Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bad blogger

I basically took all of Friday off from the internet.  It's a thing that happens more and more frequently. It's okay. Nobody pays me to put stuff here. (Which is one way the editorial direction of this site is different from say WVUE.) But there are some longish drafts in the backlog that I'm hoping to finish up soon regarding football, the Mother's Day shootings, and the Trademart site proposals.. among other things.  I think there's even a Jazzfest post that will never see the light of day in there somewhere.

Eventually some of that will get posted, but not before a thousand other things happen which become the next batch of unfinished material for the next several months. Maybe it would be different if I never had to work or go outside or if people would stop talking to me. Case in point, it's taken me over three hours of heavily distracted writing just to type these two paragraphs.  But then what is life if not a never-ending cycle of overwhelming bullshit you'll never get a handle on? 

But just to see to it that it doesn't all go for naught, here are a bunch of links from the past few days I want to put somewhere familiar and searchable so I don't completely forget about them later.

  • Slightly less reliable than walking: I don't have anything against streetcars but, as I've said a bunch of times, they're far from the most efficient means of getting around town. This is especially true given the plans for new lines in New Orleans... and in other places...appear to emphasize amusement rather than transit in their design.
    Not everyone shares in the excitement. Writing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week, transit planner Jarrett Walker tempered emotions by questioning how useful the streetcar will really be. The piece is behind a paywall, but suffice it to say that Walker answered his rhetorical question with: not very. While everyone hopes the streetcar will "make people value transit as a whole," writes Walker, the fact is the Atlanta streetcar won't run frequently enough to improve mobility:
    The Atlanta streetcar line will only be 1.3 miles long from end to end, and a streetcar will come every 15 minutes if everything's on time. So if you just missed one, should you really wait? Or should you just start walking?
    That article comes via The Lens, by the way, where they've lately gotten into the habit of posting a link round-up... kind of like this one but better... five days a week. If you click here you can read them pat themselves on the back for it just before they ask you for money.

  • Do the collapse:This week a bridge on a major Interstate highway collapsed in Washington State just five years after another bridge on a major Interstate highway collapsed in Minnesota. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers one out of every nine of the 600,000 and some odd bridges in the U.S. are rated "structurally deficient." And yet here is a chart showing us that spending on public infrastructure is sitting at a 20 year low. Something seems wrong with this picture.

  • Help wanted TEPCO is having trouble maintaining the staff necessary to keep the melted-down Fukushima nuclear plant from becoming unstable.
    Construction jobs are already plentiful in the area due to rebuilding of tsunami ravaged towns and cities. Other public works spending planned by the government, under the "Abenomics" stimulus programs of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is likely to make well-paying construction jobs more abundant. And less risky, better paid decontamination projects in the region irradiated by the Fukushima meltdown are another draw. Some Fukushima veterans are quitting as their cumulative radiation exposure approaches levels risky to health, said two long-time Fukushima nuclear workers who spoke to The Associated Press. They requested anonymity because their speaking to the media is a breach of their employers' policy and they say being publicly identified will get them fired.

    On the other hand, so much disaster rebuilding should have the Japanese "bucking the trend" for years and years to come. So, congratulations.

  • David Vitter still quite loathsome: David Vitter being loathsome.
    Yesterday, Sen. Vitter of Louisiana offered up an amendment to permanently drop anyone ever convicted of a violent crime from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Democrats in the Senate obliged him. The amendment is for a farm bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate.
    I know! Let's take food away from violent criminals and see what happens.

  • Also loathsome: Pretty much everyone in Congress and the entire corrupt legislative process.
    WASHINGTON — Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

    One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

  • Efficiency! Privatization plan promises to throw money away at a more impressive rate.
    The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday.

    That’s more than is in the current year’s budget — $955 million — for the state to operate the charity hospitals.

  • Tourism racketeers and their shadow government: Maybe will have to be less shadowy. Although probably not.
    Judge Ethel Simms Julien of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans ruled today (in response to an amended petition filed last week by Justin L. Winch of Smith Stag, LLC, regarding the matter of Winch v. Perry, et al.) that the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) “is subject to the Louisiana Public Records Act as to the expenditure of public funds.”

  • Whoops! Dambala has a whole bunch of Wisner stuff up including this possible typo... which is nonetheless an interesting typo.

  • Whoops! On Friday, NOLA.com reported that Roman Harper signed a new deal with the Saints which lowered his cap number and extended his contract by a year, basically guaranteeing that Harper will be a Saint this season at least.
    The next day we got...

And finally, there's this.
 Jefferson Parish officials unveiled final design for the Al Copeland Concert Gardens Friday, featuring a statue of the fried chicken magnate, and a serenity garden.
The words "Al Copeland serenity garden" could refer to anything from an oxygen bar to a shark tank with black light to a helicopter full of rose petals. But thanks to park officials and the Jefferson Parish council, we're left with something more... um.. tasteful. 
The centerpiece of the Concert Gardens is a statue of Copeland, who died of cancer in 2008.  Building Popeyes from an Arabi storefront to a fried chicken empire, Copeland's exploits also propelled him near the top of the list of New Orleans' infamous characters. The statue will feature speedboats, no doubt a remembrance of his record-seeking and fast living, as well as a box of fried chicken in the man's own hands. Those looking for a remembrance of his fistfight with Robert Guidry will have to stick with the Times-Picayune archives.
You'll also have to check the T-P archives if you're at all interested in Anne Rice's opinions on the Copeland aesthetic.  She probably won't be issuing any statements on the memorial serenity garden, but once upon a time, she did have a few things to say about the living Copeland's architectural taste.

Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA) - Saturday, February 8, 1997

On the eve of New Orleans' highest-profile holiday of the year, two of its highest-profile celebrities have launched a bitter public feud that appears headed for the courts.

Best-selling vampire novelist Anne Rice doesn't like former fried-chicken king Al Copeland's taste in architecture, and she took out a full-page ad in the Lagniappe section of Friday's Times-Picayune to say so.

Sunday, Copeland strikes back with a double-page ad denouncing her "rude, unwarranted personal attack."

In her ad, Rice expresses aesthetic disdain for Copeland's new Straya restaurant on St. Charles Avenue, which also has drawn criticism from the City Planning Commission. She calls the archway and art deco flourishes adorning the converted car dealership showroom "nothing short of an abomination."

In his "Dear Anne " ad, Copeland defends the building as "a fine merger of contemporary and classic design," points out the economic value of his renovation and concludes, "See you in court."
Straya has since been altered conceptually to become Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro. In large part, though, the decor (and the menu for that matter) remains very much  as it was in the late 90s. The Copeland-Rice feud went on for months  although it was pretty much over when James Gill declared Copeland the winner on February 12.

Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)- Wednesday, February 12, 1997

The aesthetics debate between the fried-chicken king and the vampire novelist must rank as the most entertaining spectacle of this Carnival season.

Al Copeland was the clear winner, whether his new Straya's restaurant on St. Charles Avenue be regarded as the "eyesore" that Anne Rice denounced or the "fine merger of contemporary and classic design" of which he declares himself proud.

Rice's habit of running large newspaper ads to trumpet her views is not one that should be discouraged, but she might as well spend a few more bucks and hire an editor.

The errors of grammar and punctuation are bad enough, but the pompous tone she adopts, referring to herself, for instance, as " Anne Rice , private citizen," must have left many readers determined to dine at Straya's as soon as possible.

Gill goes on there to recommend that Copeland "quit while he's ahead" in the PR battle, but Copeland had already gone on to sue Rice for defamation anyway.

Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA) - Tuesday, February 11, 1997

Restaurateur Al Copeland made good Monday on his promise to sue vampire novelist Anne Rice over her newspaper ad denouncing his architectural taste.

The suit, filed in Civil District Court, claims that Rice 's biting commentary on the design of his new Straya restaurant on St. Charles Avenue "is libelous and defamatory," exposes Copeland to "contempt, hatred, ridicule or obloquy" and could cause him "to be shunned or avoided" by other New Orleanians.

The suit, which does not ask for specific damages, comes after several days of verbal dueling between the two local celebrities.

In her recorded message, Rice repeats her opinion that the peach-colored, art deco restaurant is "hideous" and says her opinions are "fully protected by the Constitution."
Rice's continual harping on her "constitutional rights as an American" might have been the tackiest aspect of the entire affair. And that's saying something when Al Copeland is involved. Anyway, the lawsuit was eventually dropped. I don't know how much money either party dropped on it before that happened but we do have some figures on their ad buys. Rice spent $3,864 on her attack. Copeland, never one to be outdone in the arena of conspicuous consumption, put in $15,920.  That's very nearly 20 grand on what, in today's oeuvre, would have been one afternoon of Twitter feuding.  So of all Rice's frivolous concerns here, speech becoming any less free was probably the least of them.

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