Friday, April 30, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Spill

Louisiana's wetlands,
Lafcidio Hearn, "Chita"

Chapter 1 is my favorite portrait of the Louisiana wetlands.

TRAVELLING south from New Orleans to the Islands, you pass through a strange land into a strange sea, by various winding waterways. You can journey to the Gulf by lugger if you please; but the trip may be made much more rapidly and agreeably on some one of those light, narrow steamers, built especially for bayoutravel, which usually receive passengers at a point not far from the foot of old Saint-Louis Street, hard by the sugarlanding, where there is ever a pushing and flocking of steam-craft—all striving for place to rest their white breasts against the levee, side by side,—like great weary swans. But the miniature steamboat on which you engage passage to the Gulf never lingers long in the Mississippi: she crosses the river, slips into some canalmouth, labors along the artificial channel awhile, and then leaves it with a scream of joy, to puff her free way down many a league of heavily shadowed bayou. Perhaps thereafter she may bear you through the immense silence of drenched ricefields, where the yellow-green level is broken at long intervals by the black silhouette of some irrigating machine;—but, whichever of the five different routes be pursued, you will find yourself more than once floating through sombre mazes of swamp-forest,—past assemblages of cypresses all hoary with the parasitic tillandsia, and grotesque as gatherings of fetich-gods. Ever from river or from lakelet the steamer glides again into canal or bayou,—from bayou or canal once more into lake or bay; and sometimes the swamp-forest visibly thins away from these shores into wastes of reedy morass where, even of breathless nights, the quaggy soil trembles to a sound like thunder of breakers on a coast: the storm-roar of billions of reptile voices chanting in cadence,— rhythmically surging in stupendous cres-cendo and diminuendo,—a monstrous and appalling chorus of frogs! . . .

Panting, screaming, scraping her bottom over the sand-bars,—all day the little steamer strives to reach the grand blaze of blue open water below the marsh-lands; and perhaps she may be fortunate enough to enter the Gulf about the time of sunset. For the sake of passengers, she travels by day only; but there are other vessels which make the journey also by night ,—threading the bayou-labyrinths winter and summer: sometimes steering by the North Star,—sometimes feeling the way with poles in the white season of fogs,— sometimes, again, steering by that Star of Evening which in our sky glows like another moon, and drops over the silent lakes as she passes a quivering trail of silver fire.

Shadows lengthen; and at last the woods dwindle away behind you into thin bluish lines;—land and water alike take more luminous color;—bayous open into broad passes;—lakes link themselves with sea-bays ;—and the ocean-wind bursts upon you,—keen, cool, and full of light. For the first time the vessel begins to swing,—rocking to the great living pulse of the tides. And gazing from the deck around you, with no forest walls to break the view, it will seem to you that the low land must have once been rent asunder by the sea, and strewn about the Gulf in fantastic tatters....

Sometimes above a waste of wind-blown prairie-cane you see an oasis emerging,— a ridge or hillock heavily umbraged with the rounded foliage of evergreen oaks:— a chénière. And from the shining flood also kindred green knolls arise,—pretty islets, each with its beach-girdle of dazzling sand and shells, yellow-white,—and all radiant with semi-tropical foliage, myrtle and palmetto, orange and magnolia. Under their emerald shadows curious little villages of palmetto huts are drowsing, where dwell a swarthy population of Orientals,—Malay fishermen, who speak the Spanish-Creole of the Philippines as well as their own Tagal, and perpetuate in Louisiana the Catholic traditions of the Indies. There are girls in those unfamiliar villages worthy to inspire any statuary,—beautiful with the beauty of ruddy bronze,—gracile as the palmettoes that sway above them— Further seaward you may also pass a Chinese settlement: some queer camp of wooden dwellings clustering around a vast platform that stands above the water upon a thousand piles;— over the miniature wharf you can scarcely fail to observe a white sign-board painted with crimson ideographs. The great platform is used for drying fish in the sun; and the fantastic characters of the sign, literally translated, mean: " HeapShrimp—Plenty"... And finally all the land melts down into desolations of seamarsh, whose stillness is seldom broken, except by the melancholy cry of longlegged birds, and in wild seasons by that sound which shakes all shores when the weird Musician of the Sea touches the bass keys of his mighty organ. ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MG2009 Incident Report and Lessoned Learned

Today started with the Wild Comanche Hunters hitting the street. They were incredible! At least 14 fully dressed indians on the street. Ty and the other kids were awesome! Ty never stopped dancing.

I certainly had a moment while walking through Central City. I know full well that I was strolling my 3 kids through the most violent neighborhood in the United States at 7:45 in the morning. We parked far away and saved traffichell in favor of a long walk. When we got back to the car, the neighborhood gang was chillin on the corner, and guarding our caddy. These kids were probably VERY bad, but they were kidding in their treatment of the kids and Toni.

After dropping the kids off at home with Julia, Toni and I headed out again. Another great moment here, we parked downtown, then rode our bikes up to Bridge Lounge. Parked on the grounds of St. Aloucious (somebody correct my spelling) and rode up through the back of the Quarter then up to the MoonWalk. On the way, we ran into James, Shel, Leo, Eric and his clan. A lesson here in the simple joy of biking through the city. We felt like celebrities...everyone gave us a nod.

Then we hooked up with the Krewe of Julu. I don't know how to capture in words the moment of passing under the interstate with 700 friends but it is joy. Pure joy, mixed with a sadness thinking of all of those that are missing.

But speaking of those that are missing, I ran into the Krewe of Cayne, celebrating Cayneaval. My friend Cayne died an untimely death while in the custody of the Criminal Sheriff. All durring this carnival I have spotted her in the crowd and across the room. Of course she is gone, but my mind plays tricks on me. Today, though, she was out on the parade with me, and her friends gave me some of her ashes to spread. She would have been cool with me shedding tears for her down Decatur for her. A proper send off.

Happy Mardi Gras to you all. We all missed you and there was plenty of room for you all :)

My Tribe

There was something so incredibly primal about heading down the street with 700 members of my tribe. I did not know them all, but they were all my peeps nonetheless. A crowd like that the cops do not want to mess with you. A crowd like that, everybody wants to jump in.

And so they did. We rolled through the lower garden district, and the first treat was a large family coming off their front porch to shake it with us for a few blocks.

I'll get back on all the other details later. But many of us talked about you, and I really did want to shout out to all of you now and let you know we missed you. I mean all of you out there that we were missing. There was so much room for all of you, and it was your tribe we were rolling with too. This was a great year, and I swear after 20 years steady Mardi Gras has never been better. I can't wait to see all of you next year.

Roll with me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NOLA's Slothocracy

In response to HumidHaney's post.

It's when I have to set foot in City Hall that I begin to think that I am in fact a horrible racist. I can get along fine with the folks on the street, and I hate the street corner thugs for their actions, not their skin tone. When dealing with people in business, I have no problems, but these are people who are generally competent in their field. When you set foot in City Hall, you are dealing with people who do not have a resume to freshen up. They are in, and our broken Civil Service system has no ability to remove them. These are people who are not only entitled to special privileges rendered by their friends across the hall, they are entitled to keep their job no matter how incompetently their work is performed. It's unfortunate, but the people that you generally get "face time" with in City Hall are the bitter losers who are sitting at the same front desk for 25 years because they are far too incompetent to be promoted, but because of our failing Civil Service system, they can not be relieved of duty, so they sit and spread their invective.

I don't mean to slander every city hall employee, the staff in Stacy Head's office are excellent and set a standard to be met. I met not long ago with Mr. Nguyen, the City Engineer, and he is polite, competent and efficient, but we all know that he is an exception down there.

It is unfortunate that these hangars on create a environment where anyone who has a work ethic and a level of competence becomes jaded and despondent about their work or quits and finds a "real" job. C Ray and Dr. Blakely are case in point. They entered the job with the best of intentions, but now have realized that their best efforts will be mired in incompetence and corruption to the point that they quit trying. This inertia is killing our recovery.

Something must be done about the Civil Service system. I don't know if this requires a change in the City Charter, but I'm sure some other people from the real world who have work ethic can help to figure it out.

This slothocracy must be replaced by a system that rewards competence and most importantly it must punish incompetence with the possibility of termination. That threat has no teeth right now.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kristol v. Rich

If, and this is a big if, you want to see the real difference between conservatives and liberals in this coming election I submit two articles.  The first by Fox political commentator and NY Times editorialist Bill Kristol, cleverly titled Be Afraid. Please, is generally about how we should not put blind faith in Mr. Obama cause he can give a good speech.  Its touching that he comes to this realization after 8 years of blind faith in a President that can't be inspired to make a speech, let alone one that has the power of inspiration.

The second is by Frank Rich, and contextually talks of the same event, the speech Obama made in Berlin, but casts it in a much different light.  Its title, How Obama became acting President, instead of chastising those who hope and believe that change is critical in federal goverment, talks instead of how this candidate has already helped change the Ne0-Con foreign policy just by running for Commander-in-chief.   Its Makes note of how Bush and McCain, who have attacked Obama as a treasonous terrorist loving coward, have both had to adjust their policies on the very subjects (Namely that of Iran and Iraq) they claim to have so much hard fought wisdom about.  It also goes on to site numerous examples of McCain gaffes that quite frankly I don't want to see our Commander-in-Chief make.  For instance it could be a real problem if McCain cant figure out the diffrence between sunni and shia or where Iraq and Iran are in relation to pakistan.

But I digress, check these columns out and try and figure out what you really want out of your next leader.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Parasitic Culture

I've been mulling over what to say in response to the retread of recent comments and articles around what the Drudgetards and several radio hosts call "The parasitic culture."  Neal Boortz (a dickensian name if i ever herard one, it sounds like a wet post-indian food fart that comes out of your mouth) and his ilk have gone around praising the midwesterners for their ability to rise above the flooding crisis, pick themselves up by their bootstraps and bail themselves out, not with the help of the federal goverment but with their own special brand of moxie.  Down here in New Orleans we, like parasites according Mr. Boortz, wait for aid and in the meantime just shoot at helicopters and rape women in the street.  How does one respond to that?  I mean clearly this is a radio personality, not a journalist, so objective reporting of the facts is lost in trying to report reality.  Make no mind about who or what caused the federal flood, that is not part of his argument.  Just that it is our own responsibility to clean up our own mess.

Medicine.Net defines a parasite as an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.  Consider this; we eat, we consume, we use, we throw away, we trash, we incerate, we pollute...against we plant, we read, we teach, we learn, we love.  Far and away we do more of the latter than the former and we expect everything to just keep going status qou.  

I read an article about how students in some rural counties and parishes were cutting down the school days to four/week in an effort to conserve money and gas.  I applaud the school for making efforts to conserve energy, but at the expense of a kids education?  It is a fact that our kids are falling behind, they are dumber, they are more lazy, and the last thing they need is less school.  School districts and model schools that have experimented with this find that more school is the answer, effectively eliminating the dead time between 2 and 6 when more and more parents are both working to make ends meet and pay for gas.  What if the boy or girl who was going to solve the alternative energy dilemna ended up only going to class four days a week.  They just lost over 2000 hours of science and math training (over the course of thier 18 years) because of our unwillingness to shoulder the burden for our children's transportation.  The notion that to conserve energy we need to sacrifice the growth and education of our children is what is truly parasitic.   

Instead of cleaning up the mess we are in or making sacrifices that truly have to be on a national level to be impactful; instead make the next generation suffer, and on and on and on. It's easy for Mr. Boortz to pass judgement, everyone loves to pass judgement, excepts when it comes to their own deeds.  Please Mr. Boortz explain to the class why their is no class.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wisdom of Fools.

Say what you will about W.

"Even a blind squirrel will find a nut sometimes."
"Out of the mouths of babes...."

On this particular topic he shows a deep understanding of macroeconomics and human nature.

James Carter for Congress

James Carter is the New Orleans city councilman from district C. If you don't pay attention the what the city council is doing, you might not know him. You owe it to yourself to tune into Chanel 10 on Cox cable once in a while to see this guy represent. Mr. Carter is always even tempered, thoughtful and persuasive. He is a staunch advocate of the needs of his poorest constituents, but is able to work effectively with corporate needs for development. In short, he is exactly what this community needs in a leader.

I knew all this about him before, and I was impressed, but last night I heard Inspector General Robert Cerecoli speak. He made it clear that he would not endorse any candidate, but as he told tales of his first year as New Orleans IG he came to speaking of James Carter. Mr. Cerecoli's comments about James Carter were succinct. "The most honest man I have met in the City of New Orleans."

That about does it for me:

James Carter for Congress!

Monday, July 21, 2008

McPoints: you too can be a GOP Veep

So presidential hopeful John McCain is making an award system for conservatives who post the republican talking points on liberal bloggers websites.  This is sweet, what a novel idea I hadn't thought anything like this would work with anybody over the age of 6.  I have a star system for my kids, red star for successfully brushing your teeth with out hysterics, a blue star if you drop a deuce in the potty not in your pants, and gold stars for playing nice with others.  As of publishing date neither me nor my tots actually know what the stars will translate into but it will probably be the backyard pool if I have a say about it, and not the preternatural trip to Disney World, but i digress.
What do you suppose these McPoints will be worth.  One million posts gets you a round of golf at the detention center of your choosing, another ten million gets you that hybrid car that will be useful when he pumps all the remaining oil out of the earth, maybe if you win the contest you can be the veep?  That being said it does not seem very presidential to manipulate your disciples with any type of reward system, especially one for bad behavior.  I use the system to instill value based behavior; if you are nice and work and play well with others you can have that lollipop.  NOT; if you can engulf the humidhaney website with right wing rhetoric then you can win a trip to watch the terrorist of your choice get waterboarded.  Of course the byproduct is they will actually have to read and understand the leftist discussion before they can actually comment on it...I mean don't they.


PS coming soon 'the parasitic culture'