This may be the first time that an American city has actually died. With 80% of the city under water - up to 20 feet in places - and 100% without power or water, the city seems essentially destroyed.
At the moment about two million people in Lousiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are without power, and it doesn't look as if power is going to be restored to most of them by the end of the week. There are reports of looting, rioting, and widespread civil disturbance. Mayor Nagin's order to evacuate was the first mandatory evacuation order ever given by a US mayor.
The implications for the US are pretty severe. One third of our oil refining and import facilities and the nations only supertanker offloading port have been either destroyed or rendered temporarily inoperative. Atlanta, which gets the vast majority of its oil from the Gulf, is down to 7 or 8 days of reserve supply of its normal 10, and there isn't much hope that the pipelines will be restored by then. If Atlanta runs out of fuel, things are going to get bad.
We'll just have to see what happens.
Well, I finally got sick of not knowing how many people are reading my page. Remember that little eXtreme Tracking icon that used to be at the bottom? That stopped working a while ago: it's been saying I'm getting one or two hits per day, even on days when I get more comments than that. I only now got around to fixing it.
I'm now using StatCounter, a free tracking service with good features. It uses Java, if that makes a difference to anyone. Check it out.
UPDATE: I just realized that StatCounter sets a cookie to determine whether or not you're a returning visitor. Whatever. Take the cookie or not, I don't care.
I think they're right. Numbers 7, 8, 12, and 13 are particularly horrifying.
The governor of Hawaii has imposed a price cap on gasoline. The wholesale price has been capped at around $2.16, which would suggest a retail price of $2.86, provided retail markup and taxes remain the same.
This is one of the worst ideas ever. Price caps do nothing to affect the actual cost of a good. All this is going to do is create gas shortages. So gas won't ever cost more than $2.86 retail, but there won't be any, because 1) retailers won't buy gas for more than they're allowed to sell it, and 2) people that do buy gas will sell it on the black market for what it's really worth, plus another markup to cover the risk they run in violating the cap laws. The sticker price will be $2.86, but if you actually want to be able to fill your tank, I wouldn't be surprised if you had to spend $4.00 or more.
Yet another example of the imposition of aesthetics on economics.
Slate is running an article indicative of those who don't seem to have any idea how the real world works. We've got a New York writer taking cues from a professor of women's studies concluding that jobs that are determined to be of "comparable worth" by Johnny Q. Public should be provided with equal economic compensation. I've never heard a sillier idea in my life.
There is and should be only one indicator of a given job's salary: what people - particularly your employer - are willing to pay anyone to do that job. This is determined largely by how economically productive that job is, and how hard it is to get people, competent people, to do that job. Being a teacher is hard, essential work, but teaching does not produce wealth. It is supposed to produce well-rounded, responsible, mature human beings, but I think we'd all agree that the worth of people isn't measured in money. Flipping burgers does produce concrete wealth - not much, but something - but anyone can do it, and thus the pay is crap. Being a doctor is essential, important work that is generally regarded as being pretty fulfilling, but as there are precious few people in the country capable of becoming doctors and only a few of them decide to do so, society has to pay them enough to keep them interested. Hauling garbage is something almost anyone could do, but the work kind of sucks, and thus people need to be paid a little more than the sheer economic value of the labor in order to be willing to work. Any other measure for determining salaries is nothing less than the arbitrary imposition of a given person or persons' aesthetic values on the economic system. This is both unbridled arrogance and a recipe for disaster.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, be leaving, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
Islamic terrorists have decided to send a message to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair by detonating over 300 bombs in... Bangladesh? A primarily Islamic country.
So, the message we're supposed to get here is "Leave us alone or we'll blow ourselves up." Right. Got it. No. Wait. What the hell?!
Entry 700. Yay.
To quote someone generally not worth quoting, perhaps it's time we left those up to someone wiser. Whilst the estimible Mr. Sullivan is on his annual August vacation, he has had several different personalities fill space on his site. This week, it's been one Walter Kirn. Today, he had this to say (a selection follows), and I think it rather relevant. Outside the blogosphere, I find myself in significant agreement: I'd much rather talk about something other than politics.
"Other than Jen-and-Brad celebrity gossip and the serial popular novels posing as crime stories such as this Aruba thing, this hyped-up so-called politics is all people have to talk about now, it seems. I remember when people talked about themselves. At thee dinner table and in the diner you heard about that sports car-from-a-kit your neighbor was building, about some lady's kidney tumor, about who was wooing another man's wife, and about the bear that was eating from someone's apple tree. These little stories added up to life. You got a sense of how people were actually managing. Now you hear what they're thinking. What a bore. Most of them can't think, and have never tried, and are just repeating what others think and adding their own misinterpretations and biases. I could care less, frankly. I'd rather hear about what somebody's doing to get rid of the bat infestation in their attic. But no, it's Washington, Washington, Washington, which is thousand of miles away from western Montana but has somehow convinced us it's right next door. Well, it's not. The neighbors are next door. But because they talk only about politics, I have no idea what their lives are like and they don't either for the most part, they don't either. They're trying to join the "national conversation" and meanwhile the bears are eating their apples. "
Howard Dean is claiming that women in Iraq are worse off now than before Saddam was removed from power.
Can he possibly be serious? And if he is, what kind of bizarro-world does he live in? Is there any way of arguing that womens' rights have been dealt a setback in the past year? The ability to vote, appear in public, dress as one wishes, buy and sell property, and hold public office is a step backwards?
It's things like this that make me happy Dean is the chair of the DNC: no one else could possibly run the party into the ground more efficiently.
By now we've all heard about the "grieving" mother whose son was killed in Iraq last year. Some of us will have heard about the dramatic about-face in regards to her opinions about our president after her son was killed. Now, she's camping out on the lane leading to Bush's ranch - which is her right, I suppose - and refusing to pay taxes because Bush "killed her son".
Let me say that I do feel for her loss. She's lost a child, a son. Nothing could be more devastating for a parent. But that doesn't mean you can go completely off the rails.
This will lead to one thing, and one thing only, if the government is smart: sending her sorry, belly-aching, good-for-nothing behind to Federal prison for non-payment of taxes. She's saying that she hopes they do go after her because she'll "put the war on trial". I'm hoping she tries this, because any sane judge will immediately recognize that this is not relevant to your 1040. The prosecution would have a field day. I can see the conversation now...
Prosecutor: "Did you pay your Federal income taxes for fiscal year 2004."
Whiner: "No, I didn't. And until..."
P: "Just answer the questions please. So you are admitting that you have not paid your taxes?"
W: "Yes, and I refuse to do so until..."
P: "No further questions, your Honor."
W: "But I want to..."
P: "I said, "No further questions," your Honor. Your witness."
Defense counsel: "Mrs. Sheehan, would you say that there were any extenuating circumstances for your not paying taxes?"
W: "Yes I would! Bush killed my son..."
P: "Objection! Your honor, this is ridicu..."
Judge: "Sustained. Mrs. Sheehan, you will refrain from introducing extraneous, legally irrelevant accusations in this court. Answer the question, please."
W: "But he killed my son!"
J: "Mrs. Sheehan, the President of the United States' policy decisions do not affect your legal obligation to pay taxes. If you continue to introduce such matters into this court, you will be held in contempt."
From there, I'd bet that she spends a month or two in the slammer for not shutting up. There isn't any provision in the Constitution or US Legal Code for the withholding of taxes based on personal pique.
Watched Easy Rider last night with the guys. I entirely understand why this is viewed by countercultural activists as such an important, brilliant film. I also understand that it's a delusional, self-gratifying wank job (written by, directed by, and starring Dennis Hopper) that could use a real editor (seriously, what's with those bizarre triple-cuts between scenes?).
- It doesn't matter how noble your cause, how much you assert your own humility, or the effort you put into it, planting seeds in the desert is a dumb idea. There's a reason no one lives there: it's an entirely miserable place to be. If anyone wanted to live there, someone would already be there.
- Contemporary counterculture types don't seem to be able to distinguish between civil rights activism, gay rights activism, the smuggling, sale, and use of illegal substances, and ufology. All are granted equal legitimacy as all are seen as threatening to the status quo. Easy Rider indicates that this has been true for at least 35 years.
- Only people with hair that is longer/shorter than "normal" consider this to be of any political or social consequence.
- The "squareness" of the people one is attempting to annoy does not justify being a public nuisance.
- Though spending money on consumer goods or industrial food is "bad", it's consistent with the countercultural ethic to spend money on prostitutes and alcohol.
- Lens flare, shots taken from the groin area, and rapid, unpredictable cuts were really cool effects in 1969.
- Being named "Peter Fonda" or "Dennis Hopper" is not proof against being a pretentious jackass.
That's the name of a gas station/convenience store chain in the Northeast. Yesterday I stopped in to tank up before heading to Baltimore for the teachers' conference I'm currently at. As I was fueling, I noticed that they had touch-screen consoles right next to the pump where you could order made-to-order sandwiches etc. that you could pick up inside. Now that's cool. I had a sausage, egg, and chedder biscuit with mayo for $1.90. I love technology.
With the legalization of marriage for gays in Massachusetts, it was only a matter of time before two straight men decided to take the plunge - for tax reasons.
Can't think of any good legal reasons why this shouldn't be allowed, given the state of the law.
And now we just finished Lost in Translation.
Feeling some better today. Talked with some friends, worked a few things out, and extracted some things that I don't need anymore.
Next week: Bottle Rocket or Eternal Sunshine. Or both. I think that sounds more likely.
Or so it would seem.
If you are annoyed by the subject of this posting, consider your chain well and truly yanked.
Anti-Patriot Act doomsayers take note: last year's seizure of Indymedia servers was, in fact, a mistake. When the servers were seized, the EFF sued to have the subpoenas by which the FBI acquired the servers unsealed. A few days ago, the documents were made public.
Turns out that the FBI requested copies of a few specific logs. It was Rackspace, Indymedia's IT provider, that decided to give hard drives away. The FBI didn't have time to access the drives before Rackspace found the files in question, forwarded them, requested the drives back, and had them returned.
The summer has sucked. Right now I'm sitting at the sales office waiting for a meeting to start, and boy howdy, I don't want to be here. The past two months have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I absolutely hate sales. It's a job that requires a relentlessly upbeat and enthusiastic personality, something I can only approximate at the best of times. And the fact that my recently acquired ex-girlfriend is one of the managers at the office isn't helping matters. I don't have an alternate way of making money, so I'm stuck here for the time being.
I'm stuck in more ways than just that, though. I'm essentially without a home church at the moment. The OPC congregation I've intermittently attended since I've been in college just isn't going to cut it now that I'm here full-time. But other options are not forthcoming, and I'm loath to strike out with a church where I know no one when I have friends and family in the area. The only time I felt as if I had really worshiped since I left the city was when I went back there one Sunday last month.
The family situation is pretty tough. Stuff that has been lying dormant for decades is coming to light, and though it's brought me closer to certain members of my family, the whole thing is fraught (never thought I'd use that word outside a vocabulary quiz) with tension. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in a month.
I should stop for now. The glorified Boy Scout meeting is winding down, which means I'll be leaving the hot-spot in a few minutes.
Watched Rushmore with dad last night. Both my mom and two siblings are out of town this week, so dad and I have been watching some good movies. Tomorrow night we're going to see Lost in Translation to complete the Bill Murray trifecta.
Someone made a list of the "Ten Worst Songs of All Time".
Reader discretion is advised.
British police and intelligence forces are targeting specific ethnic groups and "not wasting time searching old white ladies".
It's about time. The randomization of searches in this country is damnably inefficient and inexcusably ineffective. The ACLU be damned: I want my racial profiling.
I love The Royal Tenenbaums. Just finished watching it with my dad.
I'm going to bed now.
Now if he'd only scrap this whole Senate filibuster mess and start recess appointing the judicial candidates the Dems are blocking, we could really get this show on the road.