Sunday, November 09, 2008


If you've found your way to this page, it was probably by way of a link from the comment section of a blog that doesn't allow Name/URL comments. While I occasionally update the content on this blog, I have a primary, regularly maintained blog that can be found here. Thanks for clicking over. I look forward to your clicking through. Peace, y'all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary ArtsCenter! John Barry is getting ready to speak as Oyster, our fearless bivalve leader, provides an introduction. I will continue to update this all day, so check back often. Barry tells us that he "was in this space a few weeks after the storm," so it holds extra meaning to him to be speaking to us here today.

"..the Gulf of Mexico at one time went all the way to Cape Girardeau, Missouri..." All the land south and west was "made by the deposit of sediment of the Mississippi River... Everyone in the conference knows that we have lost roughly 2000 square miles of land, over time. "He's talking about the breadth of the "Mississippi River" which he considers a "cone" that stretches from northern New York state all the way to the Continental Divide. He calls it an "enormous cone" citing the map in the book, that which is the River's drainage basin, and he explains the difficulties the deposits caused to shipping and the nation's economic development by creating sandbars at the mouth of the river, so in 1875 there were jetties built to stop the creation of these sandbars. This resulted in an explosion in commerce along the river, deeply into the heartland."The port of Tulsa can't use the port of Houston. The port of Pittsburgh can't use any other port but New Orleans.... It's not the port of New Orleans, it's all the cities that New Orleans makes into ports." This is the point I don't think most Americans understand.

Barry states that right now the state of Louisiana is only getting about 1/3 of the sediment that the river should be depositing in the wetlands south of NO, it's "being impounded" by cities (made ports) upriver. "One half of all the sediment that is lost is actually sitting behind dams in ND & SD, dams built to provide electricity. " This creates a major problem for LA & the city of NO, from which nothing is received. He also points out that the entire Gulf IntercoastalWaterway, constructed for purposes of national security, has also provided a hindrance to the deposit of sediment at the mouth of the Mississippi. Add to that the additional salt water intrusion that's further harmed the wetlands, much of which has been caused by the oil industry, especially by their construction of canals. He compares the wetlands to a block of ice, taken out of the freezer and placed into the sink. He also points out that the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Industrial Canal were man-made, dug to enhance shipping for the oil industry. But for them, the water would have never reached the Lower 9. By now, many of us know this, but most of the country doesn't know this and he's committed to getting that word out. Every article he writes he titles "Things You Don't Know About Katrina", a title that has always been changed by his editors.

Answering a question, he points out that the port of New Orleans is 90 miles long, stretching functionally all the way to Baton Rouge, altogether making the largest, busiest port in the world. He suggests that some time in the future a "low water" event might allow an opportunity to repair some of the damage and get the river back on track. He speaks of "risk communication" as a "term of art" and says that what must be done is "you tell the truth". Of course, that's what did not happen here. The truth, known, was not told and New Orleanians did not know the state of their flood protection, or their lack thereof. He suggests that fixing this could become a growing industry, pointing out that we're in better shape, in terms of sea level rise, than in many other parts ofthe world because the marsh is still alive. He also says that every port in the world is below sea level, by definition: Singapore, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, all below sea level because they are ports. He adds, "Death Valley is below sea level but it's got a pretty little levee system." 60% of goods shipped out of America go down the Mississippi River. Without New Orleans Tulsa and Pittsburgh are no longer ports.

LeighCheckman is blogging beside me, watched over by our own Mominem. Updates soon and often. Thanks for watching. Peace.

First update: Missed most of the Education panel (schedule here) fighting tech difficulties (thanks Alan & Mayoress for fixing). Wanted to add that Inspector Cerasoli came to the meet & greet last night and stayed to the last, talking, and listening, to the bloggers. He's a good thing for New Orleans.

LisaPal's pics from last night coming soon. Don't miss them.

Journalism panel now. Jeffry Bostick moderates.

Lee Zurik says his eyebrows are real!

Loki asks that those of us live blogging let people know that Humid City is temporarily down migrating to a new server. It's been a glitchy couple of days. Oh, and there's a tropical storm coming. Not sure about getting back to Atlanta. :/ Mark LaFlaur of Levees Not War, in from New York, asks the great question, how do we, the grass roots of the blogosphere (us) connect with the top tier of the blogosphere (Kos, TPM, etc.). Eli answers that we should push, we can email Josh Marshall, Kos, etc. Zurik suggests that patience and relationship building is important too, citing that he and Karen emailed for over a year before they, together, broke the NOAH story. My attention span wanes. We just saw a sneak preview of the new film, which I'll post when it becomes available. Now the local politics panel is seated, peppered with friends, Dangerblond, Suspect Device, Schroeder. Fellow blog citizen, Adrastos, is moderating.

I'm officially the only person live-blogging the after party and it won't last long. We're at Rendevouz at the corner of Magazine & 8th, Uptown, New Orleans. This is the best part! Small contingent of bloggers, mostly drinking. That's all. If you're in the neighborhood (lucky you) stop by!

Correction: In my last update I meant to say that the "live blogging" won't last long, not the afterparty, which continued well into the wee hours. I can't get enough time with these bright people. Finally, here in my golden years (heh), I've fallen in with the Best. Crowd. Ever. Rising Tide was such a stunning success. There wasn't one uninteresting moment. Somehow, the panels, which have been excellet at each event, manage to continue getting better. I'll be back with a more thorough round up a bit later, but would like to thank The Mayoress for all her help yesterday during B-C's downtime. It's easy to forget how fortunate we are to have a host with such fine citizen service.

More Sunday morning. Until I get my wrap up post finished and us, RT iii blogging central can be found at Maitri's. She did a fabulous job covering yesterday, with pics (some of which I'll glom later - thanks in advance, M).

Monday, May 19, 2008

It depends on how you define safety

Gary Hart to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, after having been asked if it's expected that the Republicans will once again try to get away with characterizing the Democratic Party as being "weak" on defense (emphasis mine):

HART: A lot of us supporting Barack Obama have pretty long history of experience in national security matters. And I for one would yield to no one in this country in terms of my commitment to this country's national security, and new ways to achieve it. We're not living in the Cold War anymore. And to pretend that simply spending a lot more money on the Pentagon is going to make us safer was proved false by 9/11. This was an administration that was warned that terrorists were going to attack this country, and they did nothing. I am not going to listen to anybody in this administration talk about Democrats being weak on national security. They let this country down.

Finally. Shall we all say it again, and again and again? I've had quite enough of leaders who live by the old 1960s rule of let's not, and say we did, who live in a fantasy world in which what one says or calls something or someone is more important than how people and things really are, a world in which appearances trump actualities, in which spend-thrifts are called conservatives, a world in which the duped people of America buy this load of crap. It's over. It's time to call a reckless spendthrift a reckless spendthrift.

Our nation is dangerously in debt. Our defenses are worn thin and frayed from fighting a war for the benefit of Halliburton, KBR & Blackwater. It's time for the Corporate plunderers to leave our looted treasury alone, to take their newly-enhanced wealth and go home. It's time for some reality-based leadership to come in and clean up their mess.

Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Or, just go to your rooms. Now.

In Full Mom Mode:

Dear Senators Clinton and Obama,

Please promise me you know what you're doing, that both of you really are present enough to be a good president and neither one of you will do anything that might deliver this election to McCain. It's not so much that I hate John McCain, because I don't. He's a patriot who served his country nobly throughout his adult life. I don't even hold his widely acknowledged anger issues against him. Sometimes a little righteous indignation is highly motivating, as long as he demonstrates better impulse control than the inmate who's been running the asylum for the last almost eight years. We just really can't afford to stay on our current path. I mean, we literally can't afford it, can't pay for it, don't have the money to wage endless, expensive wars that, more than anything else, prove the points of those who hate us, fan the flames of anti-Americanism, make the world more dangerous for us and us lame broke. Haven't we had enough of leaders who say one thing and do the opposite?

Barack, Hillary, please just promise us you have a plan, that you'll drag this out only long enough to keep yourselves and your party atop the news cycle to fill this gap 'til the conventions, but that you'll do it without drawing too much blood. Then, find a way to make a true and lasting peace for the good, not just of your party, but of your country. Walk the damn walk. There sure has been enough talk. You can prove what great presidents y'all would be, prove it, by bringing peace and harmony to the Democratic Party. At this stage I don't care which one of you is atop the ticket, or if the other is on it, just that, whatever happens, it is genuinely without animosity (or you do a grand job of making it look that way - and that you make some important place for John Edwards). First, you must make peace. Kiss and make flipping up.

Demonstrate what a great president we're going to have, 'cause we're going to need one with the mess this disastrous administration has left for you to clean up. If y'all can come out of this forging party unity I'll believe you're more than just ordinary presidential candidates, you're patriots and diplomats, totally prepared to meet the challenges of the presidency.

I've been watching John Adams on HBO and I'm deeply touched by the enormous sacrifices our founding fathers and mothers (and their families) made when they gave birth to this country Their wisdom and commitment are now so clear in the difficult choices that yielded our republic, as well as in the well-chosen words that became their Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. We need the next president to respect the foundation on which this country is built and care about individual rights. Put the good of the nation ahead of your own goals and ambitions, and please start now.

So, stop pointing out each others' weak spots, or else the boys and girls on the other side of the aisle will be laughing all the way to the White House. Show us you're ready before day one. Really be living conduits for change. Take the high road. Both of you. Work it out. Senators, I believe that you each think you'd be a great president. I don't care which one of you it is. The good news is that you have before you a great chance to show us how it's done.

Either that, or both of you go to time out.

Yours, in Momness,


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Calm or Control

It's easy to be serene amidst calm, at least easier than finding calm amidst chaos. I'm usually pretty good at both but seem to be losing my touch amidst the shit really hitting the fan. Not that I'm not well practiced, but it seems worse than even my usual. Additionally, I've come to believe that, sometimes, excellent stress management techniques do nothing so much as enable us to sustain, well, more and more stress. Sometimes I think it would just be better in the long run to become hysterical, declare the vapors, fall apart, give up, lean into nothing there. I just don't know how, and can't quite forgive those who do, being also slightly outnumbered by them.

I saw Michael Clayton recently On Demand and had opportunity to discuss it in comments to Dangerblond's insightful post about the film. Carefully woven into Tony Gilroy's tense story are themes of mental health and mental illness as they relate to moral ambiguity or clarity. Tilda Swinton and George Clooney both played characters locked in morally challenging careers. Tilda Swinton's Karen Crowder drowns in evil amidst a severely misplaced Herculean effort to maintain the appearance of professionalism, of control, of normalcy; while George Clooney's title character trudges forward, losing himself completely in trying to do what's right by his ex, his child, his brother and his job. Between them is Tom Wilkenson's brilliant Arthur Eden, obviously slipping into madness and the absolute certainty it sometimes brings. Clayton, desperately trying to bring in and control his AWOL colleague, confronts him in an alley, concluding, "I'm not the enemy," to which his old friend responded, "What are you then?" Arthur understood, even in his illness, perhaps because of it, what was right and what was wrong. Michael, so caught up in fulfilling the roles into which he had become entrenched, couldn't see. I empathize with that.

Ultimately, we get up every day and try to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes mental illness comes with great clarity, other times it's more like just plain evil. There's a fundamental difference between maintaining control (or appearances) and answering chaos with calm, it's just not always so easy to know which is which.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Best. New Year. Ever.

It was magic. It was way too fast and way too short. The drive down was way too rainy, but we got there, Middle Son delivered in time for work Sunday and Friend delivered to her fiance (hereinafter "Romeo"). New Orleans was crawling with the Hawaiians, unanimously judged to be among the nicest, most generous and most welcome tourists the city has ever seen. The Georgians arrived with us, a series of SUVs bearing "G" magnets and antenna flags (driving way too fast for conditions). There was a fight in a very neighborhoody bar called Lotsa-Luck and a gathering around the end of the bar for dinner and drinks with a bunch of Romeo's high school buddies (these folks are in their 50s now) at Lakeview Harbor. It ended with a tired hustle home New Year's Day night, exhausted with a cold, but very, very happy.

I remember last year posting about the Psycho Therapist's notion of consecrating the New Year and I can't help but think of it as 2008 begins. While I missed visiting with my dear blogger friends (I got a short visit with Adrastos and talked to Dangerblond twice), I had the time of my life, spending New Year's Eve as a guest, member of a party of six, in the center of the upstairs window overlooking the courtyard at Commander's Palace. Oh. My. God. All dressed up in thrown together evening wear (thanks, Kim, for pointing me in the right direction for the perfect black lace top that made it all work) with a most exceptionally gracious host, I couldn't believe it was really happening. He was greeted by name when we walked in the door, and again all along the way as we passed through the kitchen and up the stairs to our table. I felt like a believing child on Christmas morning. In the middle of the Turtle Soup the trio of musicians visited our table. With the bass within reach on my left and the clarinet (also within reach) just beside the banjo-playing singer, they struck up "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?" and I couldn't help myself. I cried. It was a perfect evening. After twenty some-odd years of staying in on New Year's Eve, considering it "amateur night", I did something really different (really, really different, for me). Maybe it's a sign of change.

The last three months of 2007 were hard. The KnockingShitDownCo lost a founding partner after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Sister Bel, with whom I live, was diagnosed with the same disease. Money's tight and a lot of people are depending on me. I am heading into 2008, for lack of a better word, tired. But, filled with gratitude to Friend for encouraging me to go, to Romeo for introducing me to his wonderful friends and most especially to the one of them who was our host, I did something different this New Year's Eve and it was magic.

May 2008 be the Best Year Ever. Happy New Year, y'all. Peace. Out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Google Redeemed

The Google/Blogger comment interface fiasco seems to have been resolved. Even non-Blogger bloggers can now leave comments that include links back to their blogs/sites on Blogger blogs. Still, their lack of corporate understanding about what blogging is and means was revealed. I hope they work on it. And that's all I have to say about that.