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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

May have

Uh oh, time to send more chefs to the Olympics.

A study on possible effects of the 2010 BP oil spill indicates dispersants may have killed plankton -- some of the ocean's tiniest plants and creatures -- and disrupted the food chain in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the nation's richest seafood grounds. Scientists who read the study said it points toward major future effects of the spill. One called its findings scary.

Voter supression

Probably going to be the most important factor in this year's election.  Pretty much treated only as a background story right now.

John White is a liar

Lamar puts it as bluntly as one can.

Make no mistake: Regardless of the spin that Governor Jindal, his administration, and Superintendent White attempt to put on this issue, as I’ve stated before, this has nothing to do with ensuring accountability; it’s about justifying unaccountability. Both of these men, insidiously and under the banner of parental choice, are lying to you, to me, to the people of the Great State of Louisiana, and to the entire nation. It’s a sham, an attempt at a massive redistribution of public wealth into the hands of a select number of politically-acceptable, religiously-right, profiteering con-artists.
Jindal, meanwhile, couldn't care less about any of this.  As long as the policy bolsters his ideological bona fides, he's good to continue applying for his next job.  Up until yesterday, I was convinced there was no realistic chance that next job would be the Vice Presidency.  But then certain contrary indicators have emerged which have me re-thinking that assessment.

Wait. What did he say?

Yesterday, The Lens filed two reports on the same meeting of the New Orleans College Prep Academies Charter board. Here are two different versions of what I take to be the same conversation.

The first version.
The state open-meetings law allows private meetings for a handful of specific purposes. When asked later in open session by The Lens whether the topics discussed behind closed doors met those legal requirements, board members said little. “We don’t have to answer that,” Chairman Kenneth Polite said. The other members remained silent. Members later admitted to planning the new charter school in closed session, which would seem to fall well outside the legal exemptions that allow for barring the public from the meeting.

And then later in the "clarified" version we get this.
The state open-meetings law allows private meetings for a handful of specific purposes. Board Chairman Kenneth Polite explained to a reporter during a break in the meeting that the board was discussing sensitive matters involving the future of the school. He said it would be premature and perhaps detrimental to make such matters public.
While that's certainly a more.. um.. polite way to relay Polite's remarks, one is left wondering  if it's actually what he said.


In any event, my unsolicited advice to any charter board (or to BESE, for that matter) is to just follow the open meetings law.  Whatever they do or say is much less likely to draw any attention if nobody suspects their trying to hide it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Details

The Atlanta Falcons would prefer to remain anonymous.
James Varney reports that the Falcons refused to allow their logo and images to be included in a “Rebirth’’ statue of Steve Gleason that was unveiled outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday. The statue captures a classic moment in Saints history.

It portrays Gleason’s crucial block of a punt in the first game the Saints played in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The 2006 game was against the Falcons and Gleason blocked Michael Koenen’s punt.

Okay so maybe they're not actually being total dicks about this.  It's probably some kind of complicated trademark issue involving the league and whether or not anybody can sell a "Who Dat" T-shirt or something.  Let's ask them. They'll tell us.

"The first thing that happens in a request for marks is that it has to go to the league because we don’t own the marks,’’ (Falcons President Rich) McKay told ESPN.com. “The league does for anything outside of our market. When they brought it to us, we discussed it with them and we came to the conclusion that, obviously the fact they're honoring the moment is fantastic. We were all there. It was an incredible moment for the city. It was not something that we wanted to memorialize the game. So we kind of looked at it as though we didn’t want necessarily a statue in front of the building that had our marks. Albeit, we all understand how important the moment was for the city and what they had gone through. We all lived in that moment and it was a pretty special thing. Even losing, it was still a pretty special thing. But it was just something that when we talked to the league about it, we said we didn’t think it was appropriate to put the marks on it. Everybody knew what the game was. Everybody knew what the moment was."
In other words, no, they just didn't wanna.  Whatever.  Thanks for being such great sports, guys.  Here's what Remi Ayodele thinks of your stupid marks, by the way

ATLANTA -- The scene was one of celebration, New Orleans Saints players dancing and taking pictures on the Atlanta Falcons logo late Monday night at the Georgia Dome, in uniform no less.
As they ran back into the tunnel, pictures taken, dances completed, smiles wide, I asked one of the players what that was all about.

"I pissed on the Falcons logo," Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele said.
Another great moment in Saints-Falcons history that someone should probably memorialize.  If we can get this statue commissioned, I'd chip in to have it installed outside the Georgia Dome somewhere.  We can put it right next to the one commemorating those two points the Falcons scored during the playoffs last year. 

Bucking the trend

Of course we're going to turn our latest human and ecological catastrophe into a "job creating" Hollywood South film project.  It's what we do.

Meanwhile, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will get its big screen treatment, courtesy of the Twilight producersDeadline reports that Matthew Sand's script (based on a The New York Times article by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul) got picked up.
Oh and meanwhile, via the above-linked post, we're sending our culinary cultural ambassadors to the Olympics where they can deliver BP's message for them. 

These chefs may think they're leveraging BP's cash to promote their region on a grand stage. "We wanted to feature the Gulf Coast on an international stage," BP director of Gulf coast media communications Ray Melick told the Montgomery Advertiser. "This was a good opportunity to bring these chefs’ seafood flavors to that stage, reminding everyone that the Gulf Coast is alive and well, and that the seafood is the most-tested and best-tasting anywhere." That last bit describes the real message BP is hiring Gulf chefs to convey: Everything's fine in the post-spill Gulf; the 2010 spill and any ill effects from it are dead and gone.

Keep wishing that so, guys.  Oh and enjoy London. 

The rent is too damn high

Now that Stacy Head has moved on to citywide office, those old "Faubourg Stacy" bumper stickers you used to see Uptown are a bit out of date.  May do well to switch over to Faubourg Khodr

The transformation of Magazine Street continues as the 16-year old Rocky’s Pizzeria in the 3200 block closed July 16. Hicham Khodr, owner of Byblos, is under contract to purchase the building from Alvin Wexler LLC. Khodr said he expects to close on the contract next month and possibly open another pizzeria.

The value of the building, 3222 Magazine St., is listed at $343,200 on the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office website, though it is expected to sell for more than $1 million.

Khodr, who now owns six properties on Magazine Street, is moving Byblos into the old Nacho Mama’s location and opening an upscale taqueria where Byblos has operated since 2001.

If he buys one more of the red properties I think he can start putting up hotels. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Credit where it's due

It's been pointed out to me that Ray Nagin was right all along.  There really were exploding pies in New Orleans after all.

Kim-Sean payt-Un

I thought I'd made a pretty cute joke about the great big Payton poster on Twitter today.  Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines, though.

Today Joe Vitt said...

Okay well yesterday, technically, he said, "Hey listen we're not playing on Saturdays for a keg of beer in underhand softball" Which, I guess in some ways is disappointing. Players will continue trying to get their beer by osmosis.

 We're also beginning to notice just how important it is to Vitt that we listen when he talks. Vitt prefaces every other comment he makes to reporters with "Hey listen" or "but listen." A few days  ago, while testifying at Jonathan Vilma's court hearing, Vitt told us to "listen hard" to his soft words.





This was moments after checking to make sure his mic was working properly.

Meanwhile it's Day 3 of camp and so time to start asking the "burning questions" again.   I have no idea why the questions need be flammable but then, until recently, I could have said the same thing about Hubig's Pies.

Anyway, Wang has got us covered with just about every burning question we could possibly think to ask. We say "just about" because we recently attended a robust event where a few other questions of flaming importance managed to come up as well.


Tom Benson too cheap to spring for full hologram

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton watches over team in new banner

Either that or he was out of money after splurging on Morstead.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Jared of Jimmy John's

 Can see it already.

Slimmed down to 208 pounds, Brees said he’s as strong as he has ever been in New Orleans.

Dignified

Obviously it's within Council's prerogative to set the parameters for appointing the interim District E representative but it's generally better form to favor the most inclusive process possible... or at the very least pretend you are doing that.  Jackie Clarkson has other priorities.

Clarkson explained that the process gave each member an opportunity to put three names on an itemized list that was eventually narrowed down through voting process that was "very open, very democratic, and very transparent." The Council President said that the list was shortened so as not to "bring eighteen people here today and make it a circus. Because we're too dignified for that." 
We're getting into the second half of the year now and in city governance world that means Budget Season is approaching.  Council will have to make some uncomfortable and politically sensitive choices this year.  They will be doing the bulk of this work with 2 members who were not elected by the constituents they represent and who will not be accountable to those voters in the upcoming elections.  But, hey, at least they'll have their dignity.

Or will they?

Along with the tension, those in the Council chambers witnessed what seemed to be a brief flashback to an episode in the spring during which Hedge-Morrell and Johnson walked out of Council chambers, and ultimately prevented the selection of an interim Councilmember. Before the Council voted to adjourn, Hedge-Morrell briefly left the dais. Clarkson made the motion for adjournment. Another minute passed before Hedge-Morrell came back to cast her vote.
  

Game on in District B

Neighborhood Association leader vs Juvenile Justice Advocate vs Stacy Head's errand boy.

Does it come with a free office tower?

I have no idea why anyone would want Tom Benson to own the daily paper.  But apparently people do

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

President Obama is at the House of Blues

Live video on WWLTV.com  It's a fundraiser so don't expect much of any import.  Maybe a little Al Green..

Maybe they should try an IZD on Howard Avenue

City Council sends a sternly worded letter to the editor.

Good morning, Fakeland

Fake Woolworth's set up for a film shoot on Magazine Street

Fake Woolworth's

Bonus fake stuff. Here's a shot of the old timey prop cars set up to pass in front of the fake Woolworth's during shooting yesterday. The guy in the Auburn T-shirt was waving them through.

Fake old timey cars

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today Joe Vitt said...

Keeping his resolve to have his words make a difference in mind, Vitt went on to say
Oh wait. But then he said.
There is no osmosis in football, people! Write it down. And to think,there was moment when we thought this year's obligatory T-shirt slogan was going to be something as lame as "Do your job."

Training camp may only be in the infantile stages right now but I have to admit I'm starting out in the worst shape of my football watching career. It's going to be a grueling few weeks trying to catch up with the kids as they are already getting stupid loose. I think we're gonna need a montage.




P.S. Sneaking in to win the day: Roman Harper

Gumbo Ya Ya

Everybody talks at once.




Whither the Serpas Signal?

The Department of Justice has released the details of the consent decree by which it will impose reforms on the New Orleans Police Department.  WWLTV's report highlights something interesting.

Among the changes expected to come with the consent decree is the NOPD policy regarding traffic stops, searches and arrests.

"The most blatant is the obvious use of excessive force by the police department. I briefly had an opportunity to look at what was in the consent decree and a lot of what they were talking about was the investigatory stops of individuals on the street that the police department is abusing that process," Gary Bizal, a civil rights attorney.
The full document is available at this link.  At 3:30 you can tune in to the presser via your favorite radio, TV, or Twitter station.

Alliances, Robustitude, and Refugees

Dambala asks several questions over here that I'd like to see answered.  Don't miss that post. I'm interested in seeing the reactions over there.  In the meantime, I've got a few things I'd like to add.

I still don't understand what a "Digital Alliance" is.  The Allies tell us it is a "cooperative effort" to "promote readership of local news outlets regardless of medium, and it encourages community engagement in the journalistic process" which sounds really neighborly and stuff but, well, how is that any different from regular day to day operations?

Each of these entities already publishes online in a forum that allows for public feedback.  They already cite and credit one another's work when appropriate. It's nice to see these internet publications state that they understand how internet publishing works. But what, specifically, will they be doing now that actually changes anything other than just saying they're (kind of) on a team or something? 

Maybe the Allies are sending us a message that an attack on one is tantamount to an attack on all of them.  If that's the case, then we could be headed for a cataclysm because it looks to me like one of these entities is about to come under attack.   
But there's another name in the game that may upend the way New Orleans gets its online news. It's called NOLA Beat — and you'll be hearing more about it later this week.

The brainchild of Greater New Orleans Inc. president Michael Hecht and Leslie Jacobs, the head of Educate Now!, NOLA Beat (which was in its early stages known as NolaNow.org) is a nonprofit startup planned in the mold of ProPublica or the Texas Tribune, two of the country's most well-known nonprofit news sites.
Hecht's and Jacobs' non-profit isn't designed to compete with NOLA.com. It will be going head to head with The Lens. As similarly structured non-profits, the two entities will be competing for the same pool of local donors.

That's a pretty tight market too.  The majority of The Lens's budget is funded by contributions from a handful of charitable groups. Most prominent among these are the nationally based Knight Foundation and the Open Society FoundationsThe Lens does offer individual sponsorship opportunities.  You can support them here in exchange for such colorful titles as  "News Shark" or "News Hound" depending on the size of your donation.  But you'd have to be a News Ostrich not to understand that, in order to become sustainable, they're going to have to find a way to start raising much more of their revenue locally than they currently are.

Hecht and Jacobs are going to make that task all the more difficult.   NOLA Beat (despite sounding like something marketed to teen girls)  will be a publication run by the head of the GNOinc business lobby and by New Orleans' number one charter school advocate. The Lens sells itself as a champion of transparency particularly with regard to land use issues and the charter school system. I'm betting that most well placed philanthropic donors in New Orleans are going to be more disposed to direct their largesse toward the former rather than the latter.  Even if it turns out there is in fact room for two non-profit news organizations in New Orleans, it's difficult to imagine that the competition for donor dollars won't skew the editorial emphasis in a more "business friendly" direction.

None of this bodes well for the still unaddressed problem of who is being left to fend for themselves in the coming digital focus wars. Jarvis DeBerry (who still happens to write for the Axis) walked into a fire fight the other day with these comments on reader reaction to a photograph published in the Times-Picayune.

Some readers were more worked up over a Rusty Costanza photograph that accompanied Wednesday's story. He showed an 8-year-old boy at the development busying himself with an iPad. That's a relatively expensive piece of technology. Predictably, outrage ensued.

Readers called and emailed reporter Katy Reckdahl to express their anger. One less caustic correspondent was clearly worried at what the reporter might think of him for raising the issue: "Not to rush to comment. I hope this is nothing more than someone gave him the iPad as a gift and he is using it for educational means or just playing games ... I hope I am not over thinking this. I am not prejudice (sic) -- this just did not look right."

I imagine that at some point or another all of us who aren't poor have decided which items poor folks, especially those on government assistance, should be allowed to have. And which items they should be denied. Fancy rims have been known to set me off. Maybe for you it's gold teeth, Air Jordans, the latest mobile phone. City Councilwoman Stacy Head used her taxpayer-funded phone to send an outraged email when she saw a woman using food stamps to buy Rice Krispies treats. What right do the poor have to sweetness?
Of course we've seen this "What right do the poor have to..." bullshit come up over and over.  But in a newspaperless city, it looks like we're now down to asking what right do the poor have to news?  What good is "digitally focused" reporting going to do for the ever expanding ranks of the underprivileged if we're going to go around shaming the very tools of digital literacy out of their hands? As the battle to find a sustainable news business model heats up, how many refugees are we creating in the process?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hey look they're forming "alliances"

Because, if there's anything the New Orleans media landscape needs right now, it's another ready-made Survivor reference.

Update:  Coming soon, a "New Orleans Print Alliance" featuring the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Uppestdate: Meanwhile Leslie Jacobs' entry into this sweepstakes is barely even off the ground and already it's deployed the following compelling keywords in the word salad it composed for the benefit of investors.

A letter circulated around the New Orleans business community and to potential investors describes the proposed site as a "best-practice model of nonprofit digital journalism that will ensure robust reporting in areas vital to our community and, as an essential public good, provide an open source of quality information for multiple media outlets, community and civic organizations. Its mission will to be "to provide information and promote civic discourse on issues which impact the vibrancy and vitality of the Greater New Orleans region."
 

So we saw Batman last night

Summary: A masked terrorist, I think it was Jonathan Vilma, leads the cast of Swamp People out of the Gotham City sewer in order to #Occupy Wall Street for a little while before also trying to nuke it. But only after waiting long enough so that a movie can happen during the interim.  Maybe that was a bad decision on their part.

There's been some controversy in the news related to the politics of this film thanks to the actions of some idiots followed by those of even bigger idiots. And I suppose if one squints really hard one can cherry pick little nuggets of social commentary from amidst the numerous explosions and unusual costumes and such.. although I would advise you to steer clear of such nonsense.

For example yes, of course the part about a massive heist in broad daylight at the stock exchange followed by a day when nobody questions the validity of the transactions there seems pretty much in step with what goes on in real life so there's that.  Later, a paraplegic man is dropped to the bottom of a well where a "doctor" hangs him from a rope and punches him in the back. This is a rather dark vision of Obamcare, all told, yet a difficult one to argue with. 

But why bother worrying about any of this when you've already suspended enough disbelief to put up with hooded billionaire vigilantes, experimental aircraft and assault motorcycles that are apparently as user friendly as iPhones to the characters operating them for first time in their lives, and a thermonuclear explosion that is TOTALLY OKAY as long as it happens... you know like 10 or 15 miles over there or whatever.

Alright well, that last one is pretty much the same thing the Japanese government was telling people after the Fukushima meltdown, but the point is it's a goddamned Batman movie! Just be happy that some small portions of it make sense.  The parts you can make out over the sound of the background music and all of the many many things exploding, I mean, since that part of the soundtrack is turned way way waay the hell up in relation to the dialogue. Maybe this is deliberate. If I ever find out what was being said I can determine whether or not it was a good idea.

Anyway, despite the fact that this movie is in your face just about everywhere you happen to put your face right now, this doesn't mean you actually have to go and see it.  But if you do go, just know that it is still very very unlikely that anyone will shoot you while you are there.  Although I can't guarantee you won't want them to.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welp, it blowed up good

Associated Press video.  They got out of bed this morning so we didn't have to.

Learned helplessness

This morning's New York Times Business section presents us with this essay about the diminishing skills of the average American handyman.

“In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,” says Michael Hout, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “People who work with their hands,” he went on, “are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.” 

That’s one explanation for the decline in traditional craftsmanship. Lack of interest is another. The big money is in fields like finance. Starting in the 1980s, skill in finance grew in stature, and, as depicted in the news media and the movies, became a more appealing source of income.

By last year, Wall Street traders, bankers and those who deal in real estate generated 21 percent of the national income, double their share in the 1950s. And Warren E. Buffett, the amiable financier, became a homespun folk hero, without the tools and overalls. 

“Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,” says Richard T. Curtin, director of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. “They know about computers, of course, but they don’t know how to build them.”
All of this is quite true. The article, which I recommend, looks at all manner of contributing factors to this phenomenon from the decline of the manufacturing economy, to the disappearance of vocational education.

But one factor the essay doesn't touch on happens to be the subject of a separate story just a few pages over.  How can we expect American consumers to care about acquiring the skills necessary to maintain and repair the electronics they own when the manufacturer expressly discourages them from doing so? 

It isn’t surprising that Apple, the epitome of the closed organization and overlord of the iPhone’s tightly controlled software ecosystem, would design screws that, in effect, serve as locks. And one can see how it would be in Apple’s interest to make it hard for users to extend the life of older models — it’s a way to encourage the purchase of the newest, greatest Apple stuff. 

It's worth mentioning that this sort of thing happens on the software side as well. The new internet being imposed on us by Hollywood and the telecom industry is becoming a much more hands-off instrument than ever before where users are expected to become consumers rather than producers and sharers of content.  This trend has all sorts of interesting consequences but chief among them could be a new kind of learned helplessness with regard to online publishing.  And so Americans could lose yet another powerful tool, a powerful free speech tool, in the same way so many of us have lost the use of our hammers and screwdrivers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

So it's um... raining

Pretty much just regular scenes here.

This one is a bit different though.  It's a viewer-submitted photo I just ripped off of WVUE's Facebook page.  It's apparently a lightning strike just off the West Bank Expressway. Either that or it's God commanding Moses to lead his people out of Marrero.

Burning Bush

RIP Frank Trapani

Maybe not the greatest commercial of all time but pretty darn close. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Set it up and knock it down

Louisiana Budget Project's Jan Moller watching DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein testify to the Legislature about the Jindal Administration's proposed Medicaid cuts.

LPB's Steve Spires analyzes those cuts here
Responding to a decrease in federal aid to Louisiana’s Medicaid program, the Jindal administration announced plans to cut funding for LSU health by nearly $330 million, which comes to almost one-fourth of the system’s total budget. The amount set aside for treating the uninsured was cut roughly in half.

Despite the administration’s insistence that the cuts will encourage “modernization” and “efficiencies,” it’s hard to see how cuts of this magnitude can be made without hospital closures. With the latest cuts, the LSU health system’s budget has now been slashed by 36 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 2008-09.

To put things in perspective, the $330 million cut is slightly less than the combined budgets of Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence, Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, University Medical Center in Lafayette, WO Moss Regional Medical Center in Lake Charles, and Washington-St Tammany Medical Center in Bogalusa.

Clearly, a budget cut that is equivalent to shutting down five of Louisiana’s 10 charity hospitals will have a negative impact on access to services. Further complicating the cuts is the need for LSU to maintain adequate facilities for medical students.

While the decrease in federal aid was not the fault of state policymakers, placing the majority of the cuts on the backs of LSU hospitals—and by extension, the uninsured—will jeopardize the ability of the system to achieve its core mission, and is likely to cause significant harm.


Take a ride down Canal Street these days and you're bound to notice many a "crane on the skyline" tasked with erecting LSU's new state of the art hospital facility. On Sunday, New Orleanians will be treated to the spectacle of a large building implosion downtown in order to make way for a stage of this project. But today, in Baton Rouge, the Governor appears to have already pre-imploded this project as well.

Not unique but well-branded

Every time Jim Letten rides his white horse into City Hall and produces another "bad guy" for everyone to throw tomatoes at, a predictable event occurs on talk radio, on the editorial page, on Twitter, etc, where we all take turns slamming New Orleans' "unique culture of corruption".  It's everyone's go-to excuse to beat up on their neighbors or to talk about why we don't deserve the nice things the people who live in the supposedly less backward places have. 

Funny thing, though.  Those other places are really no better than us.

TRENTON, N.J. - FBI agents on Thursday raided City Hall in New Jersey's capital, a day after searching the home of the city's embattled mayor, his brother and a campaign donor.

The FBI said they had a search warrant for several offices but declined to be more specific. About a dozen FBI vehicles were parked outside City Hall, and some city employees were milling around outside but none could say which offices had been targeted.

Mayor Tony Mack, 46, on Wednesday denied wrongdoing after the FBI spent the overnight hours searching his home, and the homes of his brother, Ralphiel Mack, and businessman Joseph Giorgianni, a campaign donor who is a convicted sex offender.

The Democratic mayor's first two years in office have been punctuated by accusations of reckless spending, cronyism and mismanagement.
For some reason, though, New Orleans does have a slight edge on the rest of the country for impotently despising itself.  We have a knack for using public corruption as an excuse to deny each other services while at the same time promoting a myth that this excuse is something endemic to our culture that will never really change. It's sort of a permanent artificial barrier to progress. But hey it's great sport and it keeps Letten on TV.. and, of course... keeps the brand out there.

Unvanished yet again

The magic act continues

With oil from the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico continuing to show up on beaches and in wetlands along Louisiana's coast, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on Wednesday passed a resolution criticizing the Coast Guard for prematurely allowing BP to pull cleanup teams from coastal areas it declares clean. The authority passed a second resolution requesting the governor's office and the state attorney general's office to brief its members on whether any of the state's criminal statutes can be applied to BP.

See also: Cat Island Bird Habitat Expected to Disappear by 2013

Each lap of water on the Cat Islands' shoreline is a threat to their existence.  They've been slowly eroding for decades- a process that was put into overdrive by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Hahn says, "The oil kills the vegetation and the root system of the vegetation is what's keeping these islands together.  Once that root system is dead, these islands just fall apart very quickly."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Young Earth Theory of American History

If his school voucher program can teach us about Adam and Eve riding around on dinosaurs (or possibly Nessie), then I suppose Jindal can place Louis Brandeis among our country's "Founding Fathers" as well.

And it's not even Friday afternoon

Judges resigning. City Councilmemebers hit with corruption charges.  Makes you worry about what they're waiting to sneak in at the end of this week.   They already cut all the Medicaid money last week so who knows?

The Jon Johnson business was actually pretty low key all things considered.  The Lens first described the case back in January (WHOOPS January 2011, that is!) but we hadn't heard much about it since until today.

Update: So here's the re-cap via NOLADefender. Johnson and his bookkeeper are being charged with conspiracy to divert post-Katrina house gutting and debris removal funds  as well as a fraudulent SBA loan via a series of phony non-profits. This was all covered at an event where members of the press were treated to the standard Jim Letten self-congratulatory dickishness about his ongoing struggle against the forces of evil and such. Sal Perricone was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile there's speculation that Erroll George could be appointed to Johnson's District E seat on an interim basis.  Which will be interesting since George just spent several weeks trying to convince everyone he was domiciled in District B.  As always, if the Council can't agree on a replacement, then the prerogative falls to the Mayor who we expect will appoint George as his new son just to settle everything up.

Anyway, the real good news here is we get yet another bonus special election to fill this seat.  Austin Badon is apparently in.  Somebody go poke Cynthia Willard-Lewis with a stick and let's see if we can get a game on.

Upperdate: As Matt points out in the comments, I picked the wrong day to suggest we "go poke CWL with a stick."  It turns out Ms Willard-Lewis was hospitalized recently.  I only learned of this yesterday afternoon after making an off the cuff joke here.  I'm sorry about the timing.  I wasn't trying to be insensitive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lay off the Mayor's kid

DWI law and the brutal way it is enforced is already wrapped up in enough hypocrisy.  The legal limit that defines impairment is absurdly low.  The long term legal consequences of an arrest are unnecessarily harsh.  And, of course, police departments take full advantage of the low hanging fruit presented by this ugly legal apparatus in order to appear "pro-active" or whatever horrible word you want to use for embellishing your image at the expense of the vulnerable.There's no need to compound all that by making hay out of one kid's misfortune just because his dad happens to be the mayor.

The real sad news here is that today the Mayor will demonstrate he has learned nothing from this at all as he announces a new city initiative to take similarly meaningless "pro-active" action against so-called nuisance bars.

Bars don't cause crime.  Desperate people who grow up with few choices cause crime.  Shutting down bars won't change that. But it does give the Mayor and his law enforcement team an opportunity to crack down on social activities in poor neighborhoods.  And that is about as pro-active as it gets.

Update:  Why we passed up the opportunity plug in this song, I'll never know. Sorry.





Upperdate: As the details of this story have come to light, it's become clear that we're talking about an actual crash involving alcohol which is... you know... bad. But still. Lay off the kid.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Give 'em hell.. or... you know.. don't

And here we see a crucial difference between Louisiana's GOP establishment and whatever exists of its Democratic opposition.  Republicans, led by Governor Jindal, will not abide a school system where students are taught that we are descended from apes. Democrats, on the other hand, remain firm in their belief that they are descended from surrender monkeys.

BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Democratic Party may not field candidates against all sitting Republican congressmen in the Nov. 6 elections, the party chairwoman said Monday. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said she is now focused on "a grassroots rebuilding of the party."
No better way to fire up the "grassroots" than to not be particularly visible to anyone during an election year.  

Thar be dragons

And Loch Ness Monsters and some other such.

Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,306 students to 19 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program. It is time to halt the implementation of this creationist voucher program.
Follow the link for the full taxonomy of mythical beasts.

Update: Because, of course he did. 

Romney opened his comments by encouraging the donors to eat and referred to the meal as "the most expensive lunch you've ever attended."

He also complemented Jindal on his accomplishments in Louisiana, particularly in education.
Also... the usual swells.

Those attending included ship builder Boise Bollinger, Rita Benson Leblanc and New Orleans developer Joseph Canizaro.

Sternly worded emails

Dog's eye level sign

The NOPD 5th District officers are tired of picking up after your dogs. So keep them out of Markey Park or so the city insists via the NOLAinfo email blast today.
To all 5th District residents
        It should be noted that Markey Park ( Royal and Piety {700 Piety}) is NOT a sanctioned dog park per orders of the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) and the City of New Orleans. The only sanctioned dog park in New Orleans is located in City Park and is called City Bark.

      Also below are the municipal laws in regards to leash law and the soiling of public and private property by animals. All laws are under 17271 MCS:

Sec. 18-13. - Soiling of public and private property by animals.
(a)
If any public or private property is soiled or contaminated by an animal, whether such nuisance shall take place in the presence of the owner or keeper or not, or if the owner or the keeper is a minor, the parents or guardian thereof shall be deemed guilty of violating this section. This section shall not apply in a designated off-leash area or "dog park" in which the owner or keeper, or parents or guardian thereof, shall abide by the regulations imposed by the management of such area which shall include, but not be limited to, immediate cleanup and proper disposal of animal waste by the owner or keeper, or parent or guardian thereof.
(b)
Any person who is in violation of this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100.00 and no less than three seven-hour days of trash cleanup duties.
(Code 1956, § 7-25; M.C.S., Ord. No. 16,828, 12-15-94; M.C.S., Ord. No. 22996, § 1, 2-15-08) 

Sec. 18-14. - Animals to be confined, exceptions.
(a)
Except as provided hereinbelow, all animals are to be confined within an enclosure or secured by a chain at all times, unless accompanied by a driver or keeper.
(b)
Dogs which are properly licensed and vaccinated as stipulated in this chapter may be allowed outside of an enclosure if under a secure leash and accompanied by their owner or keeper but are not to be allowed to trespass upon any public property, if so prohibited by another ordinance, or upon private property. Designated dog parks or "off-leash" areas are exempted from the provisions of this section. The area of City Park known as City Bark generally bounded by Zachary Taylor Drive, Diagonal Drive, and Magnolia Drive is such an exempt area.
(c)
Dogs which are properly licensed and vaccinated as stipulated in this chapter may be allowed outside of an enclosure if under a secure leash and accompanied by its owner or keeper but are not to be allowed to trespass upon any public property, if so prohibited by another ordinance, or upon private property.
(d)
Cats which are privately owned, have been spayed or neutered, and are properly licensed, vaccinated, and tagged with an identification tag clearly indicating the owner's name, current address and telephone number, may be allowed outside of an enclosure, but are not to be allowed to trespass upon any public property, if so prohibited by another ordinance, or upon private property other than that belonging to the cat owner. Any cat collected under the provisions of this section shall not be returned to its owner until such time as said owner shall have the cat spayed or neutered.
(e)
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section allowing otherwise, no dogs other than dogs in parades in which dogs are the main attraction or sole participants, dogs confined on the property of their owners, dogs assigned to law enforcement canine units, seeing-eye dogs and/or dogs assisting physically challenged individuals, are allowed within 200 yards of any parade route one hour before, during, or one hour after a scheduled parade.
(Code 1956, § 7-12; M.C.S., Ord. No. 18,635, § 1, 2-19-98; M.C.S., Ord. No. 19,031, § 1, 12-17-98; M.C.S., Ord. No. 22996, § 2, 2-15-08)

So watch out. Officers are cracking down. And you do NOT want to become the subject of a 5th District crackdown. Either way I'm just happy for the excuse to share the photo at the top of this post. It looks like it's designed to meet the dog's eye level. But if the owner is down there, we can reasonably assume that, he or she is probably already complying with the sign's order. So I'm not sure who that sign was for.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My one great observation about what it feels like to get older

You find you kind of always have a headache. There are people who will insist this is your brain tumor acting up but upon further reflection you realize this is because it's probably their fault in the first place.

Anyway.. middle aged children but so what.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Serpas Signal

Happy Bastille Day.  Might want to keep to the Left Bank as much as possible.

As required by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the New Orleans Police Department is issuing a public advisory regarding a sobriety checkpoint that will be conducted tomorrow night  July 14, 2012.

The New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Division will conduct a sobriety checkpoint, in Algiers, beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M. and will conclude at approximately 5:00 A.M.  Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have the proper documentation available if requested, i.e., proof of insurance, driver’s license, etc. 

On the same day that Drew Brees got paid

21 teachers and staff were fired by the Orleans Parish School Board.

The cuts, which will include teachers, social workers, clerical assistants, and other positions, are largely due to nearly $2 million in federal funding reductions, namely from Title I and special-education reimbursements.

Two teachers will lose their jobs due to the upcoming consolidation of the Architecture, Design, and Engineering Preparatory High School with McDonogh 35.

A Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School teacher will also lose out because of overstaffing in the physical education department. Still two others, a Talented in Visual Arts faculty member from Bethune and a special education teacher from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, will lose their jobs due to lack of students interested in, or eligible for, the services they provide.

Incidentally, Brees' $100 million contract is greater than the entire OPSB's budget.

Also, the Jindal Administration just cut roughly three Drew Breeses out of LSU's public health care budget.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU's network of charity hospitals and clinics will lose a quarter of its budget, with the Jindal administration choosing to levy the largest slice of Medicaid cuts on the facilities.

Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said nearly $317 million of the $523 million in cuts announced Friday will fall on the public health care system run by LSU

Today when every fake it decides to make it

Matt Taibbi looks at Mitt Romney's "free stuff" encounter with the NAACP this week and draws all the conclusions one would expect.  Mitt's speech was calculated to appeal to conservative whites watching from their living rooms via FOX.  Well duh.  By endorsing "free stuff" for his superwealthy class of subsidized bankers and tax cheats while denouncing "free stuff" for poor people Mitt is a hypocrite. (Worse, he's lying since Obamacare and "free stuff" make for a ludicrous equation in the first place.) But, again, sure, we know all that.

More noteworthy is Taibbi's comment about what makes Mitt different from the many other politicians of his ilk who would have employed the exact same strategy this week.

Someone like Jesse Helms at least had a genuine emotional connection with his crazy-mean-stupid audiences. But Mitt Romney has to think his way to the lowest common denominator, which is somehow so much worse.

Most presidents have something under the hood – wit, warmth, approachability, something. Even the most liberal football fan could enjoy watching an NFL game with George Bush. And even a Klansman probably would have found some of LBJ’s jokes funny. The biggest office in the world requires someone who buzzes with enough personality to fill the job, and most of them have it.

But Romney doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to impress the prom queen, and what he comes up with is kicking a kid in a wheelchair.
Taibbi means for us to take this as a weakness but I think there's something else going on.  I'm starting to think of Mitt as a poster boy for several cultural phenomena currently in ascendance: Libertarianism, the detached entrepreneurial hipsterism thing where we all tacitly agree the pose is more important than the substance, the meaningless vanity that characterizes so much of social media.

I see Mitt as kind of an embodiment of these things the same way George Bush was once the embodiment of the frat boy anti-intellectualism of his day. Sure he's fake and mean but he's fake and mean in the specific faithless, robotic way that America is fake and mean at the moment.  In other words, he's beginning to look more electable than ever.

Apparently the contract was really big

People who suddenly come into "new money" always spend it on the most ridiculous things.  Didn't Al Copeland have one of these?

Separated at birth?

Sometime GBV guitarist Doug Gillard.



Sometime Saints quarterback Drew Brees.



Oh yeah... also  Brees finally signed the contract today.

Do not look at the Olympics the wrong way or else

The London Olympics official website implements a bizarre links policy once pioneered by New Orleans Magazine. 

We’ve heard a lot about how the Olympics Games will take over London in the past few weeks: missile launchers on rooftops, non-approved chips banned from the Olympic site, protest threatened, Twitter accounts censored. But we must admit we hadn’t noticed the Olympic organisers attempts to change the way the entire internet works. Our attention has been drawn to the terms of use of the London 2012 website, which make it very clear under what circumstances you’re allowed link to the site:
  1. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.
Got that? You’re only allowed link to the official site of the Olympics if you’re going to say nice things about the Olympics.
So there you have it.  It's probably okay for you to pay attention to this massive, bloated, cumbersome, intrusive.. did I mention corrupt? international event.  But you'd better be thinking happy thoughts when you do.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quote of the evening

PFT's Mike Florio in a weird backhanded way sort suggests that Drew Brees might maybe sign tomorrow.
There could be reason soon for more widespread optimism.  We’ve caught wind of a looming report from one of the New Orleans media outlets that Brees will sign a long-term deal on Friday.

via CSC

Shit my Jackie says

City Council decided not to give us a break on the Jackson Avenue speed trap after all.  Meanwhile, they're extending the school zone hours to 7-9AM and 2:45-4:45pm.... and Jackie will be out on her hog patrolling.


The Boston Club

You might remember them from such boondoggles as the dead (for now) Hospitality Zone proposal, but did you know the Boston Consulting Group was also heavily involved in the move to privatize public education?

There is a new scandal in New York City. It seems the New York City Housing Authority paid $10 million to the Boston Consulting Group to write a report that is not available to the public that paid for it. According to the article in the New York Daily News, the report was commissioned by someone at the Housing Authority who used to work for the Boston Consulting Group.

Now, readers of this blog may recall that the Boston Consulting Group was paid over $1 million in private funds to draft a short little paper recommending the privatization of a large number of public schools in Philadelphia. It was also hired (not sure the price tag) to draft the plan for the Transition Planning Commission that merges the schools of Memphis and Shelby County, moving a large number of children and $212 million into private hands.
 I wonder if the New York report is not available to the public due to its "proprietary nature." 

Anyway, it turns out BCG also provided key advice to former Mayor Ray Nagin's infamous Bring Back New Orleans Commission back during the heady "blank slate" days.

The long-term plan for New Orleans schools is still unfolding, counters J. Puckett, a senior vice president at the Boston Consulting Group. His is one of the many groups advising the education subcommittee of the mayor's Bring Back New Orleans Commission.

The education committee will have the system's long-term vision hammered out by the end of the year, and then the real work of fleshing it out begins. But the idea "is to create the educational model for the US," says Mr. Puckett. "It's a very bold ambition, but one that has been met with real excitement."

The various groups are currently searching nationally and internationally for "best practices" in education. These might include strong preschool and international baccalaureate programs, stiffer standards, and more accountability.

"There seems to be a growing consensus that charter schools are a strong part of the short-term plan, but I think it's still a question in the long-term," says Puckett.
Fast forward seven years and we find current Mayor Landrieu at Aspen last month boasting that New Orleans has become "this nation's most immediate laboratory for innovation and change across a whole spectrum of disciplines." One wonders how many patents BCG can claim on the research produced by this metaphorical laboratory.  Although, that information may also be proprietary.

Already in the spirit

Public forum on the proposed Tulane Stadium takes on the aspect of an actual Tulane football game.

The audience consistently heckled the panel, hissed, and expressed their frustration at the process by throwing up their arms whenever someone acknowledged that a final decision had not yet been reached. Supporters of the stadium were a silent minority, if not completely absent.

Meanwhile, the City Planning Commission has rejected Guidry's IZD which, I think, means the stadium is back on track.

Adding... apparently this is correct

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Also I would like to be reimbursed for my ticket

Plus one, Ms. Bajoie.

On the agenda for Thursday’s City Council meeting, interim District B Councilwoman Diana Bajoie is proposing raising the speed limit to 35 mph. The cameras will still be there, as will the school zones, but at least the street will become consistent with others, Bajoie said.

The speed limit on Jackson is already 35 on the Central City side of St. Charles Avenue, Bajoie noted — even though the street there is narrower.

“You don’t want to create speed traps. My understanding is that the cameras were put there for safety reasons, not to generate money,” Bajoie said. “We need to make sure it’s used in that way.”

Not what they say they are or what they mean

I should warn you I've got another long-winded (dare we call it Simonesque in length?) post about life without the T-P sitting in my drafts folder right now.  But since Dambala has published his this morning, I'll wait until we're done with his before finishing mine. 

His post touches on several things but centers around the question of "objectivity" in news.  He dissects the concept with lovely precision but, if I may offer one criticism, perhaps he does so to the point of over-complicating things.

The problem with consensus journalism's concept of objectivity is that it asks us to live in a fantasy where incontrovertible facts are laid out for us by a benevolent voice of God narrator. This can result in several distortions but most frequently it downplays the importance of conflict in shaping events.  Communities are diverse and made up of varying interests which stand in opposition to one another materially, ideologically, or culturally.  Most news worth reporting on concerns the faults upon which the opposed factions meet and describing how each wins or loses in each of these collisions. Any such result can be good or bad depending on the perspective of the person telling the story.

Consensus reporters like to pretend they have no perspective... or that their perspective is disinterested to such a degree as to be considered infallible.  This serves the reader poorly for a few reasons. First, denying the reporter's point of view hides from the reader information necessary to evaluate that reporter's conclusions. Secondly, it over-inflates the reporter's sense of authority and treats the reader as something less than an equal.  When Voice of God consensus journalists (Dambala cites Phil Johnson who I think is a good example) editorialize they imply that they have access to some mysterious well of moral truths in which the rest of us need to be instructed.  

The consensus definition of objectivity presumes there is always (or usually) an outcome which best serves "the community as a whole." In fact, this is almost never true. This lie more than anything else is at the heart of most popular complaints against the so-called "mainstream media" which come from all sides.  Too often such complaints come in the form of a demand for more "objectivity" or a more "fair and balanced" approached from the referees. Better, though, that the petitioners ask for more openness about where everyone is coming from.  Better that we just admit the referee is also an actor in the debate.

Objectivity doesn't depend on some pretense that the reporter has no dog in any particular fight. It only requires that he/she describe that fight honestly. Dambala appears to draw a distinction between honesty and objectivity in this passage. 
That brings me to me...and the crew....the blogs (BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW).  We are a slap in the face to objectivity.  But you know what?  I think that’s healthy.  We’re not supposed to be.
  
Honest?  Yes.  Accurate?  As much as possible.  Fair and balanced?  Not a fucking chance.  And you know what?  I think that is a good thing.  We have no corporate masters.  Nor do we have a corporate safety net.  My news director is my subconscious.  I write about whatever the hell I want to, when I want to...as much as I want to.
My question is, if one can be objective without being honest, then what purpose does objectivity serve in the first place?  Why not just strive for honesty?   For all the talk one hears about the pitfalls of anonymity on the internet, it is the "objectivity" mask from behind which the bulk of our professional journalism has been dispensed that continues to cause the greatest confusion.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Phone etiquette

Apparently people are having some sort of problem with the way people standing near them are behaving.

An informal poll of Gambit staffers unaimously agreed that if you really need that photo, take that photo. The sea of bright screens surrounding a dark club is distracting, and pretty annoying — the moment is on stage, not on your screen. Boilen does have a point: Constantly texting and talking during a show is the worst. I've been to a billion shows, several a week, and it's not uncommon to hear an entire conversation take place over the course of a band's set, or all of the bands' sets, sometimes with back completely turned to the stage. Sure, it's your money, your ticket, whatever, but nobody would prefer listening to someone talk loudly about their shitty significant other or "oh my god did you hear about (something that can wait until after this show to talk about)."

I can see why it could be considered irksome if a person standing in front of you at a crowded show blocks your view by holding a phone aloft.  I would hope most folks would be conscientious toward those around them.  But 9 out of any 10 times I've seen this happen, it's either easily avoided by a step right or left or lasts only a few moments and is nothing to get all upset about.  More importantly, though, if you're at a show where it's possible to be distracted by someone texting near you, odds are the band sucks.

Anyway I guess it's a good rule to try and not be a dick and ruin people's good time under any circumstance. On the other hand, sometimes that yields interesting things. Here, for example, is one of my favorite recordings.  It's from some forgotten GBV show nearly 20 (correction: nearly 30!) years ago.  The song doesn't matter. It's barely intelligible and kind of saccharine sounding. What's interesting is the banal conversation via some people in the crowd caught on the tape.  They start talking over the band just about midway through the song and dominate the rest of the track.  I always liked that the conversation interrupts what is meant to be the climactic bridge of this silly song.  To me it illustrates the idea that the moments when we are our most earnest or vulnerable, as Bob kind of sounds here, it is precisely at those moments when no one in the room gives a shit. And that's probably a good thing.

Quote of the Day II

Tangentially related to the T-P issue, here's something Atrios said in passing this morning.

And, yes, the monsters in our media wrote a trend story on funemployment. Such things do not make me shed tears when I hear about job losses in journalism.

Quote of the Day

Blackened Out:

Before the great burger expansion, Port O' Call was by far the most talked about burger restaurant in the city. Port O' Call has all the hallmarks of a New Orleans Classic: long lines, shabby interior, limited menu, non-existent parking, and overproofed drinks.
Is Port Of Call "worth it"? I haven't been in quite a while. But I would venture to predict that after the current burger fad goes away, there will still be lines halfway down Esplanade Avenue waiting to get in here. 

David Simon is useless

I know the Gambit reprinted an eleventy ka-billion word short sighted and elitist blog post of his about how badly the internet is killing journalism. You don't need to put yourself through reading all of that, though.  Instead please see this NOLA Anarcha post which, for my money (free internet money), is the best take on the dead T-P I've read yet.
For now, the point is that the Times-Picayune in its last twenty years indeed focused hard on the suburbs; the mostly white, mostly conservative suburbs. The NOLA.com comment sections are overwhelmingly full of people from outside the city, most of whom hate and revile-- and yet cannot stop thinking about-- New Orleans. White, right-wing suburbanites also make up the bulk of the print edition's subscribers, and it was invariably their tastes and their prejudices the newspaper flattered and sought to please, to whatever degree it deviated from the perspective of the ancient, dwindling Rex/Comus Uptown elite.
The same post goes on to point out that these very same people are putting themselves forward as the daily's potential saviors.  This isn't going to solve our problem.  New Orleans is without a daily paper because an indifferent out of town company has executed a cynical strategy to protect corporate profit margins at the expense of its employees and its ostensible mission.   Appealing to the local aristocracy for assistance isn't going to improve matters.  Neither, by the way, is insulting readers the way Simon does through his advocacy of a model which excludes all but an anointed few from the civic discourse.

Ricky Matthews, Anne Milling, David Simon, each of them, in his or her own way, is operating from a distinctly anti-democratic point of view.  We deserve something better than that.  I'll try to expand on this later. 

Late Night Movietime

Please enjoy.





Monday, July 09, 2012

The Courreges Paradox

Believe it or not, Owen Courreges is one of my favorite local columnists.  This is not because I think he's a particularly entertaining writer, although he does well enough. And it certainly isn't because most of what he writes makes much sense.  Rather, what is compelling is his ability to reach a conclusion I can endorse but come by it through the nuttiest chain of reasoning.

Today's column is a perfect example.  Owen is telling us that crime cameras are bad.  I agree with that! I even agree with his assertion that policing the public via cameras "reek(s) of 'Big Brother.'" But somehow, in the course of building his argument, Courreges manages to appeal to Social Darwinism,
Criminals are stupid. However, if evolutionary theory teaches us anything, it’s that even lower life forms can adapt to surrounding circumstances.
A few years back I caught this Bill Moyers interview with Harvey Kaye who was plugging a book about Tom Paine. Kaye talked about how Paine's anti-monarchial rhetoric has been co-opted by the modern American right and re-purposed in a way that defends unelected oligarchs. This observation stuck out.
See, that's the thing. The conservatives have been asking the right questions. They get at the wrong answers. 
I think that's usually true because most conservative pundits and politicians are intellectually dishonest.  Courreges somehow manages to be the precise inverse of this. He often finds the right answers by asking a nutty question.  I can only conclude that at it's honest. It's also adorable.

Cock of the block

Spotted this 11th Ward Rooster making his rounds this afternoon after a brief thunderstorm.

Rooster

6 in one.....

T-P reporter complains that NOLA.com is giving too much attention to sensationalizing fluff.  Which, she argues, distracts from the more serious purpose of sensationalizing murder.

But the internet killed journalism, of course.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

"Lie More"

Kelleher: "This is their business model. They are based on and have been based on for a long time...  of making as much money as quickly as possible in any way that they can not get caught."

Must demolish all houses on this block in order to put up a hotel

This whimsical street art in Chicago would have been far more clever in one of New Orleans' gentrifying neighborhoods like Treme or Bywater... or maybe just the whole city.

Paint the Luxury Tax space underneath all the traffic cameras.  The stack of Community Chest cards all reference Bill Jefferson charities.  Fred Heebe has a permanent Get Out of Jail Free Card. Spend three consecutive turns in jail and Gusman makes a bigger per diem. That sort of thing.

The next Pervis Ellison?

We could be just that lucky.

I'm less concerned about Davis than I am about the Hornets' second pick Austin Rivers. Watch this ESPN discussion where two stupid people talk about how impressed they are with Rivers' father and his coach while the third analyst speaks reasonably about his actual ability.



And this is supposedly the guy Eric Gordon is afraid of sharing time with?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Not up for blogging things today

Here.  You can listen to all of Abbey Road on YouTube. And why wouldn't you?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Today's thing whose existence demonstrates just how far gone we are

German bank offers a Karl Marx branded Mastercard.

Seriously, this has been a thing for at least a month now and no one has told me.  Shame.

Must read

This is a nice attempt at a unified field theory of internet douchebaggery and the way it feeds our increasingly corporatist politics.

Governments in China, Pakistan, Egypt, and sure, even America have intruded on our legitimate rights online, but that doesn't mean governments are inherently hostile to online activity. It just means we need to work harder to make sure those decisions are responsible and just. We've been trained to think the government is bad online, because it designs shitty websites, whereas tech startups are good, because they design nice websites. But maybe usability isn't actually a marker of moral worth. We used to be against a labor arrangement where the workers (us!) identified more strongly with management (tech companies!) than with each other, but that's what we're encouraged to do online: libertarianism for you, oligopoly for us. We used to think that strong, persistent collective organizations dedicated to protecting our rights were the best way to ensure we weren't trampled on by moneyed interests. Now we think everything will be OK if we flip out on Twitter en masse, or change the background color of our avatar. That's fine for now, but if the internet really is becoming a central part of our lives and a place where we conduct our most important activities, then maybe we should have the same protections there as we do when we're not on our computers.
Every year this becomes a more and more important thing to pay attention to.  And the thing is starting to get more and more out of hand.

Is WWLTV going to hire the weather frog too?

Good to see David Hammer and Brendan McCarthy land on their feet. What I'm having difficulty understanding is whether they're going to be making the Wrinkle Free Friday or the Weight Loss Wednesday beat more robust. Maybe it will make more sense after the news broadcast gets expanded to 5 hours.

"The newspaper reported that she 'mistakenly assumed that ‘religious’ meant ‘Christian.’”

Because... of course.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More "blank slate"

One more thing regarding that David Brooks column I mentioned yesterday.  The reason I remembered it at all was because I put it up on the blog the day I read it (reminding me again why I keep doing this; it helps me minimize my inevitable forgetting of everything that happens).

I put it up alongside this quote from James Reiss who, along with other plutocrats mentioned in that article, was openly talking about what this "blank slate" theme meant to him.

A few blocks from Mr. O'Dwyer, in an exclusive gated community known as Audubon Place, is the home of James Reiss, descendent of an old-line Uptown family. He fled Hurricane Katrina just before the storm and returned soon afterward by private helicopter. Mr. Reiss became wealthy as a supplier of electronic systems to shipbuilders, and he serves in Mayor Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority. When New Orleans descended into a spiral of looting and anarchy, Mr. Reiss helicoptered in an Israeli security company to guard his Audubon Place house and those of his neighbors.

He says he has been in contact with about 40 other New Orleans business leaders since the storm. Tomorrow, he says, he and some of those leaders plan to be in Dallas, meeting with Mr. Nagin to begin mapping out a future for the city.

The power elite of New Orleans -- whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. -- insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."
This was early September 2005.  There was still water in the streets around much of the city.  Most of us weren't allowed to come back home and had no idea when or if we ever would be.  Meanwhile Reiss was already helicoptering back into town with his private security force and  plotting ways to remake the city "demographically, geographically, and politically."

The thesis of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine is that powerful men like Reiss take advantage of disasters in order to affect changes that would be politically unpalatable under ordinary circumstances.  Several scenarios of this sort played out in post-flood New Orleans with varying results.  Here is one quick example.

Shortly after the flood, the city's unionized public school teachers were (illegally, it turns out) placed on something called "disaster leave without pay" until they were terminated and ultimately replaced with DVDs and the Loch Ness Monster and such.  All along, advocates of this destructive policy put forward the myth of the "blank slate" as justification for their actions.

Just this week, Mayor Landrieu appeared in Aspen, Colorado at an annual conference where "a selected class of proven leaders" gather to "reflect on what they think makes a good society." One way in which the "leaders" reflected on a good society this year was to re-consider the concept of universal suffrage so you know the air at this event is thin in more ways than one. Anyway here is your mayor in Aspen this week going back to that same "blank slate" argument.
Katrina basically created an “opportunity” that allowed for the drastic changes in K-12 education, he said. “But people don't like that word, opportunity,” Landrieu said, noting that many residents associate the word with someone else's potential gains and not their own.

The pre-Katrina school system managed by the Orleans Parish School Board was highly centralized, and teachers belonged to a powerful union that was more focused on getting benefits to its members than assisting in improving the schools, Landrieu said.

“(The system) was fraught with corruption; it was fraught with all kinds of stuff,” he said. “Katrina happened right at the time the charter school movement was moving forward. …We had the chance to do it astronomically faster because now the state had taken over the school system and created an autocratic governing structure.”
It was "fraught with all kinds of stuff" but then we got our blank slate just in time to "move forward astronomically faster."  So say our "selected class of proven leaders" anyway.