Tuesday, September 27, 2005

As If The World Wasn't Stupid Enough...

Dig this. Apparently, 36 dolphins that had been owned and trained by the U.S. Navy may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Even better, these particular dolphins might be carrying "toxic dart" guns, say experts who've studied the navy's dolphin training exercise. Apparently, these particular members of the Order Cetacea have been trained to shoot terrorists and pinpoint underwater spies, and experts are concerned they might attack surfers or divers by mistake. I'm not making this up.

And it isn't even the dumbest thing I've read in the past hour.

Apparently, after director Susan Wood of the FDA's Office Of Women's Health resigned last month in protest of the agency's fence-straddling on whether to make emergency contraception more easily available, the FDA had a stroke of genius. They announced that 20-year FDA vet Theresa Toigo would be acting director. Now, they did this three days after announcing that a dude named Norris Anderson would be the acting director, even though he spent most of his career working in animal husbandry. This, of course, hacked some folks off and the FDA is apparently pretending it never happened.

Hell, I think I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Apparently They've Got That Kind Of Time...

Fair warning: some of the following links aren't safe for work, depending on your job.

Okay, so here's the deal. Thanks to a director from U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller, the country's top law-enforcement agency is gearing up a special task force to go after (wait for it) porn. Not child porn, mind, but regular ol' porn that involves consenting adults (sometimes three or four of 'em at a time). Seriously. The top law dogs of the United States, the people responsible for keeping us safe from terrorists, foreign espionage, white collar crime, civil rights abuses and other various sundries, apparently has the free time to go after people who make movies of other people fuckin', which is then viewed by consenting adults of age in their own homes. It is, of course, to protect the children, because apparently the parents in this country can't do their damn jobs.

Now.

This sort of foolishness isn't a new thing, of course, and not everyone involved with the Bureau and AG's office is exactly thrilled that resources and manpower is being relocated to keep folks from strokin' without governmental approval. And, let's be honest, porn has gotten a bit, well, "in-your-face" over the past decade, what with the rise in public acceptance, and a more than a few of the guys involved in the business are complete bastards. And it goes without saying that any pornography that involves children, animals or non-consensual acts should have the hammer brought down upon it with all speed. That being said, neither descriptions - either visual or text - of warped sexual practices nor scumbags making money off said products are exactly new. The gang bang isn't a new concept, despite it's rather disturbing popularity among viewers.

Personally, thanks to being on the Internet for over a decade now, I find just about forms of porn gotten pretty goddamn boring these days. In a nutshell, nine times out of ten, I have no desire to watch folks make the sign of the three-finned catfish - if you know what I'm talking about and I think you do - unless I'm somehow involved in the proceedings. Yeah, hot nekkid chicks and all that, yeah, yeah, yeah, but I got things to do, okay? That tenth time, of course... well, let's just say there are times when the sap has risen and matters must be addressed, and leave it at that.

Still, I can't help but think there's better ways of using the time, money and men and women of the FBI and the AG's office - not to mention the taxpayer's money - than going after one group of people because another group of people can't get their shit together enough to deal with their responsibilities. You have kids and you don't want 'em watching porn, keep an eye on the little rascals. They'll still figure out a way around you, though. Always have, always will. I would say that any parent who objects to their child viewing adult pornography should maybe take the time to explain just they have objections, but that's probably asking way too much.

Of course, some folks are just tickled Gonzales is going after the scourge of stroke flicks. Keep in mind, though, it's the same people who object to vaccinating teenagers from STD's because it might encourage sexual permissiveness. I'm not kidding. Oh well, maybe the AG and FBI will get off the assess of pot smokers and hookers now that they got something really important to worry about.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Do What?

Don't know what to think about this. It’s a list of which Louisiana parishes were included in Bush’s Aug. 26th declaration of emergency. Here's the full and specific list of parishes and services received covered by the declaration on Aug. 29th, after the storm hit. Compare and contrast. Personally, it don't look quite right to me.

The always rockin' Bob Harris has more.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

No, We're Not...

Once again, John Sugg has the sweet stuff. The senior editor of Atlanta's Creative Loafing media branch and CL editor Ken Edelstein offer this well-put together piece for truthout.org on just how badly prepared the Southeastern United States is for events like Katrina. In particular, it notes how bad off fair Georgia would be if a serious hurricane hit. Apparently, the shallow coastal region and massive amount of marshlands would result in both one hellaciously nasty landfall and all kinds of flooding.

Once again: get shit fixed. Now. There is absolutely no reason why a country with as much money, manpower and technology at its disposal should leave its citizens in such a sorry state of affairs.

Couple of Neat Links...

This is a pretty neat site. It's a fairly comprehensive timeline of the various events that lead up to the massive clusterfuck that was Hurricane Katrina. Interesting tidbit from 2003:

FEMA awards $89,471,651 million in PDM Pre-Disaster Mitigation? Grants; including $4,199,259.75 dollars to build Homeland Security Safe Rooms in nine Fort Smith, Arkansas public schools. Thirty-six states and nine Native American tribes benefited from the Presidential initiative mostly awarded for flood hazard mitigation or Homeland Security projects. Though Louisiana applied, they didn’t get a dime.


Something else to consider about 2003 is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Coastal Area developed a plan to revamp levees - which were mostly built before the current hurricane classification system came into being, if I recall correctly - and related flood prevention systems. However, even before the issue came up before Congress, the Bush malAdministration cut proposed funding for the project by 80%. How about that. It's also worth noting that 35% of Louisiana’s National Guard is in Iraq while New Orleans is full of regular army types. I think that's interesting.

This is another pretty interesting website. It's called "20 Amazing Facts About Voting In The USA". Lots of fascinating little revelations here, friends, including some very interesting tidbits concerning our friends at Diebold. Check it out.

Everyone Screwed Up...Again...

First off, go here or here to donate some bread to relief efforts. There's places that'll hook up folks who have extra pad space with folks who's houses got blown slap away. If you can do that, do so, but at the very least, do what you can.

Now.

It’s bad enough there’s jackasses snickering about people who, after suffering a massive natural disaster and basically abandoned by the rest of society, don’t even come close to acting right (or that the media and them snickerers are maybe exaggerating just a bit). And it’s irritating that, true to form, the frothing nutball segment of Christianity has already trumpeted Katrina as judgment from GAWD or that the real dirtbags of the world are already seeing investment opportunities in destroyed towns and ruined lives.

And by the way, if you reading this are the type that thinks people who stayed in New Orleans during Katrina - most had either no way of getting out or no way to go, one way or another - or that they somehow deserve having their lives completely and totally wrecked because of their color, sexual orientation or political affiliation, I have one thing to say to you: you are not a nice person. If you're cool with that, fine; just don't ever any sort of moral superiority in my presence. I would say you deserve the most crotch-rottening venereal disease to infect your genital area causing a continuous stench that makes children cry and pain peel, but I've had my afternoon magic carpet ride so I do not wish to get all worked up. Still. Not nice, asshole.

For whatever it's worth, the whole Katrina thing has got me plumb worn out with everyone. I find it mind-boggling that with the complete devastation of not only New Orleans, but also large parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the political cheerleaders are still trying to jockey for position. Somerby's right. The progressive left isn’t doing anyone a damn bit of good when they play as nasty and as fast and loose with the facts as the worst wingnut. This isn't just a little flooding and no power. Entire towns are destroyed. People aren't only homeless, they've got no damn place to go and nothing to go back to once the water goes down. The state, local and federal governments screwed the pooch on every level and, once again, the average person just trying to cut out a living gets the short end of the stick. Party affiliation don't matter; the government failed its citizens, end of story.

Josh Marshall's done some good work on keeping the threads straight. So have the folks at TPM Cafe. It seems most everyone else is drawing up to butt heads on whether or not this horror is "what finally brings Bush down" or if any and all criticism of the government's response is merely another example of "blind Bush hatred" making "liberals exploit a tragedy for political gain". Frankly, I think both sides can take a leap. The Democratic governor of Louisiana and Democratic mayor of New Orleans - who's become the darling boy of some of the left because he rightly cussed Bush (after donating a good hunk of change to Bush's 2000 campaign) - dropped the ball, no doubt about it, but the re-goddamn-diculous excuse for a response from FEMA and the Bush Administration means there's plenty of venom to go around.

They way I look at it, the federal government (and state and local, for that matter) has one job and one job only: make sure things run smoothly. When something tries to stir up the pot, be it a terrorist attack, turbulent economy or natural disaster, the whole reason we pay taxes is so that when something overwhelms us as individuals, we have a group to come in a straighten shit out. Katrina was definitely that; Blanco and Nagin (who didn't become a Democrat until he ran for mayor, mind) were in over their heads, and anyone with half a lick of sense knew that. Katrina wasn't a surprise, either generally (as in a big goddamn hurricane coming into wipe out the Big Easy) or specifically (the National Weather Service was about the only damn folks who had their shit together this whole time). There’s absolutely no reason - apart from incompetency and sheer apathy from the Powers That Be - that the complete clusterfuck we saw the past week should’ve happened. Common sense tells us that loss of life and destruction of property was unavoidable, but what we’ve seen is total bullshit in a country as prosperous and powerful as ours. I don't have to tell you stories, you've already heard 'em.

And this isn't the first time this has happened. Good grief. And these yay-hoos are supposed to be in charge? I'm supposed to count on them if shit turns ugly? For Pete's sake, the hurricane season ain't even close to being over. But, since the majority of folks who got smacked last week - black or white, poor is poor - don't have the pull that's necessary to get either party off its collective ass, not much will be done about it.

Anyhow. I said all that to say all this. I find this awful interesting. See, there's this company in Baton Rouge called Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM), and as the name implies, they're a private organization that deals with such crisis. Apparently, New Orleans' disaster management was supposed to be under the company's umbrella. More info here. Sorta makes one wonder if them that are bellyachin' about the "welfare state" causing the mess in New Orleans know exactly what they're talking about.

So, shut up and fix shit. Now. Don’t forget where things went wrong to get us where we are now - be nice if that happened just once, wouldn’t it - but we got people without homes, without jobs and without much hope to deal with now. Dammit.