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07 August 2004

Oh Well 

Rodney Alexander filed as a Republican. I guess Democrats shouldn't be too surprised, but it's not exactly a profile in courage for him since he waited until the last minute to file so as to avoid a solid challenge from either a Republican or a Democrat. That's one less vote for Pelosi next year.

A little distance and a little preview 

Kevin Blanchard writes an opinion piece for the Advocate that allows us to back off the strum und drag of the recent fiber news.

His piece is a structured series of questions that focus not on the ideological clash that has dominated the news but on the gritty political, regulatory, and economic intersections that shape and constrain the way the issue will develop. It reminds its reader of the fundamental issues and at the same time gives us a nice little preview of what the reporter is working on.

(To see why I might think commending a style of “opinion reporting” is worthwhile please take a look at the painful contrast presented by what the Advertiser’s Decker did with the Chamber’s mealy-mouthed, take no discernable position on anything that could actually lead to realizing a vision “position paper” concerning broadband. Decker says “The page-and-a-half policy is running over with vision." He isn't being ironic. He is missing the point.)

Here’s the parts of the Advocat story I found most interesting,:

At the intersection of Regulation and Economics:
"How will LUS be affected by regulations being hammered out by the Public Service Commission? …Will the PSC set those minimum rates so high as to make LUS' business plan less workable… How much can Cox and BellSouth lower prices to compete with eventual LUS service, without triggering anti-trust laws or the ire of the PSC or the Federal Communications Commission?"
Damn good questions, each and every one. Maybe we ought to start tracking contributions to the PSC members’ reelection funds?

At the intersection of Politics & Economics:
"How does New Orleans fit into the equation?"
Blanchard suggests that Nagin’s visit to Lafayette earlier this summer might not have been just about some sort of general “cooperation” between cities but might have also been an opening for asking for Lafayette’s help in driving telecommunication services down I-10’s dark fiber to New Orleans. Apparently a plan stalled by arcane New Orleans politics to put fiber in the downtown sewers is involved. (No, I am not making that up. How could I?) A far-fetched connection? I think so, but then it is Louisiana

And I've always wondered what BellSouth and Cox were afraid of that warrant the thermonuclear level of response we've seen. A regional Lousiana fiber network linking cities a la Utah's Utopia project might be part of it. And wouldn't New Orleans be the biggest possible plum...

At the intersection of (city) Politics & (city-parish) Politics
What would happen if the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority -- made of up five city-parish councilmen who mainly represent the city -- approves the LUS plan, but the council rejects it?
Apparently the charter gives control of LUS to the LPUA but any bonds would rely on the authority of the City-Parish. Who controls? Who knows. And I called New Orleans’ political problems arcane.

Well worth the read, go get it. I’m gonna look forward to the stories coming down the line.


06 August 2004

Time Killing Game of the Week 

Back by popular demand after a two week hiatus. I'll give you two great ones this week. The first is a scrolling fighter game called Alpha Force. It's style is classic, by which I mean old, but the game play is surprisingly good considering the standards of a lot of web sites.

The other one has been moving across the web at light speed lately, so don't be surprised if you've already played this "office boredom simulation". You know the routine, catch the wadded up piece of paper and then toss it into the trash. Even the music is relaxing.

As for me, I'm headed out the door very soon to make the drive to New Orleans. I'll be spending tonight in--aagh!--Jeff Parish, but tomorrow we'll be heading over to the Saints annual Black and Gold Scrimmage. It's going to be held in Hammond this year, so when we get up to the North Shore we have a pit stop scheduled for the first (and hopefully the second) Abita brewery tour. Then it's food, tailgating, and football. The news of that cool front is welcome, too.

And the last thing I'll say before I leave is a hearty congratulations to my friend and Timshel commenter JJ Shabadoo. He just got engaged this week to his girlfriend of God only knows how many years now. I'd been hearing the dirty rumors of this for a few days, but after the cruel hoax he played on us all at April Fools Day, I wanted to make sure I got some kind of confirmation. Anyway, if his fiancee ever commented on this site she'd probably go by scooper, and I mean to wish her the same heartfelt encouragement for the new life they're going to build together as well. Uhh, until then, Go Blue!

Very Interesting 

A gay rights group is filing a lawsuit to block the vote on the Louisiana pro-discrimination amendment. I don't have any idea how they plan to challenge a vote by the legislature to amend the constitution, but it should be interesting...

Three Louisiana citizens and the Forum for Equality organization filed a lawsuit this morning seeking to block the Unmarried Couples Constitutional Amendment from going on the September 18 ballot in Louisiana. A press conference to explain the lawsuit will be held today, Friday August 6 at 1:30pm, on the steps of the Orleans Parish Civil District Courthouse, 421 Loyola Avenue in New Orleans. In the event of rain, the Press Conference will be inside the lobby of the Courthouse. Some of the attorneys and parties who filed the lawsuit will be present at the conference and available for questions. A copy of the petition and of a brief summary of the lawsuit are attached.

I found this in my inbox, so I don't have the summary or petition. Here's a link to the group's website.

Follow Up 

To that earlier post about the video shown by Marc Racicot we get a good look at the difference between solid, critical reporting and the waste phoned in by the Pic's Manuel Torres.

Thanks to the AP's Adam Nossiter for continuing the fine work he does so we can contrast it with everything else we have to read in this state.

Note that he doesn't even mention the advertisement produced by the Bush campaign, rather he refers to "attacks on Kerry's Iraq war position", and uses it to discuss why Racicot is even in town.

Things you may not have known 

The National Scrabble Championship finished up in New Orleans yesterday with a little bit of controversy over the use of "lez".

In the final round, eventual champion Trey Wright played the word "lez", which was on a list of "offensive" words not allowed during the tournament. Normally, no word is off-limits in a Scrabble tournament, but because the games were being taped for E-S-P-N, certain terms were deemed inappropriate.

Wright, a 30-year-old concert pianist from Los Angeles, played the word and then drew two replacement tiles so quickly that the referee didn't notice the three-letter slang for lesbian at first. When he did, he said it had to go.

He won anyway.

Some pics from the website...
The crowd is on the edge of their seats. What drama!?

The face of a champion


Wingers Unite 

The Louisiana GOP'ers are meeting today through Sunday at the Cajun Dome Convention Center here in Lafayette. For some reason I don't think this Republican Convention will be the impetus for an import of high-priced call girls to Lafayette like the one in New York promises, which is a real shame because I've found the availability of a good prostitute wanting lately.

Instead we get Michael Reagan, Liddy Dole, and Bill Owens. I think we got gypped.

I don't get this. 

Why is this news?

If I called a news conference and said I had this video called "Fahrenheit 9/11" that showed that Bush was a flip-flopper on Iraq, would it get reported with a full airing of all its charges in the biggest paper in the state? Seriously, Marc Racicot pretty much called a press conference to release a twelve minute advertisement that he is apparently touring the country with and was rewarded with a full viewing of all his specious accusations about Kerry. Is the press conference itself the story? Is it that the Bush administration accuses Kerry of flip-flopping? That's nothing new. Is it just because Racicot was in town?

What's the news here? It's not even as though they held a rally for supporters and showed the video. He just invited reporters and said, "Hey peeps, even though this has been running on the internet since the DNC, we were hoping we'd get a chance to show it to you, just in case you didn't bother to report on it the first time because it wasn't news then either. Now you've come out to this press conference and I bet your editors will be pissed if you don't get a story out of it. Peace out."

Because that's the way he talks.

05 August 2004

Hypnotic, Hallucinogenic Fantasies 

I really ought to make some sort of remarks on Eric Benjamin's antiLus/goberment tirade in this week's "Marijuana" edition The Times of Acadiana. But its hard to know exactly how to think about it. When I first saw it I was really pissed. For a full 10 minutes. Then I read it again, and while still angry, puzzlement and confusion took over. The thing is just too hallucinogenic to be treated really seriously. Whatever the guy was smoking he really ought to cut down on whatever he's mixing in. Oh yea, and in the print version the article is placed facing a particularly misleading full-page anti-fiber Cox ad. A mean-spirited observer might think that sows a little doubt about the Times’ objectivity. How dumb was that placement?

The opinion piece presents itself as satire that features an oily salesman trying to sell you a pig in a poke. But the weird, hallucinogenic right-wing fantasy it occupies is hypnotizing in that horrific watching-the-poisonous-snake-coil-to-strike way: User fees are new taxes. People who buy services like this (and water and electricity) therefore pay more taxes than their neighbors. You won’t get to watch the Sopranos. The local government is the one to be afraid of if you go to the Al Jeezera site. (Can you say misdirected? I cite the Patriot Act for your reasonable, legal locus of fear on this count. For the city to track you would be illegal, but not for your “Justice” department.) And then there is this particularly disconnected moment when Lester U Smiley (really, that’s the salesman’s name) says:
"What's more," he continues, "after we're through with fiber-optics we're moving on to roads and infrastructure, then to trash collections, police, fire and the schools."
Hunh? That just floored me. The successful local provision of these essential natural monopoly services is the rhetorical and logical basis for making sure the fiber monopoly is locally controlled. Doesn’t he understand who provides these services locally? Local Goberment, Eric. …He really, really needs to cut way back. Hypnotic strangeness.

However, the angry part of my reaction remains: the article, done in the brand new general manager's personal column (he’s been in Lafayette just a month), is an unbelievable pastiche of far right fear mongering, misdirection, and outright lies. Just introducing these poisonous little memes into the public discourse, especially in a context where it can all be laughed off as a stupid joke, is criminal.

(You know there used to be these things called editors and publishers at papers that took responsibility for them. But apparently nobody bothers with that stuff at the Times any more. Maybe it’s that with Gannett owning it they really aren’t the one’s responsible. …Hmmn, like local utilities, maybe local newspapers ought to be locally owned; else they never have anyone making decisions who really has to live with the consequences of their actions. These guys are all angling for a job at a bigger Gannett paper. Like the Advertiser. As general manager (aka business manager) this little bit of journalistic poison probably won’t affect Benjamin's performance reviews. He can probably count on moving on to something better if he doesn’t get caught with his hand in the till.)

But read it yourself; it really is fascinating in that hypnotically horrifying little way. And maybe you can tell me what he is thinking.


You Decide 

Conservatives love pointing out anti-Americanism where ever it exists, especially when that somewhere is either in France or Germany. This story from the Conservative News Service (okay, Cybercast News Service, but they're decidedly conservative, even being among the first Google referrals a for "Conservative News" query) has been making its way around the 'net today (I've seen it linked to over at The Corner and now in two emails from different conservative pals of mine).

Anyway, things seem to have gone a little overboard in cuckoo land. The story's about some advertisements in various Subway (the American sandwich chain) stores in Germany using two advertisements that included in one case the guy from the movie "Super Size Me" with french fries* stuffed into his mouth next to a cartoon image of a bloated Statue of Liberty. I guess the message is something like, "don't be like Americans, eat healthy." Fair enough with the charge of anti-Americanism on that one, though it seems pretty tame to me. The other image is of a giant cheeseburger crashing in to some skyscrapers with people running away from it, which some Americans were offended by because it supposedly recollects the WTC disaster. Frankly, I don't see it, but judging by technorati's helpful tools, the conservatives are all up in arms over it. At worst it seems like a case of insensitive cartooning combined with overly sensitive WTC fetishests.

The question is: Is this a candidate for O'Reilly's "Talking Points" (subject: Those Old Europe America-haters are at it again.) or "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day" (subject: For once the Germans are just stupid and not actually trying to incite more America hatred)? You be the judge.

Oh Dear God! Where's Grimace?

* Does the "French" in french fries count as a proper adjective? I never capitalize it because it doesn't look like it should be, but I don't know the correct way to handle it.

Thugs 

Holy shit, this is terrible. This was in an email from the LA Democrats Yahoo group that I usually don't even bother to open anymore. Now I'm almost sad I did.

Darren Gay, a 21-year-old biochemistry senior, and Donald Bockman, a 24-year-old former psychology senior, along with two other men, allegedly beat and robbed the 32-year-old victim at his home on Wickersham Lane.

...

Once there, the four men allegedly forced the victim to sodomize himself with an object at knifepoint while they used homosexual slurs and denounced gay marriage. She also said the men made references to Old Testament verses dealing with homosexuality while they beat the victim with their fists. About two hours later, she said, the suspects robbed the man and left his home. She said the victim suffered minor cuts from the knife but was not stabbed.

They're being charged under hate crime statutes. God forgive us.

Finally 

After a couple of months of one dull Prudie after another, we finally have some good letters from the masses today.

The first one involves a lady who doth protest too much "I swear it's going to be tasteful", and another good one deals with a woman who's having trouble with an almost brother-in-law who spends too much time at the happy couple's house, with some very creepy results. Despite my long trip to Boston, I promise this isn't about me.

Internet Goodness 

You have to love the Internet for making campaign press releases available to all of us.

The Louisiana Democratic Party released this one regarding David Vitter's plan to move to Alexandria during August in order to meet the people of central Louisiana. These locals sure do sound a lot like campaign hacks.

Larry Paige, a retired telephone worker, expressed his resentment of Vitter’s privileged roots. “We don´t need a New Orleans city boy moving to Alexandria to understand us,” said Paige. “David Vitter will never understand what it´s like for working class Louisianaians like me and that´s why he´ll never be elected to the U.S. Senate.”

...

“David Vitter is nothing more than a political opportunist looking to advance his own career,” remarked resident Norma Ramos. Ramos noted that Vitter has jockeyed for statewide elected office in the past, eyeing the Governor’s mansion in 2002. She added, “The people of Alexandria will quickly see through David Vitter’s lackluster record and hollow promises, exposing him for the political ladder climber he is.”

“If David Vitter had represented Louisiana while in Congress instead of siding with Washington Republicans, he wouldn’t need to move to Alexandria in an attempt to save his political hide,” noted resident Suzie Butler, a former investigative journalist. “David Vitter is out of touch with the values of Louisianaians and no act of political theater is going to change that fact. In addition to being out of touch, after this election, David Vitter will also be out of sight and out of mind.”

Resident Fredell Griffin observed, “David Vitter has to throw himself a welcome party. That alone says, ‘Go back to New Orleans’.”


You know it's going to be a good race when politicians start ginning up the anti-New Orleans bias of the hinterlanders. And people wonder why no one outside of New Orleans cares about Tom Benson.

Boring today 

My papers are real snoozers today. The big ones cover the first day of filing (more here, too), but if you've been reading this site for the summer, then there shouldn't be any big news in these reports. John Maginnis managed to squeeze a column out of it for yesterday, but there's not much there either. Surprise, the GOP united around a Senate candidate!

Anyway, I can tell you one thing I definitely don't care about. I don't care that they picked a jury to try Derek Todd Lee. I still can't quite understand the fascination a lot of people have with the minutiae of criminal trials. Surely the men and women of Louisiana want justice served in this case, but every little bit of news out of this story is on the front page every day. I'm sure I'm out of the mainstream on that stuff, but I can't find much to talk about today.

How about some New Orleans Saints pessimism?

04 August 2004

Good for John Breaux 

I just barely caught the tail end of this on the local ABC affiliate's five o'clock news broadcast, but apparently John Breaux is going to lead a truth squad that will follow George Bush around the campaign trail. I can't find the story anywhere online in the wire services or the state websites, but it's good to know anyway.

This means a couple of things to me. John Breaux wants to be the Energy Secretary (bad idea if you want to see the real reform of the industry), or he's finally not burdened by a reelection campaign and he's letting his true colors shine. I'm going with the former.

Whatever the case, let's hope this is successful and that John Breaux is better at getting on message than the hapless Dems that have been appearing all over cable television for the last five years.

I'm sure Somerby would have some advice for him.

Following Up 

Remember the prick who was duping women with promises of cheap, safe abortions, though all the while he was merely delaying their access to one until it became illegal for them under federal laws regarding late-term abortions? I do, because it was one of my best traffic days of the year (I'm all about site statistics, especially when it comes as the result of other people's suffering.).

Anyhoo, the Causeway Center for Women was all but officially shut down by a district judge today when he had their phones cut off. Phil William A. Graham still claims innocence.

The AP provides, via a lawyer from the Center for Reproduction Rights, some anecdotes about Graham's "counseling":

Elizabeth Nette of Metairie, La., said Graham deterred her 19-year-old daughter, Mary Schloegel, from getting an abortion.

Schloegel is now eight-months pregnant and will have the baby.

"I hope in some way he will be able to stop doing this to young girls. He's taking part of their lives away," Nette said.

Nette contacted Graham in January. Graham told her he would set up appointments at a local hospital, but delayed them for six weeks, Nette said.

Several women have contemplated suicide and one woman considered using a coat hanger to carry out her own abortion when she gave up on Graham but found she could not afford an abortion at a legitimate clinic, Novak said.

Other women who believed Graham would help them have been forced to go through with high-risk pregnancies because, once they realized he was lying to them, it was too late to get a legal abortion, Novak said.

You won't find me singing the praises of abortion or anything, and I think the more women can be honestly encouraged to bring their children to term, that we'd have a healthier nation. We should also be in the business of giving women more access to the necessary tools to prevent accidental pregnancies, but that's another post for another day. The fact that this asshole is out there screwing around with women who are likely already in terribly conflicted positions is despicable. He obviously has some threshold for how far he's willing to go to prevent an abortion, but really, how different is this than simply kidnapping a woman and holding her until she's forced to give birth to her child? Conservatives are big on registering sex offenders these days, I wonder if the way this man has hijacked women's uteruses (uteri?) for the last ten years will qualify him as a sex offender?

For now, it's good that he's out of business. He's still on the hook for a variety of other offenses, including copyright infringement ("whahh?" you ask. read the story...). It seems to me they could get him for wire fraud too, but I'm no criminal law expert. Maybe they could charge him child support too, since he's so concerned about the lives of all these children.

D'oh! 

Thank God for Drudge, or I'd never see a link to something like this.

Note that the link doesn't go to WDSU in New Orleans, they only look identical.

Much like NOLA.com and The Birmingham News sharing the same template. It's good that the Internet makes it easier to see the way media consolidation occurs on such a grand scale.

Interesting 

I hadn't checked in on Fundrace.org in a while, but I was interested to see where my zip code fared in the money they sent out to Presidential politicians during this election cycle. I find it beyond shocking that Democrats enjoyed a hefty fundraising advantage over our friend George Bush. There are more individual donors to Bush, but less money. $4,000 for John Edwards came from one house just down the street from my own humble residence. You have to hand it to Democratic motivation, although we did have more choices than the Republicans this time around.

The bad news: only two donations went to John Kerry.

I don't know how often this is updated, and I have a feeling it's probably not an accurate picture of the state of things.

One other note, Actor Ben Affleck, who's been all over the television selling John Kerry and nuzzling his daughters for the photographers, has only donated $2000 to Wes Clark. It's too late now, but why didn't he put his money where his mouth was for the right candidate?

Damn 

Looks like you won't be seeing the pictures I've offered up, but I assure you they're great. If Ofoto ever starts letting you download images from their site, I'll gladly find hosting for them, and then you can get a look, but until then I'll just let the placeholders sit there. I'm sure you guys have fine imaginations.

If you're desperate for them, I'll make a special album of the ones that aren't personal and email them to you, just click on the email address to your right and put "DNC pictures" as the subject heading.

More Reasons to Vote Kerry 

Restoring environmental protections that could save Louisiana children, and getting funding to solve the increasingly dire consequences of coastal erosion.

Edwards should have talked about this and this yesterday during his tour through Louisiana. There's no doubt that funding for coastal restoration resonates with Louisiana voters, and if they knew the extent of the damage that could be caused by the increased levels of mercury output into Louisiana waterways, I suspect they'd be very worried about that too. Campaigns should be better tailored to each state, not simply hemmed around the edges with throwaway lines about national championships and French references.

more from today's Pic about the erosion problem.

Highlights from the last day of the DNC 

As promised last night...
bigshot's money shot
Here's Robert Smigel, creator of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (in the view-finder of the camera in the foreground) and the endlessly funny--but now dead in the water--Anipals of "TV Fun House". You can't see the Falun Gong woman doing her exercises, but I assure you she is doing them as hard as she ever has before.

Eric Cartman might call these people "goddamned hippies". I don't know if the bandannnas covering many of their faces denotes one of the various anarchy organs hoping to disrupt the event or if they were just scared of being tear-gassed. Fortunately we just missed this imbroglio.

These are only a few of the many men in riot gear, apparently meant to protect them from the aroma of patchouli oil which permeated the entire area (okay, that's a cheap shot...), and you can see another line of them far in the background. I'm not sure if the kids in the foreground are yelling insults at the police or not, but there certainly were a few around the area at the time who were. To their credit the officers took the insults without the slightest hint of retaliation. It's a shame that protesters should have been so ugly to men and women who were only doing their jobs.

The coup de' grace, a rather haggard looking Chris Matthews just before he blows my brother off. Note that he's not actually talking to anyone on the phone there, rather, like a lot of old people trying to handle new-fangled technology like cell phones, he simply couldn't figure out how to use it. Memo to Chris Matthews: if you don't want people bothering you for things like pictures, maybe you shouldn't sit on a bench with an MSNBC Hardball hat on a few feet away from the MSNBC set in a part of Boston where every political junkie in the country with any connection to the Democratic Party is congregating. It's just a thought.

Anyway, I don't even know if you guys can see these, and if you can't let me know and I'll try to fix it so you can.

Edwards roundup 

The coverage from around the state was surprisingly uncritical. Along with the AP report I linked to yesterday, all the major state papers filed their own reports, although my own focused very narrowly on Edwards's visit to Prejan's, a Cajun restaurant out towards Opelousas. The Pic's Robert Travis Scott sounded like he was applying to take over Nedra Pickler's job at the Associated Press with a few bits from his piece:

His voice already raspy from his cross-country "Believe in America" campaign tour, Edwards began with a reference to the Louisiana State University Tigers' No. 3 ranking in a preseason college football poll, but he never returned specifically to Louisiana topics in his stump speech.

Average American families, Edwards said, can't afford to send their children to college. But he made no mention of Louisiana's TOPS program, which pays college tuition for students with average-or-better grades.

Also quoted in that piece is Bernie Pinsonat, Louisiana pollster extraordinaire, who gets it exactly wrong:

Bernie Pinsonat with Southern Media and Opinion Research said the best thing the Kerry-Edwards campaign can do "is stay out of Louisiana." .

With the Kerry-Edwards team posting low numbers in the state and carrying a liberal image, their presence in Louisiana might damage the chances of some Democrats seeking congressional offices in the Nov. 2 election, Pinsonat said.

By giving up on the state of Louisiana and allowing the current poll numbers and the way the ticket has been defined by the Bush administration to stand as it currently does would cause far more damage to down-ticket candidates than coming into the state to directly address the citizens and hopefully reassure Louisiana voters that they're not scary alien liberals. It also helps that we finally have some high-profile statewide officials standing up for the ticket. They should have done this months ago, but it's better late than never.

Marsha Shuler has more about the rally in the Advocate. Hers is more of a narrative on the event, where Edwards seemed to just do another version of his acceptance speech at the convention. She quotes a good line from Mike Skinner in response to a group of Republican protesters across the street chanting "four more years" (a phenomenon that seems to be a creation of the National Republican Party organization, since these protesters seem to show up at every single campaign event in the country. It's funny, since to protest anything Bush says you have to be thousands of feet away out of his line of vision, anyhoo):

"Don't let the people across the street intimidate you because, ladies and gentlemen, we can't afford four more years of George Bush and Dick Cheney," Louisiana Democratic Party chairman Mike Skinner said.

That seems a much better response than Theresa Heinz-Kerry's "yeah, more like four more years of hell..."

The Town-Talk, which apparently I'm not reading enough, has some surprisingly good reporting on the event. I won't go into detail, but if you're interested you can take a look at it here. Nevermind, that's because it was written by Gannet politics dean John Hill, who I haven't had the occasion to read lately, but he puts together some really good work on this one.

And then there's my local rag. Its only report in their print version was a single story about Edwards's trip to Prejan's. Apparently they didn't care about what he said in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Bunkie, or Shreveport, and it wasn't even written by a staffer, but rather someone special to the Advertiser. Shameful.

Promised Article 

In my post yesterday ("Academic Broadband Forum") I promised access to a spirited report from Mike Stagg on the "Academic" Broadband Forum. It's in and up. Provided for your enlightenment and entertainment is: "Woof & Whinny from the Dog & Pony." The piece is a treat, at once droll and informed. Mike has a long history at the intersection of politics and technology in Louisiana and it shows. His take-away message is nothing like what you'll find elsewhere and well-worth ruminating over.

03 August 2004

Where's my credit? 

I'm just kidding on the square, but I was on to this days ago. Where are my 175,000 hits a day?

A note on my original post about that since I couldn't really respond to some points raised in comments to it because of a travel schedule, but some readers expressed a little regret that I called it a reflection of George Bush's America. First of all, I don't think that Bush wants to detain every brown face in a turban and question hours for seven hours for no reason other than taking pictures. However, the administration and the press (and, yes, lots of Democrats too) have contributed to the madness that leads to people--even the secret service--making hysterical judgments about random folks going about their every day lives. Also, it is the President's allies in Congress and among the punditry who regularly champion profiling Muslims on airlines to prevent terrorism. That's all this was. Ask Michelle Malkin, who's publishing a book about how the interment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was a good thing because it prevented possible domestic attacks during the war. This is the legacy President Bush and the people who surround him will leave this country: fear of the despicable other, not respect for their rights. If this trickles down to law enforcement, should we be surprised?

One last thing, blogger just devoured a post I had with pictures of my trip down to the area around the Fleet on the Convention's final day. They will be up tomorrow morning with some big stars you'll want to get a look at. As they say, stay tuned.

Italy! 

You've got to be kidding me. I wouldn't have thought that I would care at all about a warm-up game for the US national basketball team--the "dream team version 7.2", if you will--but the thought of them losing to Italy is too much to take.

The Americans were sloppy with the ball and couldn't handle Italy's zone defenses and 3-point shooting. Italy not only made 15 from behind the arc but also showed superior ball movement and poise in handing the Americans their most lopsided defeat since pros began competing in 1992.

Italy doesn't dress a single NBA athlete. Pathetic. I weep for my country.

Okay, I really don't care, but there's not a lot of posting lately.

Neat 

Many of you have probably already seen these panoramic shots of the convention floor during Kerry's speech, but if you haven't you ought to go take a look. It's very cool. Click the picture and drag your mouse to look around the entire Fleet Center, including up and down.

And if you bother, try looking down towards the floor and off to the left from the stage very close to where they got the picture. I don't like the cut of that guy in grey shirt with the expensive camera's jib.

Edwards on the Mississippi 

WAFB has the story and some video from his arrival last night(but, jeebs, is it slow to load?). Enjoy them.

Also, Adam Nossiter was in Baton Rouge to cover the event. I would quote stuff, but it's mostly the same ol' things he said at the convention.

Academc Broadband Forum 

BellSouthCox's “Academic Broadband Forum” and the opposing LUS press conference last night got a lot of media attention. My analysis of the “academic” nature of the forum, written before the event, is available at LaffayetteProFiber.com. Mike Stagg is due to write up a spirited report on the event for posting there later in the day.

Media Roundup:
Advocate: Forum coverage, LUS press conference
Advertiser: Forum coverage, LUS press conference
KLFY: HeSaidSheSaid Story (oddly truncated)
KATC: HeSaidSheSaid Story (with video link for those of you with MS approved systems & software)

As always I recommend Blanchard in the Advocate for the most informative take on the Forum. On the LUS press conference, however, it would probably serve you well to look at both the Advertiser's and the Advocate's report—both report the same tone of defiance on the part of LUS but illustrate it with very different examples.

With that much on the event I won’t try to do a walk through here. To fill in a few blanks: the crowd was large, obviously in sympathy with BellSouth and Cox and just as obviously mostly employees or former employees. There were several questioners that challenged the panel, including yours truly, a fact that you would only get from the Advocate. Blanchard, Doug Menefee, and a fellow from Datacom all asked hard questions. Menefee’s question, not covered in any article, was worthwhile in particular since he basically got an admission that a vote of the people in favor of fiber to the home would not matter to BellSouth and Cox since that is not a factor in their decision making. [So much for “Let the People Vote and the will of the community that they so faux piously advocate.] They said that but when Menefee rephrased it clearly they immediately went all mealy mouth. But the meaning was clear. Another reason to go for municipal control.

Another weird, unreported piece—and strange it was—was Tureck’s going off the rails at least twice during the presentation with strange rants about the government and guns and coercion; once it was in reference to local government and once it was something about the Feds and the IRS and taxes that he subsequently admitted no one had ever imposed on entities like LUS and was actually unlikely to. But apparently he would like it if we were afraid of things even he admits are unrealistic. Classic right wing nuttiness.


Good for them 

If you've read my site for a while, you'll remember that the beleaguered cable "channel" The Football Network has been a bit of an obsession of mine since they laid off almost their entire staff last winter and defaulted on payments to state-owned public television facilities. When they're in the papers things usually aren't very good. I won't bother linking to all my posts on the subject, but if you're interested here's the last time I rounded up their sorry history.

Anyway, things are looking up for them at the moment, having secured an investment of as much as $30 million from a firm in Jersey called Cornell Capital. I obviously don't play the market, but if TFN is any indication of the rest of the companies Cornell Capital is helping to finance, then I'd avoid these publicly traded companies like the plague.

How's about a Timshel team? 

The Governor wants Louisiana to lose some weight, and if you've spent any time here at all, you know that's probably not a bad idea. So now they're having a competition, but what's the prize?

personal accomplishment and a chance to be honored for your hard work with a reception at the Governor's Mansion for the 10 most successful teams.

Apparently Miss Louisiana is going to be a big promoter of the campaign, and the only personal accomplishment I'm interested in is a chance to spend a little quality time with Jennifer Dupont.

Is that enough to get me off my rear to shed a few pounds? I doubt it, even though I could use it, but hell, it's a good idea for people that are already shedding weight and hitting the gym. The heat around here is so bad people could probably drop about twenty pounds in a couple of weeks just sweating from being outside.

Anyway, here's the relevant information if anyone's really interested. We all spend a lot of time in front of computers, and that's not exactly good for burning calories, so don't say I never encouraged better health awareness here at Timshel:

Teams of two to 10 people can register for the competition by logging onto http://www.lightenuplouisiana.org or mailing a completed registration form to the Office of Public Health, Lighten Up Louisiana, 325 Loyola Ave., Room 315, New Orleans, LA 70112.

The competition will run Aug. 30 to Jan. 31.

And if anyone meets Miss Dupont come February, tell her hello for me.

Isn't that cute 

Keith O'Brien has a rather interesting story in the Pic that I missed Saturday (sorry I was on traveling...) about the Libertarian and Green Party candidates meeting for a discussion on Jeff Crouere's radio show. Apparently they found a lot of common cause. After all, if two men walk far enough in directly opposite directions they'll eventually meet face to face.

It is worth pointing out, though, that it doesn't take a lefty hippie to be opposed to the war (ask Pat Buchanan) or the Patriot Act. And wingers can hate the war on drugs too.

Oh Lord 

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Saints tight-end Boo Williams. He brings an energy to the offense that at times seems to lack the passion to win. He scores touchdowns too, which is always a good thing, but this is absolutely ridiculous:

Tight end Boo Williams, one of the team's noted trash-talkers on the field, has a new look to go with his new contract.

Williams, a four-year veteran, went to a jeweler and had a bridge made of platinum and diamonds to cover his bottom teeth, an accessory that cost him a cool $1,800. He has already worn the bridge in practice and plans to keep it on for games.

"When I talk trash this year," Williams said, "it's not going to be cheap talk."

I imagine he'll get the record deal from Cash Money sometime next month.


Well, well, well 

I was all set to write a post about how I thought many partisans on my side of the ideological divide were way to quick to say that all these terror threats were politically motivated. This was especially true after my browser's CNN homepage throws this story up as the main headline (it reads "Officials: Arrest in Pakistan led to orange alert"). That story is predicated on what seems to be one main source:

A U.S. intelligence official said the previously unannounced arrest of a 25-year-old computer expert July 13 in Pakistan yielded evidence that detailed potential attacks against New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Washington.

...but then I read this:
Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

But the officials continued to regard the information as significant and troubling because the reconnaissance already conducted has provided Al Qaeda with the knowledge necessary to carry out attacks against the sites in Manhattan, Washington and Newark. They said Al Qaeda had often struck years after its operatives began surveillance of an intended target.

Taken together with a separate, more general stream of intelligence, which indicates that Al Qaeda intends to strike in the United States this year, possibly in New York or Washington, the officials said even the dated but highly detailed evidence of surveillance was sufficient to prompt the authorities to undertake a global effort to track down the unidentified suspects involved in the surveillance operations.

that link via Atrios

If the new source is only saying that Al Qeada continues to desire to blow up buildings in the US (i.e. "yielded evidence that detailed potential attacks"), then that hardly warrants suddenly raising the threat level. I really do want to believe that the Bush administration is seriously concerned about terrorism and wouldn't use its threat as a bludgeon by which to gain the submission of the electorate to their every whimsy, but each day it gets harder and harder to trust anything that comes out of the White House or any of their political appointees.

And did I mention how happy I am that there's regular posting at Damfacrats again?

02 August 2004

Announcing the Launch of LafayetteProFiber.com 

Greetings Timshelites,

You've been very patient with my rambles, rants, and ruminations here at Timshel (thanks Ricky!) and so I wanted to make the initial announcement of the draft version of a local, irrepressibly profiber website at Timshel before it is released elsewhere. LafayetteProFiber.com takes up the role of providing a citizens' forum for advocating a municipal fiber optic network that will be available to all at reasonable prices.

I would like to ask a favor: go take a look and let us know what you think of....anything. Content, presentation, attitude, graphics. Timshel is getting the first peek and we are still working on content and design so your voice will be heard. Thanks! (email links onsite)

Well, I'm about to take off for the "Academic Broadband Forum." (6-8:00 at the Holidome/Holiday Inn near I-10) No doubt you'll hear more from me about that one—if only that it was just as misleading as predicted.

Be afraid 


That's the graphic that's greeting visitors to Lafayette's CBS affiliate KLFY. But is Lafayette at threat level Orange? Nope. That's just in the NYC, parts of New Jersey, and DC. So what's the point with the gigantic graphic? Does it serve any purpose whatsoever, especially since it's wrong?

Neat 

I'm very much excited by this. I like the casting of Christian Bale. And really--if you don't really think about it all--a young Batman is very much a reprisal of his portrayal of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

And for an inside joke that a few people who have known me for a while will probably get, I have a link to a graphic meant for sometime commenter Armstrong Lamar. Note the decidedly pre-Vader Anakin standing in a pool of lava gracing the possible movie poster for the final installment of the Star Wars franchise...

I see a financial windfall in my future.

New Additions 

It's been a while since I've updated the roll, but welcome the new additions to the blogroll by clicking on the new links on the right. They include another resident to blogiana who's been around for a while, but I've been too lazy to dig into the template. Check out Ian's thoughts on things, where he's "Not Right About Anything". He's a fellow graduate of Lafayette High School's vaunted gifted and talented program, where our special needs include poor motivation and over-inflated egos. It seems that the indocrtinating by such luminaries as Dr. Kenneth Lanoue and Melinda Mangham worked for someone other than me, and I'm glad to hear it.

Also included in the upgrade is "High Desert Skeptic" who promises unfair and decidedly unbalanced coverage of issues important to losers like us who spend too damn much time on the computer.

And the last I'll mention in this space is Plum Crazy, a centrist blog that probably spends more time on the Yankees and other cultural issues than political ones, but it doesn't stop me from reading when I bother to remember to type it in my browser's URL field. I want to read it more, and the only way that will happen is when I have direct link, therefore welcome to the blogroll. I think I may have missed one or two more, but you'll just have to find them for yourselves.

Edwards 

There's so much interest in his trip to Alexandria they've moved to a larger venue. Tickets are harder to come by than Rudy Giuliani's visit to Lafayette and New Orleans a few weeks ago.

If you're interested in attending at Baton Rouge or Alec' call the state Democratic Party office at (225) 336-4155.

Wish I could make it to this one, but it won't be possible.

via PoliticsLA.com

Louisiana junk 

Qualifying for all kinds of races begins this week, so Jan Moller looks at the September ballot and tries to give us a taste of what to expect. It's hard to build up excitement for these snoozers when there is so much to be contested come November. Three Federal Congressional districts are up for grabs, a very close Senate race is in the cards, and the Presidential election.

Beyond that, December runoffs call in which the winner could determine which party has control of things in Washington this year.

Adam Nossiter previews these for the Associated Press.

Of course, the state amendment discriminating against gay people is on the ballot this September, but the likeliehood of defeating it seems so slim as to make the prospect of September elections not just boring, but depressing.

Wow 

Congratulations to whoever is at LSU today reading Timshel. They appear to have been visitor number 30,000 to the website. I always like when there's no referring URL, because it means they've been here before. I'm humbled, kind of.

Only a matter of time 

I didn't think it would take the Advocate this long to editorialize against state money for a new stadium, but it had to happen eventually. Along with an AP rundown of the genesis of the proposal from the Governor's office, the Advocate included this piece from their own editors on today's opinion page. The editor's argument concludes:

Although Benson's Saints have yet to master the game of football, the Saints organization is extraordinarily skilled at separating governors and legislators from their constituents' money. Enough was enough many years ago.

Football in New Orleans is the fiscal equivalent of a black hole, sucking in Louisiana taxpayers' money.

If New Orleans wants the luxury of a new football stadium, and Blanco wants to help with the project, that's just fine with us, as long as New Orleans pays the bills for it.

Because the Advocate doesn't archive anything farther back than a couple of weeks, I can't address anything they've said in the past about UNO economist Tim Ryan's studies concerning the economic impact of the New Orleans franchise on the state of Louisiana as a whole, but the Advocate's continued flippancy to the prospect of the Saints contributions to Louisiana is ignorant at best, and dishonest at worst. More than three years ago Ryan estimated a minimum impact of $130 million a year that the Saints pump in to the economy. The Advocate has a responsibility to address the validity of this somewhere in their newspaper if they are ever to be trusted on this issue.

Instead they moan about performance on the field, as if that has any bearing on what the Saints mean for the economy when they continue to sell out the Superdome for every home game. The only black hole with the Saints is the continued payments directly to Tom Benson, which only guarantee that he'll be around one more year. Now the state has a chance to guarantee a much longer and healthier direct return on the only investment that can insure the Saints long-term commitment to New Orleans, a new stadium.

For a paper that prides itself on the honest discussion of the economic future of the state, their editors have a very near-sighted perspective (i.e. what's good for Baton Rouge) on what the state ought to do for its fiscal health.

A few days ago, Oyster mentioned that it's time for Benson to get out in the front of this issue. He needs to say what the Saints and the NFL can contribute to the construction of a new stadium. I agree with that now. Yesterday saw an idiotic editorial in my local paper that came out against the proposal, favoring millions in Dome renovations which wouldn't solve any of the long-term questions regarding the football team, and I'm sure other papers around the state are starting to shape public opinion around this issue. Benson shouldn't expect much help from short-sighted people around Louisiana who can't see the benefit of the NFL to the economy here, and if he truly wants this to move forward he has a responsibility to show what he can do.

And if nothing else, we need a better venue to watch runs like these.

01 August 2004

Fantastic Fiber Story 

There is an absolutely wonderful fiber story in this morning's Advocate. The Advocate runs "Dispute on fiber optics just part of larger debate on state’s future” on the front page of the Sunday edition. Good for Kevin.

For those among the readership for whom my posts have become, well, a little opaque with weird technical issues and arcane local politics obscuring the meaning of it all I offer this piece as the perfect tonic to get you feeling good about your fiber.

The article takes on the story as a Gret Stet issue instead of just a Lafayette story and touches just about every point one could hope would be touched. The quick list:

  1. Casts the issue as one of development with fiber analogous to the railroad or interstate.
  2. Labels fiber state-wide problem showing that even the best connected locales in Louisiana are far behind other states
  3. Clearly explains why fiber optics are superior to copper
  4. Gives us a fantastic graphic to illustrate the stunning speed/capacity advantage of fiber optics that could only be produced on a broadsheet page: a 21 inch tall bar graph with dialup reaching the top of the page and fiber optics being indistinguishable from the baseline.
  5. Features Eatel’s private decision to roll out fiber in Ascension and Livingston, currently underway, to validate the business rationale behind FTTH
  6. Discusses rural issues as digital divide issues
  7. Discusses several state-level high speed networks that are underdevelopment
  8. Brings up the dark, unused fiber along the interstates and Louisiana’s own dark fiber as a potential resource. (mentions corporate opposition to the state using its own fiber–watch out Oliver)
  9. And much, much more.

This is one of those times when you need to go buy a hard copy. The tall graphic alone should be worth the price of admission. And you also get a map of the state's fiber trunks, a statewide map of DSL switches, and Cable internet availability. Go buy a copy to take in with your coffee and coush-coush.


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