When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

30 September 2005

Knowledge Worker Free/Open Source Toolbox

The Knowledge Worker Free/Open Source Toolbox, a modest little resource that I maintain, has just been updated.

If you diddle information for a living, and would like some alternatives to commonly used (and very expensive) commercial software, check it out.

Comes A Time: A Tribute to Jerry Garcia

Via the excellent Modulator, a link to an article about a Jerry Garcia tribute that took place in Berkeley on September 24th, complete with tasty high-quality MP3s for download.
On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Grateful Dead Ground Zero, also known as Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, friends came together for a reckoning of the faithful to celebrate the music of Jerry Garcia. After fine but brief sets by David Nelson, a pared down String Cheese Incident, an updated Jerry Garcia Band (with special guest Merl Saunders), and Ratdog, the sun set on the blissful crowd and the main event began.
As Steve the Modulator notes, "Not work-safe for Deadheads." He worries about productivity, but personally, I worry about flashbacks.

n u g s . n e t | Comes A Time: A Tribute to Jerry Garcia 9/24/05 Berkeley, CA

Box Fugue in G(ato) Minor

We still have a small stack of Banker's Boxes in the living room, with stuff (old papers and records, mostly) we've been meaning to move to storage for weeks now. Naturally, Mister Gato thinks we put them there for him.

He has marked the top box by carefully shredding the lid and wearing down an ass groove in the center, so that there is a roughly cat-shaped indentation there for him to settle into every morning.

Sadly, a well-loved cardboard box, over time, begins to sag, and lose its structural integrity.

GatosBox 001
And yet it supports the weight of an irascible tomcat.

He adores this spot. He loves it even more now that the box is starting to collapse and is sliding back into the converted armoire that serves as our entertainment center.

When we actually move this stuff to our storage locker, he will be utterly distraught.

It's a dilemma.

Be sure to check the Friday Ark over at The Modulator for lots of other petblogging pictures, and don't miss the Carnival of the Cats this Sunday at the excellent blog Music and Cats.

(Mister Gato is one of the newest cat models for the Carnival's site banner.)

29 September 2005

"Improve this article about Wikipedia"

Esquire writer A.J. Jacobs recently set out to write an article about Wikipedia. With the consent of Wikipedia's managers, he decided to test the Wikipedia process itself... by posting an error- and typo-laden version of the original article on the site and inviting the community to correct and improve it.

Here's what happened:

Wikipedia:Improve this article about Wikipedia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Related: CNET News story on the experiment

Nicknamed by Dubya

A canonical list of nicknames granted to various people by the 43rd President of the United States.

Sure, everybody knows that Karl Rove is "Turd Blossom" and former FEMA chief Michael Brown is "Brownie."

But did you know that, worryingly, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's nickname is "Fredo?"

Dude, would you want Fredo running *anything*?

A minor nit to pick: at least some of these weren't actually created by Dubya. George H.W. Bush has been "Poppy" since his prep-school days, before Dubya was even a gleam in the old man's eye. Still, this is good stuff.

NNDB, via MetaFilter.

Only in New York

Signs that greet you as you enter and leave town are a major preoccupation for civic-booster types.

In my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, for years, as you came into the city on U.S. Highway 70, there was a big sign that said "Welcome to the City of Oaks!"

And it seemed that every small town on the "blue highways" and back roads of North Carolina had their "welcome to town" and "y'all come back now, you hear" signs, usually paid for as a group effort by the likes of the local Kiwanis and Rotary plus a handful of the more middle-class churches, where your better sort of local small businessperson might be in the vestry.

Here's how we do it in New York City... at least, in Brooklyn:

The naches that I'm feeling right now...I'm kvelling!

"Oy vey," [Brooklyn Borough President Marty] Markowitz said, is an original Jewish "expression of dismay or hurt."

"The beauty is, every ethnic group knows it," he said, and motorists seeing it know it means "Dear me, I'm so sad you're leaving."

He also proudly recited from some of the other signs — from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Belt Parkway — that welcome motorists to the borough:

"Not Just A Borough, An Experience"; "Name It...We Got It"; "Like No Other Place in the World"; "Believe the Hype."

"Oy Vey" Traffic Sign Goes Up in Brooklyn (AP, via Yahoo)

28 September 2005

IFC Museum folds

After a summer of furious and steadily rising criticism, Gov. George E. Pataki announced today that he was evicting the proposed International Freedom Center museum from its place next to the World Trade Center memorial site. With that, the center declared itself to be out of business.

"The I.F.C. cannot be located on the memorial quadrant," Mr. Pataki said in a statement issued shortly before 5 p.m. That quadrant, at the southwest corner of the trade center site, contains the footprints of the twin towers. It is regarded by many as sacred ground, too hallowed for a museum dealing with 9/11 in the context of greater geopolitics and social history.

"There remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the I.F.C.," the governor said, "and we must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial." Mr. Pataki said he had instructed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to "work with the I.F.C. to explore other locations."

But 42 minutes later, the center said in its own statement that there was no other location to explore, since the memorial quadrant was "the site for which the I.F.C. was created, at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's request, and as an integral part of Daniel Libeskind's master site plan."

"We do not believe there is a viable alternative place for the I.F.C. at the World Trade Center site," the center's executives, Tom A. Bernstein, Peter W. Kunhardt and Richard J. Tofel, said in the statement. "We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end." The Freedom Center was designated for the site in June 2004.
Oh, I couldn't agree more.

Buh-bye, now.

Pataki Bars Museum From World Trade Center Memorial Site - New York Times

Mister Gato, white courtesy phone, please

"Paging Mister Gato... passenger Gato, white courtesy phone, please..."
MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) -- A mouse upset the best-laid plans of an airline and nearly 250 passengers in the Philippines, grounding a plane for 13 hours while engineers tried to smoke out the rodent.
Asked for comment, an airport spokesman said:
"There was an incident before with a cockroach, but it's the first time that we had to deal with a mouse."
You know, as we say down South, I don't believe I'd have told that.

CNN.com - Mouse grounds plane for 13 hours - Sep 28, 2005

Dorian's "Garden" has arrived...

An update to an earlier post:

Dorian's new album Garden arrived in the mail this week, and it's fantastic. I've been listening to it on my MP3 player all week (the first thing I do these days when a new CD arrives in the house is rip it and put the disc into storage) and the sound is fresh and upbeat, but with Dorian's usual lyrical intelligence and musical swing.

Of all the songs on the new album, I think my current favorite is "New Mexico":
Rich land in bright sunshine
Flash floods and old coal mines
Ghost towns in silent nights
Paper bags with candlelight
Adobe homes and old dirt roads
All I can think of now is New Mexico
Song samples can be heard at Dorian's site, and you can order there too; US customers can get the CD for $14, postpaid, and there seems to be provision for international orders as well.

Unlucky Lynndie

The blogsophere is abuzz with discussion of the sentencing in the Abu Ghraib abuse trials.

The best headline so far is Nick Gillespie's over at Reason magazine's Hit and Run blog:

"Close Your Eyes and Think of England."

The article content is pretty good too. (Extra points for working in the phrase "Lynndie Hop.")

(Yes, yes, I know... it's supposed to be "lie back and think of England." But this is still pretty funny.)

The redemptive power of crystal methamphetamine

Remember the story about Ashley Smith, the woman taken hostage by a desperate murderer in Atlanta, who read him a chapter from "The Purpose-Driven Life" and won him over by sharing her faith in God with him? (Here's some helpful marketing information about the incident.)

Ms. Smith quickly became the darling of the evangelical set, and racked up tens of thousands of dollars in rewards and appearance fees (so far.) And, naturally, she's got a book coming out, in which she reveals...

Well, it turns out that her faith in God is not *all* she shared with the gunman...
Ashley Smith, the woman who says she persuaded suspected courthouse gunman Brian Nichols to release her by talking about her faith, discloses in a new book that she gave him methamphetamine during the hostage ordeal.

Smith did not share that detail with authorities at the time. But investigators said she came clean about the drugs when they interviewed her months later. They said they have no plans to charge her with drug possession.

In her book, "Unlikely Angel," released Tuesday, Smith says Nichols had her bound on her bed with masking tape and an extension cord. She says he asked for marijuana, but she did not have any, and she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead.
Feel the healing power of crank!

Hostage Gave Meth to Atlanta Fugitive (AP, via Yahoo News)

27 September 2005

Why I love NYC, reason #5,612

The bright-eyed little old lady who loves dogs and seems to make a point of sitting near us and striking up a conversation with me (or Carrie) when she sees one of us in the park with the Chow Chows?

Retired Ph.D chemist and intellectual property attorney, former head chemist at Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso, then Exxon, now ExxonMobil), has written over 1,000 patents in her career, including the original patent for butyl rubber.

She's 89 years old. Intellectual property law is *still* mostly a boys' club in 2005; imagine how good she must have had to be in order to make it, back in the day.

This is what I call the "holy shit!" factor, and it happens over and over again in New York. You're talking to some random stranger at a party, or in the park, or you see someone on the bus or the subway reading a book you've enjoyed, and somehow you wind up in conversation...

Only to discover that you're chatting with somebody who is a total superstar (in their field, at least, and occasionally quite literally.)

Double-Tongued Word Wrester: dirka dirka

The word for the day over at Double Tongued Word Wrester is... dirka dirka.
dirka dirka n. a mimicry of spoken Arabic; also attributive, connoting things Muslim, Arabic, or Middle Eastern, or those related to terrorists or terrorism.
Do pop over and read the etymology.

Hat tip: Alert enrevanche reader and spouse/best friend Carrie.

A Modest Experiment: The Cambrian Explosion

Alert enrevanche reader and pal Laurie points us to A Modest Experiment: The Cambrian Explosion.

Project organizer Bob Davis wants to recreate the Cambrian Explosion in his home laboratory.

Since it took 60 million years (best estimates from the fossil evidence) and that time-frame is just a little too long for Bob, in the best Mythical Man-Month tradition, Bob is looking for 60 million volunteers to set up a beaker of "pre-Cambrian soup" in their home laboratories, kitchens or dens:
Intelligent Design (ID) has proclaimed that the Cambrian Explosion happened all at once. Scientists have looked to the fossil evidence to determine that it took up to 60 million years of Evolution. I have devised a simple test to determine the true answers to all of these, and more questions.

I have a beaker set up in my lab, and will have sixty million more beakers set up in labs around the world. I've created a soup of pre-cambrian chemicals, and pre-cambrian gases and pre-cambrian electrical storms.
Take that, Stanley Miller!

26 September 2005


This gets my vote for Windows utility of the freaking year:
Have you ever copied some text from a web page, a word document, help, etc., and wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple. Just copy/cut whatever you want to the clipboard, click on the PureText tray icon, and then paste to any application. Better yet, you can configure a Hot-Key to convert and paste the text for you. The pasted text will be pure and free from all formatting.
Steve Miller: I love you, man. You've just taken a three-step mouse-intensive process ("Copy, Paste Special, Paste as Unformatted Text") in Microsoft Word and turned it into a single keystroke. This will save my time and, more importantly, what remains of my sanity.

PureText (free!)

Hat tip: Lifehacker

The RINOs, they are stampeding...

...over at Tinkerty Tonk.

Rhinoceros - Albrecht Dürer
Rhinoceros - Albrecht Dürer
(Woodcut, 1515, from the collection of the British Museum)

Some truly great stuff in this batch, but the standouts, to me, include:

25 September 2005

Carnival of the Cats 79...

...is up over at Yourish.com.

You can call me Al (-Jazeera, -Qaeda...)

From WatchingAmerica, via the crucial MEMRI video project, some translated (with subtitles) recent television programming from the Middle East:

The tracks of my tears

A cheery little piece on crying, and nightmares. You're probably not going to leave the theater humming the theme song from this one, I'm afraid.

OK. On the one hand, I am a person who cries pretty easily, when moved in a positive way.

I am no stranger to tears of joy; I have been known to tear up over sappy movies or sentimental music (recently, a Sam Cooke gospel CD and Regina Carter's violin instrumental version of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" have done it to me) and, to the vast amusement of my Ivy-League-educated wife, I routinely choke up during the ritual annual performance of "One Shining Moment" at the end of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, even in years when Carolina doesn't win.

(For the uninitiated, this is essentially a highlight film of the tourney, scored to the most unbelievably cheesy faux-inspirational pop tune you've ever heard. It gets me every time. I once got a lump in my throat describing it to someone. True college basketball fans will have no trouble understanding any of this, by the way, and I refuse to be embarrassed about it.)

And I cry at weddings, dammit. I even cried a little at my own wedding, when the cantor (a moonlighting tenor from the Metropolitan Opera... there are many advantages to living in New York City) started singing the ancient Hebrew words of the marriage ceremony. There was some conspicuous snuffling from the audience, too, and wide reports afterwards of scattered goosebumps, so I think we really got our money's worth out of Bernie.

On the other hand, I'm a person who doesn't cry easily at all, when moved in a negative way or faced with a real crisis.

I cried once, briefly, convulsively, in a surgical waiting room at St. Vincent's Hospital, right after the oncologist told me that my wife had cancer. (Divine Providence sent me, at that very instant, a dear friend of ours, who arrived just on the moment, cried with me and hung on to me for a few minutes until we were composed enough to ask the surgeon, who I'm sure sees this scene played out every day, a few follow-up questions.) After that, it was steely-eyed stoicism all the way. No more tears. Some psychosis much later (that's another story) but no tears, not even when I had to explain to a still-groggy Carrie what the doctors had found, and what was going to happen next. (P.S. She's fine now.)

Much earlier in my life, when my grandmother--who had such a hand in raising me that she was essentially a second mother to me, and who, I thought, hung the sun and the moon and the stars in the sky--passed away, I was very sad, but I didn't cry at all, though I was still in the tender teenage years. I was able to speak at her funeral without even a quaver in my voice. (It wasn't until almost ten years later, while I was making a big pan of her cornbread dressing for a family Thanksgiving meal, that I finally cried a little for Granny Hodges, but I blamed it on the onions.)

Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to the subject of nightmares. And why I'm typing this at four in the blessed A.M. with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand and not going back to sleep tonight. Not even trying.

Regular readers of this blog know that my father is under Hospice care in North Carolina, and expected to die soon. He is well-cared for by very competent and caring staff who take considerable pains to keep him comfortable and clean, and rationally I know that he is sleeping every night (and most of the day) in his own bedroom, in a high-tech hospital bed, on clean sheets; there are clean bandages, changed every day, on his wounds, and there's hot-and-cold running anything-he-wants. Wouldn't have it any other way. I am travelling to N.C. regularly to see to the needs of both parents, and trying to do everything in my power to make sure they are all right.

I have just shaken myself awake from a long series of nightmares which share one salient fact with reality as we know it: my father is dying.

But in the dreams, he is dying in some Brueghelian horror of a third-world hospital, the stink of shit, gangrene and corruption all around him, and I can't find him.

I am stepping over famine-wasted and festering-sore-laden corpses on the floor, rolling over likely-looking still-breathing bodies in beds to examine their faces closely, bribing, cajoling and pleading with people right and left, because I have to find him; he is there, somewhere, dying, without anyone to comfort him, among people who don't give a good goddamn about him, and I'm morally certain that no one has even offered him a cool drink of water in days.

And pretty much the entire time, I am weeping bitterly for my father. Something I haven't really managed to do yet, and probably won't, if I know me, for some time.

So, doctor, what do you think it all means?

24 September 2005

It's Chow Chow week...

Good God, y'all.

It's "Chow Chow Week" over at Dogster.com.

Take a stroll through the dog park...

...and see all the purebred Chow Chows on Dogster (almost 300)

...or all the dogs with some Chow in 'em (almost 2000)

A few observations...

(1) Chow Chows are extremely popular in the Philippines, it seems.

(2) Please don't name your Chow Chow "Bear." Yes, they look like bears. Get over it.

(Of course, this advice comes from a guy who named his cat "Gato," so take it with a grain of salt.)

Chow Bella and Chow Fun are standing tall at Dogster (and here in NYC) with curly tails wagging.

C. Fun (left) and C. Bella (right), when they were very small.
It was like living with crackhead weasels.

WSJ: Microsoft tries to change its engineering culture

Thankfully, this isn't (at least for now) behind the Wall Street Journal's subscription firewall: Friday's edition had a great article on how Microsoft is changing the way they write software.

Battling Google, Microsoft Changes How It Builds Software

I bet this was a really uncomfortable conversation:

Jim Allchin, a senior Microsoft Corp. executive, walked into Bill Gates's office... one day in July last year to deliver a bombshell about the next generation of Microsoft Windows.

"It's not going to work," Mr. Allchin says he told the Microsoft chairman. The new version, code-named Longhorn, was so complex its writers would never be able to make it run properly.

The news got even worse: Longhorn was irredeemable because Microsoft engineers were building it just as they had always built software. Throughout its history, Microsoft had let thousands of programmers each produce their own piece of computer code, then stitched it together into one sprawling program. Now, Mr. Allchin argued, the jig was up. Microsoft needed to start over.
This is a really good piece, written by a reporter who "gets" both technology and organizational dynamics, about how hard it is to change the culture of an organization as large (and previously successful) as Microsoft.

Caring for Your Introvert

I am someone who consistently tests right on the cusp between Introvert and Extrovert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (sometimes I come out as an ENTP, more often an INTP.)

But it has become increasingly clear to me as I get older that I am not an extrovert at all... that what I am, in fact, is a wildly overcompensating introvert.

This (via kottke) is a great article.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly.
Articles by Jonathan Rauch: Caring for Your Introvert

Google MyWay - How to search Google efficiently

GoogleMyWay has a great article on how to optimize your Google search strategies. (All of this information, and more, can be found in Google's help pages, of course, but GoogleMyWay provides a very useful one-page summary of top tricks and strategies.)

Google MyWay - How to search Google efficiently

Hat tip: Lifehacker.

Ask E.T.: PowerPoint Does Rocket Science

From the invaluable Edward Tufte, a section from his forthcoming book: Ask E.T.: PowerPoint Does Rocket Science

A more arresting and eye-catching title might be something like, "How bullshit slideware and poor presentation technique combine to short-circuit intelligent analysis and kill astronauts."

Because that's what we're talking about.

The case study in question is the Space Shuttle Columbia, which burned up on re-entry in 2003.

To help NASA officials assess the threat, Boeing Corporation engineers quickly prepared 3 reports, a total of 28 PowerPoint slides, dealing with the debris impact. These reports provided mixed readings of the threat to the Columbia; the lower-level bullets often mentioned doubts and uncertainties, but the highlighted executive summaries and big-bullet conclusions were quite optimistic. Convinced that the reports indicated no problem rather than uncertain knowledge, high-level NASA officials decided that the Columbia was safe and, furthermore, that no additional investigations were necessary. Several NASA engineers had hoped that the military would photograph the Columbia with high-resolution spy satellites, which would have easily detected the damage, but even that check-up was thought unnecessary given the optimism of the 3 Boeing reports. And so the Columbia orbited for nearly 2 weeks with a big undetected hole in its wing.
Tufte's work on PowerPoint should be required reading for every manager in America, at any level, and especially so for anyone who actually puts PowerPoint presentations together.

Go read it now.

Another political profile test

You are a

Social Liberal
(71% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(78% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

And further, "You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness."

Well, damn, y'all. It's not like I haven't been trying to tell you this for some time now.

23 September 2005

Holding my spot for me

While I was travelling so much recently, a certain someone got a *little* too comfortable sleeping on my side of the bed.

GatoBuddy 002
Someone has to be the man of the house.

Here, an irascible tomcat asks the eternal question... "Yes, I'm in your spot. And what do you propose to do about it?"

Be sure to check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator for more petblogging pictures from around the world, and don't miss this weekend's Carnival of the Cats, hosted at Yourish.com.

22 September 2005

And the heavens opened, and the angels sang

New York Times: Deal Is Reached to Put Toilets on City Streets:
After more than a decade of false starts, New York City officials announced yesterday that they had selected a company to remake the city's jumbled streetscape by providing aesthetic order to its thousands of bus shelters and newsstands and, perhaps most intriguing, installing 20 freestanding public toilets on city streets.
How hard is it to find a restroom in New York City?

It's a major production; difficult enough to make sites like this an important cultural resource.

I will be following this story with considerable interest.

21 September 2005

Kinky Friedman for Texas Governor: Why The Hell Not?

The first Kinkytoon of the 2006 campaign is here.

That's right. Richard "Kinky" Friedman, the former bandleader of the Texas Jewboys and the brilliant lyrical and musical mind behind such songs as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Any More" is running for Governor of Texas, and his inaugural ad is a must-see.
We don't have Rick Perry or Carole Strayhorn money to get our message out, so we're putting our ad online and counting on you to spread the word. Please distribute the ad to friends and family so that it spreads like a bad rumor.
(Hat tip: Michael at Blog of a Bookslut.)

Google begins limited test of Wi-Fi service

Google begins limited test of Wi-Fi service - Yahoo! News
Google, the online search leader, confirmed on Tuesday it has begun a limited test of a free wireless Internet service, called Google WiFi.

The existence of the Wi-Fi service, which offers high-speed connections to the Internet over short distances, is confirmed by public pages on the company's Web site and was first reported in a Silicon Valley newspaper in July.
So what does it all mean? SWAGs (Scientific Wild-Assed Guesses) abound:
Speculation about a forthcoming Google WiFi service was stoked in August following an article in Business 2.0 magazine, which argued that the company was considering building a U.S. broadband network capable of targeting specific advertising to users based on the location of their Wi-Fi.

As evidence, the magazine pointed to what it said was Google's purchase of unused, high-capacity fiber-optic network connections left over from the telecom bust earlier this decade. Google responded saying that such purchases were natural for a company with one of the larger Web sites.
Related: Google Secure Access (apparently related to their WiFi efforts)

Hurricane Rita gathers strength, heads for Texas...

...and Houston blogger Laurence Simon, and his cats, are ready:

Okay, I picked up four jugs of water from the corner store, and I'll pick up some more gallon jugs a bit later. Lots on the shelves, like the neighbors aren't taking this very seriously.

No filling up the tub for me. Cats need fresh water, you know. Only the best for the beasts.

I've also stockpiled cheese and crackers, we've got a lot of tear-pouch tuna bags, and other delightful consumables that don't require refrigeration.

I've also got plenty of charcoal for grilling things if the freezer will be dead for a few days. Might as well make a party of it. Toss another everything on the barbie.

Lots of cat food, dry and wet. Plenty of litter.

Plenty of batteries for the flashlights, and tealights for the lanterns for light.

Spare battery for the cellphone checked... charged. Lots of batteries for the camera, and all four memory sticks ready.

I figure if I need more, Best Buy is just 10 minutes and a well-thrown brick away from serving my needs. I wonder if they give Reward Zone points to looters.

Batten down the hatches, dude. And speaking as someone who has lived through several Carolina hurricanes and the attendant tornados and aftereffects...

Fill the tubs, too. Seriously.

Laurence has a great set of links to Houston and Galveston-area bloggers pinned to the top of his blog page.

20 September 2005

Of blessed memory

Simon Wiesenthal dies at 96.
Simon Wiesenthal, the veteran Nazi hunter who tirelessly tracked down Nazi war criminals for more than six decades, has died in Vienna at the age of 96, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said on Tuesday.

In a campaign aimed at ensuring the world did not forget the terrors of the Third Reich, Wiesenthal brought 1,100 Nazi fugitives to trial. Among them was Adolf Eichmann, the man entrusted by Adolf Hitler with carrying out the Nazi genocide programme against the Jews.

19 September 2005

McSweeney's: Bob Newhart does "The Aristocrats"

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: "The Aristocrats" as I Think Bob Newhart Would Perform It.

Hat tip: Alert enrevanche reader and pal Tarus.


It be "Talk Like A Pirate Day" today, matey.
Why do we need an International Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Make no mistake. We do. But it's a little hard to articulate why, especially when you've made the mistake of referring to your wife as a scurvy bilge rat and tried to order her back into the galley.

Talking like a pirate is fun. It's really that simple.

It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers. The best explanation came from a guy at a Cleveland radio station who interviewed us on the 2002 Talk Like a Pirate Day. He told us we were going to be buried by people asking for interviews because it was a "whimsical alternative" to all the serious things that were making the news so depressing.

In other words, silliness is the holiday's best selling point.
I can certainly get behind that.

Er, um, I mean...

Well done, ye pack of scurvy dogs and bilge rats. Yarrrrrr.

Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

Update: In the comments section, alert enrevanche reader John deVille offers us today's history lesson in how to talk like a pirate:
I highly recommend Kevin Phillips "Wealth & Democracy" for the art of speaking like a privateer. Seems many early American fortunes were made this way: "I'll be taking your cargo, sir, and then you can be on your way."

I pulled my copy off the shelf and find this line checked: "In the 1790s, fortunes derived from privateering and government finance represented the biggest pot of money in the United States."

I can't find the citation anywhere - either in Phillips or on the web, but I remember reading that NC's first provisional governor who was living in the harbortown of Edenton, made his pile of riches as a privateer.

What's the difference between a privateer and an outright pirate? The former has a "letter of marque" - permission from a government to prey on foreign shipping and the latter does not. Blackbeard was a privateer who had his "license" revoked so he decided to prey on all shipping. NC Governor Eden (perhaps recognizing a kindred spirit) gave him a pardon for his crimes. But Blackbeard persisted, and the governor of Virginia dispatched ships and men to hunt him down, which they did, killing him near Ocracoke.

And that is your lesson for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, ye lubber!

RINO Sightings are up

This week's RINO Sightings are up, hosted at a favorite blog of mine, Evolution.

(J.D. certainly did a fine job with them this week, even though he mistakenly seems to think I'm this guy.)

Look! Up in the air!

It's enrevanche, packed with a shoehorn into the aisle seat of an Embraer 135, winging it back to New York City.

With Mom ensconced in her temporary new home and about to start physical therapy, and with Dad resting comfortably at home under the capable care of live-in nursing aides and the watchful eye of Hospice, it's time to return to NYC and the wife, the dogs (1, 2), the irascible tomcat, and, not least, the job they pay me for.

Home office down in Raleigh is all set up. The back bedroom of my parents' house looks like CompUSA blew up in there. High-speed Internet, VPN connection, printer/copier/fax, retinal scanner, military-grade crypto, heavy electronic countermeasures...

OK, some of that is a little exaggerated. Which bits, I will leave as an exercise for the reader.

I hope that everything is on an even keel down here, and will stay that way until I'm back in October.

Over and out. See y'all in Greenwich Village in about four hours.

18 September 2005

Chapomatic » Joining the Club

Friend Chap has a modest proposal for bringing emerging nations into the fold of the "civilized" world.

In a way that I don't think I've seen seriously suggested anywhere else.
For a small country wishing to leverage its influence or protect its interests, the exchange of some of its sovereignty for other benefits can be useful. Over the last few decades, movement towards global governance and regionalization has been the usual manifestation of this desire. There is another method that hasn’t been implemented since 1959—and for a small country desiring to leverage the power of a large country in a banded association, an effective path to consider might be to become one of the United States.
Gentle reader, I hope you didn't spit too much of your coffee out.

Read the whole thing... it's well worth your time.

Winston-Salem Journal: Quota holders, farmers get checks

The tobacco price support system has been dismantled, and the payouts to farmers and "quota" owners are starting to arrive. Over 40% of the payouts in the entire nation will be going to North Carolina farmers and quota owners.

An anecdote from an article in the Winston-Salem Journal illustrates a kind of dry humor that is rather typical of this region of the country.

I love this kind of thing.
Some financial advice that farmers are getting is uninvited. One western Piedmont farmer said that consultants from an insurance company showed up at his office recently and asked to speak with his mother about managing her money from the tobacco buyout.

"I said, 'If you'll hold on just a minute, I'll get her for you,'" the farmer said.

"I went over and got her ashes in this aluminum box that had some books sitting on it. I said, 'Right here she is.' And they turned gray, like they'd been shot. You could've raked their eyes off with a stick," he said.

17 September 2005

I've heard of power suits, but this is ridiculous

Power-dressing man leaves trail of destruction
An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.

Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.

A woolen shirt and a nylon jacket?

I hope someone called the Fashion Police, too.

Hat tip: alert enrevanche reader and pal Vic.

You're not Federalized!

Going (Down) by the Book - New York Times

John Tierney reaffirms his status as the only Times op-ed columnist worth considering a TimesSelect subscription for.

In this September 17th column, he relates how a private firm, the Acadian Ambulance Company, was virtually the only "island of competence" in the early days of the New Orleans flooding.
While Louisiana officials debated how to accept outside help, Acadian was directing rescues by helicopters from the military and other states. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency's paperwork slowed the evacuation of patients from the airport, Acadian's frustrated medics waited with empty helicopters.

The company sent in outside doctors and nurses to the airport, where patients were dying and medical care was in short supply. FEMA rejected the help because the doctors and nurses weren't certified members of a National Disaster Medical Team.
Oh, and here you go:
"At one point I had 10 helicopters on the ground waiting to go," said Marc Creswell, an Acadian medic, "but FEMA kept stonewalling us with paperwork. Meanwhile, every 30 or 40 minutes someone was dying."

Mr. Creswell said he had ferried in more than a dozen doctors and nurses to help at the airport, but they weren't allowed to work because they weren't certified. This was explained with a line Mr. Bush might keep in mind as he contemplates expanding Washington's role in the next disaster.

"When the doctors asked why they couldn't help these critically ill people lying there unattended," Mr. Creswell recalled, "the FEMA people kept saying, 'You're not federalized.' "
While I am not a fan of crucifixion, per se, I think that we might want to think hard about where to find some surplus utility poles and crossties in Washington, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

And since it was apparently traditional to hang a sign around the crucified person's neck explaining what his crime was, for the edification of others, may I suggest the phrase, "You're not federalized."

Cellphone porno

Ring Tones, Cameras, Now This: Sex Is Latest Cellphone Feature - New York Times:
Harvey Kaplan, director of mobile operations for xobile.com, a company in Charlotte, N.C., that sells two-minute hard-core video clips for download over phones, said he believed that thirst for sex-related content would drive the popularity of Internet-enabled phones.

"People aren't going to go out and buy a cellphone that streams video so they can watch a trailer of a Disney movie," he said. "But they will buy that phone if they have five minutes of quiet time" viewing sexually explicit video.
Ladies and gentlemen, right there is my new favorite euphemism for masturbation: "Five minutes of quiet time." Let's all start using it.

Streaming video porn over a cellphone is a little, well, obvious.

I much prefer the approach taken by Moantones, an English company that sells obscene ring-tone replacements. At one point, possibly as a promotional gimmick at launch, they were offering one-off (pardon the expression) recordings of a sexy voice moaning your name softly as part of a customised ringtone.

Somehow I managed to curb the urge to order one of those. Awkward in a business setting, you know?

16 September 2005

And how are the folks doing?

Spent most of today with Mom at the hospital.

Mom has been more "herself" today than she has been in a couple of weeks. The doctors and physical therapists are cautiously optimistic, and she got up and moved around a little today, which was very significant.

Pain control is better but not perfect, and they are still trying to find the right balance between giving her enough medication to control her pain while still allowing her to remain in possession of (most of her) faculties.

Tomorrow (Saturday) if all goes according to plan, she is going to be transferred to a "skilled care facility" (they don't call them "nursing homes" any more.) She will do at least four weeks of physical therapy, probably more like six to eight; how many of them will be at that facility is yet to be determined. She'll be there a couple of weeks minimum, that's for sure.

I have been racking my brain for ways to make her temporary new home more comfortable. So many friends and relatives have asked about sending flowers or candy or something - well, not much sense in that, since she can't see the flowers, and due to her diabetes she mostly can't eat the candy. But I did get a little hint from her today about something she might enjoy...

When she was giving me my marching orders about what to buy and what to pack (she simply could not go to rehab without a new bathrobe and some new bedroom slippers! Thank God for the grandmotherly ladies in the lingerie department at Belk's) she also asked me to pack up the little portable CD player/radio that I gave her for Christmas last year. And some audiobooks. And a gazillion AA batteries.

A little light went on in my head. She *loves* audiobooks, as it's the only way she can "read" these days. And she likes music, too.

We have an ample supply for her to start out with (she's going to be listening to "Freakonomics" for openers) but she's going to have a lot of time on her hands; if anybody out there in blogland has recommendations for audiobooks that would be enjoyed by a bright, 75 year-old retired librarian and former voracious reader who needs a diversion, sing out.

Dad is, well, about the same. I had to fire a new nursing aide who showed up today apparently under the influence of one or more drugs; he came into the house, made himself a sandwich and promptly fell asleep for eight hours.

We have been blessed with particularly good help for the most part, but this guy was a real loser. Good thing we found out early; I was barely able to wake him up enough to fire his ass and get him out of the house.

A replacement is on the way tomorrow; for tonight, we're fine.

This is not a joke, apparently.


Just click it. And check out the animated version of the site. We're ordering tickets for a weekend matinee right now.

Founder Uri Kuklachev clearly has a deep understanding of feline psychology (his English, not mine, but he gets the point across beautifully):
Wherever we are, we are asked one and the same question: "How do I train cats?"

For hundred years no one trained cats in circuses. Perhaps, because everybody tried to tame--which means to subordinate the animal to one's will. A cat never obeyed to anyone and will never obey. Because it always lives the way it likes.

But the whole secret is as follows. It's not me who trains cats; it's cats who train me and I just watch them.

Update, September 17: And now here the Moscow Cats are in the New York Times.
In 1988 Mr. Kuklachev left the Moscow circus, and in 1990 he founded the Cats Theater. It is very popular in Moscow, Mr. Kuklachev said, and over the years he has traveled to 80 countries and won many awards.

There are 120 cats altogether in the company. The other 94 are back in Moscow at the theater on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, where 10 caretakers and four veterinarians look after them. There, they live in the theater in glass-fronted spaces - not cages, Mr. Kuklachev insists - where they each have a bed and a chair to play on. They are allowed to roam but must enter and exit their rooms on his command, he said.

"We have no mice," Mr. Kuklachev noted.
Whoa. I bet.

P.S. Carrie got us tickets for a Saturday matinee show on September 24. God, I hope they sell T-shirts or commemorative programs or something.

British toddlers hooked on curry - Yahoo! News

British toddlers hooked on curry:
Curry was named the most popular dish among three- to five-year-olds, leaving pasta, sausages, chips and spaghetti bolognese further down the favourites menu...

Children's cookery author Annabel Karmel, who is working with the company on new menus for toddlers, said young children had a definite idea of what they liked.

"We condition our children to like stereotyped children's food but left to their own devices, children like things like curries," she said.

"This shows that children have more sophisticated tastes than we often realise."
Amen. And good for parents for exposing their kids to new tastes.

Hat tip: Alert enrevanche reader and spouse Carrie.

15 September 2005

Some questions for John Roberts

5ives -- Five things I'd ask every Supreme Court nominee if I sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee:
1. If you knew to an absolute moral certainty that you could capture and consume a live infant without being caught, how many do you suppose you could eat in a weekend?

2. Have you ever been spanked erotically by someone who was not your current legal spouse? Just yes or no, please.

3. Nominee, do you regard these slacks as accentuating my basket in an un-senatorial fashion?

4. Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about…your mother.

5. Kindly rise, and sing the 1979 hit, The Piña Colada Song, also known as Escape.
Extra points for the Blade Runner reference in question 4. Gotta make sure that no replicants make it onto the Supreme Court.

(Hat tip: BoingBoing)

Y! Mail Beta - a photoset on Flickr

So Yahoo bought Oddpost a while back.

Oddpost developed a killer web-based e-mail application that was way ahead of its time... basically, all of the functionality of Outlook in a web-based application. Clearly, Yahoo saw the value in it...

Now Yahoo is running a beta test of a new Yahoo Mail interface that incorporates Oddpost's technology.

Check out the screen shots below.

Y! Mail Beta - a photoset on Flickr

14 September 2005

Another Katrina Myth: Aaron Broussard's "Emotional" Appearance on MTP (WuzzaDem)

Friend Chap (of Chapomatic fame) was kind enough to gently point me to a blog entry containing a few home truths about Aaron Broussard's gut-wrenching appearance on Meet The Press on September 4th, which I blogged about here.

It turns out that, in every key respect but one (the lady in question actually did die, unfortunately... the day Katrina hit Louisiana, not five days later) Broussard was completely full of shit.

I suppose I've learned nothing from history. Didn't Jimmy Swaggart teach us all to never trust a sobbing public figure from Louisiana?

I was suckered, y'all. Damn.

Read it and then shed your very best crocodile tears:

WuzzaDem: Another Katrina Myth: Aaron Broussard's "Emotional" Appearance on MTP

Google Blog Search

Google launched Blog Search today... a service which combs through blogs, and exclusively blogs, for content.
Blog Search is Google search technology focused on blogs. Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to join the revolution themselves. Whether you're looking for Harry Potter reviews, political commentary, summer salad recipes or anything else, Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice.

Your results include all blogs, not just those published through Blogger; our blog index is continually updated, so you'll always get the most accurate and up-to-date results; and you can search not just for blogs written in English, but in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and other languages as well.
All the standard Google tricks apply; you can search for all the blogs that link to a certain site or page, for instance.

Vanity search, anyone?

13 September 2005

An amended packing list

Well, now.

It's been a little while since we've had any petblogging around here, as I've been on the road due to business and family obligations. (When the lady at the coffee counter at Newark Airport starts greeting you by name, you know you're spending too much time in airplanes.)

I've been on the road so much, in fact, that when I get my little rollaboard suitcase down, the animals immediately go into Advanced Anxiety mode. (It hardly matters that Carrie, whom they adore above all others, isn't going anywhere with me and will be at home every evening like clockwork; if the family unit isn't complete, there is profound disharmony in their universe.)

Recently, Mister Gato decided that it was high time that I amended my basic packing list.

Underwear, check. Socks, check.

Gato packs himself up
Perhaps a small oxygen bottle, too.
(And a tiny little mask.)

Irascible tomcat? Check.

Naturally, sibling rivalry set in. Chow Bella wanted to come along too.

Room for a chow too
You're going to need a much larger bag.

I'm heading out again on Thursday... but, barring a catastrophe, I'll be at home for a few weeks after that. Hopefully, the next pictures will be of a big happy pile of animals sitting next to Papa on the couch.

Cat News

Cat News @ Channel102 (Quicktime movie, mildly NSFW language)

Hat tip: Metafilter.

11 September 2005


Alert enrevanche reader and pal John deVille points us to OrganicHTML, which interprets web sites as ikebana.

Feed it some of your favorite URLs.

On losing it

I just spent the last several days in Raleigh, with my parents.

Until very recently, they were both physically frail, but very much in their right minds. Dad's illness has progressed to the point that he is now under the care of Hospice, however, and he is only occasionally lucid at this point.

Mom, though she is blind and physically enfeebled, was sharp as ever until back surgery (which doesn't seem to have gone all that well) left her in terrible pain. The pain is being treated with Oxycontin (enough to get Rush Limbaugh stoned, I'd wager) and that, combined with an as-yet unexplained poor oxygen-saturation in her blood, has left her confused and disoriented.

She kept trying to get out of bed all weekend long, forgetting that even the slightest movement would cause agony. And then when said agony ensued, she would remember.

For about an hour.


On Saturday morning, after she had her pain medication, my (75 year-old) Mom announced triumphantly that she had figured out what the hell was wrong with her.

"I'm pregnant!"

I said the only thing I could think of. "Oh, Lord. Let's not tell Daddy."

In memoriam

Back in New York City for a few days.

As I was in the air this morning, flying back to NYC, I was mentally composing the September 11th post I would write.

Then I read Scott's.

You should too.

10 September 2005

The Social Issues Research Centre

The Social Issues Research Centre, based in Oxford, England, is "an independent, non-profit organisation founded to conduct research on social and lifestyle issues, monitor and assess global sociocultural trends and provide new insights on human behaviour and social relations."

Their web site is a cornucopia of wonderful, intelligent and beautifully written observations and sociological analysis, much of it written from a perspective that can be described as simultaneously left-of-center *and* broadly libertarian, which is refreshing and useful (even if I don't always agree with it.)

Here, for example, is an excerpt from a work of true genius and insight, entitled "In Praise of Bad Habits." (Peter Marsh delivered this lecture to the Institute for Cultural Research in London, in November 2001.)
...[T]he notion of 'lifestyle correctness', founded largely on narcissistic health ideals, has come to shape the direction of people's lives in ways which once characterised the power of formal religions. In place of faith in the creeds and tenets of the established church, we now follow slavishly the equally false promises of the health promotion professions - those who would have us believe that if we lead the 'good' life we will have unending life and beauty.

This comparison between the pursuit of health and the search for God has been noted by a number of social commentators, including, for example, the Australian academic Deborah Lupton. In her book The Imperative of Health she argues:
"In this secular age, focusing upon one's diet and other lifestyle choices has become an alternative to prayer and righteous living in providing a means of making sense of life and death. 'Healthiness' has replaced 'Godliness' as a yardstick of accomplishment and proper living. Public health and health promotion, then, may be viewed as contributing to the moral regulation of society, focusing as they do upon ethical and moral practices of the self."
While the new religion of health enables many people in our society to gain a sense of moral worthiness, it also provides a valuable means of censuring deviants - those new outcasts in a world where the concept of 'zero tolerance' has somehow become a 'good thing'. (The currency of this term alone, in my view, is sufficient to illustrate the extent to which we have lost the moral plot.) People who are unwilling to succumb to what the late Petr Skrabanek (a renegade Czech medic) described as 'Coercive Healthism' - those among us with 'bad habits' - are the new outcasts in this increasingly fearful and intolerant world.

It is a long but extremely worthwhile read, and includes a scholarly discussion of why the term "health Nazi" is in fact both frighteningly accurate and solidly historically-based... we meet, among others, the Gesundheitspolizei, or "Health Police."

We don't know anyone like that, do we?

This magnificent riff comes much later in the lecture, in which Marsh quotes Professor Desmond Morris describing his elderly mother tucking into one of her last meals:

"It was a meal to make a food faddist swoon away in horror. My mother was piling her plate high with a greasy, fatty, fry-up of a mixed grill and tucking in with gusto. When I say 'with gusto', I mean she was eating with the urgent pleasure of a predator at a kill. Although she was born during the reign of Queen Victoria, she was more in tune with the robust food pleasures of the eighteenth century, when a feast was a feast, and nobody had heard about health foods, diet regimes, or table etiquette that demanded you chew each mouthful 32 times before swallowing."

"Watching her in action and trying my best to match her appetite, I glibly remarked that if she kept ignoring the words of wisdom of the health gurus and diet experts, she would die young. This may sound like a cruel thing for a son to have said to his mother, but the fact that she was in her 99th year at the time of the meal in question, helps to put my remark into perspective."

Please go and read the entire lecture now.

(Travellers to the UK would also be well-served to read SIRC's scholarly-but-accessible sociological and anthropological dissection of English alcohol culture, "Passport to the Pub: A tourist guide to British pub etiquette." Fascinating stuff.)

09 September 2005


Alert enrevanche reader and friend Scott sends along the following:
"Google the word 'failure,' and check the very first result."
To which I might add... check the second, too.

Dorian: New site, new album

Hey now. Dorian, the New York City musician we introduced enrevanche readers to in this post, and later on in a popular podcast, has a spiffy new redesigned web site, and a new album ("Garden") available to order.
Going back a good number of months I was talking about 'Garden'. In fact it was a little over a year ago I was warming to the idea. First, it made so much sense to call it Garden because of the aptly titled Seeds EP that I'd just started selling on the street while playing for tips. Second, there was the song that I had tortured myself with for weeks that was also rather aptly titled, Garden. I truly didn't realise it at the time but there was a theme, I unwittingly set myself up and threw a theme in the works from jump. Frankly, to me this process of writing songs has been a journey without a theme but rather a surprising amount of happy mistakes. So I'm just happy I could take in the bit of growth I've had during the time of writing these songs.

I gotta say that I am very happy with the results too. Producer Shakerleg and myself went full force to do this thing right. We worked so hard to make every song unique and unlike any other song on the album. I would say we achieved this feat and in the process gave me a completely fresh, upbeat sound. And I can now finally say, my debut LP is done and it's here!
I ordered the new album immediately, and will have a review as soon as logistically possible... but if you've liked what you've heard from Dorian so far, I urge you to check out the new site and whip out the plastic and get yourself a copy of "Garden," too.

Support independent music in New York!

07 September 2005

Blogging may be light...

...over the next several days. I'm down in North Carolina with my parents.

Dad is doing surprisingly well, considering, and Wake County Hospice seems to be a very competent and squared-away set of folks.

Mom had emergency surgery over the Labor Day weekend for a collapsed vertebra. (The procedure she had performed, called "kyphoplasty," was actually the subject of a major New York Times article about a week ago.)

Anyway, they were overdue for a check-in visit from me.

I don't blog about work, as a general rule, but I want to share this with you: my employer has generously agreed to let me work one week a month from Raleigh, starting in October. So part of the time I'm spending down here is getting a decent home office set up to work from.

This accommodation from my employer is going to make my life, and my mom and dad's lives, a lot easier... and it's not something I'll soon forget.

06 September 2005

Thomas P.M. Barnett: The storm surge begins

Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog: The storm surge begins:
So much blame to go around.

New Orleans is revealed, to no one's surprise, as a woefully loose-ruled environment barely managed by a corrupt, incompetent government.

Support networks in the poor, rural coastal areas are revealed as meager and painfully brittle.

State governments are revealed as low-ballers on a host of long-term investments in infrastructure and network resiliency, only to be superceded by the federal government's enduring penchant for unfunded mandates.

Federal relief agencies are revealed as surprisingly incoherent in their "coordinated response," begging the question, How many 9/11-like shocks must there be before Washington gets its lines of authority straight?

The military, which has gone to untold lengths to brag every chance it can since 9/11 that homeland security is job #1, still seems to be under the impression that it requires an engraved invitation from a Constitutional Congress to get off its collective ass and respond rapidly to a domestic emergency.

And perhaps most damaging of all, the Bush Administration is revealed—yet again—as strangely incapable of grabbing the bull by the horn when disaster strikes, as though such leadership is only to be summoned once it becomes a public relations damage-control function.

Sad to say, the best-working aspect of the emergency response to date has been the media—the MEDIA for crying out loud!

Eject! Eject! Eject!: TRIBES

Eject! Eject! Eject!: TRIBES

Just go read it.

05 September 2005

Massachusetts wants open document standards

Massachusetts [trashes] Microsoft Office - vnunet.com:

The State of Massachusetts has unveiled a plan to replace Microsoft Office with a software suite that supports the open standards set by the Oasis standards body.

Massachusetts' chief information officer Peter Quinn said in a document posted on the State's website (PDF download available here) that the State seeks in particular to embrace Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument.

OpenOffice.org works great. Pair it with CutePDF Writer and you can produce documentation in any format you like.

Egregious self-link: The Open-Source Knowledge Worker Toolbox at Campbell-Online.com.

Brendan Loy in The New York Times

Brendan Loy, the Irish Trojan, makes the New York Times:
One of the earliest and perhaps clearest alarms about Hurricane Katrina's potential threat to New Orleans was sounded not by the Weather Channel or a government agency but by a self-described weather nerd sitting on a couch in Indiana with a laptop computer and a remote control.

"At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans," Brendan Loy, who is 23 and has no formal meteorological training, wrote on Aug. 26 in his blog, irishtrojan.com. "If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of Dodge right now, just in case."

Mr. Loy's posting that Friday afternoon came three days before the hurricane struck and two days before the mayor of New Orleans, Ray C. Nagin, issued an evacuation order. Posts over the next several days, in aggregate, seem now like an eerie rewriting of the tale of Chicken Little, in which the sky does in fact fall.
A 'Weather Nerd' in Indiana Sent a Warning to the Mayor - New York Times

04 September 2005

Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you...

Update, September 14: Aaron Broussard is (almost completely) full of shit.

Meet the Press was a little hard to watch this morning.

Here's Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana:
I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" and he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you."

Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night!


Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody’s promised. They’ve had press conferences. I’m sick of the press conferences. For God’s sake, just shut up and send us somebody.
The transcript is tough enough to read; the video (WMV format, at Crooks and Liars) is almost unbearable.

I'm going for a long walk.

A year of narcissism

enrevanche has been around for exactly one year.

Our first post, on September 4, 2004, was nothing more than a stake in the ground: okay, so I've got a blog; what the hell do I do with it now?

483 posts later (that's an average of 1.3 posts per day, for those of you keeping score at home) I still don't know the answer to that question. But I'm going to keep on embarrassing myself in public until I figure it out.

In one year of blogging, enrevanche has built a small but devoted (and clearly deeply disturbed) reading audience.

We've clawed our way from Insignificant Microbe status to Adorable Little Rodent in the TTLB Ecosystem (currently on the cusp of Marsupialism), and Technorati tells me that 82 sites are currently linking to us.

(I know that these numbers wouldn't even be statistical noise on a bad day for Glenn Reynolds, but for a Carolina boy sitting in his little Greenwich Village apartment bloviating about current affairs and posting pictures of his kittycat, they kinda floor me. I thank you, one and all, for sharing this little venture with me, and I hope that you continue to keep your expectations low so that I may continue to live up to them.)

The graph below (don't you love graphs?) shows our steadily increasing readership. (The spike in April of 2005 happened because one of my posts got linked by MSNBC; see below.)

page views enrevanche
A little bumpy, but the trendline is clearly upwards.

At any rate. We're here, we're queer (though not in the usual sense of that term these days), get used to it.

I thought that I'd point out a few posts from the last year that seemed significant to me. Typically, these have been the most linked-to or most commented-on posts, though comments weren't always made publically; I've published my name and e-mail address from the beginning, and this has led to some interesting private conversations (including some e-chats with other Barry Campbells.)

Let's do this again a year from now.

The list:

Greenwich Village Idiot Podcast for September 4, 2005

Guest host Chap from Chapomatic has a few things on this mind today. Pretty much what we've all got on our minds right now, I think.

(And he plays that Randy Newman song I haven't been able to get out of my head.)

[Podcast link (18MB MP3) - RSS feed]

Notes from Chap:

All of these mentioned at some point or another on the ‘cast. I did edit some of the audio from the first three feeds to shorten the clips.

Chrenkoff on hurricane quotes
Randi Rhodes
Kanye West
CNN feed
CDR Salamander
Funky 16 Corners
Ad Council PSA
KBON Ville Platte, Louisiana
Mudville Gazette on post-hurricane critique
Kaus on same
Brendan Loy was right
BBC on situation
Mia Doi Todd
WWOZ, on line with help from WFMU
Opinion Journal with some scathing commentary

03 September 2005

Rick Bragg: This Isn't the Last Dance

Rick Bragg, on New Orleans:
Ever since I was barely in my twenties, I have loved [New Orleans] the way some men love women, if that means unreasonably. I fell in love with the city and a Louisiana State University sophomore on the same night, eating shrimp cooked seven ways in the Quarter, riding the ferry across the black, black river where fireworks burned the air at Algiers Point. I drank so much rum I could sleep standing up against a wall. The sophomore left me, smiling, but the city never did.

There is no way to explain to someone who has never lived here why every day seemed like parole. Every time I would swing my legs from under the quilt and ease my toes onto the pine floors of my shotgun double, I would think, I am getting away with something here.
This Isn't the Last Dance (Washington Post, September 2, 2005)

Hat tip: enrevanche pal BobLee.

The Howard Beale moment

Howard Beale was a character in the 1976 movie Network (written by the brilliant and underappreciated Paddy Chayefsky.)

Chayefsky gives Beale, a television news commentator, an absolutely devastating monologue that is the linchpin of the movie. It's long, and I'm going to print virtually the entire thing (thanks, IMDB!)
I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.

You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:

Why am I mentioning this today?

In the last couple of days, a number of news reporters covering Katrina on the ground in New Orleans have had their Howard Beale moments, live and on the air. So have a few studio types, like Jack Cafferty at CNN. They are, to put it succinctly, mad as hell, and they are not going to take it any more.

Crooks and Liars has archived some of the most startling examples of this phenomenon, including: