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29 January 2005

Hip, Hip, Hooray! 

This is the absolute best Google referral I've gotten since I kicked this blog off in September of 2003.

"anti-LSU websites"

The best news is that Timshel is Google's first suggestion for such a search. I'm so flattered.

WTF? 

Not twelve hours after he goes up on my sidebar, does N.O. Bulletin's John Vinturella have the Louisiana scoop of the century? Keep in mind that I've only read this guy a few times, and I have no clue as to what credibility he has to make the following statement. If he's right Timshel will go off air for the foreseeable future, but I'm guessing he's ahead of himself:
Remember you heard it here first. The rumor is spreading that owner Tom Benson has agreed to sell the Saints to an investment group in L.A. (that’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana). Benson was said to be livid about stories that he used state money, intended to subsidize the team, to subsidize his lavish lifestyle instead. The purchase of particular interest was Benson’s new 122-foot yacht, valued between $12 million and $20 million.
As of the time I write this, the people at the Saints Report boards don't appear to have gotten hold of this yet, so I don't put too much stock into it. I imagine they'd be among the first to put this together.

28 January 2005

Friday funnies? 

Oh. Dear. God.

To all of you enduring New England's snowiest month ever recorded may I suggest healthy doses of beer to help you get your car out of the next snow bank.

Thanks Shabadoo.

Moving on up 

Murph is soooo cutting edge.

You may remember months ago when he directed us to Query Letters I Love, the website of terrible script pitches.

Since then the website has been featured in Newsweek and today I'm reading Harpers, and find some of the letters excerpted in the monthly "Readings" section (not quite online yet, but I assure you it's right there in the print edition). That marks about the third or fourth time in the many years I've been reading the leftist rag that I've actually seen something in the readings at its original source before Harpers got to it. Thanks for that, Murph. Or are you just a BzzAgent for the nameless query letter blogger?

TKGOTW 

Classic arcade edition. Well, the play control stinks on this game, which is a shame what with all the tiny platforms that require jumping on, but it's pretty fun anyway. The ability to continue is a always an important aspect of any game too. Anyhoo, enjoy Wiz 3. One important note about the game, enemies can't be killed, so don't jump on top of them as if this were similar to Super Mario Brothers no matter how much the rest of the game reminds you of those little Italian plumbers.

And you may notice a number of additions to the sidebar today. Check out every one up there, and take notice of the Louisiana contributors especially. Blogiana will one day rule the 'sphere. I'm also absolutely positive that I've missed a few people, so if you don't see a link to your site up there and believe there should be, let me know and I'll try to correct the oversight.

Uh oh. 

This is stupid. It's probably smart politically for Blanco, but stupid in general. We'll be saying goodbye to that yacht along with the Saints if I read many more stories like this in the press outside of New Orleans. Surely the AP will pick this one up and I'll be reading it in my local papers tomorrow.

DC Mardi Gras 

It's that time of year where corporate fat cats shower Louisiana's Congressional delegation with a giant party to "make them feel at home." Gannett has a report on the first day of festivities, a luncheon featuring Queen Nailah Jefferson (Rep. Bill Jefferson's daughter) and Acadian Ambulance CEO King Richard Zuschlag.

But this year's DC festivities aren't without a little anxiety. It seems that our Congressional delegation doesn't know how they're going to cope without John Breaux as the event's organizer. He'll be on the other side of the organizational structure next year, and unfortunately this is where the Advocate's Washington correspondent Gerard Shields probably completely misses the story.
Krewe leaders intend to get together in March to designate a new captain.

Krewe tradition is that the successor should be the most veteran member of Louisiana's congressional delegation, which would be U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge. Baker said he hasn't given the matter much thought.

Rumors swirled that newly elected U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., wanted the job, but he recently dispelled the myth, saying "I've already got enough on my plate."

Landrieu said she would like to see the job rotated among the delegation.

Krewe member Ted Jones, a Baton Rouge attorney and lobbyist, said the successor will be picked democratically by the six-member krewe.

All agree that Breaux will be hard to replace.
The question is what the hell is so hard about throwing a damn series of Mardi Gras parties? These people have large staffs and can certainly hire event planners. My guess, and something that enterprising reporters covering the DC Mardi Gras may consider exploring one day, is that what Louisiana's delegation is truly worried about is that no one can command the corporate largesse that John Breaux has used his career in the Senate to parlay. These parties are expensive, and one of the things no one ever writes about in the local press about them (they spend all their ink on the opportunities for networking and political advancement) is that they're giant events underwritten by industries trying to curry favor with the guests. Sigh.

Third in a series 

I'll keep directing you to Thevenot's reporting from Baghdad as long as he continues to write it. Here's a teaser for you this time:
Spc. Matthew Carnicle and Staff Sgt. Thomas Berryhill took the loss harder.

Two days after the incident, both men decided they would ditch their plans to re-enlist, though they vowed to fight through the remainder of their deployment with all the courage they could muster. Both were terrified to get back in a Bradley, yet they knew that was the only way to conquer the fear.

Berryhill, especially, was tormented.

Two days after the incident, recounting the attack and its aftermath, his red eyes and flushed face told the tale of waking nightmares. Apologetically, he said he had been snapping at other soldiers for minor slights. Especially the "fobbers" -- soldiers who stay inside the FOB, or forward operating base of Camp Liberty, working support roles. Fobbers always came in for their share of abuse from the men in combat, but in those first days, Berryhill's disgust for them boiled over.

Some thought they saw signs in Berryhill of what once was called "shellshock" and now goes by the gentler "post-traumatic stress disorder." Berryhill rattled on in graphic detail, each moment told in slow-motion and Technicolor. As he spoke, his knees fluttered up and down, venting his anxiety.

But people who knew him said Berryhill has always been like that, his mind going a thousand miles an hour as his mouth tries to catch up. He describes himself as hyper. Since he arrived in Iraq, he had been obsessed with chronicling the war in journals and songs. He had a remarkable recall of detail and imagery that often poured out of him unedited.

For days, he wore the combat boots he had on the day of the attack, still spattered with dried blood. In the days after the incident, many of Berryhill's commanders coddled him, constantly asking, "You OK?"

"They're trying to figure out if I'm crazy," he griped.

Grief-stricken and terrified, sure -- all the men there that day were -- but not crazy, he said.

"I've been having this recurring dream for a while, that somebody's trying to kill me and I can't get safe," Berryhill said about a week after the attack.
You know what to do, just. click. here.

And let me give a hearty cheers to the folks at the Daily Advertiser here in Lafayette. They're reprinting Thevenot's series. Today they began with the first report. The local daily seems to have been better lately about publishing more wire copy on world events. The first section appears to have gotten a little thicker since the new year started. With all my criticism of the problems over there, I should acknowledge that.

27 January 2005

More Rising Tide 

whoa.

Ragging on a friend 

I hate to point this out considering only a few of my devoted readers will even know who I'm talking about, but for a while those of you who lurk around in the comments may have noticed a certain JJ Shabadoo putting in his two cents. Anyway, he's an old friend of mine who's supposedly getting married in New Mexico in May, but if this mug shot of alleged serial murderer Sean Vincent Gillis is any indication, our friend JJ has been tied up with some pressing legal affairs lately. At least it would explain why he hasn't been commenting lately.
Shabadoo locked up?I think it's the dark hair, reddish beard, and wire frame glasses. If this guy is six foot and a thousand inches tall, then there's no doubt in my mind our friend has been living a double life. What will we tell the children?

Mardi Gras is officially saved 

About three weeks ago, officers of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, heard their insurance premium was about to triple — and the coconuts were the main problem.

To Gary Thornton, chairman of Zulu's governing board, parades without coconuts would have been sacrilege.

Fighting to save tradition — and money — Thornton and other Zulu leaders turned to Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley. On Wednesday, they were able to declare the crisis averted.
Three cheers for Robert Wooley, I suppose, but maybe someone can take a look at that article and explain just what Wooley did in his capacity as Insurance Commissioner. There's a note about what Zulu's plan is for future parades to reduce their premium, but not really any report on how they were saved this year. Can I call up Robert Wooley and get him to negotiate cheaper auto insurance on my behalf?

Rising Tide? 

The wet winter and rising waters have sprung some leaks in the levees along portions of the river in North Louisiana. Flooding has already occurred in un-leveed stretches of the Mississippi north of the "gret stet."

No word yet on whether St. Bernard residents should begin evacuation procedures.

Ec-Dev 

The big news in the papers this morning is probably the survey done suggesting that the problems recruiting and fostering business growth in Louisiana have less to do with business taxes and more to do with an inadequate and relatively expensive labor supply, along with poor schools, and inadequate health care. This is probably important, so I'll let the writer speak for himself on this to reiterate the point:
On a 10-point scale, Louisiana's average rating as a place to conduct business was 4.95. Only 27 percent of respondents rated it 7 or better.

Though companies' priorities tended to vary according to their size and industry -- manufacturers focusing more on environmental regulations, for instance -- outside firms rated Louisiana most favorably in terms of energy costs, construction costs, recreation and entertainment, and diversity in the local community.

Yet, those categories were not the highest priorities by businesses.

Executives were down on Louisiana's public schools, access to colleges and universities, and arts and culture.

Taxes and incentives were considerably further down the priority list. They ranked corporate tax rates 10 out of 26 priorities, and state and local incentives at 16.
For all the discussions about how to develop this state, it's clear that major changes need to be made in our state officials' commitments to education across the board. As much as some will talk about the race to the bottom as far as taxes are concerned, it's clear that there are more effective and widely beneficial ways to draw business. The goal should be to draw long-term relocation of existing businesses into the state while creating an environment that also fosters the growth of new business inside the state. Simply lowering taxes and creating special incentives for job creation will never accomplish those goals.

More from the Pic.

Running Items 

Saints-State negotiations begin, and it looks like the Saint aren't quite ready to deal yet if the only people they sent were a couple of unnamed lawyers. Anderson reports that nothing really happened, so I guess Benson's lawyers just presented the team's terms to the Louisiana officials. How important was this first round of talks? Here's a telling quote:

"Saints spokesman Greg Bensel was in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl game and said he was unaware the talks had started."

From another story, a recent study suggests reasons why NOLA shouldn't have to pick up the entire tab for the Saints.
The 31-page BGR report, which does not take a position on the state's plan, says Blanco should consider shifting more of the tax burden to the state, which the report says collected about $17.4 million in various taxes in 2004 as a result of the NFL team. In contrast, all metro area parishes combined collected only $10.1 million, the BGR says.

...

The local community has already invested, or committed to invest, $1.4 billion in professional sports facilities and teams, including the Saints, the National Basketball Association's Hornets and the Zephyrs minor league baseball team, the report says. Included in that total is $869 million taxpayers have spent on the Dome alone, making the Saints one of eight NFL teams to play in a stadium exclusively built with public money, the report says.

Yet the demand for public support continues to increase, it says.

Demographic weaknesses -- such as the city's small population, low household income and dearth of major corporations -- make it more difficult for the local community to support the Saints, the report says. Not only are there few local entities able to buy high-priced tickets and luxury suites, but government coffers are more strained and the needs of the state are greater than in larger or wealthier communities, it says.
That's a rather mixed bag to be sure. What's clear is that New Orleans alone can't affor to subsidize the Saint's continued presence in this city, and it may not be worth it to them anyway. The state has an interest and can either admit it and do something about or continue to propogate the fantasy that New Orleans is the only part of the state that benefits from the NFL franchise.

...Jboo sends the link to something I should have done myself. Anyhoo, here's a link to the actual BGR study (it's .pdf, consider yourself warned).

Following up 

Linked you to part one of Brian Thevenot's excellent embedded report on the "Blessed Squad" for the Picayune yesterday, now there's part two. You read now.

26 January 2005

Sadow alert 

My favorite Louisiana political commentator is up and blogging now.

In celebration of his new entry into the world of political blogging, let's revisit some of his finest work for such esteemed websites as PoliticsLA.com and, uh, I guess BayouBuzz.com

Now, I'm not one to criticize prediction making, as my prognostication record isn't much better than Jeffrey characterizes his own, but Sadow's cavalier dismissal of the Blanco candidacy combined with his belief in the specter of an "Angry Left"/blacks/populist (The Angry Left being Sadow's favorite Louisiana straw constituency) Buddy Leach coalition propelling the Foghorn Leghorn of Louisiana politicians into the gubernatorial runoff may go down as one of the worst predictions made in the run up to Kathleen Blanco's impressive victory.

Of course, it didn't take him long to bite the Jindal bait hook, line, and sinker during the runoff, complaining about mostly nonexistent negative advertising before it ever happened.

Then there was the time he called black Democrats slaves who couldn't cast aside the chains of their "allegiance to the Democrat Party," but would finally begin moving en masse to the GOP with the Jindal candidacy. Oops on that one, I guess.

With Blanco's election, he said it signaled more of the same for our fair state, and claimed that Blanco only won because of race baiting, never once mentioning the idea that just maybe Jindal's failure to win the white Republican votes in certain Louisiana Parishes might have had a lot more to do with the GOP's ugly history of racial divisiveness than with anything some nameless College Democrat's email missive might have said.

And the last time we looked to Sadow he was misrepresenting a Jim Brown Presidential election postmortem. He still hangs on to the fantasy that black voters are just begging to be Republicans, if only they would just listen to him.

The great thing is that now we'll get the opportunity to do this every day.

Good 

Blanco opposes capping property tax increases

...background

He's one of the good Spics 

The Corner's K-Lo provides an email from a National Review reader that lists a bunch of reasons why Republicans might find an ally in Colorado's freshman Democratic Senator Ken Salazar. I'll just quote this part and let you mull it over for a while:

While he has the Hispanic name and is from Colorado, he is the descendant of the New Mexico Spanish who preceded the pilgrims.

I guess blue bloods of all stripes have a home in the Republican Party should they just ask for it.

This can't be right 

Officials in Livingston Parish said Tuesday the leading cause of death for young people in the parish is prescription drug overdose.

The news comes just days after two 17-year-old boys were found dead in a truck over the weekend. The Livingston Parish coroner confirmed Monday he found levels of methadone and other drugs in both of the teens' systems.

Coroner Ron Coe also said there was a third death Saturday -- a 26-year-old man -- tied to liquid methadone.
This must just be some kind of overreaction to tragic recent events, right?

...link

Required reading 

Nothing to say about this, but you should definitely read Brian Thevenot's report from Baghdad about the 256th's Hard Rock Charlie Company's "Blessed Squad." It's the first in a multi-part series.

Odom doesn't get it 

I guess the big news about the recent firestorm over Bob Odom's plan to build a Bunkie sugar mill is that the Governor managed to secure a feasibility study regarding the profitability of such a measure. The Pic has it along with a run-down of the ins and outs of this story over the last couple of weeks.

It's definitely worth pointing you to the Advocate to get one last look at the dreamland that Bob Odom appears to be living in. Before I paste the quote, I'll just say that Louisiana is at something of a crossroads in its political, social, and economic paths. Many of the corrupting influences of the last decades are finally being term-limited out of office, some have gone to jail, and the state is trying to find its footing as an entity that fosters business growth. The old way to do things would be to simply raid the treasury and worry about the consequences of that at some later date. Bob Odom clearly feels its his obligation as an elected official to do whatever the hell he wants with the state's money. He's made some silly justifications, but the fact is that even in the Advocate he essentially admits that he knows the venture wouldn't be profitable. It's would be hilarious if it weren't so shocking:
By Tuesday, he was resigned to a study, acknowledging the possibility that the plant might not turn a profit.

"If they go broke, it's kind of like The Football Network," Odom said. "It will be sitting out there. But that's the risk that we've got to take."
Even five year olds are expected to learn from their mistakes. Apparently Odom doesn't believe that much is expected of him.

25 January 2005

Ask and ye shall receive 

Ken finally revisits his outstanding performance in a poker tournament last week (you remember, the one that netted him mention on the notorious Page Six of the NY Post) but he was too drunk to remember much more than sitting at the same table with Philip Seymour Hoffman and maybe catching a straight on a ballsy pre-flop all-in move with a piddling 3-4.

It's worth a read, but this just might be one of those cases where you had to be there. Congrats anyway, Ken. You can play poker at the official Prado charity tournament any day. We'll have plenty of Jack Daniels just for you.

Oh well 

Count The Dead Pelican as too popular for its own good. It seems Mr. Rodgers exceeded his bandwidth limit for the month. Too much Moon Griffon pimping for him, I suppose.

Prado associate watch 

"Evangeline: A True Love Story" is in the news again. The reporter buries "controversy" down towards the middle of the story when he reveals that, in true Hollywood style, the new "Evangeline" production is to have a happy ending. The script is currently being fleshed out by my friend and director Mike Miley, Joe Castille, and the rest of the interested parties, and the film is scheduled to begin shooting in the spring, with the goal to get some work done Downtown during Lafayette's "Festival International de Louisiane."

Sigh 

Shorter BellSouth lawsuit:

Who gives a shit what the law says? If we say 1,500 signatures is enough to force a vote on a bond issue, let it be so.

I'm useless as far as guessing how state courts might rule on any given issue, but it's hard to see this as anything other than a last second Hail Mary attempt by the BellSouth, who at this point must see the writing on the wall.

Can't wait to see what the LPF boys have to say about this? Looks like Cox isn't in to this, maybe the reported outreach to LUS is for real.

24 January 2005

NUMB3RS 

At least two guys I read are talking about the latest CBS crime drama, but the most important discussion to come from it is in the comments to the Matt Yglesias post which brought up the old PBS show "Mathnet," a Dragnet parody that children of a certain age may remember (the other post is the equally good, but Mathnet content-free, BFOP consideration).

I don't remember how old I was when I watched the show, but I can assure you that it was the last time I enjoyed math. It's also probably not insignificant that the only two episodes (they were broken in to week-long series and aired as a part of "Square One", an all math show that also featured a great Pac-man themed short animation called Mathman {see some clips here}) I can remember used math to solve crimes whose origins were parodies of literary works. One was something about the brothers Karamazov (I distinctly remember stars Frankly and Monday arguing about how to pronounce their names), who had broken out of jail, and the other used the Maltese Falcon as the origin for the plot. Whatever the case, the show was great, and I figured I'd pass along my excitement that I was reminded of it.

Huzzah! 

Three cheers for the Justice Department!

From Jboo:
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the newspaper industry investigations on Monday, the Justice Department is investigating Gannett's proposed acquisition of HomeTown Communications Network Inc., a privately held community newspaper publisher with operations in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.
Gannett long ago bought The Daily Advertiser and it didn't waste much time before it acquired once independent weekly "The Times of Acadiana" (actually I'm not sure which one Gannett bought first). Now the two newspapers are virtually indistinguishable from one another, with the Times serving mostly as a weekly lifestyle supplement for the daily. If not for The Independent, they would virtually control the print media market in Lafayette and therefore a large part of Acadiana (not to mention an increasingly growing empire of papers in Louisiana, all of whom get the same copy on Baton Rouge political news and state sports regardless of what people in different regions of the state might feel is important to them. They also own newspapers in Opelousas, Alexandria, Monroe, and Shreveport).

Of course, the JD is more concerned with advertising rates than it is with media consolidation and this story seems to be about a possible buyout on the way in another part of the country. Nonetheless, our communities would be much better served if our newspapers weren't owned by far-away entities who encourage the small-town, don't offend advertisers and subscribers mentality that seems to permeate every bit of reporting in their newspapers around here. I'm glad to see this one way or the other.

Just a note 

An AP article about Jim Bernhard is headlined "No specifics from new Dem chair on "Louisiana agenda"

I guess he's already accomplished the first goal on his list to "Sign checks over to the Bush inauguration fund."

...don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a big deal that the Shaw Group donated to the cause, but doesn't anyone in the Democratic Party see the enormous conflict of interest that the head of one of the state's last Fortune 500s should also be running the party machinery. Can he really be expected to be an honest leader of Louisiana Democrats if in his private life he is trying to curry favor with the President? WTF?

Bonus Games 

I've been relying on these a little too much to satiate the desire for more content due to the lack of posting of late, but whatever. Anyway, get points by launching your egg from one platform to the next. This one is more addicting than the last few games, and it has the added bonus of giving you a dozen "lives" so no frustration of starting over from the beginning every time you fail.

And here's more proof of the snow in New Orleans on Christmas dayHere's reason to be thankful we live in the warmth of subtropical Louisiana. My sister-in-law took this one before things got out of hand in Boston this weekend.
We're not in Kansas anymore
Thanks to ImageShack for free photo hosting.

Odom's sugar mills 

Sorry about the absence this weekend, but it was filled with multiple family birthdays and two extremely boring football games. Blogging will be light for the next week or so as well as I tend to some things around the homestead.

At any rate, I need to point out at least one thing you may not have seen this weekend. Surely you won't be surprised by the Republican legislators who have come out strongly against Bob Odom's designs on an $85 million facility to refine sugar. What you might have missed was the Saturday article where Bob Odom, currently the longest serving official in a single statewide office, seems to come completely unhinged at the very idea that there might be opposition to his ill-conceived venture. Here he's quoted in the Advocate on Saturday morning:
Blanco's caution at spending state money on a sugar plant, after two have recently closed, puts the governor at odds with the longest-serving statewide elected official.

Odom said, "I don't care what she wants."

...

Blanco said Friday that she's concerned about the recent closure of two sugar mills in Iberia Parish and the long-term viability of the sugar industry.

"I think a solid feasibility study is in order," she said.

...

Reacting to Blanco's decision in an interview on Friday, Odom vacillated from saying the governor's welcome to conduct a feasibility study to blasting her for giving money to the Saints football team and Union Tank Car.

Odom defended the plant project, saying farmers in the Alexandria area are having to haul cane long distances because there's no local syrup plant.

The hauls increase the wear and tear on the roads and raise the risk of accidents involving cane trucks, he said.

"The governor would be responsible for anyone getting killed in a cane truck (if the project fails)," Odom said.
That's right, multi-million dollar syrup plant=public safety. Now I get it.

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