"the deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent" - William Gibson

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Don't beat a dead darkhorse

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Thank God we can already start betting on the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. I was going to lay 10 british pounds down on a canidate but my pick wasn't actualy listed (hint: his runningmate would be Ursa). Below is in my opinion the top 11 darkhouse candidates left off the bookie's sheet:

1. Christopher Walken
2. Dick Cheney
3. Jesse Ventura
4. Cindy Sheehan
5. Barbara Boxter
6. James Dobson
7. Oprah Winfrey
8. Zod
9. Mike Huckabee
10. Mike Easley
11. Angus MacGyver

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

atrocity and hope

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Last time I was in New Orleans I was at a business trade show in the convention center. Frisbees, laminates, booths, industry panels, etc. Right now its becoming clearer that the commerce building along the Mississippi was not one blood drop short of Hell on Earth. Anyone reading this probably already has heard tales of the misery, but if not, this story from Nola.com describes the nightmare convention center from a National Guardsman's perspective. It is beyond comprehension. As Melville says "Man rebounds whole aeons back in nature."

I suppose I understand if people want to direct their anger at Bush or any other politician, I even probably agree with most of the specific charges. Outrage and demands for action are needed, but I don't honestly believe blaming Bush or anyone else does any good. The truth is that the fault and iniquity spreads wide and touches nearly everyone. If you want to examine why the aftermath of Katrina was so horribly fucked up, you need to look a lot deeper than which incompetent rich crook is presently in the White House or Governor's Mansion or City Hall. It's about race, money, history, panic, fear, and human nature's evil parts in a city that has been hanging on by a thread for decades.

Everyone knew it would happen and everyone sat by. I was part of the "mandatory" evacuation of Hurricane Georges in 1998, eventhough many stayed. It looked like it would be The Big One, but the city was spared. The same year the very tail edge of Hurricane Earl (basically no more than a couple hours of rain) proved too much for the pumps my 7ft below sea level house in Uptown NOLA was thigh deep in storm water for a day. Earlier that year I was also help up at gunpoint by a fucking 12 year old in a catholic school uniform in broad daylight, and then driven around by fucking openly racist cops. I don't know who all to blame for that. Unfortunately, in NOLA many of these problems are deep and institutionalized. They only recently stopped letting ex-cons become police officers. I love that city, but It had some major fucking problems.

I have no room in my heart for petty and cynical politics right now. Sure, there are reasons to be angry, but this disaster is on a scale much bigger than us and we need to be better than that right now. Once the dead are buried and we've at least had some time to mourn, we can start looking at how our leaders and government mechanisms failed us.

The constructive things I personally know to do to help are:

1. Donate where and what you can.
2. Read Renew New Orleans's action list of what can be done to help and forward it on to your congressional leaders and newspaper/media outlets. I trust the opinions of these people I know and that live there. If you disagree with something on the list then edit it or write your own, but I think their focus on what should be done now and more importantly in the coming months/years is important.
3. Volunteer at a relief event or organization in your community. Band Together NC is a great one around NC. These events help get communities and especially corporations to contribute funds, resources, and jobs to the relief.
4. Figure out what we as smart caring tech savvy people can do to set up information and communication systems which will facilitate recovery and better prepare for the next duster. Check out Jeff Jarvis over at buzzmachine, who I think is doing a great job with leadership and info for this mission.

I saw a few things today that gave me some hope for the future of NOLA and my alma mater Tulane. I watched Max Sparber's New Orleans: Pictures from a Drowned World flickr slideshow of NOLA pics from last year and I was reminded of many of the things I love the city. I also saw these photos from college kids in the Uptown area where I lived in the late 90's. The damage was much less than I feared, and I admit some of these pictures even made me laugh. Also the brazen (if perhaps naive) "we're returning ASAP and we're going to do everything we can to help rebuild" spirit on this unofficial database for Tulane students surprised me and though I know the gusto of a few mostly rich mostly white collegiate teenagers may not mean much in the big picture, it does offer a bit of hope to me. They make me proud.