Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Bad Sign

Jessica, one of the recruiters in my office, said something today which really threw me off: "There's something that looks different about you [, Rob,] that I've been trying to figure out all day, and I just did. You're wearing pants."

It rained today in Santa Monica. I couldn't bike to work, so my wife drove me, and since I didn't need to wear shorts, I pulled out my jeans.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

From defective yeti:
Also near our house is a handwritten sign reading "Will wash windows, $1*" and then, at the bottom, in a tiny scrawl, "* per side" Ha! The Queen thought it was a waste of money to get those fancy Möbius windows installed, but I knew they would eventually pay for themselves.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Biking to work, III

In order to put it behind me, I'll quickly summarize the rest of my long-overdue 'bike-to-work' story. Not well-edited:

Bike-to-work day was a cinch. Biking in both directions for 8 ½ miles, was awesome. It took 50 minutes to get there in the morning. In the evening, I took a long route home, despite the heat. A quarter of a mile from home, I was riding on a sidewalk that had a fire hydrant down the middle. Rather than slow down, I hit it straight on, causing me to fly forward and bending the front-tire on my brand new bicycle. I walked the last quarter mile home. It was a quick repair, and I was satisfied and home safe.

Over the next couple of weeks I tried to bike to work three times a week. Beth was reasonably worried I would get into an accident, but it didn't take long to maximize the side-streets and learn a safe way to travel down Pico Boulevard. Three times a week meant 50 miles a week. I was doing pretty well, but, unfortunately, biking so much caused hand pain, something about which I am sensitive, so I had to stop until I adjusted the bike.

More on biking to work soon.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Keith Olbermann comments on government response

Five minute video, in which Keith Olbermann takes a stark and honest look at the partisan-agnostic failure of government due to politicians' choice of rhetoric over duty to their constituents.
Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that 'we are not satisfiedfied' with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which 'we' he think's he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although, we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, "I'll protect you; the other guy might let you die?" I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.
OK, that was merely my favorite partisan moment. However, this struck a chord:
... had [the President] only remembered Churchill's quote from the 1930's: "The responsibility of government for the public safety", Churchill said, "is absolute and requires no mandate. It is, in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence." In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself, it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.
I'm reading Freakonomics right now. The difference between morality and economy, according to the book's authors, is that morality represents how one wishes the world were while economy represents how the world actually is. This gives me no confidence whatsoever.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I have been pointed to five posts on that scare the shit out of me. Most of the links below contain video.

Breaking News: Kanye West: George Bush doesn't care about black people"
During the Concert for Hurricane Relief, Kanye West and Mike Meyers were celebrity narrators during the segment, West said: (rush transcript) ... "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
NBC censors Kanye West
The corporate big wigs didn't take too kindly to West's tirade against President Bush earlier today on the Concert for Hurricane Relief, so they edited his remarks on the West Coast feed.
Bob Shieffer Blasts the response to Katrina (CBS)
A report on Bob Shieffer during his weekly broadcast of Face The Nation:
Bob wrapped up Face the Nation today with this:

SCHIEFFER: Finally, a personal thought. We have come through what may have been one of the worst weeks in America's history, a week in which government at every level failed the people it was created to serve. There is no purpose for government except to improve the lives of its citizens. Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality.

As the floodwaters rose, local officials in New Orleans ordered the city evacuated. They might as well have told their citizens to fly to the moon. How do you evacuate when you don't have a car? No hint of intelligent design in any of this. This was just survival of the richest." (hat tip BJ for the transcript)"
Chertoff blames the Media for his failings (NBC)
Tim Russert grilled Chertoff over the absolute failure of his department in combating the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Horror Show (Fox News)
Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera were livid about the situation in NOLA as they appeared on H&C. When Hannity tried his usual spin job and said "let's get this in perspective," Smith chopped him off at the knees and started yelling at him saying, "This is perspective!" It was shocking.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What can be done

My wife (prior to her current job) spent over ten years providing disaster legal assistance. Based upon some things I have learned from her, here is a summary of some of what can be done:
There have been a number of federally declared disaster legal services over the last several decades - Hurricanes Andrew, Iniki; LA unrest in 92, Midwest, CA and Texas floods and fires in the 90s, etc. Legal services and community advocates previously sued and negotiated a national class action settlement with FEMA to improve their response, training and processes, helped develop national training curricula, and worked with FEMA and state officials on the ground setting up disaster assistance centers, and on strategies and implementation plans for longer term housing and economic development for affected regions. Folks in New York used some of this experience and material in connection with the post 9/11 disaster response, which was a very different context in terms of political will.

Unfortunately it seems that the folks "in charge" in DC now and in the affected states are not yet doing a wide range of things they have the authority and responsibility for under the Stafford Act. It's horrific on so many levels, not the least of which is that experienced disaster staff actually can do much to alleviate uneccesary death/suffering, and to promote long term recovery. Army generals, veteran FEMA administrators and federal and state elected officials are capable of marshaling needed resources in advance, and immediately and effectively, and have done so in some very large scale disasters in the past. It's sickening (and rage provoking) to witness such a tragedy.

Short and intermediate term assistance needs to begin once the first responders for immediate needs have done their work- Red Cross, Salvation Army, national guard/armed services mobilization, medical and public health responses. These efforts should begin to gear up now and over the next few weeks (and over the months and years to come).

For example, USDA can and should be asked by state/locals to issue Disaster Food Stamps and replace issuances/value of lost food, once electricity is restored for folks. This has apparently already been done in Louisiana, but the program is currently set to expire September 9, and will likely need to be extended, and broadened to other areas. (Note: USDA was sued in Los Angeles in 1992 for failing to issue disaster food stamps; after the Northridge Earthquake in 94 issuance was delayed but happened without litigation. On July 8, the USDA rushed food stamp delivery ahead of Hurricane Dennis, a Category 3 storm that hit the Florida coast. See USDA guide for disasters. (pdf) (html))

There are a host of FEMA, other federal and state programs- rental and mortgage assistance, SBA loans, funds to replace lost belongings, mental health services, medical services (in Louisiana, Disaster Medicaid info can be obtained at 1-888-342-6207)/coverage, short and long term replacement housing, funds for damages sustained by businesses and even non-profits [out of date link] --- in short, there is a lot of discretion, and lots of possibilities, in federal disaster work, all largely dependent on political will. (Note: these links are not necessarily the most updated resources for disaster and emergency services, but were ones I found that seemed applicable.)

Unfortunately, many programs don't get authorized or implemented unless there is advocacy to get them in place, and then to make sure the $$s actually get to where they need to go.

You can help by making keeping an eye on these federal relief programs and making your peers (and representation in government) aware of how resources get allocated over time.
If someone affected by the disaster needs help or more information, Louisiana disaster relief services can be reached at 1-888-LAHELPU (1-888-524-3578).

I have your sea anemone

I have your sea amea
I have your sea enemnity
I have your see a meminy
I have your cyanemony
I have your zimaniomy

I have your ammonia
lomon tree
semen army
seen a mnomnimny


Relevant New Orleans services and links

Briefly: I'm just horrified number and scope of fuck-ups surrounding New Orleans' sad fate. That's all I want to say about that.

Here are links which should receive more references:
  1. -- a website developer converted her web-design site into an information clearninghouse. Good for her.
  2. US Department of Homeland Security missing persons report
  3. Special map of New Orleans.
  4. Phone interview with Roy Nagin of New Orleans. This will give you a sense of the situation in New Orleans. This is an angry and desparate man. Listen to what he says.
One final thought: People are very interested in providing message board services for finding relatives. Great idea. Please, please take into consideration the threat of predators who will troll these sites looking for children that are missing their parents. I don't know if you can prevent it, but think about what you're doing is all I'm saying. Bless you all.