Bush buddy Tom DeLay finally gets hit with an indictment. This cockknock has been toadying around Washington and Texas with scads of illegal and unethical money for years. It's about time he gets called to court. I hope the only hammer 'The Hammer' gets to hear comes after a conviction. Yeah, they're the Moral Party all right.
Here's the indictment.
Personally, I'm tired of these fucktards abusing their public offices and not going to jail. The most telling things so far are first that Bush Co. still supports this guy and second that his attorney's main concern is making sure that his client doesn't have to be handcuffed and finger printed. Screw that, it's a felony - face the humiliation. I've had to do that for having an unpaid traffic ticket why shouldn't he get the treatment too?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Bush buddy Tom DeLay finally gets hit with an indictment. This cockknock has been toadying around Washington and Texas with scads of illegal and unethical money for years. It's about time he gets called to court. I hope the only hammer 'The Hammer' gets to hear comes after a conviction. Yeah, they're the Moral Party all right.
Posted by Shawn at 6:52 PM
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I didn't think I had much to post today. I was going to do one called 'Beautiful Day' because it really was one of those and I sat outside in the sun for a bit, but also because it would irk my friend Josh. My heart wasn't in though, so I was just going to take a break until something cool happened.
Then - lo' and behold - I checked my email and something cool did indeed happen.
To set the stage, one of my favorite books is Coyote Blue, by Chris Moore. It's right up my alley on the quirky front. I've read it a couple of times. I also like his other books - Bloodsucking Fiends, Lamb, Fluke, to name a few. I would recommend any of them if you like off-kilter humour.
Anyway, a few days ago, I was checking out chrismoore.com and decided to drop him a thank you note through the contact link.
Here's the result:
I had a friend who made a list of things he's grateful for. He says it helps him remember that his life is pretty damn good most of the time. It sounded like a good idea, so I made one too.
I noticed that I was grateful for some of my favorite authors...you know, just writing stuff that I've enjoyed reading. I also realized that I don't express enough appreciation for the good stuff in my life.
So, that said, I just wanted to thank you for writing. That's it really. I would thank you for watching my dog when I went to Europe that one time, but since you didn't do that, I'll just stick to thanking you for writing.
By the way, I'm sure that if you actually knew me and lived next door (or even down the street), you would probably watch my dog for me when I went to Europe again. That would be a nice gesture and I would really be thankful for that. So, just in case we ever meet and become neighbors, I might as well thank you in advance for looking after the pooch. I owe you some beer for that.
Anyway, thanks and have a fantastic week.
And today came this reply:
Thanks for the nice note. And yes, not only would I watch your dog, I was watching your dog when you went to Europe, as I am always watching everyone's dog. Not taking care of them or anything, just watching them.
I don't know...it's a small thing, but even small kindnesses can seem a bit rare. There aren't many authors that are that responsive to their readers. Chuck Palahniuk is another that comes to mind.
So, that's twice that Chris Moore has sent me an email. I'm amazed...truly. I already have all his books, so I might have to go out and buy a paperback of his just to give away.
Posted by Shawn at 5:53 PM
Monday, September 26, 2005
I knew it was going to be an great show when Bono came out sounding good. After a couple of songs, he was still sounding awesome. The whole band was just tight.
Opening song was City of Blinding Lights and the stage set and lighting lived up to that. It's a good opening song. I would still like to hear Vertigo as the opener, but that's the breaks.
No big surprises, just a good show. It's not destined to go down as a classic, but it was definitely an A Team effort. Bono and the boys were practically giddy with the mix of it being the 29th anniversary of the day they met, the Provisional IRA announcing they will destroy all their weapons, and the World Bank agreeing to forgive a bunch of Third World debts.
Not much in the way of politics from Bono. Like I said, he was just downright giddy. So, it was all rainbows and unicorns on that front.
We, did learn that The Edge is from the future...so perhaps the whole outer space thing wasn't right after all. Unless, of course, he's from both space and the future. That would explain a lot. It also rules out the possibility of ever being as cool as The Edge.
Bought a handful of ONE wristbands and passed them around to our group o' people. Bought a tee-shirt and a poster. What can I say? I'm a dork that way. Besides my ticket was free, so I could afford to fill the band's coffers a bit.
Highlights definitely included the two hotties right in front of me. The cuter of the two soared in my estimation when she finally cut loose during Bullet the Blue Sky. They were both dancing pretty hard before that (Sunday Bloody Sunday had brought them jumping to their feet), but she really got into Bullet while her friend left to get another beer. C'mon, you just don't get beer during Bullet - go during Jahweh or something...
So, she got into it and the cropped cardigan sweater slid off. The white spaghetti-strap tank was a much nicer sight for sure.
Her friend later climbed over her seat to get out of my row - which Eric and I had the end of to ourselves - and grabbed my leg in the process, thus redeeming her stock somewhat. I have to say, she was one of those bounce up and down dancers, which combined with leaving during Bullet, left her with a lot of redeeming to do.
As is often the case, the two cuties made my night. and made an already excellent concert that much better.
Anyway, back to the music. Bono was singing great. He was actually really, really good when he did the Pavarotti solo in Miss Sarajevo. I was impressed. He also tossed off a pretty good off-the-cuff rendition of Old Man River.
The Edge was on, of course. He seemed really crisp. The other boys certainly followed suit and all told it was a good night for the band and an incredible night for me.
Now, I'm finally winding down...maybe more later.
Here's what they played:
City of Blinding Lights
Cry / Electric Co.
Still Haven’t Found
Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Pride in the Name of Love
Where the Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
All Because of You
Crumbs From Your Table
Posted by Shawn at 4:25 AM
Saturday, September 24, 2005
The other night we had some all-night t-storms. Pretty good ones too. There was a lot of lightning that looked pretty impressive. A lot of it was that kind of lightning that crackles sideways - across the sky - instead of down toward ground.
It got me wondering. How fast does lightning move when it crackles? I'm guessing pretty fast.
Then I began to wonder if there are any superheros that could outrun (or outfly) lightning? Not just dodge it, but actually beat it in a race. I think both Flash and Superman could go faster than lightning, but I don't think either of them have the reflexes and burst of initial speed it would take to beat a lightning bolt. Maybe I'm wrong...
Driving always gets me wondering about the future of humanity and whether we have actually advanced much in a million years. It seems doubtful.
What I was most recently wondering was this... Why is it that people with NASCAR stickers on their cars always suck at driving. And why does the level of suckiness increase in relation to the size of the sticker? And why do people who have Dale Earnhardt's number in their window suck the most?
Why must every "Totally free, no obligations, ever!" deal always require my credit card?
Why don't I ever see penis and breast enlargement spam anymore?
Maybe all the guys on the street now have enormous penises...it's a bit hard to tell without getting beat up or arrested.
If all the women on the street bought the breast enlargers or breast enlarging cream, it didn't work. Maybe it just takes time. I remain hopeful.
If breast enlarging cream really worked, what would happen if you only put it on one breast?
If I live in "America's Dairyland", where the fuck are all the cows? Are they kept in secure underground facilities? If you're thinking about coming to Wisconsin to see the cows, don't bother...there aren't any.
I think they all moved to California. Maybe they knew the Packers were going to suck this year and they couldn't bear to be around for it.
Why is it that in "America's Dairyland" the only types of cheese to be found in the stores are American, cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella? We call ourselves Cheeseheads and we don't even have any good cheese here. What's that about?
Do Nigerian scams actually work? Are there really people who believe that the widow of "a high government official" really needs their help to get millions of dollars transferred out of the country?
Posted by Shawn at 8:54 PM
Friday, September 23, 2005
So, I had to go to the Rivoli theater in Cedarburg Thursday night. I got there and it was locked up. I started tapping on the window and waited for the manager to hear and come open the door.
The Rivoli is an old, one-screen, movie theater on the main street through Cedarburg. Everything has a matching old look along this road. It's a cute town that's for sure, but running the smallest theater in the Marcus chain isn't the cherry job in the company. I was expecting an old-school, old man to be managing the Rivoli - someone like George, the manager of the theater near Downer Street in Milwaukee.
The breeze was making the fall air cold.
Tap. tap, tap...
Imagine my happy surprise when a gorgeous girl comes to the door. Wow - George sure has changed for the better, I thought.
Then she turned out to be smart and nice too.
Oh my god...I love you George. And I'm glad your name is Amanda.
Posted by Shawn at 10:39 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
How much would it suck to live in New Orleans, lose everything in a hurricane, get moved to Houston and then get hit by a hurricane again? Man...I feel bad for these people. What's next, they get moved to California only to get hit by an earthquake? If you're the prayin' sort, I'm guessing there are plenty of people who could use some of those about now.
Posted by Shawn at 4:48 PM
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Sandwich is back. That's what I've been doing for the last couple of days.
It's been more fun this time around since I kind of understand what I'm doing better now. There's still a lot of rough edges, but I'm okay with that for now. I basically started from scratch and did the site with CSS and XHTML. Woohoo...fun for only me.
I did recycle some content, but that's how life goes sometimes. Anyway, it's more to my liking this time around. I also have hosting for a year, so that's kind of nice.
The next few days are heavy on the actual work end of life and then I've got U2 this weekend. There's not enough hours in the day...
Anybody else doing anything fun this weekend? What's plans?
Posted by Shawn at 10:31 PM
Monday, September 19, 2005
I know it's hard to keep up with the excitement that is my life. First I tell you about the sweet new chair. Then just when you're wondering how I can top that, there's this... I saw The 80s today and she was driving a new Toyota. Yeah, that's right. I looked over and there she was, The 80s. She hasn't changed a bit either. She's still got that spikey mullet that she had back then...but it has gotten a bit grey.
I think I was a bit rude. I just stared over at her - I couldn't help myself. She's a decade for god's sake, she should be used to the attention by now.
She just looked over with a blank stare. I was sort of hoping for a Billy Idol snarl, but that didn't happen. Oh well...
Oh yeah, I'm also going to see U2 on Sunday. I suppose that's kind of neat, huh?
Posted by Shawn at 3:56 PM
Sunday, September 18, 2005
In more news of interest to only myself...I have a new chair. Yup. It's a leather office chair and I'm sitting in it now. And, yes, it is awesome. It is so much more comfy than my old regular chair.
Also, it has a built in massager. You're jealous, you know you are. Oh baby...I may never leave it. Unfortunately, it's not a sweet Sharper Image massager, but more of a cheap motel bed massager... Oh well, guess you can't have everything.
The smell of new leather is pretty cool too. It really adds a lot to those bondage sites I've been...er...ummmm... Hey, how about those Packers?
Posted by Shawn at 1:15 PM
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I'm flipping through the channels and I come across Austin City Limits. That's usually enough to make me stop because usually there's a crazy musical surprise in store for you when you tune in to ACL.
Well, tonight I stopped and I watched for a minute. I kept thinking, "Who the fuck is this, it sounds like Jackson Browne?"
Sure enough, it was Jackson Browne. Um what?! Yeah, that's what I thought - but it was effin Jackson Browne.
I noticed a couple of things while watching.
One, Jackson Browne can suck the life out of any party. And two, Jackson Browne surrounded himself with musicians that all had the weird habit of just playing for themselves. It was bizarre...
You know when you watch a musician who's just totally into jamming with his buddies on stage and the audience is just sort of there. It was sort of like that, but without the being totally into jamming with their buddies part.
I don't know, maybe Jackson Browne had sucked the life out of them earlier and I just saw the dusty remains.
Anyway, come the Zombie Onslaught...I don't want that guy around me at all.
Posted by Shawn at 11:57 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I was watching a M*A*S*H rerun and once again I remembered that I really miss So Cal from time to time. The opening shots were filmed at Malibu Creek State Park - not that far from where I spent most of my high school years.
I don't know...I got to like those ugly brown hills after a while. Of course, for us, those hills were something to drive through to reach the beaches - which are the true glory of Southern Califoria. Crowded as all hell, but man were days at the beach fun...
For trivia's sake, some stuff that was filmed right down the street was... The Fall Guy, Chips, and the special effects for a crappy movie called Meteor. The Fall Guy and Chips did car chases and crash stunts in my neighborhood. That was neat and a half. My friend's dad was prop master for the Chips show, so we got to go under the ropes and on set. That's right, I've seen Eric Estrada up close and personal. Go ahead and be jealous...
Come to think of it, Eric's dad (my friend Eric - not Estrada, who never had the chance in his illustrious and busy career to befriend me...poor guy) had some cool stuff. He had a box of pipes from the movie MacArthur, some cool blasters from Battlestar Galactica, and some Chips stuff. I bet he wishes he snagged more stuff now that eBay is so huge. Oh well...we had fun messing with blasters. The pipes were sort of off limits.
If I was drinking now, I would raise a toast to the brown, brown hills of California and a second to the matching brown air...
Posted by Shawn at 11:12 PM
Thursday, September 08, 2005
As I was surfing through some blogs recently, I noticed a lot of talk about welfare and poverty. Mostly it was connected to the Katrina catastrophe - as in why didn't those people just leave before? The assumption being put out that most everyone in the New Orleans area could have gotten out if they wanted to.
That got me thinking a bit and I decided to put together some rough numbers and requirements to leave the area and head to safety. I based it on a family of five with one pet.
First off, I'm assuming this family has a running vehicle. I think that's fair enough since pretty much everyone reading this will have one or two sitting in their driveways. Now, figure that car gets about 20 MPG and has a 20 gallon tank. At $3.00 a gallon, you could fill that baby up with $60 and realistically figure on getting 400 miles away. That would be great if you have a friend or some family within that distance. Problem solved.
If you don't have a place to stay, you'll need to find one. A cheap ass motel is going to run about $30 a night, if you can find one. Chances of finding one are slimmer if you brought that pet with you. By the way, good luck finding a $30 motel with a big storm coming.
How long are you going to be gone? Is it just going to be a day or two, or a week or two?
The thing is that most of us are sitting here playing the "well, I would have..." game, but we're not even considering the position these people were in. Sit down and try to figure what you would really have to do to leave your home and everything in it behind with little notice. How long did you plan your last vacation? What if you didn't have a credit card? What if you couldn't access your cash? How much do you have on you right now? How far will that get you?
Have you factored in two kids crying, a dog whining, and seeing your wife or husband sobbing? How much did you love that dog you left behind to possibly die of starvation and lack of water? What if - like one family that stayed behind - you only have a pickup and not enough room to fit your entire family in it? Would you leave some behind? Would you send them on and stay behind?
Do you know if your Mother has gotten out already? You've been trying to call her, but the circuits are overloaded, try again. What can you fit in your car? What's essential? How long do you have? Did you leave work early to get out? Did you cash your check? Is there even a bank open?
What if that car doesn't make it? What if it starts stalling again? They said you should fix that thing. Maybe it will be okay.
Throw in some confusion...is the hurricane going to hit you? Is it going to miss? Did they say Category 3, what 4? Was it 5? Crap, crap, crap... Did you get hold of your mother yet? You try, but you can't hear... Kids! Kids! Shut up! No, no...it's okay Honey...Daddy didn't mean to get mad...Everything's going to be just fine...Oh God, oh God, why is this happening to us?!
Suppose you did stay. Maybe you couldn't get out. Maybe you thought you would be safer in your own home. Maybe you're just an honery bastard. Why you're stuck in hell doesn't really matter much...
Did you lift your little ones up into the attic as the water climbed up the stairs? How does it feel up there? Is it hotter than shit? I'm guessing it is. How much of that gallon jug of water is left? Maybe you were lucky and managed to grab a couple boxes of crackers and a two liter of Pepsi.
It's been three days.
Does the urine smell yet? The feces? What did you wipe with up there? A shred of paper wrap from the insulation? Nothing. Have you managed to knock a hole in the roof yet? How many helicopters have you heard fly overhead? Have you yelled for help? Prayed for help? How are your kids doing?
Maybe you weren't trapped in an attic. You're lucky enough to be able to wade through the fetid water to what's left of the store.
You can't just take that stuff. Are you kidding? You're not going to let your family starve. You carry as much away as you can, but it's not really much. Hopefully it will get you through until you're rescued.
Maybe you're still in shock, or just starting to feel it's effects. You're frantic. You have nothing. Food is short, water is short...it's getting shorter. You don't have much cash. There's a $300 stereo. Maybe you could trade it for something later. Maybe get a few bucks. I think you'll be disappointed when all you can get is $20. But that's better than nothing right?
Anyway, until people learn how to feel some basic understanding for their fellow man, maybe they should just keep quiet. Maybe instead of wondering how people can loot, and why didn't they just leave, we should be wondering what kind of people allow it to take three days to start saving people.
It's called empathy, it leads to compassion...and if you can't muster a little of it, I don't really want to know you.
Posted by Shawn at 9:08 PM
I've got two names for you - Andre Agassi and James Blake. These two guys just sent me to tennis heaven. If you didn't tune in to the U.S. Open last night, then you missed out on a match that really deserves the title of epic. I feel sorry for every sports editor out there that sweated a deadline on this one
Normally, I'm a women's tennis kind of guy. As my friend Eileen would point out, there seems to be a connection between hot girls running around in short skirts and my level of attention... But this year at the Open, it's been all about the guys. I don't think I've ever seen so many great matches in one tournament.
Anyway, Blake played in one of the best matches ever just a few days ago and now he backs it up with a great five setter against Agassi. Andre - for his part - was buried in the first two sets only to turn the tables in the third and fourth. And then the fifth set goes to a tie-break. Get outta here...the guy is freakin' awesome. And he's married to Steffi Graf. C'mon, it wouldn't seem fair, except the guy is so nice.
So, there you have it. Two total class athletes who have nothing but respect for each other playing their brains out, both just happy to be out there, and when it was all over showing nothing but graciousness and appreciation to the fans. Why couldn't all athletes be like that?
Posted by Shawn at 12:48 AM
Monday, September 05, 2005
I wish I had some awesome stories about the Dairyland Classic surf competition held in Sheboygan over the long weekend. And I really wish I had some awesome photos of Great Lakes surfing. Alas, I didn't make it. I spent most of the weekend staring at the ceiling trying to sleep and becoming intimate with the view from inside my bathroom. Yup, sick weekend...I'm hoping for a better world tomorrow.
Posted by Shawn at 10:25 PM
Some of the good stories from the Gulf Coast:
The three black men who ferried people from the housing project where they were trapped using a large air mattress. They eventually found an abandoned boat which they used, but it had no engine so they had to pull it and paddle with brooms. They ferried perhaps as many as 100 people to safety.
Despite the fact that nearly one third of the New Orleans Police Dept. simply took off and haven't returned, the other 1,000 or so police men stayed. They all likely have similar stories, but the one that struck me was a man who knew his home was gone and he didn't know where his brother was, but he was there to help protect the people trapped in the city. His reason for staying...it was simply that he took an oath to protect the people of New Orleans and he wasn't willing to leave people to fend for themselves.
The Coast Guard members who refused to take breaks from trying to rescue people by helicopter. They worked nearly non-stop to try and save people.
The Red Cross members who are down in the shelters doing what they can to alleviate the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of people with nowhere to go.
The Game Wardens ferrying people to safety on swamp boats. Going from house to house.
Posted by Shawn at 8:47 PM
Sunday, September 04, 2005
This is how it looks to the rest of the world (I pulled this from Daily Kos. If you're a staunch supporter of the president, just skip it today...you'll only get angry. Oh well, I've been angry for a while now.)
If you haven't donated yet, the Red Cross is a good place to do it.
The shock of Katrina lies not just in the force of the hurricane and the uncalculated loss of life. This city, fiercely loved by its inhabitants, is cherished by Americans as an enclave of hedonism. It is where graduating college students go to drink themselves stupid, or hip honeymooners to sample some jazz. With its palm trees and exotic French origins, New Orleans is a natural destination for visitors who want to let off steam.
Or was. Now that the stumbling evacuation is gathering pace, a town with a similar population to that of Edinburgh's will be shut down, or left to looters and corpses. A place that was a byword for music and vitality will fall silent, aside from the whirring of choppers and the roar of bulldozers . . .
The romance of New Orleans has obscured the economic state of the region. Roads in Louisiana are bumpy and badly maintained. School buses drop off children at trailer parks. Refineries along the Mississippi spew out emissions that would be forbidden under EU law, even before the toxic leakages caused by Katrina. Mississippi, despite flashes of southern charm, also feels like a place that is down on its luck. Towns that were the backdrop for 1960s films like In the Heat of the Night are economically hollowed out, with people working at two jobs or no jobs. The casino ships destroyed in Gulfport and Biloxi were among the few steady earners.
Hurricane Katrina - Too little, too late from US government
THE frightening thing about the catastrophe of New Orleans is that the world's only super power cannot cope.
In the wake of possibly the worst natural disaster in US history, America is struggling to come to grips with the devastation after hurricane Katrina swamped the city, claiming thousands of lives.
In a calamity of biblical proportions, the question that refuses to go away is why the administration of President George W Bush responded so inadequately to a disaster that was waiting to happen . . .
In forthright terms, he asked why President Bush had failed to co-ordinate an effective relief operation for the city.
Recalling that $8 billion had gone to Iraq and that, in the aftermath of September 11, the president was given unprecedented powers, Mr Nagan said the Bush regime should: "Get off their asses and do something to fix the biggest disaster in the history of the United States."
Bagdad, New Orleans
Night sinks New Orleans into anarchy.
The once alive metropolis works like the abandoned window blind of a disaster film. Gangs plunder, most inhabitants fled. With their last strength the police tries to become the lawyer gentleman. The sweat stands on the 22-year-old policeman's forehead. -- Goggle translation
CORRIERE DELLA SERA (Italy):
Storm Reveals Leader Who Divides America
Like the water spilling over the breached dykes of the French Quarter, the propaganda and the polemics will pass. But what will remain, along with the bodies and the broken buildings, is the rift that has split America since the end of the Cold War. Mr. Bush has seen his approval rating fall to its lowest-ever level at 45%. He has won two elections but, with the exception of the epic post-September 11 period, he has always been leader of half the country. His war in Iraq has two implacable Americas facing off against each other, with 53% against and 46% in favor.
Divided in politics, the United States is equally divided in its society. Census Bureau figures for 2004 confirm that the robust economic growth we Europeans so envy is slow to manifest itself as prosperity for the poorest. Just under 46 million Americans have no medical coverage, an increase of 800,000 citizens. Some 12.7% of the superpower's residents live below the poverty line, but what is even worse is that the number has been increasing steadily every year since 2001. The country continues to produce, innovate, consume and create jobs, but it is failing to win the war President Johnson declared on poverty forty years ago.
Hurricane prompts awkward questions
Images from the stricken city of New Orleans show that many of those suffering in its streets and shelters are mainly black and poor.
The plight of those stranded amid the filth and the dead has highlighted a side of the city most tourists did not see - one in which two-thirds of its residents are black and more than a quarter live in poverty.
Anger is mounting among African-American leaders that this section was left behind when others fled.
Some say the chaos in Katrina's aftermath has exposed deep divisions in both the city and US society.
"We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and... died... was nothing more than poverty, age or skin colour," Congressman Elijah Cummings said.
THE GUARDIAN (UK):
You're on your own, Britain's victims told
British families trapped in New Orleans last night claimed that US authorities had refused to evacuate them as Hurricane Katrina approached the city.
Although assistance was offered to US residents, British nationals were told they would have to fend for themselves. According to those who remain stranded in the stricken city, police had visited hotels and guest houses on the eve of the hurricane offering to evacuate Americans, but not Britons.
THE MIRROR (UK):
PRESIDENT Bush finally made it to the US flood zone yesterday, amid fury at his administration's failure to give prompt help to New Orleans.
As a Louisiana senator awarded a "grade F" to the response to the crisis and warned of more than 10,000 dead, large-scale aid was at last beginning to arrive in the swamped and lawless city.
Mr Bush, leader of the richest nation on earth and floundering in the face of a Third World-style disaster, conceded five days on that the rescue effort was "not acceptable".
As far back as 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was saying that a major hurricane hitting New Orleans was one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country".
But the president nicknamed Dubya has constantly slashed the agency's budget, leaving flood defences unrepaired.
He appointed inexperienced people to run it, then the body was swallowed up by the Department of Homeland Security.
Louisiana had a request for pre-disaster funding rejected in 2004 and army money for flood protection was cut hugely.
One emergency chief, Walter Maestri, said: "It appears the money has been moved to the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq. I suppose that's the price we pay."
NRC - HANDELSBLAD (Netherlands):
Unnecessary Flood Damage: Advice on Dykes From the Dutch
When people were ordered to evacuate, no thought was given to people with reduced mobility. Either they couldn't be transported because they were severely handicapped, or they simply lacked the money for a bus or car. Others (quite understandably) voluntarily stayed behind to protect their homes against looting. And now America is faced with a gas shortage, since substantial refinery capacity is situated near New Orleans.
This disaster is the sad result of years of overt neglect. The general mistrust of American voters in the political process has resulted in a weakened local and federal government. To finance the war in Iraq, the U.S. government reduced (believe it or not, this year) the budget for dykes and flood wall maintenance for the city of New Orleans, as well as for emergency planning.
The Bush presidency (who gave a speech on Wednesday that lacked any direction whatsoever) is in crisis. He has to mobilize the emergency responders. But you can't base policy solely on "wishful thinking." The American Congress will scrutinize all of these blunders, and this will no doubt weaken support for the expensive war in Iraq. Many of the law enforcement personnel are in Iraq. But in these tragic circumstances, European governments cannot just stand on the sidelines and criticize the Bush Administration. We have to support the victims of this unspeakable tragedy.
Posted by Shawn at 12:48 PM
Friday, September 02, 2005
I don't really know what to say about what's happening in New Orleans. The New York Times says it better than I would. What I do know is that it the agencies charged with responding to national disasters and emergencies have been failing on an immense scale. And they are dealing with a situation that came with a warning.
Once again, the best organized and most effective efforts to help have come largely from volunteers. The Red Cross has again stepped into the breach with aid. They need help though. You can donate online through their website, www.redcross.org. Cash is the best some of can do to help, so that's what we should do.
There are stories of heroics that have come out of the area. One that struck me is the scores of people who headed to the area with boats, creating a volunteer navy of sorts. Individuals with boats have been searching for people stranded by water and ferrying them to staging areas where they can continue on to relative safety.
I'm just struck - much like The New York Times editorial board - by the lack of strong leadership displayed by the President. Maybe others find his lead inspiring, but I have certainly been left shaking my head.
I'm reminded of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when the country watched in horror and found comfort and inspiration in from the leadership not of the President, but of the Mayor of New York City and the group of men around him. I only pray that someone, or some people, will step forward again in this time of need.
Posted by Shawn at 11:13 AM
Thursday, September 01, 2005
It's true that you can find almost anything on the Internet...if you know where to look or are willing to take some time to find it. That's both good and bad of course, but I think it mainly depends on the person and not so much the information.
Two kind of unrelated things got me thinking the about something that I don't think we spend enough time actually thinking about. First off, Zombie Slayer had a post about the First Amendment and did a good job of explaining it. Zombie Slayer's post got me thinking about how cool it really is to have the freedoms we have here in the United States, but it also got me thinking about how easily we tend to give up those freedoms a little bit at a time - trading them for the illusion of more security.
The other thing that got my mind going was a post on Flogging the Simian a while back. It was shortly after the London bombings and she was giving a good breakdown of the various reports about the bombs themselves and pointing out some inconsistencies between the official statements and the reality of the type of explosives said to be used. In her post, the author explained, as part of the background (but in a fairly detailed way), how one would likely go about making the type of explosives that where being pointed to as the ones used in the bombings.
It was very compelling reading and was well written, but I couldn't help but think that there are probably a lot of people who would get upset that someone explained explosive making. After all, who knows who could read that, right?
On the other hand, it really made it very clear to me that if someone wants to cause destruction and hurt people, all they have to do is stop at a couple of stores, clear the kitchen table, and spend a couple hours doing some basic chemistry. It's scary to know how easy it is, but that information makes me feel more informed and able to understand that 'the war on terror' absolutely can't be won by simply trying to suppress it.
What's the connection between bombmaking and the Constitution?
Well, looking back to the time of the American Revolution - and make no mistake, it was a bloody revolution not a pretty little patriotic picture - many people in the Colonies were chafing under some pretty oppressive taxes and laws imposed by the government. Don't you mean the British Shawn? No, actually it was the government...how quickly we forget that our Founding Fathers were citizens of England.
The unrest caused some anxiety in the high places and in low too (don't forget that the majority of the people in the Colonies didn't want to fight the British - their government). The government responded to the threats by limiting freedoms further. Many of the freedoms they tried to limit were the very ones later placed into the Constitution when this new country was formed.
The Founding Fathers realized that many freedoms are impossible to completely take away, but without protection governments are likely to try anyway. The British feared allowing free speech because they feared what might be said. In trying to suppress it, they only hardened the resolve of those trying to talk.
It was the same when it came to allowing freedom of the press (which back then was far more literal than today). The government feared what might be printed, so they tried to limit the presses. Funny thing about ideas though, they tend to get out no matter how firmly the cap is placed on them. Instead of being addressed in the open, these ideas went underground to be passed from hand to hand, one broadside at a time.
Historically speaking, if at any one or two moments leading up to the revolution, the government had loosened the reins and addressed the underlying problems and grievances instead of trying to suppress those asking for a chance to speak, we would be singing "God Save the Queen" at the start of baseball games and we sure wouldn't be arguing about whether Dubyah has done one good thing for this country or not.
Anyway, maybe that's why I get so upset when freedoms are chipped away a bit at a time by things like the Patriot Act and similar laws, or say a ban on 'assault type rifles,' without more than a whimper from the majority of the voters in the country.
The Patriot Act gains us no more real security from terror than paper armor would likely stop a hand grenade - but a small piece of freedom has been traded by making it law.
The same could be said of banning some guns because they look kind of like military weapons. Hate to say it, but a rifle is a rifle is a rifle. Some are better made, more accurate, or more comfortable to shoot...but the big differences aren't on the outside of any of them, the big differences are with the bullets they shoot. That's a whole other tangent though. The point is that assault rifles can cause plenty of big time damage, but not any more than a $100 surplus rifle picked up at a show, or through the mail, or as Christmas present from Grandpa.
I suppose I just wish that we didn't allow freedoms to be traded away without a thought simply because it doesn't directly affect us. And that's what we do when we don't question our government every time they try to limit freedoms in any way, not just in ways that hit our individual buttons.
Am I happy that it's easy to find out how to build a bomb? Not very. But I also don't think it's wrong to talk about it. What do I know though? Not much other than I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers put too much thought into protecting our freedoms to just give them away for a false sense of security.
Posted by Shawn at 12:30 AM