Monday, September 29, 2008

Almost Famous

The Onion is very funny, and I really should read it more often. My little school (with students not nearly as hoity toity or privileged as implied in this article) is mentioned in an article this week. Of course, the story is entirely fake. Thanks for "getting the brand out there"(as C Ray would say), the Onion!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What You Are Missing

If you lived in the Lehigh Valley, you could be doing any of the following things:

  • Attending The Celtic Classic in Center City Bethlehem and seeing who can eat the most haggis.
  • Trying to figure out how many Peeps $700 billion could buy
  • Collect "Cop Cards" for the police of Greenwich, NJ
  • Attending the dedication of a sculpture for David McDonogh, the first black man to graduate from Lafayette College (which is across the street from me) and who became a doctor ( and who was a slave from Louisiana- not sure of any connection to John McDonogh though)

Next time I will have a much larger sample.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Be Nice

I don't know the name of the group, but directors of admissions are in New Orleans this week.  They may need a little help getting around and finding the good stuff to do this week.  I believe that part of their conference is doing some community service.  Thanks, directors of admissions!!!  Now show them a good time - even if they head to New Orleans without telling me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Haiku

To express oneself
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffi

Hoodoo and gris-gris

I think I inadvertently contributed to the Saints loss last weekend.  I neglected to wear any Saints gear until the second half, and George's Saints outfit never left the back of the big red chair.  Also, I kept thinking I was going to get it all together and make a big ol' pot of duck and sausage gumbo.  I didn't.  And all those empty promises led to the Saints losing (that and the fact that they didn't run the ball much in the 4th quarter despite a 9 point/2 possession lead).  Also, I didn't drink.  I am not sure what I was thinking.

But this weekend I did get to it.  My house smells amazing like only gumbo can!  And now I just have to get all the stupid little chores done so I can focus on the important part of the day - watching the Saints and eating.  And maybe a couple of Abita Ambers.  Or a dozen.  The gris-gris should be off now.  Go Saints!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mental Dislocations and Rootlessness

Tom Piazza has written a book which Kevin Allman reviews. And mental dislocation and rootlessness describe exactly how I feel about New Orleans. I will be purchasing and reading City of Refuge. I hope that no one else in this country ever has to feel like that about his or her city.

I was talking to some folks just last night, and I am beginning to come to grips with why I am sad about New Orleans. It hurts when you feel forgotten and ignored when you think people care. But in the end this will only make you stronger. I hope it will be a better place when all is said and done. The NOLA bloggers are helping tons in this regard.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bruce Babbitt Redux

Dear Mr. Babbitt
I understand your point about New Orieans. I get it, but it's not just
logic and science and rational thought at play. Humans can be logical
and scientific and rational, but they are also emotional. That is what
seems to get lost in all of this. And New Orleans is a city in this
country of ours. I don't think I have ever heard people saying that we
should just give up and move away from any other American city. It may
not sound like it to you, but that is what a quote like this says:

The best
course is a managed retreat to defensible positions throughout the
delta country. In the course of this century, we must prepare to
evacuate low-lying lands that cannot realistically be saved. And then
we can turn to protecting those areas that will remain above sea level,
perhaps 10 to 20 percent of the delta, including communities like
Houma, Morgan City and Lafayette.

Before Congress is
asked to spend vast sums of federal money on ineffective, piecemeal
levee projects, Louisiana must prepare a land use plan for the entire
delta showing what can and cannot be saved. If the state is serious
about its future, it should begin preparing that plan right away.

New Orleans is (purposefully, I think) not mentioned.

Is New Orleans built on low ground? Yes. Is it going to continue to
subside? yes. Should people live there? Probably not. But the fact
is that they do. I used to live there. I have family that lives
there. I have friends that live there. It is not some playground or
food mecca for me. It is home. And all logic and science and reason
flies out the window at that point.

Do you tell someone who lives in tornado alley that they shouldn't
rebuild their home or that it should just be forsaken and left to the
winds and storms? Do you tell people whose houses are on the edge of
sinkholes not to move to the same neighborhood? What about mudslides? Or avalanches? Or river floods? There are many parts
of this country whose residents live in danger from natural disasters.
If we tried to move all people from natural disasters, where would we
all live?

New Orleans used to be one of America's jewels. It now seems like it
is one of America's embarrassments. I, for one, do not subscribe to
this view. Besides being a major international port, New Orleans is an
American city. Never have I heard of anyone abandoning another
American city. Sure, we may agree that Galveston is not the smartest
place to live. But it is wrong to suggest that New Orleans shouldn't
be rebuilt or that the "delta should reclaim it." Any part of it. It
is home. It is emotional. And until you can find a scientific way to
measure "what it means to miss New Orleans," I don't want to hear it.


Next time

Next time there is an evacuation and/or real storm, check this out - scientists and others want to know the actual impact of the storm, not the theoretical. You can post with you mobile phone (via Twitter) of internet access. Looks interesting to me.

Morons Are Everywhere

Especially here. I appreciate little in his argument - starting with the part in the title where he puts the question mark. Hey, Sadim Touch, you suck. Jason David sucks as a DB. George Bush sucks as a president. Dave Wannstedt sucks as a coach. You suck as a human being.

Your assumptions are beyond understanding. Are there no poor other than in New Orleans? I have been to Columbus, and I live in Pennsylvania. There are poor families all over this country. I am amazed that you seem to think they were all in New Orleans. I wonder how many of these homes were in "flood plains" in Iowa. Or Missouri. Or Pennsylvania. Or wherever you live.

In response to you blog, let me say this - Louisiana is a state that is a member of the union of states, much like whatever state you live in. We have bought in to the idea that there is one "federal" government who has the best interest of all its constituents at its heart. New Orleans is a city in one of these states. People come to New Orleans to abuse it - they drink too much, they eat too much, they use our oil and gas, but they don't want to acknowledge its importance outside of that. All we know is how to party.

But that is a foolhardy view. New Orleans is a MAJOR port. Not just in the UNITED States, but internationally. It is at the mouth of the river that drains over 2/3s of the very productive first world UNITED States. Many other countries (and states) would envy a city with as much diversity and wealth as New Orleans. It provides seafood, rice, sugar, natural gas, and petroleum products to the rest of the UNITED States. Cut off your nose to spite your face? Ever heard that one?

It is sad when a politically contrived "economic downturn" can make other Americans question whether another city lives or dies. My brother-in-law is a mortgage broker in Ohio - and he is having a tough go of it. I resent, Samid, that you think the federal neglect of New Orleans impacts his livelihood and family. Poor decisions by lenders for many years (encouraged by governmental entities like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) have led to this. Hurricane Katrina, and the failure of the federal defenses, did not.

So, SAMID, I am calling you out. You are a jerk. And an asshole. And you can suck it.

Even with your assinine comments, I bet there are New Orleanians who would invite you to their houses for dinner or drinks. We don't tend to hold grudges - we like everyone - even if they call for more of the same. Spend some time with someone from New Orleans, and you will understand how important it is. Theories are awesome; reality generally is something differnt.


I have never been to Galveston. It's a city of around 60,000 from what I have heard, and this simulation puts things in perspective. If the projection is correct, it looks like parts of Galveston could be completely covered in water. Unlike New Orleans, the water should recede relatively quickly. Nonetheless, the destruction seems to be great. Hope people do smart things and look out for each other.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What I Would Like to See

An NFL commercial featuring a Brass Band in someone's kitchen while they are cooking red beans and rice and watching a Saints game with their son and wearing black and gold face paint (vs. those mardi gras feather masks). Of course, it would be pretty cool if they were wearing gold jumpsuits, too. A second commercial could feature the black and gold bike patrol. Sans the visit for Bloody Doubles...

The one where everyone in New Orleans lives in the French Quarter doesn't do it for me. Neither does the idea that there is a "Sports Store" down there. A store front full of shirts that say "I got Bourbon Faced on Shit Street!" would, unfortunately, be more accurate.

Bruce Babbitt, a public official, writes something stupid

And he proves it here.

I do not have the time to rip him a new one. I have read this article closely. What kind of jackass proposes that there be a wall to prevent people on the land from getting to the water or the water from getting on the land? Then the entire East Coast, all of Florida, all of California, etc. would have to be walled off, to protect it.

Or we could figure out a way for industry to pay for wetlands restoration because of the way that they rape South Louisiana with man made canals and pipes and extracting materials from under our land.

Hey, Mr. Babbitt, how about a nice cup of get a freaking clue?

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I am not a naysayer. I am a realist. I know there has been a hurricane in the vicinity this week, but this can't be right. This wouldn't be accurate in a small city like Easton. The last update to the "Corruption Watch" was early August. Come on, Times-Picayune/ If you aren't really going to research corruption, don't give me a section that pretends that you are. You just made me waste 15 minutes of my life grabbing the screen, figuring out how to convert it to jpeg on a mac, and post it. All for a section of your website that doesn't really exist or is underfunded. Thanks.

School Thoughts

School has just begun. I am already excited to be teaching history, but I also have conflicting thoughts. The textbook is rather heavy, and my students have to travel a ton this year. I have a SmartBoard (tm) and an awesome projector. Would it be too much if the students left their books at home and took guided notes from the board and projector or handouts? I don't think so.

Also, I have tons of things to do with 7th grade and 8th grade Latin. 7th grade will be creating themselves as Romans. They will have to read about Roman clothing and then create the appropriate clothing for a sort of paper doll. 8th grade will be recreating a classical statue/mosaic/relief/work of art. They will have to dress like and pose like the work of art. It's always funny.

I don't feel like I have any time to eat or get a cup of coffee or even run to the restroom this year. I am sure I will get into the groove soon...

I think my students are going to learn a lot and have a lot of fun doing it - on tap for 6th grade is candy mosaics, creating a coat of arms, and a trip to Medieval Times Restaurant.

I guess school really starts on Monday. Finally. I can't wait!


Dat is all.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Receiving Difficult Answers

It seems that the arrival of Gustav has provided some individuals an opportunity to bring up the question of whether New Orleans is worth it. Many of the articles that I have been sent seem to discuss the same topics in a similar way. It seems like these are "talking points" the same way that articles and opinions were published during the midwest floods this summer.

The MinnPost
The Oregonian
Montgomery Advertiser

The authors claim there are some tough questions to answer, but for New Orleanians and Louisianians the answer seems obvious - do what it takes to protect us because we are far more important than most people realize. There are ships full of Midwestern grain and corn that need a port to get goods to market, there are oil and gas pipelines and refineries providing energy, there are farms that supply a nation with rice and sugarcane, there is the industry that supplies the country with fresh seafood, and the list could go on. Go tell them what you think.

To discuss the future of New Orleans in terms of dollars and cents just can't be done. Because underneath all of the monetary values are the people that choose to live in an area that gets threatened by hurricanes because they love it. Sure, New Orleans is a soup bowl. Who could argue with that? And the soup bowl is not protected adequately. What would it cost to make New Orleans safe? What did it cost to make airline travel "safe", if it even is? What did it cost to rebuild San Francisco? Chicago? Every flood that has taken place on every creek or stream or river that the residents who live on those creeks or streams or rivers should know is coming? Did they rebuild? Was it ok for them to rebuild knowing the danger? What makes New Orleans different? Has Montgomery, AL ever had a flood? Has any city in Oregon? Minnesota? Did people rebuild?

Sure there are tough questions, but the answers are not. New Orleans deserves world-class flood protection - improve and redesign levees and drainage, restore wetlands, and do it all correctly and honestly and with integrity.

To me the tough question is this - what is taking so long?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Misperceptions and Apologies

Apparently, there is a lot of that going on - around the country, around New Orleans, and around this blog.

Professor Cigler has sent me some articles that she has written about Katrina and the way that humans interact with their environment. She has handled my rude comments with class, and I am sorry if I offended her. There have been other professors who truly believe that New Orleans should not be rebuilt. After a more careful examination of the article in which she was quoted, it is clear that she is simply posing a realistic question that others have asked, too. I am inclined to agree with her position - New Orleanians should not rebuild in areas unless they can be made safe. She is not advocating for the abandonment or razing of New Orleans (even if the sentence following her quote is "Yet abandoning New Orleans hardly seems an option either.")

Restoring wetlands is an important part of this which Professor Cigler advocates for. Also, smart planning and levee design are part of her approach. In fact, it's hard to find fault with much of what she says in her papers and articles. Professor Cigler understands that much of the country is in harm's way and does not even realize it, something New Orleanians know all to well.

Professor Cigler, I would like to publicly apologize for using inappropriate comments to criticize your opinion. My use of profanity was made after a cursory reading of the article, without an critical eye or ear. I am thankful that you have been in contact with me and have corrected my erroneous view. You are a much better person than I, and I appreciate your time and your contribution on this argument. It's hard to hear that your hometown and home to your family and friends should be left for dead, and clearly you are not one of those saying that. My sincerest apologies for any ill feelings.

The previous article will be removed completely.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Industrial Canal Update

Floodwaters and waves are overtopping the Industrial Canal on the New Orleans side. There are also some sea-going vessels that have broken loose. Hope the levees (or T-walls or I-walls or whatever they have done) hold everywhere.

Power Outages and Hurricane Tip

This website (from entergy) shows where power outages have occurred so far. The responses look automated, but at least you can see if you have to empty your refrigerator when you get home. Looks like Berto, Mr. Clio, Sean, and my brother are going to be doing just that. My mom looks like she is ok so far.

I am watching WDSU on my brand newly installed DirecTV channel 361. (Thanks, DirecTV!) I feel like I am home. It's a beautiful day here in PA (and will be for the next week or so), but I am waiting for the wind and rain to start any minute. I need to get away from the TV and get some work done. This obsessing isn't helping me at all.

Best tip I heard this hurricane season - put your meat in a plastic garbage bag in the freezer. When you return home, all you have to do is chuck the bag! I wish I could remember who told me that to give them credit.

Stay safe, everyone.