smaller lending institution, comes as New Orleans, once the banking center of the South, has seen many of its banks get gobbled up by out-of-state financial institutions. Most recently, in March 2005, Capital One Financial Corp. announced the purchase of Hibernia Corp., owner of the then 135-year-old Hibernia Bank.
The central theme of my lifetime in New Orleans has been the dissolution what remained of that city; slowly but surely for a while and then rapidly and surely.

How about E) Grammatically Incorrect?

This is an actual homework assignment we found laying around. It is based on an excerpt from the SI article declaring Drew Brees the "Sportsman of the Year."


Again.. can we just recall Obama?

White House Drafts Executive Order for Indefinite Detention

Each day I have trouble deciding whether the arrogant immorality of our leaders is worse than the arrogant smugness of the people who defend such immorality as "grown up" political reality. It's close.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holy crap

Le Petit Theatre cancels season, fires staff members because of money woes

Funny thing about public corruption

In municipal cases like, the Meffert-St. Pierre-Nagin business for example, it really doesn't do us a lot of good to see the criminals prosecuted once they've left office. I mean, it does allow us to say "I told you so" and shake our fingers and stuff but at the end of the day those guys go to jail, our lives aren't any better because of it, and the next group of corrupt bastards is well into the next corrupt scheme. Putting these people in jail only make a difference if they stop the damage from being done while it's happening which never happens. It can get very frustrating after a while.

I am open to arguments based on maintaining rule of law and shining a light on the nefarious workings of government for the benefit of the citizenry and so forth but we live in a world where that cow is clearly well out of the barn anyway.

Kind of like being the President of Brazil and also Pakistan

The hypothetical Congressman from Monroe and Plaquemines.

Update: David Vitter says it's kind of like being the Senator from "other states" and Mexico

Upperdate: And of course you want to play around with the Census data, right?

Can we just recall Obama?

Net Neutrality dead. Thanks again, pal.

Monday, December 20, 2010


The best in weather forecasting technology

WWL-TV meteorologist Nash Roberts dead at 92

For more than 50 years, Gulf Coast weather-watchers relied on Mr. Roberts to tell them where tropical storms would come ashore.

From before Hurricane Betsy in 1965 to beyond Hurricane Georges in 1998, Mr. Roberts was widely considered the region's most authoritative source for hurricane news.

And in the age of Super Doppler and satellite imagery, there remained for hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians a great sense of relief in seeing Mr. Roberts on screen with his throwback bulletin-board-style weather map and felt-tip pens.

What can I say? I'm (just barely) old enough to remember Nash Roberts and his old dry-erase board as a necessary component of hurricane preparedness. When Channel 4 pulled Nash out of mothballs and put him on TV we knew something serious was happening.

But it wasn't just that. Watching Nash draw picture pages as the storm bore down on New Orleans wasn't just something we did for informational purposes. There was ritual in it. You could compare it to a voodoo practice but I would prefer to do without the occult connotation. Maybe some people thought that watching the Nash Roberts forecast would actually affect the physical universe in some way, but most of us just did it for the same reason we eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day or decorate for holidays. It was just what you do in the situation.

Not sure what we'll do next time.

Dear Santa

I know I'm asking for a lot after the GIF of the year was released, but if there's some way to get one made from the Fox footage of Joe Flacco cussing out the ref during yesterday's Saints-Ravens game, I think the baby Jesus would be much glorified by it.


Christmas Bombs

US warplanes bomb central Iraq

US fighter jets have reportedly pounded a region in Iraq's central governorate of Babil months after Washington declared an end to combat operations in Iraq late August.

Iraqi security sources said that on Monday, US warplanes shelled a region lying north of the provincial capital of Hilla, Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported.

“A number of US jets pounded this afternoon al-Buhayrat region, al-Askandariya district," said a security official, noting that Iraqi authorities had not been informed about the operation.

It was only just September when President Obama declared Mission Accomplished in Iraq and already we're delivering post-Mission ordnance by the Holidays. Maybe they're dropping Christmas bombs.

Demons are real

In an act of Holiday heroism on Saturday I dug our sad little Charlie Brown plastic tree out of the closet and planted it in the living room (right next to our Super Bowl XIV championship pennant) in defiance of the creeping humbuggery. But then, on the next night, an evil presence appeared beneath the tree determined to scratch out (literally) the tenuous ornament of joy I had worked so hard to establish there.

Christmas demon

And so with only five shopping days left, I find myself in need of an exorcist. But, as usual, the Governor is busy fund raising. Meanwhile, can anybody exorcise him?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Submerged roads program

Funny the number of un-submerged streets that program is upgrading. Not that it's a bad thing altogether. Some stretches of Magazine Street could use the work. Although the thing that could benefit it the most would probably be figuring a way to jam fewer cars onto such a narrow road at all hours but that's not going to happen. At least they aren't trying to add a bike lane.

Oh and this might bear watching.

Residents concerned about the fate of the blue-and-white street tiles were told the tiles would be removed and reset.

The track record on this isn't good. Not in the case of the various street repair projects I've noticed. Even in highly publicized cases, the process can take a great deal of time.

Typically I hate all football coaches

But Gregg Williams is growing on me a little. At least as a comic figure anyway.
They know that I don't come to talk during pregame. I don't ever say good luck, because I hope you have a heart attack. If you fall over, I hope you have to forfeit. I'm not looking to say good luck.

Who do you work for again?

Jarvis DeBerry calls out a colleague after seeing his testimony in the Glover trial.
Glover's family had to wait more than five years for justice. Would it have been that long if (Alex)Brandon, who now works for The Associated Press, had been the courageous journalist he was believed to be and had told the world what he knew?

Glover was shot at an Algiers strip mall the Friday after Katrina, then taken in a white Chevrolet Malibu to nearby Habans Elementary School. Brandon acknowledged on the stand that he was at Habans that day but said he didn't take pictures of the news unfolding before him. The two men who sought medical attention for Glover say the bleeding man was ignored and that they were beaten. Brandon told jurors that he witnessed a "contentious situation" between those men and the officers. But he didn't photograph the scene, he said, because McRae told him not to. "It was, for lack of a better term, an order," Brandon said. And the normally intrepid photographer obeyed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Time Killing Game of the Week*

Google Books Ngram generator.

See this NYT article for an explanation.
With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities.

The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen. It consists of the 500 billion words that are contained in books published between 1800 and 2000 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian and Hebrew.

The intended audience is scholarly, but a simple online tool also allows anyone with a computer to plug in a string of up to five words and see a graph that charts the phrase’s use over time — a diversion that can quickly become as addictive as the habit-forming video game Angry Birds.

I don't even play Angry Birds but I could play this all day long. For example, wondering if the internet really is killing journalism? The graph suggests perhaps.

And in this one we see that bicycle lanes clearly have no impact on global warming.

The dip at the end of this one suggests that NFL defenses may finally be reclaiming the upper hand.

This seems about right.

As does the obligatory comparison.

My favorite so far compares seven common vices. I wish these graphs were embeddable but you should really click on this one and take a close look. I find it interesting to see narcotics, prostitution and even gambling all appear to have peaked while liquor and bacon are in the midst of a resurgence.

We could go on and on making more and more nonsensical graphs, and, since we are attracted to the power of lines on a graph to "prove" whatever point we assign to them, we probably will keep making them.

I mean, clearly "Don't ask" and "Don't tell" have been in decline since 2002 at the latest. In light of this, is today's cloture vote on repealing the policy any surprise?

*T.K.G.O.T.W. always requires a h/t to Timshel

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Well the good news is my car doesn't work right now

The New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Section will conduct a DWI Saturation Patrol on Friday, December 17, 2010, in the downtown area, beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M., and concluding approximately 5:00 A.M. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.
"Downtown area" which could technically mean everything below Canal St. Be careful out there.

NOLA law enforcement actually does something (halfway) right

Meaning, if we have to go on enforcing rules against things that arbitrary social mores have artificially determined to be crimes, we may as well not be too dickish about it.

Speaking of usurious criminality

Servicers Downgraded Credit Score of Man who Asked for His Note

Once again, Thank you, Bernie

Taibbi on Bernie Sanders' speech last week:
I can live with the president fighting for something and failing; what I can’t stand is a politician who changes his mind for the sake of expediency and then pretends that was what he believed all along. You just can’t imagine someone like Sanders doing something like that; his MO instead would be to take his best shot for what he actually believes and let the chips fall where they may, budging a little maybe to get a worthwhile deal done but never turning his entire face inside out just to get through the day. This idea that you can’t be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don’t stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It’s possible to do this job with honor and dignity. It’s just that most of our politicians – our president included, apparently – would rather not bother.

Obama isn't just bad at what he does, he's dishonest about it. What's worse, though, and what continually makes me want to break things when confronted with the President and his supporters at this point is the manner in which they present their corrupt dishonesty as "grown-up" or "intelligent". It is neither. Rather it is smug condescension through and through and its oh so smart and oh so grown-up practitioners are the reason our politics keeps running in place the way it does.

Speaking of hypocrisy and the law

What Rene said.

Are you watching a black screen?*

I like that Pat put these similar issues together.

Do you want to know how important your local government is to your continued freedom and economic liberty? Let's start with this: "the respect for title, proper documentation, contract law and private property rights are the underlying reason capitalism works in Western nations". That was said in relation to the massive foreclosure fraud being perpetrated across America in respect to our national banking institutions. That seemed to be the greatest threat to property rights last month.

But it relates to local affairs as well, as local authorities are usually the entities charged in keeping track of and ensuring title, proper documentation, contract law and property rights. Basically, local governments, through recordkeeping duties and the courts, keep capitalism working in Western nations.

So what happens when something goes terribly wrong, and all of this is thrown into disarray? We're about to find out, as the American Zombie investigates the massive and critical infrastructure failure in New Orleans.

If you're not following Jason Berry's series on the real estate records crash at Humid Beings, you should be.

Speaking as someone who sees this whole edifice as one giant fraud to begin with, I'm not sure if throwing out all of the records and admitting there's no just rule of law in the first place isn't a small step toward a more honest rendering of reality but I digress.

The fun game to play right now is figuring out whether or not New Orleans' trashing of the records altogether instead of mincing about trying to apply a patina of legitimacy to a system of usurious criminality isn't yet another of example of our being "so far behind we're ahead"


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In which the Christmas season begins to get to me.

Spirit of the seaon

Of course, I haven't even started with the obligatory shopping and preparations and such. Menckles and I had planned to go get a tree last weekend but you will recall that was a day I was feeling not-so-fresh. Besides, by this point in the year, if you're not hopelessly behind, and frustrated to the point of sucking on eggnog and everclear until you pass out on the floor every night, you're pretty much an asshole anyway. I hope you choke on a figgy pudding.

Anyway so this morning, I had resolved to make this a fifteen or sixteen hour day by heading out to the various suburban gift outlets after work so I could pace up and down and frown at various potential gifts until whatever always accidentally happens to make it all okay happens. Possibly a shooting or a collapsing dome or something. But that plan was blown away when I found the Tercel's right rear tire had mysteriously flattened overnight.

So Santa's sleigh is out of commission at least for another day or two until I get to it. Meanwhile I'm on the bike which is a far less convenient shopping vehicle but is still a pretty good way to get around town. At least it is until the city finishes putting these confusing and dangerous half-assed bike lanes everywhere.

Update: Matters became more fun last night when it was discovered that my jack had somehow rusted into utter uselessness in the trunk of my car.

Rusty jack

No idea how this happened. It says it was just standing over there chopping some wood when all of a sudden it began to rain but I'm not sure about that. Anyway I bathed it in WD-40, banged it against the ground a few times, drank two bottles of Abita Pecan, but nothing seemed to work. When Menckles got home, I borrowed hers so I could put the donut on.... which, when we lowered the weight of the car onto it, we discovered was also flat.

So yeah. Christmastime.

Anthony Jones to plead guilty today


Anthony Jones, who served as chief technology officer in Mayor Ray Nagin's administration, is expected to plead guilty today to taking kickbacks in exchange for making sure former City Hall technology vendor Mark St. Pierre got paid timely.

Jones has been charged in a bill of information rather than a grand jury indictment. That is generally a sign that a defendant has signed a plea deal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The visionary spirit of Jefferson Parish

Ahead of the curve on missing the boat... or the truck as the case may be.
In some cities, including food truck hotbeds like New York and Los Angeles, vendors have faced increased regulatory pressure and criticism from restaurateurs who view their lower overhead as unfair competition. Wendy Waren, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Restaurant Association, hasn't heard any such complaints from the group's New Orleans-area members, and she suggests that's because the local food truck scene is still so small.

  But street food has been controversial in Jefferson Parish. In 2007, the Jefferson Parish Council effectively prohibited food trucks, enacting an ordinance barring mobile vendors from major streets and requiring them to provide restroom facilities. As a result, the Latino-run taco trucks that had appeared around the parish after Hurricane Katrina quickly moved on.
I don't remember too much discussion of "unfair competition" coming from the JP advocates of the ban at the time. Seems like they were more worried about the threat to "public health" and "returning to normalcy". All of which is to say they're about as honest as they are rational over there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Orleans Jazz

Image on the front page of ESPN.com right now.

Killing the Bill

I'm not exactly sure if I'm convinced that it's unconstitutional, but I will say that the individual mandate provision of the health care bill is unpleasant and also a perfect example of the foolishness of trying to reform health care by going through the insurance industry rather than around it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Let it be noted that we had every intention of delivering last week's football post on time. But then, even when that didn't happen, we were sure we were going to do it Friday morning which would be better than we've done most of this season.

But then on Thursday night Menckles bought us some nice wine and then things went downhill and then all of Friday turned into this.

Hungover Friday

And so here I am with just a few hours to throw something together before running down to Acme for more liquor. In which case, I'm not even going to waste time with the regular opening joke or rambling tangent. Instead, maybe just enjoy the Gregg Williams animated GIF provided by Varg for the general benefit of mankind.

Saints vs Bengals: (Stolen photos from TP NOLA.com gallery. Animated GIF rudely hot-linked to Varg's site unless that becomes a problem)

  • Pants Factor: What the hell is going on here? This is, what 6? 20? wins in a row in the black pants? Okay okay you've made your freaking point, guys. But seriously, can we ditch the pants anyway? They don't look any less stupid.

    BTW, Black pants WITH fanny pack? Worst decision ever.

    Also, props to Sean Payton for going with the hoodie this week. In football fashion parlance, the hoodie is sort of an anti-windbreaker in that it's how we identify the coaches who aren't complete morons.

  • Good Ironbutt Chris Ivory was a beast Sunday (15 carries 117 yards 2 touchdowns) Ivory's 636 yards leads the Saints and all NFL rookies in rushing this season. Ivory is one of a handful of undrafted free agent running backs currently leading their teams including overall leader Arian Foster of Houston. The Saints expect to make the roster stronger by adding another undrafted running back to the mix this week. All of which begs the question, what exactly is the NFL draft for in the first place? Actually let's save that one for later.

    Undrafted NFL running backs are giving the phrase Who Dat (or even Who Dey) a new shade of meaning lately

  • Bad Ironbutt: It had been a while, but the dude did fumble again. Maybe we should have given the ball to a guy with an actual resume.

  • Clint Stitser: Is the amusing name of the Bengals' place kicker. More on that in a moment.

  • Punter's duel: Much of the first half of this one was dominated by the punters. During the first quarter, (with a strong wind at his back) Cincy's Kevin Huber hit a 55 yarder to place the Saints on their 10, and a 58 yarder to the 5. On the first occasion, the Saint's offense was able to dig out of the hole and finish up with a field goal but on the second they couldn't get out of the shadow of their own goal line which was when Thomas Morstead did all he could to bail the Saints out by hitting a 53 yard punt into the wind all the way to the Cincinnati 36. The Bengals drove from there for a field goal but we still think Morstead has more than earned your Pro Bowl vote.


  • Nobody can cover the tight end: The Saints have had tremendous difficulty finding their opponents' tight end all season long. Bengals Tight End Jermaine Gresham was only the latest troublemaker in this regard. Gresham caught 4 passes for 43 yards including a 23 yard reception on a fourth and one and managed to make a Scott Shanle attempt at tackling look pretty pitiful.

    On the other hand, the Bengals couldn't cover the tight end either. Jimmy Graham's 52 yard reception near the end of the half put Drew Brees past Archie Manning at the top of the Saints' all-time leaders in passing yardage. It was probably Graham's best moment all year since the first time he differentiated himself from Jeremey Shockey by catching a pass and not falling directly to the ground.

    Jimmy Graham not dropping a football

  • There was a goal line stand during the first half which caused some excitement on the sidelines: See animated GIF at the top of this post.

  • Messy, although not in the way Ochocinco told us it would be This was a sloppy game for a number of reasons, the Saints' line play being chief among them. Brees was sacked twice but was also frequently smooshed in the act of throwing the ball. Five of the Saints' embarrassing 11 penalties came from offensive linemen either holding or jumping offside. After all the talk about the weather this week, who would have thought that the O-Line play would have been the most negatively affected? I mean, isn't that why they have a protective layer of blubber in the first place?

    Jahri Evans (right) leads all NFL linemen in holding penalties this season

  • Uh Oh the kicker sucks: Garrett Hartley once again had Saints fans pulling their hair out this week. For reasons not entirely clear to most of us, Hartley has taken over the kickoff duties from Morstead for most of this season and performed abysmally in that role. Hartley's momentum-kiliing out-of-bounds kick after the Saints had just gone up 20-6 to start the second half could not have come at a worse time. It signaled to Saints fans that they weren't going to be putting this team away. Brees' interception on the ensuing possession made matters worse, but the downhill slide began with Hartley as such things often seem to do. Hartley went on to have further difficulties with his kickoffs as the game descended into much unnecessary nail-biting. Also let us take a moment to remember why the Saints are still looking up at the Falcons in the standings right now.

    Garrett Hartley is fat punk

    On the other hand, the amusingly named Clint Stitser also shanked an extra point that could have made a difference in what became a close game. Also, for some unknown reason, the Bengals had Stitser squib a number of his kickoffs to the Saints' up men. Courtney Roby is a pretty good return man, but why go to such elaborate lengths to avoid him? Or maybe Stitser just can't actually kickoff at all, it's hard to tell. All of which goes to show, if this is indeed the Golden Age of Punting, it must also be said that NFL placekicking is in its Dark Age.

  • Did Jabari Greer even have to do anything? As the game wound down, it looked as though the Bengals were throwing at Tracy Porter on almost every play. Porter got beat a few times but did okay for the most part. But still, one wonders what they were trying to do there.

  • Meach is back around Robert Meachem (and the Saints' big play passing game) has been on a tear lately. Does anybody come up bigger at bigger moments than he does? The most satisfying moment of the game of the game occurred during the fourth quarter when the Saints took possession of the ball with time becoming short and their lead down to one. Rather than panic and come out in a five-wide shotgun, the Saints executed this sequence.

    1st and 10 Safe pass to Julius Jones for 6

    2nd and 4 Ivory up the middle for 11

    1st and 10 Meachem deep for 52.

    The Saints would need to come back one more time before the game ended but here was the evidence that they weren't going to freak out let the thing get away from them. In fact, on the very next possession, when the circumstances were even more dire, the Saints, trailing by a point now, ran this play sequence.

    1st and 10 Ivory left for 8

    2nd and 2 Ivory right for 3

    1st and 10 Deep ball to Meachem for 42.

    Even when trailing late, there was no need to panic. The Saints hit a couple plays up the gut before looking for their big play guy once they had properly set him up.

    Robert Meachem making another big play

  • Brain Freeze: This game really did come down to who would do the stupidest thing at the worst time. For a while we thought that would be the Saints who granted the Bengals a first down and subsequent game tying score by virtue of an idiotic 12 men on the field penalty. And yet, somehow, in defiance of all probability, the Bengals managed to out-stupid even that.
    Facing fourth-and-2 at the Cincinnati 7 with 34 seconds left and trailing by 3 on Sunday, the Saints called timeout, then huddled up and went through an elaborate 20 seconds of play-acting as Brees looked agitated in the backfield, shouting out orders and formations and then settling under center to bark out the signals.

    It seemed obvious that the Saints would consider not snapping the ball; sure enough, the play was called “No-Brainer Freeze,” and it is designed merely to see if there is anyone unaware enough to jump offside and give New Orleans a first down.

    On Sunday, there was.

    Defensive lineman Pat Sims bought Brees’s act and jumped. Instead of taking a delay-of-game penalty and running out their kicker to send the game into overtime, the Saints were presented with a first down. Brees threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston on the next play, and the Saints won, 34-30.

    “What is that guy doing?” Saints defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis said. “You have to be smarter than that.”

    Point of emphasis: It is insufficient to state that Sims's boo boo was merely the difference between a Saints win and overtime. It was, in fact, the difference between a game-winning touchdown pass to Marques Colston and the extremely dicey proposition of leaning on Garrett Hartley's chances of making a 27 yard field goal with the game on the line. Nobody wanted to see that. And thanks to Sims nobody had to.

    In fact, in light of the magnitude of Sims's goof, I wonder if it isn't time to revise that Top 10 Historic Plays list we compiled last week. Jeff Duncan seems to think maybe.

    There is just no way that worked. Really?

  • Finish: And even after all that, there were a few more anxious moments. Having benefited from a 47 yard kickoff return (thank you again Mr. Hartley for not reaching the end zone) the Bengals were in position to try a not too unreasonable Hail Mary from the Saints' 37 with seconds left to play. Gregg Williams's decision to blitz in that situation was an inspired move. The resulting sack to end the game neatly matched the one that ended the first half and, in turn, allows us to end this post on the appropriate note.

Louisiana Senate is more like a friendly advisory committee

Senators reject Jindal health care cuts

A spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal says the administration will continue with the cuts anyway, overruling the action of the committee — a decision that could lead to a court dispute if lawmakers or providers choose to challenge the action.

It's kind of like a filibuster that isn't a filibuster.

I think we're getting the big jail

Mayor Landrieu is still pretty powerful right now. And it doesn't look like he's going to shoot Gusman down on this.

Tax Fairness Commission

City council votes 6-1 to increase property taxes

The increase will generate $20.5 million in revenue for the city. The vote comes the same week the mayor signed an executive order establishing a Tax Fairness Commission, designed to explore reforms to the city’s tax system and find ways to collect millions of dollars in unpaid or under-assessed taxes.

Not sure I understand the point of that. I thought consolidating the assessor's office was going to solve all of these problems.

Besides, everything you've ever wanted to know about tax fairness was covered by Bernie Sanders yesterday.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Shutting down half the city

Serpas wants you all to stay inside.

The New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Division will conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, December 11, 2010, in the Gentilly, Lakeview, and Lakevista area. The check point will begin at approximately 9:00 P.M. and will conclude at about 5:00 A.M. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have the proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, driver’s license, etc., available if requested.

I already lived through the 1990s once

And yet I've lived long enough to watch an ineffectual Democratic President get his brains beat in by a crazy angry GOP over health care (mostly anyway) and now Don't Ask Don't Tell as well.

What's next? If you guessed,ineffectual Democratic President pushes for a new NAFTA, you win!

Early afternoon link dump

Because I want to get to the football as soon as possible.

  • Getting back to the "books-I'm-reading" meme I started yesterday, one criticism I have of Tom Bower's Oil: Money, Politics, and Power in the 21st Century is that it reads like an extended Fortune profile on the careers of major oil company CEOs. While Bower doesn't flatter his subjects or hide uncomfortable facts, the reader still gets the impression that we're almost supposed to be rooting for these executives as they struggle to buy off the appropriate Russian oligarch or downplay the appropriate spill or execute the appropriate Nigerian rebels and so forth. In any event, it's worth slogging through.

    Also worth a look, WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed
    The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

    The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

  • How many Gulf shrimp must you eat in one sitting to exceed the threshold by which FDA has declared them safe? Four Also if you're a child eating shrimp, you'd better be a fat child.
    Critics of the FDA program have also questioned using 176 pounds as the average weight of consumers in establishing the levels of concern for PAHs. Sixty percent of respondents to the NRDC survey said they weighed less than 176 pounds.

    "That weight obviously also doesn't protect children," said Solomon. "Once again, we're not telling people not to eat Gulf seafood. What we are asking is for the FDA to do the science right, bring truth to local diets."
    Note: Please do not fatten your children up by feeding them excess shrimp.

  • SHOCKING BREAKING NEWS: Fox News is a Republican propaganda machine
    Media Matters has obtained leaked emails that show how a top Washington editor at Fox News directed his journalists not to use the phrase "public option."

    Instead, Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor, told staffers to use the phrase "government option." This happens to be the exact phrase that Republican pollster Frank Luntz had advised Republicans to begin using to describe the public option -- on Sean Hannity's show, no less.

  • Speaking of propaganda, I'm all for the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center taking a stand against discrimination, but can we please not ruin young childrens' reading time in the process?

  • And, speaking of children and books and the like,

    BESE approves Pastorek's plan for the future governance of New Orleans public schools
    The Pastorek plan allows schools meeting an academic threshold to choose whether to return to local control or stay in the RSD. The plan also allows for the creation of a new local governing board in place of the Orleans Parish School Board.
    According to the Twitterings from The Lens, this follows upon a very contentious public meeting last night. Can't wait to read their report.

Viva Sanctimoniousness!

House Democrats defy Obama on tax cut bill

The other Ed Blakely

Paul Vallas: International Man of... attaching his name to the wake of disaster.

Tipping point

It's been coming for a while but this Wikileaks saga is hurrying the heavily censored and closed internet out into the world beyond just China. In a few years it will basically just be another conduit for TV shows.

Adding: Yes, Twitter restored the account. The point, though, is look how easy it is to squish people if you want to.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

6:00 Link Dump

Salon's "Best Non-Fiction of 2010" lists six titles only one of which I've read (The Big Short by Michael Lewis) and another I'm waiting to read (The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson) So I can't really comment much other than to say The Big Short is so character-driven that it could make a halfway decent movie and that I saw Wilkerson interviewed on Book TV this year and was interested in her subject but hope her writing isn't as boring as her personal presentation.

Anyway it's December and 'tis the season for "Best of" book lists. Book TV has several of these compiled in the "News about Books" window on the front page of its website. I've been looking through the lists all day and have found that I've read, checked out and not read, or am planning to read only a few of these selections. In addition to The Big Short and The Warmth of Other Suns I've also checked out Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition but had to return it because I was reading something else at the time. It will go back in the queue and I'll get to it eventually. Also on one of these lists (Library Journal's) I noticed The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption which I had just checked out a few days ago. Jonathan Franzen's Freedom is near the top of everyone's fiction lists. I read the first chapter of it last night and am not surprised that I already want to punch Franzen in the face along with each of his stupid neurotic yuppie characters nobody should care about.

I guess I should put together a list of books I read in 2010 just for comparison's sake. Maybe later. Meanwhile here's what I read on the internet today.

  • Here is a NOLA Defender item on yesterday's Inspector General's report on New Orleans Hotels who don't pay their fair share of occupancy taxes.

    Here is a Times-Picayune editorial opining that they probably should do that.

  • Good round-up from the New York Times of discussion about a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.

    New York Times analysis of the tax cut deal helps explain why there's so much of that talk today.
    The proposal does not include an extension of Mr. Obama’s signature tax cut, the Making Work Pay credit, which provided a credit of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families of low and moderate income. Instead, the plan creates a one-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes, which are generally levied on the first $106,800 of income. For an individual earning $110,000, that provision would reduce payroll taxes by $2,136.

    Although the $120 billion payroll tax reduction offers nearly twice the tax savings of the credit it replaces, it will nonetheless lead to higher tax bills for individuals with incomes below $20,000 and families that make less than $40,000. That is because their payroll tax savings are less than the $400 or $800 they will lose from the Making Work Pay credit.

  • Meanwhile TNR has this "Inside the Obama White House" thing up that everybody read today but I don't think was very helpful. Did they have to call it "Loose Change"? Just.. blech.

  • Also read this Matt Taibbi post which is ostensibly about the fact that David Gergen confused Taibbi with NYT's Matt Bai, but it's really about the schmaltzy-smug pseudo-centrist media creatures who feed us our lies each day.

    Bai is one of those guys -- there are hundreds of them in this business -- who poses as a wonky, Democrat-leaning "centrist" pundit and then makes a career out of drubbing "unrealistic" liberals and progressives with cartoonish Jane Fonda and Hugo Chavez caricatures. This career path is so well-worn in our business, it's like a Great Silk Road of pseudoleft punditry. First step: graduate Harvard or Columbia, buy some clothes at Urban Outfitters, shore up your socially liberal cred by marching in a gay rights rally or something, then get a job at some place like the American Prospect. Then once you're in, spend a few years writing wonky editorials gently chiding Jane Fonda liberals for failing to grasp the obvious wisdom of the WTC or whatever Bob Rubin/Pete Peterson Foundation deficit-reduction horseshit the Democratic Party chiefs happen to be pimping at the time. Once you've got that down, you just sit tight and wait for the New York Times or the Washington Post to call. It won't be long.

  • Senate votes to remove Judge Thomas Porteous from office

    Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead House impeachment manager, told senators Tuesday that Porteous had demanded payments and gifts from lawyers and bailbonds executives to help support "a lifestyle which he couldn't otherwise afford" that included frequent gambling at casinos. Schiff said Porteous so corrupted the system that in a complicated federal hospital case one of the parties felt a need to bring in a "crony" of the judge to its legal team because the other side already had hired a Porteous friend.

    "Everyone around the judge has fallen," Schiff said. "The bailbondsmen have gone to jail, the other state judges he helped recruit have gone to jail, the lawyers who gave him the cash lost their law licenses and (have) given up their practices. The judge is a gambler and he is betting that he can beat the system just one more time.

  • Everyone was also talking about John Lennon today. Here you can watch Howard Cosell announce Lennon's death on Monday Night Football.

    Or you can just listen to your choice of Working Class Hero or Watching the Wheels

  • Lastly, and this is a doozy, Wikileaks Reveals That Military Contractors Have Not Lost Their Taste For Prostitutes I guess only some sex scandals are relevant here though.

I had gotten rather tired of Keith Olbermann's melodramatic douchey bluster

But every now and then the occasion happens to match the tone.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

6:00 PM Link Dump

It was pointed out to me sort of by accident that I spend a lot of time posting links on Facebook and Twitter where they kind of go to die if I don't put them somewhere I can find them later. So I'm going to try to start collecting the mess on the blog more frequently. Here's the first shot at it.

Today in links:

Greenwald: Anti-WikiLeaks lies and propaganda - from TNR, Lauer, Feinstein and more

Gulf Oil Spill: Why Size Mattered From the Very Beginning, Especially for BP
BP faces billions in fines for the oil that spewed from its damaged Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. So, it was hardly shocking to hear that BP disagrees with the government’s estimates of how much oil flowed into the Gulf. Here’s where it get wacky: BP believes the government was off by as much as 50 percent.

N.O. inspector says hotels aren't paying fair share
The cash-strapped New Orleans city government is likely losing millions of dollars each year from hotels that either do not pay sales taxes or under-report their revenue, according to an analysis released today by the city's inspector general.

Borders trying to buy out or merge with Barnes & Noble:

Revulsion of the Day: Here's an edition of Pat Robertson's 700 Club from Sept 7, 2010 featuring Drew Brees talking about his book and his faith and keeping your chin up and positivity and other such crap.

Here is an otherwise mediocre interview between Stephen Colbert and new Hornets "owner" NBA Commissioner David Stern from Nov 15 where Stern makes a very telling slip in describing himself as an "internationalist" which he defines as different from "American".

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
David Stern
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

It's a revelatory comment in that Stern cannot nor can anybody in his above-the-law class identify in any meaningful way with sports fans whose passion derives from pride in their sense of place. Not only does someone like Stern not care about franchise relocation, he's fundamentally incapable of even empathizing with the fans who lose out as a result.

After the NBA assumed ownership of the Hornets, Stern estimates the franchise's value jumped by $50 million. Obviously he's looking to shop the team to an "internationalist" pool of potential buyers.

Meanwhile, Deadspin: The New Orleans Hornets' Sad Financial Documents

Speaking of selling out, read this impassioned speech by Hillary Clinton back in January about "Internet Freedom" just for laughs.

Pro-science textbooks win this time around in Louisiana

The Lens: Gusman won’t be charged in woman’s restraining death

Gambit: Some clueless Mormon tourists think "Katrina did New Orleans a World of Good" Which is... idiotic of course, but it's an occasion to remind ourselves that it makes more sense to worry about the people who actually live here and hold positions of power and influence who frequently display the same attitude. And I'm not just talking about Erroll Laborde. Katrina gave a lot of plutocratic New Orleanians the opportunities they thought they'd never have to break the teachers' union, to privatize school management, to reduce access to affordable housing.

There was a time when the perceptions of outsiders mattered but that media war has already been lost. Time to focus on the real problem.

Watch Cornell West say it. Barack Obama doesn't care about jobless people.

And finally, The Lens: Don’t plan on recycling bottles from New Year’s Eve bash
The much-touted recycling program for most of the city, announced as a sweetener in the recent contract negotiations with Metro Disposal and Richard’s Disposal, will not start with the new year, an attorney for the companies said, and it’s unclear just how soon residents will be putting out their paper, plastic and glass.