People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Archive for February, 2007

Helen Hill Jazz Funeral

Posted by schroeder915 on February 24, 2007

pgr5561.jpg

2/27/07 update: Audio from the funeral march (mp3, 23 mb).

Posted in Helen Hill, New Orleans, New Orleans Music | 2 Comments »

What would the world be like without New Orleans?

Posted by schroeder915 on February 23, 2007

amexneworleans400p.jpg

What would America the world be like without New Orleans?

There will be another opportunity to find out when WYES channel 12 re-broadcasts “New Orleans” on The American Experience, Saturday, at 10:30 p.m.

The program Web site features this interesting map of the city which traces the development of New Orleans neighborhoods along with improved drainage made possible by the Wood screw pump:

amexperience_neworleans_map.jpg

Related: New Orleans topography and flooding.

On an unrelated topic — I called the Secretary of State’s office in Baton Rouge to find out what New Orleans would be like without District Attorney Eddie Jordan. We’ll have an opportunity to find out in 2008 when we get to vote him out of office (if we don’t recall the SOB first). The D.A. serves a six-year term. Jordan was elected in 2002, and assumed office in 2003. The primary election is October 4th, 2008.

Posted in 2008 Elections, Eddie Jordan, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans, Worst D.A. Ever | 1 Comment »

Mardi Gras 2007

Posted by schroeder915 on February 21, 2007

pgrsamlaleash.jpg

It’s hard to choose favorites, but after a cursory glance at my Mardi Gras photos as a whole, I’d have to say that this wins the prize for the best political costume — Uncle Sam leading Louisiana around on a leash would ask people if they wanted money, and then ask if they were from Louisiana. If they answered yes, Sam would pull back the money and nonchalantly quip, “Oh. Well you can’t have any.” (Related: Roxanne at Pandagon made reference to a pretty good Wall Street Journal article about why the recovery isn’t happening).

The wrestlers win for best group costume as well as for the day’s best performance.

It was a glorious day. After a week of chilly weather on the parade route, the sun came out and warmed up the streets for maskers, and the rain was held at bay. The joy in the streets was palpable. This is a town like no other. For all of her troubles, on a day like this, the grief, the misery, the exasperation, are all momentarily suspended as revelry reigns supreme.

More photos.

I captured this video (wmv) on my little Canon A510 not so much for the images, but for the sound. Here’s one of those occasions where I wished I had brought my audio recording gear with me, and in particular, wished I had talked more to the creators of the float (hint: if you know who these people are, please let me know — I’d still like to talk to them). The reason I’m so interested is because, after listening to the video, I realized that the singer of the song “The Opposite Machine” was Paul Gailiunas. The float designers must have been friends of his. Oddly enough, I was thinking specifically about Paul when I traded in a trouble card for a prize. The song can be found on the “Here Come the Troublemakers” CD. The Opposite Machine wins for best sentiment and idea implementation.

Here’s a short video (wmv) of the Krewe of St. Ann band playing “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” The joy of such celebrations shared in the streets is in marked contrast to the hateful Christian tourists marching around with their loathsome banners while stealing glances at titties. I considered for a moment catching video of a guy who was protesting the Christians in Jackson Square by drowning out their megaphones with one of his own. He just kept repeating ad nauseum, “Stop the hate. Stop the hate. Stop the hate.” I remarked to one of the Christians who begged me to take some of the water nobody would accept at the table piled high with donated clothing nobody needed that, “People don’t need clothes anymore — they need houses. You should be building houses.”

Posted in Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Orleans | 8 Comments »

Let’s keep the keys to the city

Posted by schroeder915 on February 20, 2007

When Nagin gave away the keys of the city to the king of Rex, relinquishing leadership he doesn’t exercise, he made uncomfortable jokes about not having to do his job anymore.

Let’s keep the keys, and give no-C Ray the boot!

(I couldn’t find video of the handing away of the keys on any of the local TV newscast archives or NOLA.com, though I did see it on the 10:00 news last night).

Related:

Carnival, in order to be enjoyed, requires that rules and rituals be parodied, and that these rules and rituals already be recognized and respected. One must know to what degree certain behaviors are forbidden, and must feel the majesty of the forbidding norm, to appreciate their transgression. Without a valid law to break, carnival is impossible. During the Middle Ages, counterrituals such as the Mass of the Ass or the coronation of the Fool were enjoyable just because, during the rest of the year, the Holy Mass and the true King’s coronation were sacred and respectable activities. The Coena Cypriani quoted by Bachtin, a burlesque representation based upon the subversion of topical situations of the Scriptures, was enjoyed as a comic transgression only by people who took the same Scriptures seriously during the rest of the year. To a modern reader, the Coena Cypriani is only a boring series of meaningless situations, and even though the parody is recognized, it is not felt as a provocative one. Thus the prerequisites of a ‘good’ carnival are: (i) the law must be so pervasively and profoundly introjected as to be overwhelmingly present at the moment of its violation (and this explains why ‘barbaric’ comedy is hardly understandable); (ii) the moment of carnivalization must be very short, and allowed only once a year (semel in anno licet insanire); an everlasting carnival does not work: an entire year of ritual observance is needed in order to make the transgression enjoyable.

Carnival can exist only as an authorized transgression (which in fact represents a blatant case of contradicto in adjecto or of happy double binding — capable of curing instead of producing neurosis). If the ancient, religious carnival was limited in time, the modern mass-carnival is limited in space: it is reserved for certain places, certain streets, or framed by the television screen.

In this sense, comedy and carnival are not instances of real transgressions: on the contrary, they represent paramount examples of law reinforcement. They remind us of the existence of the rule.

Carnivalization can act as a revolution (Rabelais, or Joyce) when it appears unexpectedly, frustrating social expectations. But on the one side it produces its own mannerism (it is reabsorbed by society) and on the other side it is acceptable when performed within the limits of a laboratory situation (literature, stage, screen …). When an unexpected and nonauthorized carnivalization suddenly occurs in ‘real’ everday life, it is interpreted as revolution (campus confrontations, ghetto riots, blackouts, sometimes true ‘historical’ revolutions). But even revolutions produce a restoration of their own (revolutionary rules, another contradicto in adjecto) in order to install their new social model. Otherwise they are not effective revolutions, but only uprisings, revolts, transitory social disturbances.

In a world dominated by diabolical powers, in a world of everlasting transgression, nothing remains comic or carnivalesque, nothing can any longer become an object of parody.

Umberto Eco, “The frames of comic ‘freedom’,” _Carnivale!_, Ed. Thomas A. Sebeok. Berlin: Mouton, 1984.

Posted in Carnival, Katrina Dissidents, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Worst Mayor Ever | 3 Comments »

Empower New Orleans citizens; support open source solutions!

Posted by schroeder915 on February 19, 2007

To create a successful information-driven society, and a well-informed citizenry, public policy should promote the open source development of services, and make every effort to eliminate ownership over raw data. When data becomes an exclusive domain, citizens may not get the information they need to make critical decisions. This could be a life-and-death issue when that data could reveal to citizens critical information about the safety of their neighborhoods. For too many years, the City of New Orleans has manipulated and reported crime information as a tool to control public opinion, arguing that it has an exclusive right to the raw data. Wise citizens should be wary of private entities trying to do the same thing — limiting access to information for private benefit and, thus, stifling the data transformation solutions which might arise from open access to the raw data.

New Orleanians have always wanted easier and more timely access to information about crime, arrests, and prosecutions (or releases). Citizens have been advocating more loudly than ever before that they should have access to those records. The first hurdle — what ought to be the easiest one to clear — is asserting citizen ownership the raw 911 calls for service records. These are the records of every call placed to 911, warehoused in city data systems. The NOPD receives a daily file of those 911 records via an electronic file transfer. It would be simple to add another file recipient to the list of destination addresses.

The question, then, is who else should receive that file? One wouldn’t want to have ask the city to manage a list of recipients. It would be far better to identify a single unbiased, non-governmental entity to receive and host the data for any citizen who wishes to use it. Then, the value of the data wouldn’t be the data itself, but what citizens themselves decide to do with the data in an open society. The true value isn’t in the data itself, per se, but instead in the ways that the data can be transformed into more meaningful ways — tables, charts, maps: data transformation services.

Citizens want to know some basic facts: Where, how much, and what types of crime are occurring in their neighborhoods? Is crime rising or falling? Are there identifiable patterns of crime? Is the criminal justice system responding in an appropriate manner to emerging threats? There are a number of different ways to represent answers to those questions.

No one entity has all of the solutions, nor should one entity be trusted to publish accurate reports. This is precisely why a society which permits a free flow of raw data — allowing developers to openly access the data and to provide meaningful answers — will inevitably produce a result which far exceeds what any private entity could accomplish. Furthermore, open access to data guarantees that those information services don’t just cease when a private entity no longer sees a private benefit from using the data.

A letter to the editor today underscores a deficit of understanding in the community about how the open source principles I’ve outlined above would better serve citizens than private, exclusive principles.

Residents want to see crime statistics reported accurately and in real time, which has not been done by the police on their Web site.

A proven program called NOCrime has been endorsed by the City Council 7-0, though the council did not provide money. This program would take reporting the crimes out of the hands of police and politicians who have an interest in keeping the crime statistics low.

Such a program could help residents understand the crime in their neighborhoods, work with the police to prevent crime and ensure transparency in crime reporting.

Rusty Berridge
New Orleans

The writer is supporting an initiative being marketed around town lately to provide citizens with a crime mapping system. Unfortunately, there are, at best, exaggerated claims made about what the system was in the past, and what it will provide in the future.

The first issue citizens should consider is that the NOCrime “proven program” was a short-lived crime-mapping initiative which has now been defunct for more than ten years. Citizens really should ask what happened to the NOCrime Web site and advocacy after funding dried up? Secondly, if the NOCrime concept is so brilliant, why are there, at present, no crime mapping systems on the NOCrime Web site? There’s nothing on the NOCrime Web site now but a bunch of links to other organizations. All citizens are told by NOCrime marketers is that if their idea is supported financially, it “could” help residents.

Why not start helping us now? Indeed, the open source solutions to provide crime mapping, reporting, and alert systems already exist. What might once have required a significant investment ten years ago, when the NOCrime concept was first conceived, now only requires tapping into the freely-available mapping services in a Google maps, or Yahoo maps, mashup. All that’s lacking is the raw crime data. Indeed, there are already a number of developers who have demonstrated an interest in mapping crime, and who have resorted to very creative approaches to finding data — albeit not current data — in order to get around the lack of access to the raw 911 calls for service data.

http://noladishu.blogspot.com/2007/02/crime-mapping-update.html

http://www.geocities.com/neworleanscrimemap/

http://www.citizencrimewatch.org/

So why isn’t NOCrime supporting an open source solution, by which anyone in the community could access raw crime data to develop services for the community? Why isn’t NOCrime supporting the concept of a third party entity hosting and sharing the raw 911 calls for service data? Could it be that NOCrime has outlived its usefulness, and therefore, the only thing left to latch onto is owning the raw data for private benefit? NOCrime should be required to prove that it has the capacity to develop its own privately-owned services by sharing access to 911 calls for service data with competing citizen initiatives.

The ownership distinction is subtle — ownership of data vs. ownership of services — but it is absolutely imperative that the community not work to ingratiate one entity or another, and that it get behind an initiative to empower all citizens to develop their own robust data transformation services which outlive the interest of private entities. Moreover, in the case of reporting crime information, the best solution will be obtained when community ownership over services — not just data — is promoted as public policy. Never should rewards be derived from clutching onto data for control over information and financial resources. Neither does private development of data transformation systems serve the community effectively and in perpetuity. With open access to data, and open source development of services, the community always owns the information systems it relies upon. There is no other alternative which provides the community with absolute ownership of, and confidence in, the information they have a right to know.

The City Council is hedging on this issue, being won over by persistent NOCrime marketing tactics. Citizens need to be vocal in their support of open access/open source solutions — now — before a decision is made by the Council to support a private entity whose track record fails to demonstrate a true commitment of service to the community.

Posted in Crime, Crime Mapping, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans | 3 Comments »

Krewe d’Etat 2007

Posted by schroeder915 on February 19, 2007

This is the Krewe d’Etat bulletin handed out by marchers:

bulletinfront400px.jpg

bulletinback400px.jpg

bulletinmiddle400px.jpg

I’ll post the few photos I took before the batteries died in this post later. I have a couple of connections to get the comic book thrown by the Krewe of Muses — I saw a copy — it’s what I now consider the best throw ever.

Posted in Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Orleans | Leave a Comment »

Our stoned mayor

Posted by schroeder915 on February 18, 2007

If I can be audited by the government, and I can be required to submit information about where and how I earn my money, then certainly public officials responsible for guiding public policy and investment dollars in a city with 200,000 damaged homes ought to be required to do so … oh, my bad. No-C Ray Nagin isn’t guiding public policy or investment dollars, so there really isn’t any opportunity for malfeasance. Maybe the worst mayor ever should just stick to countertops.

Looking for some new marble countertops for the bathroom? The mayor just might have a deal for you.

State records list Nagin and his two sons, Jeremy and Jarin, as the investors in Stone Age Granite & Marble. An employee said Friday by phone that the store relocated several months ago to its new Earhart Boulevard address from another location.

Stone Age LLC was incorporated in January 2005, but the degree to which the mayor and his sons are involved in the enterprise is a mystery.

Asked for comment on the venture, Nagin replied by e-mail Friday that the questions were “out of bounds.”

He said he would have no comment “on my personal investments that are totally outside of any city responsibilities.”

Any attorneys or accountants want to make a request to see Nagin’s books?

Related: AFO Investments.

Posted in Katrina Dissidents, Recall Nagin, Worst Mayor Ever | 4 Comments »

Chaos Breaks Wind

Posted by schroeder915 on February 16, 2007

The Knights of Chaos 2007 parade theme: Chaos Breaks Wind. There are also photos of the Krewe of Muses. Among the highlights, Rabouin High School’s new marching band.

pgrjordan.JPG

The deck of Chaos cards used as throws this year:

pgrchaoscards.JPG

Posted in Carnival, Eddie Jordan, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Ray Nagin | 1 Comment »

Krewe of Barkus 2007

Posted by schroeder915 on February 14, 2007

The tornado(s) that ripped through New Orleans were unexpected. I had to get up early on Tuesday to go into the Black Pearl neighborhood at Uptown Square. There was considerable destruction there — car windows burst out, trees sheared and their tops slammed into cars, a church with it’s entire facade and windows blown out, a lot of new utility poles damaged and leaning on houses. When, later, I did a loop up St. Charles Avenue and Carrollton Avenue, I discovered that the destruction was far worse than what I’d already seen. The whole facade of the KIPPS school was torn off exposing classrooms inside, roofs blown off, windows blown out, live oaks shredded — it looked like the mess left after Hurricane Katrina (without the flooding). And then the tornado went through Gentilly and Pontchartrain Park. State Farm alone was saying yesterday that they expected about 5000 to 10,000 claims from the storm. These people need some serious help.

It might be inappropriate to follow with a delayed parade post, but this is New Orleans after all, and we refuse to be bowed by mother nature. Here are some Krewe of Barkus photos. As with Krewe du Vieux, I think the satire, floats, and costumes were better last year. A friend speculated that the effort put in this year might reflect this past year’s exhaustion and stress from the recovery effort.

pgr5047.JPG

Volunteers recently updated the Citizen Crime Watch Web site. It now contains assorted property and persons crimes for 2007. This resource could provide an extremely vital service to the community if the criminal justice system started supplying the raw 911 calls for service data and data from other systems. I encourage bloggers to advertise widely the call for criminal justice agencies to cooperate with grassroots development efforts by providing their data so that we can acquire a greater awareness about the safety of our neighborhoods, and identify ways to improve the criminal justice system. The crime mapping and reporting initiatives underway by volunteers aren’t just a novelty — they’re essential resources that belong to the community, and that belong in the community, where crime problems are lived with on a daily basis, and where confidence in the criminal justice system has eroded. Communities need to be empowered to own the solutions to their problems for the community policing idea to work — but they also need to have the data in hand to hold their public officials accountable when the criminal justice system isn’t backing them up.

I’m trying to get caught up on a number of tasks, but time permitting, I soon hope to post some reflections on the testimony of NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley and District Attorney Eddie Jordan at the City Council criminal justice committee hearing this past Monday.

Posted in Carnival, Crime, Crime Mapping, GIS, Mardi Gras, New Orleans | 5 Comments »

“Where’s Schroeder?”

Posted by schroeder915 on February 8, 2007

So asked an anonymous commenter who only referred to himself as “Where’s Schroeder.”

Sorry folks. The anticipation is killing me too. There’s so much going on right now, but so little time. I do, in fact, have a lot to report since my absence.

I’ll start right here — I want this thing enlarged poster size to hang on my wall …

nagendranodes.jpg

And here …

citizencrimewatch.jpg

The first image is a drawing made by Nagendra at a Saturday meetup of neighborhood activists. The diagram represents the new linkages between neighborhoods which began to form after Hurricane Katrina. Circles represent the nodes, or cells, of neighborhoods. Lines between the nodes are the arbitrary political boundaries drawn by politicians long before Hurricane Katrina because, Nagendra said, that was the only way they said they could govern. After Hurricane Katrina, those boundaries were washed away. Now, citizens are talking to and collaborating with whomever they chose. Linkages are forming with residents who live in distant neighborhoods based upon common needs. This was best demonstrated by the 5000-strong march on City Hall against violence, in which every neighborhood was represented — every race, every class, every age.

The second image is a prototype online crime mapping, reporting, alert, and analysis system. The public needs to start making noise for the raw 911 calls for service data to be made available to citizens at the same time the NOPD gets the data, in order to further develop this resource as a timely service for the community. Later, the demand for other criminal justice records can be made to complete an understanding about what’s happening in the criminal justice system, and to give citizens more powerful tools to demand greater accountability. There will be a brainstorming meeting to determine where to take this initiative in the future, Mon. 2/12, 7 p.m., Sound Cafe, 2700 Chartes St. (RSVP briandenzer@yahoo.com in case the venue changes).

I’m still debugging my effort to move PGR to a final home on my own Web host. This will be coming soon, and then I’ll finally put back all the sidebar links which used to be on the old Blogger PGR.

Posted in Crime, Crime Mapping, GIS, Katrina Dissidents, New Orleans | 6 Comments »