29 September 2005

- Hot and Cold -

So the heat finally broke today—twenty-five degrees cooler! Weird, I tell you, weird.

28 September 2005

- Rolling the Dice -

This morning Spouse and I saw a black widow spider just outside the door.

Did you know that only 5% of people bitten by black widow spiders die?

Comforting fact, no?

27 September 2005

- Cover Letter -

So Inside Higher Education has tagged the post below on the market for associate professors and my site meter is spinning. It's no "S1d R0senberg," but still a substantial increase in traffic.

In any case, I've been working on my cover letters. Cover letters are always a challenge. When I was first applying for positions, the sheer number of job listings precluded tailoring more than a handful of letters to the institution. I had different template letters for different sorts of institutions, but within the large category and given the number of applications that needed to be sent out it was really only possible to tweak each letter. (For what it's worth, the letters tailored to the specific institution did not prove any more successful in piquing interest than the template letters.)

At the same time, because I hadn't published a huge amount at that point of my career and my research was highly interdisciplinary, I felt it was necessary to explain the direction and significance of my work. The result was a somewhat longer letter than optimal. But I calculated that long was better than unintelligible. Since I didn't test a short but unintelligible letter I can't say whether or not my calculation was accurate.

The situation appears somewhat different in applying for senior positions. First of all, I have far fewer jobs I'm applying for because it only makes sense to look at schools higher up the academic food chain and lateral moves with good locations, better graduate funding and/or good departments in the other disciplines I do work in.

Second, I feel like I have to convince the schools, especially those that would be lateral moves, that I'm actually contemplating moving rather than simply looking for a raise. For that reason, I think it's imperative that I convince myself that, given the right offer, I'm willing to move. The upshot of all of this is that I believe that each letter for a senior position needs to be written specifically for the position in question. I have to show knowledge of the department; I have to flatter the faculty in the department; I have to show how my scholarship would fit into the department and so forth. At the same time, I think it's more important to talk more about who I am, what my current scholarly interests are and so forth. As a colleague of mine puts it, once your publications have exceeded a certain threshold, your CV will serve to document your research and you no longer need to be concerned with explaining that in the cover letter. Consequently, the letter can—and probably should—be much shorter.

I've been involved with a couple of senior searches at FU and I can say that there is nothing quite so ridiculous as a seven or eight page cover letter. Yes, the search committee learns a lot about such a candidate from that kind of letter—he or she has a large ego, doesn't know how to edit him- or herself, will probably be a pain at departmental meetings, etc., etc. Yes, the search committee definitely learns a lot.

All of this means that applying for senior positions consumes a lot of time that could be used on research, teaching, etc. Essentially, it is lost productivity to the university. I have to presume that overall the powers that believe that it is in best economic interest of the university to proceed thus, but with the lost productivity and faculty resentment that this situation creates I have to wonder if they are right.

26 September 2005

- On Being "Polled" -

So the local Dems called tonight under the auspices of a "poll." It was the most ridiculous thing in the world. It was an interminable series of questions of the sort: "the republicans are evil and eat their own children. Do you support the republicans in advocating eating your own children?" O.k. it wasn't quite that bad, but almost.

Still, I can understand how such push polling could be effective if they had a trained questioner (the one I had talked quickly and indistinctly) and questions that sounded like, well, questions rather than a political pitch. Also if they didn't "ask" so damn many "questions."

After the third "question," I figured out what was going on, but I went along with it just to get a better idea of what exactly they thought they were doing. After a good ten minutes of this nonsense, it was clear to me that they hadn't a clue what they were doing. Or rather, they were clearly trying to persuade voters when in fact they were having the effect of offending voters. Whatever voters may be, I don't know one who likes to be treated as if he or she were stupid. But that's exactly how I felt listening to this pitch: "these people think that I'm an idiot." And just think, I'm feeling this way and I more or less agree with them. How's the independent down the street going to react.


To: State Democratic Party
From: anbruch
Date: 26 September 2006
RE: Idiotic Push-Polling

Stop it. Stop it now.

- Sizzling -

Can I just say that it's hot here, fry an egg on the sidewalk hot, 20 degrees above normal hot, as hot as it's been all year. We're dying here.

Gasp, gasp.

And the neighborhood swimming pool is closed for the season.

Gasp, gasp.

We're supposed to be back to normal temps by the end of the week, but at the moment fall seems a long, long way off.

25 September 2005

- DVD Night -

Sunday evenings we usually eat dinner while watching a DVD. Tonight we watched some episodes of this. Defintely a favorite (even if our copy for some reason doesn't have the program booklet).

- On the Market -

Spouse is back—she returned last night. I'm taking a few hours today to finish off a reader's report and write up a couple of job applications.

Once again this year there appears to be a considerable amount of associate-level hiring going on. Everyone always talks about the "golden handcuffs" of tenure, but in my field it seems to be the full professors who are having the most difficulty moving.

My analysis of the situation is this: due to the hiring freezes of the early to mid-nineties, there is currently a relative dearth of associate-level profs. At the same time, because the salaries of new hires have been rising far more rapidly than salary increases of existing faculty, an associate professor often will not cost much more than an assistant professor. For instance the new assistant professors we hired this past year are still making more than I am, despite a considerable bump for tenure. Another institution could offer me 20% more than I am currently making and not put me more than 5% above what those with four fewer years of service are making. Most full profs on the contrary are far more expensive than assoicate professors. Consequently, associate professors are currently economically undervalued, so they have become an attractive commodity.

I have no idea whether this analysis has any validity, but it seems to account for the situation in my field. In any case, I'm just happy that I'm not a prisoner of tenure.


Post on cover letters above.

23 September 2005

- Sunset -

Judi J., first grader, and I went out to dinner tonight. We went to a pizza place with all sorts of amusements, much like Chucky Cheese but with lots better pizza and much cooler attractions. This one has a nice little carousel and some bumper cars. Need I say that Judi J. loves the bumper cars. She'd been looking forward to this trip all week. And truth be told, she's a little driving terror. Fully in control of the car, she has great, great fun ramming other cars at top speed. It's so unlike her general personality...

The sun was setting on the way home and I looked up and so the wonderful glow of part of a giant disk of clouds. They were all rosy, ruffled on the edges. Beyond the main disk of clouds, there were these wonderful luminiscent wisps of cirrus clouds criss-crossing the sky in all sorts of interesting patterns. It was really quite lovely, the furthest thing from ominous imaginable.

Yes, the leading edge of Rita...

22 September 2005

- Kyrie eleison -

Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy.

Well, here we go again. Roughly 24 hours to get who knows how many people off of jammed highways or they'll be facing torrential downpours and hurricane force winds in cars. And now they are saying that the storm may well stall soon after land fall.

This is not good. This is not good at all.

Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy.

I just see all those people in cars, especially all those kids, and I'm so fearful. I hope to G-d that I'm wrong, but with the number of cars that have already run out of gas clogging up the highways and not even close to enough gasoline, I just don't see any way that we won't have another huge disaster on our hands. Ironically, in this case, it seems that it would have been much better for everyone if more people had chosen to ignore the evacuation order. Seems like we just can't win for trying...

Still, I have to wonder: Is this what disaster planning is like all over the country?

This is not good. This is not good at all.

Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy.

- More Mania -

On my way home from school, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Much to my surprised I found that there had been a run on it. Almost all the milk and eggs gone. No salad. Low on pretty much everything. Eery.

My theory: everyone sees Rita looming in the Gulf and, helpless to do anything about it, they respond by shopping. Better to do something than nothing—even if it's very unlikely that we'll get anything here but much needed moderate rain out.

- Gas Lines -

Lines at the gas station this morning spilled out into the road in both directions. This at a station that hardly ever even requires a wait. Hmmm.

21 September 2005

- "Funky Little Fifth Sentence Meme" -

Via profgrrrrl.

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
My 23rd post (surprisingly) didn't have five sentences, so I went to #24.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

"Yes, Papa can be a stubborn cuss, too."

- Hair -

It took me ten minutes to do Judi J., first grader's hair this morning. Good thing I started early! It looked ok, but not great when I finished. I think we'll settle for the hairband thingee tomorrow.

- Woohoo! -

On the flip side of being absent-minded, I ran 4.8 miles in 40:15 this morning. Woohoo!

- D'oh -

You know you're off to a bad start when you're looking all around the house for your watch only to discover it's on your wrist. D'oh.

20 September 2005

- Reading Day -

Wednesday is my reading day. No, not reading for myself, but a day I've set aside for reading dissertations, manuscripts of colleagues, manuscripts for review, and so forth. This semester I've decided to set aside a certain amount of time for that and no more. That way I have a much better sense of my calendar. I can say: "I'll get this back to you on day X." I can also say: "I won't be able to get to this until day Y." That in turn allows me to protect my research time, which in the past I've often found eaten up by this kind of reading. And truth be told, I think I'm reading just as much material as I used to. I'm just using my time better.

It's also rewarding to feel at last somewhat in control of my time.

- Teaching the Moment -

I had a good class today. It didn't go at all in the direction I'd planned, but I loosened the reins and let the class run; and I must say we covered some interesting ground. We managed to address most of the issues I wanted to, but from an angle that surprised me (and the class even more). So all and all, very productive.

- Odds and Ends -

Spouse took off on her trip this morning, so today was the first solo. So far so good. I got Judi J., first grader showered and to bed on time. Woohoo! We'll see how things go tomorrow morning...

19 September 2005

- Where Have All the Cattle Gone? -

When our neighborhood was developed thirty years ago or so, it was out in the country. The main road that served it was a narrow country lane; and even the "big" artery that it fed into was a simple winding two-lane road. The neighborhood was essentially carved out of farm land.

Well, much of this had changed already when we moved in. The country lane had just been widened and extended to reach a major state highway. Much of the land that abutted the country lane had been developed. The artery had been straightened and is now a major four-lane cross city thorughfare.

But through it all, there was one large undeveloped tract along the country lane and this tract regularly had cattle grazing on it. So we could still imagine the country and place ourselves within it. Though of course at a conscious level we always knew otherwise—we knew very well that we were part of a large metropolitan area—such fantasies are important in defining a space for yourself, in allowing a space to define you.

Over the past month, however, I've watched this last tract of undeveloped land being cleared for development. We haven't seen the cattle now for probably six months. Yes, barring a major recession in the next few months, we've probably seen the last of our cattle. And that makes me sad.

For if the cattle have indeed disappeared forever, we will have to adjust to the fact that, though we haven't moved, we are now living in another place.

- Times Select -

Well, the marketplace came to Times' op-ed page today. Yes, the news is still "free," but you pay for access to their pundits and some news analysis articles. It's weird, no, that we're apparently invested more in personality (i.e., the pundit) than the reporting of the news. At least that's what the Times believes—and I have no reason to doubt it.

This move to opinion by subscription may well prove that opinion is more valuable when it is allowed to circulate freely. Or, on the contrary, it may prove that opinion is freer when it is not directly underwritten by advertising. In any case it should be fascinating to see how this plays out.

Me, since I have access through LexisNexis, I'm not subscribing—at least not yet.

18 September 2005

- Meet the Grumps -

Judi J., first grader, woke up around 6 am. She forgot the 7 am rule, where she isn't supposed to wake Mama and Papa up until then on weekends. Lucky Spouse, she was the chosen one, so she was grumpy about that, especially since she'd been the chosen one yesterday morning as well. While I managed to sleep until a little after 7, I woke up grumpy, too. Judi J., first grader, has been a regular Tosca all weekend, and this morning she's already been in time out twice, so we're a whole family of grumps.

14 September 2005

- Taking the Medicine -

I'll admit that I appreciated very much that the president finally took some responsibility for the federal response to Katrina. I think it was the right thing for him to do. And even if he should have done it much earlier, he still did it. And that is worth acknowledging.

Neverthess, I couldn't help but be struck by how forced his acceptance of responsibility was. The buck sort of stops here. First, he couched it in very conditional terms. "To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." What an odd locution for a man who prides himself on talking straight. How about: "I don't care what happened at the state and local level—I'm sure we had mistakes up and down the line—but the federal government clearly didn't do its job right, I take responsibility for that, and you can be sure that I'll make the changes so that this doesn't happen again." That's a much stronger mea culpa and one that I think paradoxically enough would have put him in a mcuh better political position than the tepid one he delivered.

What I found exceptionally odd about the mea culpa, however, was not the wording but the way that Bush delivered it. You could see it in his face; you could hear it in his voice. He was taking his medicine because Momma Rove told him he had to. But just like a child he wasn't going to take it without letting everyone in the world know that he thought this was completely unfair.

12 September 2005

- Being Rich -

Well, this is certinaly rich:

The stories out of New Orleans will continue to break all but the hardest hearts in the next several weeks and months, but the one that needs to die soonest is that America turned her back on blacks. America, starting with the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, turned her back on the poor.

See, not just the Katrina response was primarily a local failure. So, too, was the poverty. And if Louisiana and New Orleans don't have the resources because the state and city are poor compared to the rest of the country, well, too bad.

I wonder what Kathleen Parker is doing for the poor in Orlando.


I just wrote a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, not that they are likely to publish it.

- Mr. Smith Comes Home from Washington -

So we went to meet our house representive on Saturday. It was a fascinating experience. First of all there were more people than I expected—about 200 people.

Second, the natives were extremely restless—not just the liberals, which was expected, but many of the conservatives as well, particularly the libertarians and paleoconservatives, whom I learned absolutely disdain the neo- and theocons. It was actually the paleos who went ballistic.

Third, most of the questions were not about Katrina, but rather "how are we going to pay for this?" "Are we going spend more on poverty and education?" and so forth. Our representative was clearly not prepared for this line of questioning, and if it was characteristic of the concerns of others across the country it will be interesting to see what Congress makes of it.

Fourth, the meeting itself was extremely contentious, with ire directed less at the representative than internally within the audience. I was very much surprised at how members of the audience yelled at and attempted to interrupt and shout down each other. Emotions are clearly simmering right near a boil. You also have to remember that this was happening in a conservative distric, with more than 60% voting for the president.

If this keeps up, the next election may prove very interesting.

11 September 2005

- Presence of an Absence -

- An Explanation -

Here is something of a psycholgical explanation for one of the things that befuddled me as I watched the rescue phase of Katrina:

For Robert Newman Jr., a 32-year-old resident of St. Bernard Parish, about seven miles south of New Orleans, the thing that sticks in his head about the storm is a chorus of screams. People in Mr. Newman's community, one of the most devastated areas in Hurricane Katrina's path, watched for days in growing rage and frustration as helicopter after helicopter raced overhead, bound north for New Orleans with no acknowledgment of the stranded, beleaguered people below. He came to understand, he said, how a person could go crazy enough to shoot at a helicopter, if only from the unbearable stress and anxiety of being ignored for days on a roof without water and food.

10 September 2005

- iTunes 5 -

Does anyone know whether iTunes 5 is more careful about managing its DRM? Currently there are workarounds to the restrictive DRM, and I'd hate to lose them.

- A Magic Trick -

And here they want us worried about the mis-allocation of $2000 debit cards. "Abracadabra":

From global engineering and construction firms like the Fluor Corporation and Halliburton to local trash removal and road-building concerns, the private sector is poised to reap a windfall of business in the largest domestic rebuilding effort ever undertaken.

Normal federal contracting rules are largely suspended in the rush to help people displaced by the storm and reopen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts have already been let and billions more are to flow to the private sector in the weeks and months to come. Congress has already appropriated more than $62 billion for an effort that is projected to cost well over $100 billion.

Some experts warn that the crisis atmosphere and the open federal purse are a bonanza for lobbyists and private companies and are likely to lead to the contract abuses, cronyism and waste that numerous investigations have uncovered in post-war Iraq.

"They are throwing money out, they are shoveling it out the door," said James Albertine, a Washington lobbyist and past president of the American League of Lobbyists. "I'm sure every lobbyist's phone in Washington is ringing off the hook from his clients. Sixty-two billion dollars is a lot of money - and it's only a down payment."

Great slight of hand, no?

- The Dodge Continues -

Though apparently revealing fissures in the administration's attempt to dodge responsibility for the response to Katrina, this article smells of Rove. First or all, Dubya is portrayed as mad as hell even as he's patting the FEMA head on the back, saying "Brownie you are doing a heck of a job." See, behind the scenes our president really did care.

Second, Rove's name appears way too often in the article. He virtually haunts the article. Everyone is talking anonymously so as not to "offend" him. Since media reports hardly ever if at all say why anonymous sources want to be anonymous, that struck me as odd. But if you think about it, all this invocation of Rove does in this instance is mark the behind-the-scenes account as authentic. It appears true because Rove doesn't want us to know it. And what is it that he doesn't want us to know? That the president was mad as hell.


08 September 2005

- Cover-up -

Call or write your House member and Senators and demand a full, independent investigation of the response to Katrina:

Yesterday, congressional Republicans tried to get a head start, announcing the formation of an investigative commission that they can control.

They rejected Democratic appeals to model the panel after the Sept. 11 commission, which was made up of non-lawmakers and was equally balanced between Republicans and Democrats. That commission won wide praise for assessing how the 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, and for recommending changes in the government's anti-terrorism structure.

House and Senate GOP leaders announced the "Hurricane Katrina Joint Review Committee," which will include only members of Congress, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a yet-to-be-determined ratio.

Via Josh Marshall.

- No Photographs, Please -

This from Brian Williams of MSNBC. I don't know, from a purely political perspective, I have to wonder about the wisdom of getting the media screaming mad at you:

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.

via John Marshall

- The CEO President -

I'm just wondering:

If a CEO of a large multinational corporation devoted the work force of at least one half of an important division to a botched project that continues to drain significant corporate resources with no end in sight;

if that division also suffered from bad publicity due to illegal activities within the division;

if the CEO refused to dismiss the vice president overseeing that division and indeed continually suggested to the press that he was doing a good job;

if the corporation as a whole continually missed Wall Street estimates of its projected earnings;

if the corporation was found again and again to be overpaying its subcontractors, the CEOs of whom were close personal friends of the CEO;

if a top aide to that CEO had come under scrutiny of law officials due to shady dealings and the CEO failed to address the issue in any way;

if another division then failed spectacularly in an important project assigned to it;

if the CEO refused to dismiss immediately the vice president overseeing that division and indeed made statements to the media that this person was doing a great job, indeed that the division as a whole was doing a great job:

what would happen to that CEO?

I'm just wondering.

07 September 2005

- FEMA Failures -

A blog devoted to tracking FEMA mismanagement and refuting disinformation being put out by the politicos.

- Tax-Cut Non Sequitur -

From Roll Call, excerpt posted on Sam Rosenfeld, via Prof. B.:

Last week, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested that Congress may well need to pass an economic stimulus package, complete with tax cuts, in order to ensure that Katrina’s effects on gas prices and other commodities do not drag down the entire U.S. economy. That sentiment was echoed by Frist. Republicans have also floated a revamped energy bill that could more immediately deal with rising gas prices, to supplement the measure Congress passed at the end of July.

And here I just thought I was making it up. Of course, we'll soon find out that the best way to pay for this stimulus package of tax cuts is more tax cuts...

- It's Not Our Fault -

Once again running away from responsibility and blaming it on locals:

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.

Federal officials are unapologetic.

"I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.

The firefighters - or at least the fire chiefs who assigned them to come to Atlanta - knew what the assignment would be, Hudak said.

"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments."

I'm sure there would be legitimate reasons for disseminating relief information. But, as Musey_Me notes, the point here seems to be using firefighters as fronts for PR rather than getting information out.

FEMA has warned [the firefighters] not to talk to reporters.

hmmmm. I'm sure that's because these firefighters have access to very sensitive information.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Yup, can't have the people knowing that the firefighters will be used as props.

- Bull's Eye -

Thanks for not being a Zombie:

On the "leaving versus staying" issue, no reasonable person can argue on the one hand that the residents of New Orleans should have anticipated the devastation that was coming their way but that the federal government had no way of knowing what to expect or how to prepare.

06 September 2005

- Sloan Semester -

This just crossed my desk:

As you may have heard, Sloan-C is working the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Sloan Foundation on a project called the Sloan Semester to bring free online courses to students displaced from colleges shut down due to damage from Hurricane Katrina. We have been putting together a website that provides and collects information that will help in this effort and we are now asking for your help in getting this information out to students that could potentially benefit from this initiative. The Boston Globe estimated that as many as 175,000 students will be displaced this semester due to this disaster. Many will have to seek classes at other institutions, even now that the semester has already started at most of these colleges. Sloan-C has organized more than 100 institutions that offer quality online courses in an accelerated format, starting in October (we are still accepting additional volunteer institutions at the website). This is a grassroots effort, meaning everything hinges on your help to get this information to the students. The press has already given us some coverage, but that can only do so much, it is really up to our personal efforts to get the word out. Please contact as many personal and professional contacts as possible with the hope that the more people you contact, the more likely more students will find out that this is available. Even if you don't know a student from the affected schools, someone you know might, so please forward to all you feel comfortable forwarding to.

- On G-d -

Ianqui points to a great post by Rude Pundit. Here's a sample:

God's hand was forced to bring out the biggest guns to drive into stark relief the images of God's poorest people, the ones that the rest of us are supposed to care about, the ones who got nary a visit from a presidential candidate last year, the ones who are supposed to disappear like ants into the hill after they've done their work: out of sight, out of mind. God's made this pretty fuckin' simple, God thinks: what you do to the least of these, you know. The last twenty-five years or so have shown that the American government wants God to live in shithole housing with no health insurance, no child care, bare bones job training, no welfare net, facing starvation, violence, and/or imprisonment at every turn. And that's a pretty shitty way to treat God.

Still, I wonder about a G-d that would find it necessary to inflict this kind of suffering.

In any case, check out the whole post.

- Toxic Sludge -

More from the BBC:

Environmental experts warn that human sewage and chemical pollution from the flooded city could create a second disaster if they are pumped out untreated into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi.

Want to bet that it is pumped untreated into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississipi creating a second disaster? After all that one won't be nearly so spectacular, it will cost a staggering amount of money to properly treat it, the pumping won't happen in earnest until after the press has lost interest in the story, and its full effects are not likely to show up until the current administration is long gone.

And this from the NY Times

Dr. McDaniel agreed that the hazards were unknown, but said there were no alternatives. "We have to get the water out of the city or the nightmare only gets worse," he said. He added later, "We can't even get in to save people's lives. How can you put any filtration in place?"

See, it's already starting. There's more:

On the environment impact, Dr. McDaniel also said today that he believed the lake would eventually recover. "The bacterial contaminants will not last a long time in the lake," he said. "They actually die off pretty fast. The organic material will degrade with natural processes."

I hope he's right, but no one else seems to think so.

Elsewhere in the story:

Louisiana officials, commenting on the environmental aspects ofthe hurricane's aftermath, said that 140,000 to 160,000 homes had been submerged or destroyed; 60 to 90 million tons of solid waste must be cleaned up; and 530 sewage treatment plants were inoperable. They warned that it would take years to fully restore clean drinking water.

And who's going to pay for this?

I'm sure that everyone will agree that we really need to eliminate the estate tax much more than we need clean drinking water in New Orleans.

- Good Questions -

This from the BBC:
Sometimes more than 40 helicopters hover above the city still rescuing people.

They are highly visible but do not explain, for instance, why high wheeled vehicles have not been driven into these more accessible neighbourhoods.

When the authorities do come to these streets, it is more often in pickup trucks with guns.

"There are a lot more cops and guns than doctors," Greg Henderson, a doctor, said.

"For a long time, I'm sorry to say that I was the only doctor down here in central New Orleans."

- Odds and Ends -

I just finished class today. It's so odd. For some reason, this year we started school midweek, just before Labor Day. So we start up, only to have a holiday. Many of the students went home for the weekend, arriving back on Monday, only to discover the library closed. What's even weirder is that because of this crazy schedule, seminars that meet for three hours on Monday, don't meet until the third week of classes. That means they only have one class meeting to decide whether that course is for them. Of course, I often wish that was the case for many of my classes. On the undergraduate level there is so much shifting about the first week that it's really difficult to get any real work done.

In other news, I've started to increase my running distance. Last week I logged 14 miles; this week I've already put in 10.5 miles. I'm trying to work my way up to 20 miles/week. All of this anger over Katrina is clearly finding one outlet in running.

05 September 2005

- Über-Superfund Site -

Missed this the first time around:

"This is the worst case," Hugh B. Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the toxic stew that contaminates New Orleans. "There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."

Further proof that what this country needs right now is a tax cut.

(I've just mastered the skill of the tax cut non-sequitur. I think now I'll go apply for a job in the Bush Administration.)

- The Revolution Begins at Home -

Does anyone have any experience confronting politicians at town meetings? My Republican House member is holding a meeting near our house on Saturday and I want to make him feel the heat in the most effective way possible. Spouse and Judi J. are already planning on going. Of course we'll dress in patriotic colors. But any other suggestions—particularly rhetorical ones—would be greatly appreciated.

- Are You Sharpening Your Pitchforks? -

Bob Herbert:

Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration.

Like a boy being prepped for a second crack at a failed exam, Mr. Bush has been meeting with his handlers to see what steps can be taken to minimize the political fallout from this latest demonstration of his ineptitude. But this is not about politics. It's about competence. And when the president is so obviously clueless about matters so obviously important, it means that the rest of us, like the people left stranded in New Orleans, are in deep, deep trouble.

- Why Isn't This Guy in Jail? -

Craven, just craven:

In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats.

04 September 2005

- Mad as Hell -

David Brooks write this?

We're not really at a tipping point as much as a bursting point. People are mad as hell, unwilling to take it anymore.

But then I read this:

  • "Forty-six percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the crisis, while 47 percent disapprove."
  • "48 percent give a positive rating to the federal government's response overall, compared with 51 percent who rate it negatively."
What planet do we live on?

- Like We Need This Right Now -


03 September 2005

- Friday Shuffle (Late Edition) -

  1. Papa Don't Preach—Madonna
  2. Sweet Lady—Queen
  3. "Youth" from Das Lied von der Erde—Mahler
  4. In My Room—The Beach Boys
  5. "Reveige" from Des Knaben Wunderhorn—Mahler
  6. Are You All Reet?—Cab Calloway
  7. Jesse and Phil—Austin Lounge Lizards
  8. Darn That Dream—Miles Davis
  9. Wild Honey—The Beach Boys
  10. Messaqe in a Bottle—The Policed

01 September 2005

- Is There Anyone in Charge? -

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is a real fucker. I'm just saying.

And what's with this flyover in Airforce 1 that Flightsuit Boy made? I think we should drop him in the middle of New Orleans and ask him to "wait patiently" as the government does all it can do.

- On Looting -

Image: African Americans pour out of a store, goods in hand—a man with a pile of shirts; another with boxes of candy; a woman with three large bags of diapers. Aaron Brown (CNN) sneers as the footage rolls behind him. It's just like them, isn't it? you can see him thinking.

I've been getting so angry about the coverage of Katrina's aftermath. Everyone notes that looting is going on. Yet no one asks why it is going on. It apparently goes without saying that looting is appalling. Functional distinctions such as "sustenance" looting do not get at the heart of the matter, as non-sustenance looting remains beyond the pale.

Those who are left in New Orleans are mostly the poorest of the poor. They have lost everything. They have no food, of course, but they also have no money to obtain whatever food that remains. They have no material goods, not that they had much before. They can't expect the government to give them much if anything for their loss. They've been taught very well, thank you, how well our government takes care of the poor, how as the alarming reports about the civic center suggests, the government is still taking care of the poor. The poor certainly have no insurance. This is no crisis they can "weather," or wait "patiently" for help that's likely to come only when they are dead. Is it any surprise that they seek to obtain whatever material goods they can lay their hands on? It's their only hope of survival in the short term and regaining whatever life they had in the long term.

The gunfire is also understandable, if also unbelievably sad, from this perspective: people are desperate. The supplies people need are in very short supply. Skirmishes break out as people try to preserve what little they have managed to gather. This is precisely why the NRA has been pushing guns on us for years, right, so that we can protect that which is ours. And yet I imagine that those NRA members are sneering right along with Aaron Brown.