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Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Monday, September 26, 2005
New Yorker for 9/19/05
I've previously posted some of the New Orleans-Katrina links here and also a link to an older Mcphee piece about the Mississippi and New Orleans. This issue also has a great article about Amazon exploration called The Lost City of Z by David Grann. Erik Olsen at Gadling wrote some nice things about the Grann article along with expressing his frustration that it did not appear at  I share his frustration. I also wonder if it's the author's call or the New Yorker's call. I've noticed that McPhee's pieces don't always go to the Web either.

Much of the article covers the disappearance of Colonel Percy Harrion Fawcett in 1925. Read the Wikipedia entry about Fawcett here.

It is an incredible story and although the lost city isn't made of gold, Grann there does seem to be the remains of an ancient civilization. Pick up the magazine and read the story, if you can.

Saturday, September 24, 2005
reddirtrose's photos

headed west last month
Originally uploaded by reddirtrose.
I don't have much to say about this woman's photos (and I don't know her outside of these photos) except that they are all very interesting and some are exquisite (like this one). She's in New Mexico which, if you've lived there any amount of time, you see that right away. She knows that land and that culture.

The Eagle

The Eagle
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.
I saw an eagle by St. Anthony Main today. This is in the heart of the city (Minneapolis).

Tooth Story

Tooth Story
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.
I uploaded some pictures to flickr telling the saga of my left, front, upper tooth. It is a story spanning some forty years. Click the image to read the story.

Hurricane Rita: Satellite Images
The National Hurricane Center has current Rita satellite imagery.

This photo is from Friday, before Rita's landfall. It shows how massive the storm was.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
A Flower
Sometimes you just need to look at a flower.

Friday, September 16, 2005
Are Tree Huggers at Fault? (Katrina Aftermath)
According to this article, the Feds are seeking information about environmental groups impeding the Corps of Engineers from completing levee work in NO. A possible smear campaign on the part of the current administration? Except lawsuits targeted the Mississippi levees, not the levees around Lake Pontchartrain.

Books: Indecision
In the NY Times Book Review, Aug. 28, Jay McInerney reviews Indecision, a first novel by Benjamin Kunkel.
"Indecision"... manages to make the whole flailing, postadolescent, prelife crisis feel fresh and funny again, even as it sometimes resembles nothing so much as a self-conscious, postmodern homage/parody of the genre.
The plot takes a somewhat new path for the genre when the hero of the book, Dwight, gains a social consciousness in the end. So it's on my list of future books to read.

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Monday, September 12, 2005
Play Ball
Tim Bray at Ongoing blogs about Single-A baseball in Vancouver. Very sweet.

Katrina: Laying Blame
An interesting post at Talking Points Memo, especially for us more liberal-left types. It's an email from John in Canoga Park, CA and it lays blame on Democrats in LA, both for the failure to prepare and for the early confusion and chaos in Katrina's aftermath. (It does recognize Michael Brown's contribution: "It is apparent that Michael Brown shouldn't be allowed within 100 miles of any FEMA authority.")

This is food for thought. It mentions school buses, now underwater, that a mayor (a Dem) refused to give up for the evacuation, and the Governor's refusal to allow the Red Cross in at one point (she is also a Dem). Of course this is an email published to a blog so it's not REAL journalism but remember, the blog is very liberal to start with.

We do need to sort out what happened and how we can improve the system. The glaring vacancy in the Katrina scenario was the lack of anyone taking the lead to coordinate efforts and get help to the survivors immediately. (Heck, someone should have organized an evacuation via National Guard.) I lay the responsibility for that vacancy right on the steps of the White House. FEMA and/or Homeland Security should have taken the lead and made sure that the state was responding or respond at the Federal level.

Read it here.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005
Katrina: Cuba Survived Ivan with No Loss of Life
Cuba survived Hurricane Ivan (Category 5) with no loss of life. They evacuated 1.5 million people to higher ground. They were cited as a model for hurricane preparation by the United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction.

Read more: The Two Americas by Marjorie Cohn.

This quote is from Cohn's piece. You know, I really don't care that he played golf or took his sweet time taking this disaster seriously. What I do care about is his administrations failure to place competent managers in key positions.
The day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bush was playing golf. He waited three days to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster site. In a scathing editorial on Thursday, the New York Times said, "nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

(After Katrina, Cuba offered us 1,500 doctors trained for working under emergency conditions and toting equipment and medicine. We turned them down. This from Nonprofit Online News.)

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American Legion, First Amendment
This is from Editor & Publisher, published Aug. 24, 2005.

American Legion Declares War on Protesters -- Media Next?

The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all "public protests" and "media events" against the war.

Then they take it a bit farther.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

So they fought in wars to defend our country and our Constitution which includes the right to free speech and to publicly assemble only to pass resolutions denying the right to free speech and public assembly.

Maybe we could start a mail campaign and send their headquarters copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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Katrina: McPhee at New Yorker
I like John McPhee. I blogged about one of his articles in the New Yorker here but sadly, that piece - Tight-Assed River - is not available on the Web.

My Katrina-New Yorker post links to several essays about New Orleans and Katrina and includes a John McPhee piece - The Sunken City. This is an excerpt from a longer piece originally published by the New Yorker and that piece is also available.

This quote is a quote itself pulled from the article. It's source was a US Corps of Engineers film discussing a lock and dam complex about 300 miles north of New Orleans.
'This nation has a large and powerful adversary. Our opponent could cause the United States to lose nearly all her seaborne commerce, to lose her standing as first among trading nations. . . .We are fighting Mother Nature. . . .It's a battle we have to fight day by day, year by year; the health of our economy depends on victory.'
In the end, Mother Nature's going to win though.

The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya by John McPhee.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005
Katrina at New Yorker
Excellent series of articles on Katrina at the New Yorker.

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Katrina: Photo Documentary
Series of photos by a New Orleans resident documenting Katrina's assault on NO and the subsequent flooding after the levees broke. Total of 197 images. Worth the time to view them.

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Movies: National Treasure, The Color of Lies, Look at Me, 9 Songs, Code 46
National Treasure (2004) is not really a national treasure of a film but it was better than I expected because Nick Cage always seems to entertain. The plot is far-fetched and veers towards gung-ho patriotism too often for my taste.

The Color of Lies (French, subtitles, 1999) is directed by Claude Chabrol. It involves the murder of a 10-year-old girl and the subsequent investigation to find the killer. Since she was last seen with René, an artist and her art teacher, he becomes the main suspect. And we, the viewers, begin to suspect him too, as the film moves along. The movie is also very much about the relationship of René with his wife, Viviane. I give it 4.5 of 5 stars. It's very intelligent which is more than can be said for the majority of main-stream American films.

Look at Me (French, subtitles, 2005) is written by Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri, directed by Agnès Jaoui, and stars Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri along with Marilou Berry. I blogged about this one here and about another of their films ( Taste of Others) here.

Lolita (Marilou Berry) is a singer, overweight, suffering from lack of self esteem, and craving the attention and/or love of her father. She sings classical works. The father is divorced from Lolita's mother and has remarried to a beautiful younger woman who often gets mistaken for Lolita's sister. They have their own child together and butt heads over child-rearing issues. The father is also a famous author and a first-class, self-possessed jerk but Bacri plays the part so well that he's fun to watch. There's so much more but read Denby's New Yorker Review for a better idea than I could give you or just go out and see/rent it. You won't be disappointed.

9 Songs (2004, directed by Michael Winterbottom) is about a year-long relationship where the couple meets at a concert. In the course of the movie, they attend eight more concerts and the film shows us one song each thus giving us the title. They also have (very explicit) sex nine times. And it's real sex (not simulated or acted) which makes the movie unique outside of the pron industry. Reviews have not been good with the Google review meter weighing in at 1.9 out of 5 stars. I read Ebert's review (2.5 out of 5).

Besides the sex and concerts, the guy (Matt) is an ice researcher and flies off to Antartica and we get to see him flying and trekking there. I think it's a metaphor for the relationship.

Code 46 was also directed by Michael Winterbottom and is a much more enjoyable film starring Tim Robbins. It's science (speculative) fiction (near future) and has to do with falling in love (by accident) with a close relative because everyone has been cloned and no one knows who their real parents or sisters or brothers or uncles are.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005
We are not prepared (Katrina Aftermath)
Over at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, there is an email from a Las Vegas police officer (and disaster specialist) that fits my own sentiments pretty well including proposing that we fire for incompetence the people at the top of the Federal pyramid. The guy is a "socially libertarian, fiscally conservative Republican" who felt the only good choice in 2004 was to support Kerry. Read it, everyone.

Elsewhere (Doc Searl's blog?), I read about the difference between election politics and governance politics. I think we are failing at the second. And I don't think it's strictly a "Bush Regime" problem. (Actually, I think 9/11 really shifted things drastically but that's for another discussion.)

I think this disaster is focusing us as to what we (the people) need in large-scale government. Simply put, we need people who can direct massive rescue operations, whether from a terrorist attack or from the forthcoming earthquakes that threaten California. We need competence in this area. It doesn't matter if the president of the US is a political hack as long as he puts competent managers in place (NOT other political hacks) that can get the job done. I'll debate with my president whether gay people can marry legally. I will not debate about how to handle a disaster -- I will trust that there are people in place that can do this. It looks like we do not currently have those people in place.

Email at Daily Dish
Daily Dish Blog
Doc Searl's Blog

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Disaster Management Qualifications (Katrina Aftermath)
The problem--and what appears to have happened here--is a system where political appointees are expected to be competent but where the Administration decides instead to appoint political hacks.
EKR at Educated Guesswork

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Monday, September 05, 2005
Create a Comic Strip
Once again, via Google Blogoscoped, here is a Comic Book Generator. Drawing skills are unnecessary.

Blogoscoped is a great blog. I haven't read it in a while so I'm finding all these little gems to share.

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New OS: Tiger
Well, after some serious system problems on my 15-inch (aluminum) Powerbook, I erased the drive and installed OS X 10.4 - Tiger. Everything looks good but because of the previous problems, I'm doing a very clean install and reinstalling all my software.

I can't rave enough about DiskWarrior, a disk utility for Macs. After the first major crash of my system, I let DiskWarrior churn away for 14 hours. It was able to salvage almost everything and rebuild the directories.

I love the new Mail client in Tiger. Very clean and more usable than previous versions. Dropping to folders is enhanced by making the target really light up when you drag over. Thanks, Apple.

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Matrix Scene in ASCII
Bullet scene from the first Matrix, animated in ASCII. Incredible.

[via Google Blogoscoped]

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Star Wars in ASCII
Google Blogoscoped links to an ASCII version of Star Wars. If you're on a Mac, just type


at the prompt in a Terminal window. (Terminal is in your Applications/Utilities folder.) Windows instructions are available at the blog.

It's well done but it runs too fast here to read the dialogue.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Katrina 2
Friend Roy sent these along and they are some good reads. Unfortunately they are NY Times so may disappear behind the paywall.

Cant-Do Government by Paul Krugman. Trying to answer the question Why were we so unprepared?.

The Manmade Disaster. NY Times editorial. How Guard Iraq deployment is affecting the rescue operations.

They Saw It Coming by Mark Fischetti. Implementing the 1998 large-scale engineering plan called Coast 2050 could have helped in avoiding this disaster.

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Katrina 1
I've been following the Katrina disaster closely and wanting to post but just haven't found much time. To begin, I want to get some links up as resources and the best I've found so far for breaking coverage is the blog at The Times Picayune Newspaper. I am guessing the Times is the major New Orleans newspaper. (Corroborate or correct, please, if you know.)

The articles in the paper itself are also excellent and have much more detail than larger and national media outlets. I understand that the reporters at the Times began publishing the blog immediately after the disaster.

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