People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Archive for August, 2005

Criminal incompetence

Posted by schroeder915 on August 31, 2005

The most well-rested president in history, President Bush, is cutting short his vacation by two days so he can oversee the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Great! I feel so relieved now that the most-vacationing president is getting back to work. The first thing he ought to do is fire the head of the New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers office.

Hundreds of thousands of New Orleans east bank residents like myself went to bed Tuesday night with reports that the 17th Street Canal levee breach was draining Lake Pontchartrain into the city, with fears of water rising up to 13 feet – that the bowl was filling up.

Earlier in the day, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin complained that Blackhawk helicopters never showed up to help block the breach.

When asked what sort of day he expected to have when he woke up on Wednesday morning, Colonel Waggoner, the head of the New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers office, said in a Fox News interview that he didn’t expect to approach his job any differently, that he would be getting into the office at 9 AM like he normally did, and would assess the situation then. He said that the levy system around New Orleans was only engineered to handle a “fast-moving” category 3 hurricane. It was never expected to handle a category 4 or 5 hurricane like Katrina. He said that engineers were trying to come up with a plan and were searching for any materials they could find to block the canal breach.

The primary mission of the Army Corps of Engineers is to protect life and property along the Mississippi River by maintaining the levee system. Why is it then that no planning has gone into preparing for precisely the types of problems delivered by Hurricane Katrina? Why weren’t the levees reinforced to handle anything over a category 3 hurricane? What was the Corps of Engineers’ plan – to cross their fingers that nothing stronger would hit New Orleans? What plan, if any, did the Corps of Engineers have for the eventuality of a levee break? Why weren’t the plans and the necessary resources in place to block levee breaches the minute they occurred? Why is the Army Corps of Engineers not staying up all night to make sure the levee problem is getting resolved?

Meanwhile, I’ve heard from people who were able to watch WDSU coverage online that the reports of 3000 pound sandbags being dropped into the levee breach are nothing more than urban legends – nothing more than something they were thinking about doing. Mayor Nagin’s complaint that the Blackhawks never showed up supports that conclusion.

Later in the day, Ray Nagin sounded like he’s been smokin’ too much from the crack pipe when he said in a CNN interview that he had all the resources he needed to handle the hurricane disaster. On the thousands of refugees stuck inside the Superdome – now without toilets that flush, without electricity, and with a leaky roof – Nagin said he thought they could hold out there for another week.

Hey, how about a couple more Blackhawk helicopters Ray-Ray!

People are probably dying, and our homes are being destroyed, but the Mayor said he has everything he needs, and the Colonel got a good night’s rest!

HEADS SHOULD ROLL!!!

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When and how to return?

Posted by schroeder915 on August 30, 2005

National coverage of the devastation in New Orleans sucks! Why they don’t put some locals on the story totally escapes me.

How about some aerials of other parts of the city than New Orleans east and the CBD? And, by the way, when they do put up those few rapid aerial pans of neighborhoods, how about some locals to say what the neighborhoods are?

What the national press doesn’t understand is that, notwithwithstanding the devastating floods in New Orleans East, that’s not the whole picture. It may be the most sensationalist, but the one-foot floods elsewhere around the city – hell, that’s like a biennial event. If it isn’t over your hubcaps, and it isn’t in your house, it’s no big deal. In no way do I mean to diminish the horrible tragedy residents in New Orleans East are confronting – horrible! But for the grace of god there go I. I’m just saying, others MAY have something to look forward to, and want news to confirm that.

On that note, does anyone know if any routes are open now, or will open soon, into the city?

I waited out the storm in Pensacola, but even here, the outer bands of Katrina knocked out power to most of the city. There hasn’t been much phone communication, and cell phones are worthless. This is actually the first time I’ve had access to power, a phone line, and a computer.

Thus far, I can only confirm that the twin span by Slidell is blown out.

Is there anything else we should know?

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THIS IS THE BIG ONE!!!

Posted by schroeder915 on August 28, 2005

I-10 east was totally clear of any traffic last night. It was 70mph the whole way to Pensacola. We’ll catch the edge here, but there won’t be any water events as there will be in New Orleans, where the levees will most likely be topped by 18-20 foot surges pushed up into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi. After that, the only place for the water to go is into the streets, and into your homes.

This happened so fast. Most people were doing their normal Friday routines, with an eye on the hurricane as it left Florida. But the weather patterns were already lining up to steer the hurricane right up the lane for a ten-pin strike in New Orleans. Saturday morning, everything had changed.

Elsewhere, oyster mercifully found a way to make light of a VERY GRAVE situation with a clever reference to Katrina and the Waves over at Your Right Hand Thief. Thank god for people who can maintain a sense of humor. Other Louisiana bloggers, rob at realitique, Suspect Device, Dead Pelican, Yatpundit, Michael at 2Millionth Web Log – all are saying GET OUT OF NEW ORLEANS. It’s probably the case that other Louisianians haven’t had anything to contribute because they already boarded up their houses and got the hell out. You don’t want to be there! This is it – this is the one everyone was worried about!

If there’s any silver lining in this, it’s that we’ll finally know what the big one is – if that’ll be worth anything at all after this.

Good luck friends! I’ll see you on the other side.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

AAAH!!!

Posted by schroeder915 on August 27, 2005

We weren’t thinking this would happen. PGR might be down for a few days…

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Barrettes don’t kill teachers, stupidity does

Posted by schroeder915 on August 26, 2005

The Times-Picayune:

New Orleans school employees collected nearly $21 million in stipends and overtime last year in a paycheck free-for-all that allowed some to nearly double their salaries with no scrutiny, according to a blistering new report by the state’s legislative auditor.

Among the abuses:

The system’s math curriculum chief, Mary Thompson…received $38,677 in extra payments, which she approved herself.

And:

Two teachers at separate elementary schools have stayed out of work since the late 1980s after alleged attacks by fourth-graders. In one case, the teacher went back to work but left again after four months, saying she had fallen after stepping on a plastic barrette.

How irresponsible of the school system to allow girls to wear monster barrettes!

Well, that does it. After failing to pass legislation to force kids to wear their pants above their hips, it’s high time those legislators got their act together and passed a bill against killer barrettes.

This sounds like a job for State Representative Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson). Hopefully, once those hair plugs start filling in a little more (well, a lot more), he’ll find more time for important legislation like statutory dress codes.

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Barrettes don’t kill teachers, stupidity does

Posted by schroeder915 on August 26, 2005

The Times-Picayune:

New Orleans school employees collected nearly $21 million in stipends and overtime last year in a paycheck free-for-all that allowed some to nearly double their salaries with no scrutiny, according to a blistering new report by the state’s legislative auditor.

Among the abuses:

The system’s math curriculum chief, Mary Thompson…received $38,677 in extra payments, which she approved herself.

And:

Two teachers at separate elementary schools have stayed out of work since the late 1980s after alleged attacks by fourth-graders. In one case, the teacher went back to work but left again after four months, saying she had fallen after stepping on a plastic barrette.

How irresponsible of the school system to allow girls to wear monster barrettes!

Well, that does it. After failing to pass legislation to force kids to wear their pants above their hips, it’s high time those legislators got their act together and passed a bill against killer barrettes.

This sounds like a job for State Representative Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson). Hopefully, once those hair plugs start filling in a little more (well, a lot more), he’ll find more time for important legislation like statutory dress codes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Barrettes don’t kill teachers, stupidity does

Style question: Italics

Posted by schroeder915 on August 26, 2005

Readers will find a few English style references in the blogroll. I try to adhere to respected standards.

Recently, I’ve been unsuccessful trying to find an answer to the question of whether the names of blogs should be italicized when in cited in writing. I tend to think they should, just like the names of newspapers and periodicals should be italicized.

Unfortunately, the online style guides I’ve searched don’t mention how blogs, or names of web sites, should be handled.

There’s an interesting (if not very helpful) discussion at the Fire Ant Gazette (or is that Fire Ant Gazette).

Does anyone happen to have a good answer?

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Einstein the pinko

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2005

While making no profound exhibition of economic theory, Albert Einstein presented a thoughtful argument for the establishment of a socialist economy. In so doing, he openly identified the contradictions inherent in both capitalism and popular democracy, and socialism and private freedom, advocating that the problems of planned economies be discussed openly. His essay appeared in the inaugural May 1949 Monthly Review:

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

Reinforcing the weakness of labor, capitalist economies produce a constant supply of unemployed:

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists.

Boldly calling for the creation of a planned socialist economy, Einstein squarely identified the contradictions to personal freedom inherent in such a model, calling on further discussion to overcome the contradictions:

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition.

Still reading? You haven’t called my name in to Homeland Security yet? Read more interesting remarks on capitalism by Pope John Paul II in an earlier People Get Ready post.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Write Now! to save Louisiana’s wetlands

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2005

America’s Wetland Write Now! campaign:

Announced by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, the Write Now! initiative is designed as a back to school project to mobilize citizen action and inspire Louisiana natives everywhere to write friends, family members and decision makers around the country to educate them about the urgency and importance of saving America’s WETLAND. Citizens are being asked to write letters, send specially-designed free postcards via mail, and visit http://www.americaswetland.com, where they can write and send electronic postcards free of charge.

Speaking of America’s Wetland, the U.S. Senate still hasn’t voted on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), but it still contains that Vitter provision that would remove the authority that the Corps of Engineers has to regulate some cypress logging activities.

Visit Your Right Hand Thief for a post emphasizing the political pressure that needs to bear down upon the White House and Congress in order to keep the required financial resources for coastal restoration from washing away along with Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands and coastline.

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Write Now! to save Louisiana’s wetlands

Posted by schroeder915 on August 25, 2005

America’s Wetland Write Now! campaign:

Announced by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, the Write Now! initiative is designed as a back to school project to mobilize citizen action and inspire Louisiana natives everywhere to write friends, family members and decision makers around the country to educate them about the urgency and importance of saving America’s WETLAND. Citizens are being asked to write letters, send specially-designed free postcards via mail, and visit http://www.americaswetland.com, where they can write and send electronic postcards free of charge.

Speaking of America’s Wetland, the U.S. Senate still hasn’t voted on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), but it still contains that Vitter provision that would remove the authority that the Corps of Engineers has to regulate some cypress logging activities.

Visit Your Right Hand Thief for a post emphasizing the political pressure that needs to bear down upon the White House and Congress in order to keep the required financial resources for coastal restoration from washing away along with Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands and coastline.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »