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June 29, 2006
Jim Baen, 1943-2006
Posted by Patrick at 09:46 AM * 70 comments

Yesterday, evidently. David Drake remembers his friend here. Cory Doctorow on Baen as a publishing visionary, here and here.

I didn’t know Jim at all well, and we had many differences of taste and outlook, but he was a publishing genius, radically correct about many of the things that matter. Trust your readers. Your audience is your most effective sales force. Publish what you love.

June 28, 2006
“The most intense rainfall in a 24-hour period in the history of Washington”
Posted by Patrick at 07:55 AM * 124 comments

Going by today’s paper, we’re now in the world of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain.

There are certainly worse futures than a Stan Robinson novel. At least in Stan’s world, there are smart and sensible people doing Big Science to hopeful and humane ends.

June 27, 2006
Comparing cases
Posted by Teresa at 11:09 PM * 158 comments

From News of the Weird:

Wheelchair-confined Richard Paey committed almost exactly the same violations of Florida prescription drug laws that radio personality Rush Limbaugh did, with a different result: Limbaugh’s sentence, in May, was addiction treatment, and Paey’s, in 2004, was 25 years in prison. Both illegally possessed large quantities of painkillers for personal use, which Paey defiantly argued was (and will be) necessary to relieve nearly constant pain from unsuccessful spinal surgeries after an auto accident, but which Limbaugh admitted was simply the result of addiction. (In fact, if Limbaugh complies with his plea bargain, his conviction will be erased.) Paey’s sentence now rests with a state Court of Appeal. [Tampa Tribune, 2-8-06]

June 26, 2006
Limbaugh busted on drug charges (again!)
Posted by Teresa at 10:07 PM * 132 comments

Breaking news story:

Jun 26, 2006 7:52 pm US/Eastern

Limbaugh Detained At Airport

(CBS4 News) WEST PALM BEACH Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.

Limbaugh entered a plea deal back in April in a previous case where his charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions was dropped under the condition he continue undergoing treatment for addiction.

Limbaugh had admitted to being addicted to pain killers on his radio program and had entered a rehabilitation program prior to that arrest.

I guess Limbaugh must think drug laws are for the little people.

Supposedly he got hooked on painkillers on account of having a bad back, though given the quantities he was caught procuring, last time around, one has to wonder whether there wasn’t some recreational aspect to it. Or perhaps, since he’s now smuggling Viagra, his back has improved.

Just a thought.

Update: Apparently what happened was that Limbaugh’s Viagra prescription had been written by one doctor to another doctor, rather than to Limbaugh, supposedly to protect Limbaugh’s privacy. Hogwash, say I. Doing that is at minimum a second degree misdemeanor violation. It’s not a standard procedure, no matter how embarrassing one’s prescription.

But since Limbaugh got the drugs in the U.S., here’s another question: what was he doing in the Dominican Republic for which he needed that Viagra prescription he didn’t want anyone to know about?

Also: Universal glee.

Spotted by Sisyphus Shrugged: Arthur Hlavaty gets the prize for best headline for this story.

Limbaugh on Drugs, and Kos on Limbaugh on Drugs. (Thank you, Bob Oldendorf.)

June 24, 2006
Summer storm
Posted by Teresa at 05:07 PM * 63 comments

It hasn’t started raining yet, but it’s so dark outside that my neighbor’s photosensitive porch lights have switched on. The sky’s getting yellowy-green. I think we’re about to get nailed.

June 23, 2006
Notes from New Orleans 1
Posted by Patrick at 07:21 PM * 27 comments

Coming in from the airport by cab, you don’t go past any of the really famously stricken areas. The neighborhoods visible from the freeway look normal enough. Then you notice the utility poles.

Those stripped tree trunks with wires hanging off them, so much part of the American urban landscape that they’re usually invisible? Almost none of them are perpendicular to the ground. They’re all leaning—most of them just a little bit, some quite a lot, some visibly shored up to keep them from falling altogether. Hundreds of them, thousands, mile after mile. It’s hard to imagine it taking less than years to repair them all.

The damaged Superdome looks like a prop from a post-urban-holocaust SF movie, like a vast dirty concrete ball hurled into hot asphalt.

I’m in a high-rise hotel on Canal Street. I’ve been to New Orleans three times before, in 1988, 1993, and 1994. Things down here look largely as I remember them, that peculiarly New Orleanean blend of comfortable wear, piss-smelling grunginess, heart-stabbing beauty, and civic boosterism. There are some large buildings visibly out of commission, like the medium-rise Doubletree Hotel that lost most of its windows. Despite the presence of the American Library Association (which I’m here for) and another convention or two, the French Quarter and downtown seem oddly uncrowded. This could be because the city has half the population it used to. Or it could be because it’s hot and humid enough to strike strong men down in the street.

The T-shirts for sale in French Quarter tourist shops include some interesting new flavors in the mix. Along with the usual (I GOT BOURBON-FACED ON SHIT STREET) and the predictable (KATRINA GAVE ME A BLOW JOB I’LL NEVER FORGET), there’s a distinct streak of the overtly political. A whole subgenre is devoted to mocking a certain Federal agency: FEDERAL EMERGENCY MISMANAGEMENT ASSHOLES, or, somewhat inscrutably, FIND EVERY MEXICAN AVAILABLE.* But what’s striking are the overtly anti-Iraq War shirts, which seem just as prevalent: MAKE LEVEES, NOT WAR. And, more directly: SCREW IRAQ, REBUILD HERE.

I’m off to dinner. More later.

UPDATE: I was wrong about the Doubletree being “out of commission.” It’s open and functioning; it’s just got an impressive amount of visible damage on its outside.

June 21, 2006
Open thread 67
Posted by Patrick at 09:41 PM *

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

June 20, 2006
Social control
Posted by Teresa at 10:27 AM * 136 comments

Argosy Books on East 59th deals in rare books and prints, but just outside their door they keep a random selection of secondhand books and printed ephemera priced at a buck or two a pop. It’s a fun browse. This last time I picked up an old sociology text: Social Control: Social Organization and Disorganization in Process by Paul H. Landis (New York: Lippincott, 1939).

Thing I learned about which no longer exists: “mental epidemics”, as in the Crusades, the Flagellant movement, and the Mississippi Bubble. Losing this concept is probably a good thing.

Bits that are familiar from age to age: predictably, the book’s big on the idea that, until recently, traditional values held society together and enforced morality; but now that we’ve become an atomized society, other mechanisms of control will have to be found. People say that today, and I remember them saying it when I was a sprat, so it’s nice to find out that they were saying it in 1939. I suspect that if asked how many years earlier it was that traditional values still held sway, you’d have gotten roughly the same estimates in 1939 and 1974 that you get in 2006.

The real reason I picked up the book: It discusses stuff you no longer see stated that bluntly. For instance:

In a nation of voluntary church affiliation, possessing no state church and having a heterogeneous population and culture, denominational stratification on the basis of such factors as wealth, educational qualities, and levels of emotional appeal is necessary if all groups are to be brought under the scope of church control. (p. 252)

But the real prize was a section that turned out to have been quoted (approvingly) from Harold Lasswell’s Propaganda Technique in World War I (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927):

Propaganda is a concession to the rationality of the modern world. A literate world, a reading world, a schooled world, prefers to thrive on argument and news. It is sophisticated to the extent of using print; and he that takes to print shall live or perish by the Press. All the apparatus of diffused erudition popularizes the symbols and forms of pseudo-rational appeal; the wolf of propaganda does not hesitate to masquerade in the sheepskin. All the voluble men of the day—writers, reporters, editors, preachers, lecturers, teachers, politicians—are drawn into the service of propaganda to amplify a master voice. All is conducted with the decorum and the trappery of intelligence, for this is a rational epoch, and demands its raw meat cooked and garnished by adroit and skillful chefs.

Propaganda is a concession to the willfulness of the age. The bonds of personal loyalty and affection which bound a man to his chief have long since dissolved Monarchy and class privilege have gone the way of all flesh, and the idolatry of the individual passes for the official religion of democracy. It is an atomized world, in which individual whims have wider play than ever before, and it requires more strenuous exertions to co-ordinate and unify than formerly. The new antidote to willfulness is propaganda. If the mass will be free of chains of iron, it must accept its chains of silver. If it will not love, honor and obey, it must not expect to escape seduction.

Propaganda is a reflex to the immensity, the rationality and willfulness of the modern world. It is the new dynamic of society, for power is subdivided and diffused, and more can be won by illusion than by coercion. It has all the prestige of the new and provokes all the animosity of the baffled. To illuminate the mechanisms of propaganda is to reveal the secret springs of social action, and to expose to the most searching criticism our prevailing dogmas of sovereignty, of democracy, of honesty, and of the sanctity of individual opinion. (pp. 198-199)

We really don’t see people saying stuff like that in clear any more. Of course, being me, I’d be happier if we did.

June 18, 2006
You Hate To See That Kind Of Thing At This Level Of Play
Posted by Patrick at 11:33 AM * 76 comments

American’s Stay In The Hunt.

June 16, 2006
Woke up, it was a Hormel morning
Posted by Patrick at 07:15 AM * 118 comments

I woke up this morning to the cheery sight of over 2500 new spam messages in my inbox. On closer examination, most of them appear to be delivery-failure notices in response to email from nonexistent addresses at nielsenhayden.com. I had our account set up so that email to any otherwise nonexistent address at this domain defaulted to me. I’ve reconfigured the system to discard such messages, which seems to have stanched the flow.

I have no idea whether someone is specifically trying to mess with us, or if (entirely likely) some giant semi-automatic spam system just happens to be using “nielsenhayden.com” as its domain de jour. I do know that the actual original messages aren’t being sent by the real nielsenhayden.com; we’re just getting their delivery-failure bounceback.

However, it’s taking a while to clear all this stuff out of my inbox, and in the process it’s entirely possible I’ll accidentally delete some real mail, so if you’re expecting to hear from me and you don’t, please be forbearing.

June 15, 2006
Jim Baen
Posted by Patrick at 09:49 PM *

Just now posted to the Baen Books discussion board by Baen author Julie Cochrane, and reproduced on various SF-oriented sites:

Okay, people, here’s what’s going on.

Jim Baen is in the ICU after a stroke, it is serious, Toni [Weisskopf] and a relative are there with him. Now you know as much as we do about his condition.

Baen Books is functioning under the very detailed emergency plans that Jim has in place.

Please don’t send cards or flowers. Please do send whatever prayers are appropriate to your faith.

When we know more, we’ll let you know.

Thanks,

Julie

That’s as much as we know as well.

Jim Baen is an eminent and complex figure in the SF field. We hope he recovers entirely.

June 14, 2006
A postcard to the folks
Posted by Teresa at 07:50 AM * 118 comments

Hi Jas, hi Jan—

I hear you’re in Guanajuato right now, hanging out with your friend the sociologist who’s started up an authentic Irish pub there. Good on yer. Wish I were there.

I don’t know what kind of access you have to English-language books, so it could be you’ll have to wait until you get home to pick this up, but I’m pretty sure you need to read Liquor: A Novel by Poppy Z. Brite. PZB made her name writing horror. I have nothing against horror, but her books just didn’t speak to me.

That was then. What she’s writing now isn’t even genre. Liquor is a mainstream novel about a couple of nice boys, Ricky and G-Man, who both work as cooks in New Orleans. They’ve been living together since forever, working their way up from washing dishes. You can read an excerpt from it here. The musician they’re making fun of is Jimmy Buffett.

Patrick’s got first dibs on the book and he won’t yield it up to me until he’s done, but he’s been reading me episodes from it, especially when I’m cooking, and I am utterly charmed. (He’s already bought PZB’s second book in this series. I’m plotting to seize Liquor when he falls asleep this evening.) It’s about half story and half food prep, discussed appreciatively but without pretension. Patrick says the book starts to develop something that looks like a formal plot a few chapters in, but I’m not worried.

Here’s a section where G-man and Ricky are being taken to dinner at the Commander’s Palace by Lenny, a rich backer who wants to help them start their own restaurant. In all their years in New Orleans they’ve only previously managed to eat there once apiece:

The main dining room hadn’t changed much in the years. The patterned green carpet was still marshmallow-thick underfoot, the walls accented with dark wooden paneling and softly lit paintings of Louisiana swamp birds. Balloons and ribbons festooned the tables of parties celebrating special occasions. The hum of conversation and the clatter of dinnerware were lively but not distractingly loud. This room could seat about 120, but somehow it still had an intimate atmosphere.

Ricky was wearing the only jacket he owned, a navy-blue affair from high school, too short in the sleeves and uncomfortably tight across the back when he tried to button it. G-man, bereft, wore the dreaded green House Jacket provided to underdressed male patrons. His customary dark glasses didn’t help the look. Lenny sported an expensive-looking white silk jacket and a candy-striped shirt with too many buttons undone. The other two men at the table, Lenny’s lawyer and business manager, wore conservative business suits.

“So,” said De La Cerda, the lawyer, “we’ve got quite a few things we’d like you to look at—”

Lenny held up his hand. “Not yet, Oscar. They want to check out the menu.”

They had a round of Bloody Marys made with the restaurant’s own worcestershire sauce, then placed their orders. A few minutes later the waiter set small plates of butterflied shrimp in front of them. “Chef Jamie sends these out with his compliments, Mr. Duveteaux. Our shrimp and tasso Henican. Enjoy.”

Rickey took a bite of the appetizer. The tender Gulf shrimp were spiked with tasso ham, tossed in a spicy beurre blanc, set atop a pool of five-pepper jelly, and garnished with pickled okra. The dish had a bright, complex flavor: first you tasted the sweetness of the shrimp and butter, then the gastrique’s sourness and the tart burn of the peppers. Rickey suspected he might be in the presence of genius. This was a worshipful presentation of shrimp, not just bringing out its best qualities but actually improving them. Of all the cooks he’d known, only Paco Valdeon had had such a gift for exalting his ingredients.

Rickey finished his appetizer in four bites and glanced around the table to see if anyone was watching. When he saw that no one was, he used the side of his finger to scoop the remaining sauce from the plate. Just as he put his finger in his mouth, G-man looked up, saw what he was doing, and nodded emphatically.

Lenny looked at their two spotless plates. “You like that, huh? You do as well with this restaurant as I expect, you can eat here any time you want.”

“If we do as well as you expect, we’ll be at our own restaurant all the time,” G-man pointed out. “So was that Crystal hot sauce in the beurre blanc, do you know?”

“Yeah, it was. Good palate.”

That’s a typical scene. I was tempted to transcribe their list of restaurants that open and close while they’re waiting for the renovations to be finished in their own restaurant, but I didn’t want to pull something that funny out of context.

It’s just nice. This is a hard-working, not always fair, behind-the-scenes milieu where intelligently considered food is both everyone’s daily work and their favorite art form. Made me think you’d enjoy it.

That’s about all for now. Patrick’s fine. My garden looks great but I’m not going to boast about it to people who’re hanging out in Guanajuato. We miss you.

Cheers —

t.

June 08, 2006
Annals of Truly Bad Ideas
Posted by Patrick at 06:46 PM * 226 comments

Bookslut reports:

Poets read their work on Minneapolis-St. Paul buses during rush hour yesterday, apparently on the theory that if there’s one thing that public transportation needs, it’s crazy people ranting loudly about things that make little to no sense. […] Who sponsored this program? A car dealership? A bicycling group? The Society to Make Sure Nobody Ever Gets on Another Fucking Bus Ever Again?

I’m so with Bookslut on this. I hate being a captive audience. I don’t want to hear my cabdriver’s political opinions—or your loud conversations in elevators. I’m fine with live music in subway stations because if I don’t want to hear it I can just walk away, but I won’t give money to musicians who play on the trains themselves, even when I’m impressed by their talent and skill. Leaving aside the fact that busking is never legal on board, the heart of the matter is that, for us working stiffs, commuting time is often our only chance in a busy day for certain kinds of reading, or thinking, or important staring out of windows. Taking that time from people without their consent is, plainly and simply, abuse. This Minneapolis program is a bad idea for poetry, for public transit, and for the basic humane idea that civilized people don’t inflict themselves on the unwilling.

The things you learn on the Internet
Posted by Patrick at 09:27 AM * 28 comments

Subscription-only Roll Call is quoted by Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, discussing the upcoming Democratic Senate primary in Virginia. According to Roll Call, candidate Harris Miller

has amassed a lengthy list of homegrown endorsements, and is playing up his profile as a loyal partisan foot soldier while painting Webb as a Johnny Come Lately to the Democratic Party. Itís a strategy that could pay big dividends in a contest likely to be decided by a few hundred thousand hardcore activists.

Virginia has hundreds of thousands of hardcore Democratic activists? Wow, with numbers like that, surely we must be only an election cycle away from building a progressive utopia in the Old Dominion. Thanks, Roll Call!

June 07, 2006
Where the feckless pundit class comes from
Posted by Patrick at 08:04 PM * 260 comments

I lose patience (see comments) with one of the privileged young things at one of the blogs of the American Prospect.

June 06, 2006
666
Posted by Teresa at 11:50 AM * 108 comments

Happy 06/06/06. It seems inevitable that there’s a town party today in Hell, Michigan.

Torture: It’s the New Black
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:57 AM *

Do y’all remember a year ago, when Sen. McCain (R-Arizona) sponsored a ban on torture by making the Army follow its own field manual? Well, some clever buggers have figured out how to get around that. They’re re-writing the field manual to remove Geneva.

O, happy day!

As the LA Times reports:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans “humiliating and degrading treatment,” according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

The decision could culminate a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military’s decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, the Defense Department officials acknowledged.

The article goes on to say:

… the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents [as Abu Ghraib and Haditha] as aberrations. And it undercuts contentions that U.S. forces follow the strictest, most broadly accepted standards when fighting wars.

“The rest of the world is completely convinced that we are busy torturing people,” said Oona A. Hathaway, an expert in international law at Yale Law School. “Whether that is true or not, the fact we keep refusing to provide these protections in our formal directives puts a lot of fuel on the fire.”

To call this short-sighted, un-American, morally repugnant, and just plain stupid, understates the stituation. Has anyone thought of the implications for our own captured troops in another war, in another place, ten or twenty years from now, if our foe of that moment decides to follow our own field manual?

The move to restore U.S. adherence to Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] was opposed by officials from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, government sources said. David S. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff, and Stephen A. Cambone, Defense undersecretary for intelligence, said it would restrict the United States’ ability to question detainees.

Well, yes. The purpose of Article 3 is to restrict the abilities of belligerants to question detainees. What did they think it was for?

This nonsense has been opposed by various (loyal, intelligent, patriotic) elements within the Pentagon. But those men and women of good will have concluded that it’s useless with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in charge:

The military lawyers, known as judge advocates general, or JAGs, have concluded that they will have to wait for a new administration before mounting another push to link Pentagon policy to the standards of Geneva.

I’m going to advocate courts-martial for anyone in the US Armed Forces who helped this attempt to make torture part of US policy.

June 03, 2006
Quatrains on American history
Posted by Teresa at 07:55 PM * 79 comments

It’s the first time this side of The Well that I’ve found a venue playing games like ours. As usual, I stumbled across the thread while looking for something else. This one I found because they were playing with Stephen Vincent Benet:

Daniel Boone

When Daniel Boone goes by, at night, the phantom deer arise,
and all lost, wild America
is burning in their eyes.

Some further specimens:

Audubon

When John J. Audubon looks up,
the blue jay does not blink,
and when he looks back down again,
the thief lies caught in ink.

Harbinger

Agnew was a man that most
Republicans adored;
sleek, corrupt and self assured,
and now, thank God, he’s toast.

Francis Marion

Just when they had the prey on the run,
their red coats exquisite
under the Carolina sun,
the swamp fox barked—and bit.

Three guesses who this one’s about:
Marooned in snow, he used all means to keep himself alive.
The County held eight Democrats,
and that sumbitch ate five!

Inspiration

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and Robert Frost, that cranky git,
scratched his chin and stood and stood
until he got a poem from it.

The First Thirteen Presidents

From General George to Millard, all
Owned slaves, except for two:
Those Massachusetts liberals
John (senior) and John (Q.).

There are more.

I’m of the opinion that they should feel encouraged pay a call, or come to tea, or read another thread here that should be to their taste; and in the meantime, we should go over and admire their work.

Hello, hello?

June 02, 2006
Further annals of DHS incompetence
Posted by Teresa at 05:38 PM * 30 comments

The DHS has come up with an explanation for its slashing cuts in funds allocated to protect NYC from terrorism: it’s the city’s fault.

This is disgraceful. Inept. You don’t play paperwork games with essential national assets.

How they calculated the DHS anti-terrorism allocations
Posted by Teresa at 10:31 AM * 62 comments

Let us speak further of yesterday’s post about the bizarre Dept. of Homeland Security reallocation of funds, whereby NYC and DC have had their funding slashed, and places like Omaha, Montana, and Kentucky have made out like bandits.

Now, Michael Chertoff, head of DHS and the guy who should have taken the bullet for the Katrina fiasco, said that anti-terrorism funds were going to be apportioned on a risk-based basis. He lied. As an administrator, he’s completely useless. The Bush appointee who actually oversaw this latest apportionment fiasco is one Tracy Henke. Tapped has been hot on the trail of that story and I can’t improve on their coverage, so go have a look. These are all short posts:
You’ll Never Take Omaha! Our Twilight Zone Government
Bush Appointee Located
Henke DHS Controversy Not a First
Even Lieberman Was Hinky on Henke
But How Many Toilets Are There?
Now, you may be wondering how Henke and her sub-minions came up with those brainless funding allocations. One of our readers, who signs perself “Red,” has had a look at the numbers (they’re linked from my previous post) and figured it out. By all means go and read Red’s explanation in full. Meanwhile, here’s the meat of it:

All they’ve bothered to do is count up the total number of ‘assets’. There’s no differentiation at all. A neighborhood Post Office in Staten Island is weighted the same as Mt. Sinai hospital. Any of 4,000 ‘Commercial Assets’ is as heavy a loss to the country as Chase Manhattan. There are two nuclear plants listed, but any of 111 other energy facilities is just as much in need of protection.

I don’t even begin to know what to make of this. Is it deliberate? Assigning the same value to every post office, medical facility, and electrical plant in the country is certainly one way of seeing to it that that the pork dollars flow to to those who need them least. On the other hand, if they were going to try and cheat, you’d think they’d have at least bothered to hire someone who knows the rules of the game. More than anything else, this looks like the work of another “Heckuva Job” Brown, who not only doesn’t know or care how to do his job, but hasn’t bothered to discover that there are other people out there who do.

Good work, Red. Thanks for the off-the-cuff illumination.

Like Red says, this is a case where an important piece of work was turned over to someone (that is, Terry Henke) who has no idea what she’s doing, and on top of that doesn’t know that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Henke’s deeply flawed work was then passed on up the line, which suggests that the people responsible for oversight in her department are either just as incompetent as she is, or aren’t bothering to do their jobs. (Clark Kent Ervin, DHS’s first Inspector General, would say yes to both.)

This generates two questions with potentially scary answers.

First, on what basis was Terry Henke hired in the first place? If DHS didn’t hire her to do the job she ostensbly holds, what did they hire her to do?

Second, how many other Bush-era appointees are as incompetent as Chertoff, Brown, and Henke, and how much damage are they doing even as we speak?

Addendum:

Majikthise has totted up some of the protection-worthy distinguished heritage sites that NYC doesn’t have any of. Go look. It’s a fine list. (And thank you, Stephen Frug, for pointing it out.)

June 01, 2006
Hurricane Season
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:40 PM * 52 comments

For those who are playing along at home, today is the first day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Last year’s season, with New Orleans under water, was pretty spectacular. It was, in fact, the worst hurricane season in 154 years. What happened 154 years ago? Folks started keeping records.

The National Weather Service (on 22 May 2006) announced that the 2006 season would be more active than usual. The forecast for 2006 is for 13-16 named storms, including 8-10 hurricanes, of which 4-6 may be major hurricanes.

So, how are we prepared?

Bush is still President.

Michael Chertoff is still Secretary of Homeland Security.

Heckofajob Brownie isn’t the head of FEMA any more — an actual person, R. David Paulison, has taken over. The lineup behind him isn’t very strong (unqualified through proven incompetent is how I’d describe them) though.

The mid-term elections come after the end of hurricane season. Let’s see how Team Bush follows up their astounding performance a year ago.

How much Bush & Co. don’t care about terrorism
Posted by Teresa at 03:47 PM * 123 comments

This just in from ABC News:

New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. (Click here for the actual document.) That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent—from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation’s most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.

Jim Macdonald has a superior system for assessing the likelihood that a building, monument, or other distinctive area will be on the receiving end of a terrorist action: How many times over the last ten years it’s been used as an establishing shot in a Hollywood movie. Terrorism is about the violence that takes place inside our heads when we hear about a bombing or murder.

This is only one of the many factors that make New York a big fat target for terrorism.

The form ignored that New York City is the capital of the world financial markets and merely stated the city had four significant bank assets.

New York City is home to Chase, JP Morgan, Citi Group, The New York Stock Exchange, The Commodities Exchange, American Express, George Soros funds, Michael Gabelli’s funds, Lazard Frere and Salomon Brothers, to name just a few of the more prominent banking interests located there.

The formula did note a commuter population of more than 16 million around the city twice struck by fundamentalist terrorists and twice more targeted in plots halted in pre-operational stages. It noted the more than eight million residents and the largest rail ridership in the nation - more than five million. It is those commuters and rail riders who are expected to suffer most from the cuts since mass transit is listed on most DHS alerts as the top terror target. (Click here for the Strategic Threat Document obtained by ABC News.)

The report lists as classified “visitors of interest destination city,” immigration cases, suspicious incidents and FBI cases. New York City is home to the largest FBI field office in the country, which actively monitors 24/7 the Iranian Mission. The city has also had the most significant terror trials in the nation and is home to one of the largest air hubs in the nation.

It’s commonly known that a great deal of anti-terrorism money has essentially been porkbarrel spending, lavished on areas that aren’t in the top thousand list of likely terrorist targets. Meanwhile, NYC’s waterfront is barely patrolled, and the administration thinks nothing of putting the Port of New York in foreign hands.

If you voted for Bush because you’re frightened by the threat of terrorism, you’re a fool. Sorry about that. Don’t mean to be rude, but you oughtn’t be allowed out without a minder. The Bush People have made appalling inroads into liberty at home and abroad, and taken huge amounts of money out of the public pocket for themselves and their friends, all without making you one bit safer. In fact, you’re now considerably less safe than you were on 9/11, and that’s a direct result of their actions and policies.

Considering the amount of energy they’ve put into the whole anti-terrorist thing, when you’ve got a spare moment, you might want to consider the question of what they are trying to do.

Open thread 66
Posted by Teresa at 11:35 AM *

You took a carriage to that battlefield
Now, I suppose, you take a motor-bus
But, then, it was a carriage and you ate
Fried chicken out of wrappings and waxed paper,
While the slow guide buzzed on about the war
And the enormous, curdled summer clouds
Piled up like giant cream puffs in the blue.
The carriage smelt of axle-grease and leather
And the old horse nodded a sleepy head
Adorned with a straw hat. His ears stuck through it.
It was the middle of hay-fever summer
And it was hot. And you could stand and look
All the way down from Cemetery Ridge,
Much as it was, except for the monuments
And startling groups of monumental men
Bursting in bronze and marble from the ground,
And all the curious names and gravestones.

So peaceable it was, so calm and hot,
So tidy and great-skied
No men had fought
There but enormous monumental men
Who bled neat streams of uncorrupting bronze,
Even at the Round Tops, even by Pickett’s boulder
Where the bronze, open book could still be read
By the visitors and sparrows and the wind:
And the wind came, the wind moved the grass,
Saying … while the long light … and all so calm …

“Pickett came
And the South came
And the end comes,
And the grass comes
And the wind blows
On the bronze book
On the bronze men
On the grown grass,
And the wind says
‘Long ago
Long
Ago’”

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Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.