MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Friday, September 30, 2005

City on fire...

Photo by Nick Ut, AP: The Verdugo Hills burn.

Yesterday evening I went to bed thinking that the fire in Burbank had been contained completely and that it was well on its way to being knocked down. Not so. It flared up again today. Right now the fire is on a trajectory to cut across the Verdugo Hills towards La Crescenta.

Even if the winds shift, it is unlikely to get anywhere near Woodbury.

where's the fire?

Click the pic to get a closer look.

However, the smoke is probably going to be heavy around the Woodbury area. And me with this cold! I am on the horns of a dilemma now. My Family Systems class only meets every other Saturday. Miss one class, you miss a lot. However, I am likely to be miserable in class. It's always worse at night and even worse than that when you get up in the morning. Class starts at 8am and goes on until Noon. My Prof already knows I'm sick but she seemed to not be too concerned about it...she told me to "take care of myself and get well."

Anyway, I'm definitely thinking of not attending tomorrow. It will be hard enough to breathe with this cold and with the smoke from both the Burbank and the Topanga fires. Oh well. I want to be over with this damn cold. Rest, fluids, and as Beavis and Butt-Head said in a memorable episode, "The leading inscription cold remedy." Sounds good. I made Mexican-style chicken soup tonight for dinner, and having it a few more times should be good medicine too.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Everyone who's not from Los Angeles and vicinity loves to bag on us. We're the place where disasters love to happen. Everyone has a joke about how we're all living in a disaster area.

Guess what: we get a lot of practice. And when the real thing comes around, we get the job done. Nobody fights over whose jurisdiction is what. There are no turf wars when the firestorms are raging. On the front lines of the Topanga Fire, there are firefighters from all over the State of California. And they are all working together against a common enemy: fire and smoke.

Apparently Bush got a little bit of a bounce thanks to the more aggressive approach to dealing with Hurricane Rita. I predict it will be short-lived, because there are new storms brewing, this time over GOP corruption scandals that will make Teapot Dome look like a tempest in a teapot. Tom DeLay and Dr. Bill Frist are only the first to get snared in the net. It's like someone noticing a beam in a house is beginning to pucker and gives in to pressure. You've only seen a little bit of how badly compromised the rest of the house is thanks to all the termites who've taken up residence in the wood structure of the house. Find a little bit of damage, and it is almost certain there is more other places. The damage in this case is quite systemic.

Since I haven't got much brainpower tonight, I spent some time looking at the PBS documentary on the 1960s. I was a baby when JFK was assassinated. I was 3 years old during the Summer of Love. I was 6 by the time 1969 ended. Even at that point, I felt a distinct sense I was born too late. By the end of the 1970s, I knew it.

In a lot of respects, the Red vs. Blue wars raging in American discourse is the continued fighting of the wars touched off in the 1960s. Bill Clinton was our first Baby Boomer President. George W. Bush was also a Boomer. I needn't have to remind you of current events and recent history. Like the Civil War 100 years before then, I'm sure the civil wars of the '60s will continue to be fought for generations to come.

Sick as a dog...what's your story?...Sick as a got your tongue?

(With apologies to a Big Geeky Bear who likes to quote lyrics as topic lines for his LJ posts...)

Anyway, the combination of this damn cold I've been fighting and the horrible condition of the air in the San Fernando Valley thanks to the Chatsworth Fire is making breathing very hard indeed. Waking up felt like someone was sitting on my chest. Add to it the fact that I would have to navigate home on my own on the bus after a full school day in 100+ degree weather, and I'm going to finally yield to the temptation of footie pajamas and chicken soup.

This is not a good thing, though. I have a test today in Abnormal Psych and I'm going to have to miss it. I *am* prepared for the test, mind you...I'm not merely malingering to escape the test. I really would like to take it and be done with it.

I can't totally take it easy today. I have tons of school work to deal with. Saturday is Family Systems, so I can't miss that, regardless of how I feel. It simply doesn't meet enough times to blow off a class. I also have catch-up work to do in Psychology of assignment I was given on Monday completely flew over my head at 20,000 feet. The Prof is going to let me turn in the assignment next Monday so it's not a total loss. And I have Math 149 homework out the ying-yang.

No rest for the weary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A profile in evil: Bill "Virtue" Bennett.

Psychologist/Theologian M. Scott Peck wrote a book about the problem of evil entitled "People of the Lie." Peck died recently, and was eulogized for his more popular book "The Road Less Traveled." However, the turn of phrase "People of the Lie" has been rolling around in my head for the past few years thanks to George W. Bush and his crew.

One of Dubya's buddies is former Reagan Administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett. He now has a radio program on the Christian Right radio network Salem Radio called "Morning in America." Today, he made a reprehensible remark that has truly taken the veil off of the open racial hatred in the Bush cabal. Just like Babs Bush (Dubya's Mom, Bush 41's wife) and her comment about how a cot on the outfield of the Astrodome would be a step up in life for some of the, um, "little brown ones" who survived Hurricane Katrina, this remark (MP3, 1.4MB) on Bennett's show today shows how little regard he has for non-Whites.

He said, and I quote:

"I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."
-- Bill Bennett, September 28th, 2005 (emphasis mine)

Download the MP3. He really said this. And kick a little donation towards MediaMatters because they're good enough to host the clip.

If you are as irate as I am about this comment, you can discuss it on DailyKOS. And the complaint form for Salem Broadcasting is here. Yes, people really are this troglodytic in real life. I wish someone had aborted Mr. Bennett, but that's just me. He doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as those of us who believe that human beings are human beings regardless of the melanin content in their skin.

A profile in courage: Captain Ian Fishback.

For the past year-and-change, Captain Ian Fishback, an officer with the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, has been troubled by two things: the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the buck-passing going on in among the Brass whom Capt. Fishback had been repeatedly sending reports to in a vain attempt to make someone, anyone, aware of what was going on.

He finally had enough, and contacted the independent non-Governmental Organization Human Rights Watch and several (mostly Republican) members of Congress about the abuses he had seen. Now the Brass are being forced to sit up and take notice of Fishback's concerns.

It is only a matter of time before Capt. Fishback gets the full swift-boating treatment by the torture-loving extreme Right. I wouldn't be surprised if he also gets brought up on trumped-up charges. However, he is ready for whatever they dish out: "A lot of men I hold a great deal of respect for are going to hate me right now."

Well, some people now hold a great deal of respect for you, Capt. Fishback.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A sickie at school, take 2...

Note that I mentioned on Saturday that I was feeling like crap. Now then. Try to learn completely new material in math class when you are feeling like crap. This is a picture of the futility I feel today. I have the pressure of an Abnormal Psych test coming up Thursday, falling behind on my homework in Math 149, and a paper coming up for Psychology of Aging on the 10th. Oh yeah: I have to read and journal my readings for Family Systems this Saturday. Last Saturday I had the luxury of sleeping in and being a shiftless lazy bum. Not this Saturday.

Oh, did I tell you I'm fsckn sick????

I sat down with the Woodbury University nurse today, and we figured that I'm either having an upper respiratory allergy attack because I ran out of generic Claritin, or I've got the cold that's been bouncing around the University. I'm not running a fever, and whatever crud I'm coughing up when I wake up is not colors that one needs to worry about with regard to a secondary bacterial infection. So I suppose I should thank Goddess for small mercies. I just feel muddle-headed and tired and a need to get into footie pajamas and have chicken soup and unsalted soda crackers. Not this time, Michelle.

Was taking 15 units a mistake?

This is something I might have to talk to my advisor about. :P

My "real" blog post will come later. Meanwhile, here's a laugh for the waning lunch hour:

Ah-nold for $ale!

Have fun...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogging from the serenity of Woodbury University. I'm outside, taking advantage of the wireless connectivity and the battery on my iBook. I'll prolly have to duck into Woody's and fill my battery up but until then I'm going to enjoy the beauty and relaxation of being outside in glorious Fall-like weather.

One thing I forgot to mention over the weekend. The notorious Captain Crunch, aka John Draper, is now a member of SFVLUG. He showed up at this Saturday's meeting, and was at the previous meeting but nobody made a big deal about it. He's more of a Mac-head than anything else, and does development of security software on OpenBSD which of course is related to Darwin, the UNIX under the hood of Mac OS X. He's local now, having traded the Silicon Valley for the San Fernando Valley. Of course he is welcome in spite of his not really being into Linux per se. He's a living link to the period of time where communication was corked up like a genie in a bottle and people all over the world were trying whatever they could to open the bottle up. Now that you can place long distance calls for something like 5 cents a minute or for free using Skype it's no big deal. But back in the late '60s the cost was really prohibitive and the technology was really primitive. I suppose you can say what the Phreakers were doing was not ethical, but one could question the ethics of Ma Bell at that point as well.

For some reason, he really got along with Richie. It doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense considering that Richie is not a computer kind of guy, but perhaps it's some sort of generational thing. Richie came of age during the '60s, so did Mr. Draper. Most SFVLUGgers are in their 20s and 30s. Which makes me usually the oldest person in the room. This is another reason why I welcome his presence...I'm no longer the "granny" of the LUG.

OK, about aging. I really don't feel like I'm going to be 42 next birthday. I feel more like I'm the same age as my college-age compatriots here at Woodbury. Of course, sometimes when I wake up in the morning I feel every minute my 41+ years. But usually I feel like I'm a 20 year old smartass. Call me fixated. Whatever.

Oh yeah, the reason why I'm here so early is because I got a letter in the mail stating that I indeed was entitled to a refund, that I was overpaid Financial Aid monies and to bring the form in with my decision about what to do about the money ASAP. So most of the money is coming back to me, but some of it is being held so that I have book money for next semester. I will be able to do something very positive as well: pay off a couple of more credit cards. Considering the onerous terms of the Bankruptcy Bill and the requirement for a minimum payment on a credit card to be 4% of the carried balance, "zeroing out" two of the four cards I currently am carrying a balance on is pretty damn cool. Yeah, it's using one kind of debt to manage another kind of debt, but there are distinctions made by economists between "productive debt" like investing in a business or a house or incurring student loans to sharpen one's skills and make one more attractive as an employee; and "non-productive debt" like credit card debt and car loans and time payments on items that will depreciate in value. That "Computadora en credito facil" is going to depreciate something fierce. Moore's law will make sure of it. That's why, no matter how tempting, I'm happy with my current crop of old computers. It would be nice to have a brand spanking new AlBook instead of this classic Clamshell. It would be nice to have a lappie I could actually play games on instead of be limited by the GPU processors of this machine and my 600x. It would be nice to have a mighty rocket-powered Athlon64 as my flagship machine. But oh well. For what counts this suits me fine.

Oh yeah...I'm using Opera Mac OS X on this lappie more and Firefox and Safari less and less. It's simply the best choice for a low-powered Mac OS X-capable computer. It can handle this just fine. What is it about people from Scandinavia and good software? Linux was developed in Finland and so was FProt anti-virus. Opera was developed in Sweden. If you move the circle further out, there's all those German hackers (in the old-school sense of the word) who have given us stuff like KDE. The software community in Northern Europe is pretty damn cool. Now if someone will suggest to the Opera folks that free as in beer isn't enough, and opening the code would be the next step to take, then life would be good.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I want to make one more statement before I sit down to other things not online: I am not anti-war.

Sometimes we have to go to war. World War II is a good example of a non-elective war. Hitler had to be taken down, so did Mussolini, and the imperialists of Japan needed to be shown that the golden age of the Samurai had passed. However, with but one exception, we have been enmeshed in war after war after war that was unnecessary and benefitted only the military-industrial complex and their investors.

The Gulf War was somewhat necessary. An aggressor nation had annexed a smaller, weaker nation. A grand coalition was formed, the aggressor nation was given the boot, and buttoned up in a small strip of land by two no-fly zones. We could have kept the aggressor, Saddam Hussain, corked up there until he died, and kept his murderous sons similarly corked up until they croaked.

The war we should have fought after 9/11 was clearly one against Afghanistan's Taliban regime and its neighbor and collaborator Pakistan. No matter what kind of pro-Pakistani propaganda garbage CBS (and by extension the US Government) shoveled up during 60 Minutes tonight, the Pakistanis are NOT our friends. If they were, they would have delivered Osama bin'Laden on a platter to us by now. They are as good of friends as the Saudis are, whom George W. Bush loves to appease. If someone had real cojones, we'd sweat the Saudis until they turned off the money spigot to the Jihadist movement.

Iraq became a wretched hive of scum, villainy and terrorists after we barged in. It was only a wretched hive of scum and villainy beforehand, and one we had clamped a lid on. Our presence is the magnet that draws foreign fighters to Iraq. And if we had hoped we would have a compliant client state in Iraq, we got another thing coming. Iran has its eyes on Iraq, and has people in place to make sure they have as much say in a future Iraq as Syria had in Lebanon. We will have succeeded in creating the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq one day. And needless to say, this country will *not* be our friends either.

As far as the Israeli-Palestinian situation goes, we need to start telling the Likudniks and the Haredim that they will no longer get their way. Gaza is a good start. However, it's time to say goodbye to the West Bank. Out. Now.

It's also time to start serious talks about an internationally-administered Jerusalem. The UN does not have the stature anymore to handle this. They did in 1948, when the original deal was placed before the Zionists and the Palestinian Arabs. Zionists, you get Israel. Palestinians, you get Transjordan. The UN will administer the city of Jerusalem in perpetuity to keep its holy sites safe for the Three Abrahamic Faiths to worship in. Of course, the deal didn't pan out, and we have the situation we have had for almost 60 years. The elephant in the room preventing a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority is Jerusalem. Israel claims it as its capitol, the Palestinians claim it as their capitol. That cannot stand.

Some international authority needs to step up and say: "This is a city that belongs to all humanity. It cannot remain a political football." This is the hard part. I strongly suggest a council of religious authorities be convened to watch over Jerusalem. Yeah, that council will probably resemble the beginning of several well-worn jokes. Make sure you extract a pledge that no religious group will attempt to destroy another's holy site. That means you, Haredim who want a Third Temple. The Wailing Wall, Al'Aqsa Mosque, and the Holy Sepulcher must all be kept as-is. No more quibbles. Restoration is OK but nobody destroys anyone else's site.

Solving the Israel/Palestine question is going to be tough, but it has to be done. Shimon Peres already died as a result of his efforts to sort it out. Some others might have to deal with extremists with murder on their minds from either Muslim or Haredim quarters. But we have to deal with it. No meaningful solution of the whole Middle Eastern/Islamic Asian situation can be found without dealing with this.

Sometimes war is inevitable. However, it should be very, very rare. And certainly going to war over a series of lies is not a good thing at all.

I think we have found our man for 2008. He's currently President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

Aaron Broussard has become the clearest voice against the disregard and disrespect of the less prosperous people of the greater New Orleans area. He has been warning about the root causes of why Hurricane Dubya^H^H^H^HKatrina struck so hard and caused so much damage for years before the event. He has been a tireless fighter for the rebuilding of the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta. It is thought by scientists that if the wetlands hadn't been drained and channeled and "reclaimed" as much as they have, they would have been a buffer against the huge storm surge that topped and destroyed so many of the levees of New Orleans. Broussard acknowledged that perhaps the scientists might know what they were talking about and fought for this cause.

He was out there helping to fix the levees, and he was also indispensible in his eloquence on behalf of his people. Maybe a few right-wing blog types might have called details of the tale he told on Meet The Press and Face The Nation the Sunday after Katrina a little exaggerated, but as he pointed out when challenged on those details on MTP today, he got the big story right.

"Listen, sir, somebody wants to nitpick a man's tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home? Are you kidding? What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death? They just buried Eva last week. I was there at the wake. Are you kidding me? That wasn't a box of Cheerios they buried last week. That was a man's mother whose story, if it is entirely broadcast, will be the epitome of abandonment. It will be the saddest tale you ever heard, a man who was responsible for safekeeping of a half a million people, mother's died in the next parish because she was abandoned there and he can't get to her and he tried to get to her through EOC. He tried to get through the sheriff's office. He tries every way he can to get there. Somebody wants to debate those things? My God, what sick-minded person wants to do that?"
-- Aaron Broussard, MTP, Sept. 25th, 2005

After 8 years of Bill Clinton's triangulation and 5 years of George W. Bush's outright, blatant, bald-faced lies, we need a straight-shooter like Aaron Broussard in office. We need a guy who will sit down and tell it to us straight, "tell it like it is" as the great Neville Brothers put it, and roll up his sleeves and get to work. The damage done by 5 years of George W. Bush borrow-and-binge spending and by an elective war against the wrong enemy in the wrong place at the wrong time will have to be dealt with, probably by the next President. I get the feeling that Broussard might be our century's answer to folks like President Teddy Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman, people with whom you might not have agreed with 100% of the time but who would give it to you straight and unvarnished, tell you exactly what is needed and what exactly should be done.

Currently I like General Clark, of all the likely candidates, as our next President. Even though some of my fellow bloggers like a resurgent Al Gore for President, I think Clark has the "right stuff" and is the kind of person who can connect not only with the Democratic base but also with Indies and potential GOP "switchers." However, if Broussard threw his hat into the ring I would support him wholeheartedly. Hmm...perhaps a Clark/Broussard ticket? That might work. The General from Arkansas and the tough Cajun. Mais bien sur!

Oh yeah, one last thing: yeah, I know that Muskie blew it in 1968 when he cried in public. I think we've grown up a lot since then. If you don't like a man unafraid to show emotion, you are simply not human.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Just a little note to show that the DC rally is freakin' huge...2K demonstrators my ass...

Lookie here:

Fucking CSPAN stop covering the ANSWER loonies and cover the REAL STORY, Dammit!

The link goes to a DailyKOS article which is the source for this pic as well as a whole slew of others.

It's not just stupid neo-Stalinists trapped in the 1960s out in force's the American public, and we want an endgame in Iraq!!! Rita and Katrina are making things clear: we cannot afford to fight an elective war in Iraq and care for our people here! No more Borrow and Binge economics! No more elective wars! Bush and his co-conspirators need to be IMPEACHED AND REMOVED for their lies! Yes! It is all about lying before Congress! And not just about a stupid juvenile affair, either. 2,000 dead American boys and girls is a bigger matter than cheating on your wife.

This is the REAL Arnold Schwarzenegger talking...if you had thought he was a "moderate" and "pro-choice" you are dead wrong. In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, he said he would "kill" anyone who took his daughter to get an abortion behind his back.

He still says he's pro-choice...for adult women. However, isn't this kind of rhetoric the very sort that would drive a desperate daughter to get an abortion without parental consent? Certainly threats of homicide are enough to make a daughter fearful enough to not want to involve her parents in such a situation.

If Proposition 73 passes, it would require a clinic to breach confidentiality and send written notification to a minor girl's parents if she asks for an abortion. There is provision in the bill to allow the minor to petition the court for an exception to the notification, but of course this is an onerous provision that would likely be rarely invoked. Most shockingly of all, the bill defines abortion as the "killing" of an “unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.” This would add this definition to the California Constitution, setting up a constitutional crisis where the right to privacy would have to be weighed against the "rights" of "a child conceived but not yet born" in deciding whether abortion would remain safe and legal here. This is the real nugget of evil in this proposition. This definition would be a slow poison of a woman's right to choose in California. This is also why Domino's Pizza magnate, Opus Dei member and radical anti-abortion activist Dave Monaghan has been funding the campaign for Proposition 73.

Arnold is beginning to show his true GOP-loyalist colors now. He is appealing to the GOP right wing base, and letting them know their wish is his command. Do we really want someone like this to continue to be the Governor of the State of California? Do we really want California to become an outpost of Red America? This is what's at stake now.

Also it looks like Rita ended up being less potent than everyone thought it would be. This is good news. I'm sure it's cold comfort for the folks in NOLA who now have to deal with more levee breakage and subsequent flooding. The largely impoverished 9th Ward is again underwater, Not a good situation.

Oh yeah, I'm sick today. Is it allergies or is it a cold? Dunno. Hopefully I'll be feeling better soon. It wouldn't surprise me if it was a cold...temps have been whipsawing between unseasonably cool and seasonably warm here in the San Fernando Valley. A sure fire recipe for a cold. :P However, certainly that pales by comparison with the problems of those dealing with the aftermath of Rita. My best to all.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bonddad from DailyKOS and My Left Wing has sounded off today at the latter site. He's hunkered down in Houston. The way Rita seems to be going, it looks like he will be spared the worst of it. However, I would have been happier had he opted to evacuate.

However, I have another friend whose parents simply were too frail to evacuate from their home in a community on the border between Texas and Louisiana. And they are right on the projected path of Rita. Oh dear.

And, of course, Rita is headed right for a whole shitload of refineries. 23 refineries are either still shut down from Katrina damage or shut down anticipating Rita's arrival. (Sorry, soul-sucking registration required. Try BugMeNot and look for NY Times.) This is not good at all for fuel prices. $4 or $5 gasoline is a possibility.

Not good. Not good at all.

Update 9:07pm PDT: My friend's parents...and his dog...are now safe in the vast interior of TX. I have heard too many stories from Katrina where people too frail to evacuate basically die. A little less to worry about.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tonight's the general meeting of the Panorama City Neighborhood Council (Forming) and I'm feeling like my body's made of lead. Thankfully Saturday is an "off" Saturday for Family Systems class, so I'll be able to have a bit of downtime.

I really should go tonight. Hopefully I won't doze off in my seat. I might need some heavy caffeine.

BTW Ah-nold's unveiled his ads for the Special (as in Special Ed) Election. They all are outclassed by the opposition's current batch, and I'm hoping the one that actually features Herr Lunkheadstein gets more play. Because he's so hated, the more we can associate him with the Special Election, the worse it will be for the hateful propositions. I like the framing of some of the ads: Proposition 75 is the "Shut up the Nurses, Firefighters, Cops and Teachers" proposition. The fight against Proposition 73, which some blogs have referred to as the "Incest Perpetrators' Protection Act," is calling itself "The Campaign For Teen Safety." Those are good frames. Another frame I'd actively support during another election would be to call Proposition 79 "The Measure Big Pharma Fears Most." However, I think that the best frame of all remains "Vote No On Everything: Say NEIN! To Arnold."

Rita scares the shit out of me because of the potential for disruption of oil production. Katrina was bad, but it's as if Rita was sent to knock out what Katrina didn't. A friend of mine who lives on the TX/LA border has finally been persuaded to leave town. I hope he succeeds in escaping the storm's wrath. Also, another friend has parents in Houston, and some of DailyKOS' best writers are in harm's way this time. This is not good, no matter how you slice it. It's a bit far along to hope that Rita would take a South Of The Border trip, but hopefully it will continue to weaken.

Please, no more of this. Rita has to be the end of it. However, hurricane season ends November 1st. One more month of this and the entire United States could be bankrupted. Crap.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A night at the Opera on Mac OS X...

Just installed the newly free-as-in-beer Opera on both my Linux "daily drive" box and on my iMac. Since my iMac (original recipe clamshell) only has a 300MHz G3 processor, I have to be very, very careful about apps and what they demand. My blue-and-white G3 also is similarly proc-limited, with a 350MHz G3. So far it seems like Opera is a lot faster at rendering, although it is not as good at rendering pages that are no sweat for Firefox.

Speaking of Firefox, it was similarly no sweat to upgrade it here. Much easier on Mac OS X than on Linux. Opera 8.5 looks very, very Mac-like...very Aquatic. IE is, well...a piece of crap. Firefox looks like a Gnome app just about wherever it's deployed, Safari is all brushed-metal and Panther Finder-esque, but Opera really looks like it belongs.

I would be more enthusiastic about this app if it was F/OSS. But since Mac OS X isn't Free, I suppose it's less of an "impurity" in this context.

I am going to give it some more torture tests, with some demanding websites. But it seems like this iBook struggles less with Opera than with any other browser. Looks good.

OK Linux users...make sure you update your Firefox. Remote exploit out.

The way I do mine is dead easy: install Firefox into a directory on your /home/[userdir]. (Replace bracketed stuff with your username.) Not good for machines with multiple users, true, but fine for people like me who are the sole user of the system. I used a new dir called firefox107. It's almost as easy as a Mac OS X install. Getting rid of the old version was equally easy peasy... /rm -rf /home/userdir/firefox106 . You should make a directory inside firefox107 called firefox for installing the actual installation into. There will be a dir called firefox-installer made when you untar/gunzip the installer.

Since they are talking about the Firefox exploit as being possible under Unix, all you Mac OS X users should also update. Again, yank your Firefox out of the Apps folder and trash it (using your admin account, natch!) then download and install Firefox 1.0.7.

The Microsoft fanbois are talking about how "Firefox is unsafe and everyone should go back to Windows and IE." Bullshit. When a Firefox flaw is found, it gets fixed and gets fixed quick. When there's an IE flaw, Microsoft often takes their sweet time fixing it. I can think of several instances where there was a 'sploit in the wild and no patch or workaround from Microsoft. The Mozilla Foundation works super-quick compared to the lumbering juggernaut of Microsoft. It's a matter of personal pride for the F/OSS community that a Firefox flaw gets patched quick. Microsoft could care less. Unless it's a big corporation demanding the fix, in which case money does tend to talk, and loudly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I'm sitting here in the Woodbury University library, and I can't help but feel a little awed by the former chapel turned temple of knowledge. We had a chapel like this at this one school I went to in Oregon...the school used the de-consecrated chapel as an auditorium. I can't help but think that perhaps that would have been a good use here too. The acoustics are not so great for a library but probably are awesome for music.

They didn't get rid of everything from the old chapel. There are beautiful medieval-looking stained glass windows on both sides of the central aisles. They are reminders of the former mission of this place: as a Catholic girls' school. It is rumored that Mother Cabrini's ghost hauts the library. I don't put much stock in it, but I suppose that a nun who was declared a saint in the 1940s would be quite unlikely to be an unfriendly presence.

Now that (hopefully) the financial situation has been cleared up, I feel I can really throw myself into my studies here. I really can't think of any profs this semester I truly dislike, and as I have mentioned before Dr. Gilbert is someone I can really say is 100% on my may be too early, in truth, to say she's a mentor but she's been great so far.

I got my math test back, and I got a B! As you know my typical math test scores were Cs at LAVC. This textbook is more sensible and the prof is better than almost all of those I dealt with there. I still miss Prof. Hito, and hope she's doing well. So far the material has been more like review for me, but it's going to get into new territory soon. There are more resources available here for help than there were at chronically cash-strapped LAVC...there had better be, considering the tuition bills I'm racking up!

Also I got my first paper back from Abnormal Psych...Dr. Gilbert is my prof there and aside from a few quibbles about APA style her only complaint was the length. She didn't just dock me for it, she suggested which things could be snipped for space and not hurt the paper. She's not graded the paper yet...she's not graded anyone's paper. We are to revise and resubmit as part of the procedure. That is a cool way of handling things, imho. Revision is part of the process anyway.

There is something quite peaceful about a college campus at off-times of the day. LAVC was nice in the late afternoon, after the day classes were by-and-large over and before the night student crush. Woodbury's a lot like that too. We don't have an army of brazen fox squirrels begging people for nuts or other foodstuffs, but that's just fine. I can handle their absence. I'll have to find other forms of entertainment here on the one day I have lots of time to kill.

Some other brief thoughts: I hope Cindy Sheehan's OK...she apparently got injured yesterday in New York City during a rally. Ms. Sheehan was apparently grabbed by her backpack straps by a NYPD cop. :P Long time NYC peace activist Zuul (Paul Zulkowitz) was arrested for not having a permit for the modest PA system the rally used. Yeah right, and you're expecting people to go without a PA in the middle of Manhattan? Go fsck yourself, NYPD. Pick on someone your own size, bullies. :P

The Steve is 100% right that raising prices on legal downloads will send people scurrying back to illegal P2P music downloads. I'm still angry at Apple for making iTunes 5 unusable on my Macs. But he's right this time.

Also Opera is now free as in no-cost, making for yet another option for avoiding Internet Exploder. This is good news for Mac OS 9 and below users, because Opera is perhaps the only stable browser for that orphan OS. It's also available for Linux, making it as cross-platform as Firefox.

Finally...Rita, go get yourself a Margarita in Mexico. The folks who suffered through Katrina don't need to get strafed by a second hurricane. Yeah, it looks like Louisiana is out of harm's way, but so many Katrina survivors have fled to Texas that a hit in Texas would be another blow to their fragile sanity. Really, take a Mexican vacation, Rita. Spare them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

OK, time to exhale...whew!

As Marina, my Financial Aid Counselor, put it: "You have nothing to worry about, you owe us a matter of fact, we owe you."

The reason why I showed on the Business Office's records as owing money was that there are financial aid monies which will not be released for another two weeks. They will be released at the beginning of October.

Goddess bless Dr. Gilbert...she walked into Financial Aid around the same time I was there freaking out. She was quite pleased that I had taken the initiative to find out what was wrong, and I was quite pleased that she was there being supportive. I have a real ally in her, along the same lines as Dr. Rosow at LAVC.

The reason I have managed to get this far, in spite of all the roadblocks I have had to bust through, is because:

  1. I have been able to keep myself the best-organized I have ever been in my entire life for the time I have been first at LAVC and now here at Woodbury;

  2. I fight like a momma bear whose cubs are in danger when faced with any sort of obstacle. You don't screw around with an angry momma bear.

I feel very relieved. I have been agonizing about this all weekend, to the point where more than a few people were as freaked as I was.

Oh yeah, on my way here to Woodbury, I picked up my diploma. It looks good and feels even better than that. I will have to stop in at a copy shop to get some color and black-and-white copies done. Just copying this in black-and-white won't do it justice.

What feels best is that I have come full circle. It took me 25 years from the point when I first took classes at LAVC to where I came by to pick up the coveted paper. Better late than never. If I could do this, anyone can. For those in a similar situation, you owe it to yourself to finish what you started.

This changes nothing with respect to the state of the world. It's still a damn ugly place and getting uglier with every passing day. I'm still too broke to even pay attention, and I still can't really do much more than shoot my mouth off in response to Hurricane Dubya. However, I have taken the initiative to better my own life. At least here I have a degree of self-efficacy.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

(Replacement for a post I made which could give some people the wrong idea.)

Tomorrow I am going to have to straighten things out at Woodbury. Once and for all.

Currently their business office has been oscillating between two different sums of money that I either owe them or they owe me. Every time I try to get them to put it right, somehow or another they oscillate back to the scenario where I owe them rather than they owing me.

Can you say "Bait and Switch?"

Can you say "Bleeding a turnip?"

Can you say "If I owe, then I don't go?" I knew you could. Very good, kids.

This current situation is the cherry atop the shit sundae that is my life. I have been feeling quite hopeless about the political situation. I have been feeling depressed about finances. I have been feeling depressed about the prospect of having to leave Woodbury after incurring lots of nasty student loan debt without anything to show for it. I have been feeling depressed about my impotence to do anything for the victims of Hurricane Dubya except shoot my mouth off. And I've been feeling hopeless and depressed over what will happen in 2006. Unless there is a huge surge of votes for Democratic Party candidates and the House and Senate flip, the Orwellian scenario in the US will be here to stay.

"If you want to know the future, imagine a (cowboy) boot stomping on a human face. Forever."

However, it's all not gloom and doom here, no matter how my sick my heart feels right now. For one thing, yesterday I got the yellow postcard I have been waiting for. My diploma is ready at LA Valley College. And a friend of mine who currently lives in Britain but is a Canadian citizen says she will do whatever it takes to help me should I have to flee North to leave a US that has gone completely overboard.

I feel angry now. Anger good. Depression bad.

Daria: "OK, now find some other way to feel."

Sandi: "OOOOHHHH!!!!"

Daria: "See, it's working."

from "The Misery Chick," "Daria" episode #113, Glenn Eichler

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fat Arnold...this is what happens when you go off steroids!

Like it has been coyly noted for the past week, The Gropenfuhrer has thrown his spiked helmet back into the ring for a second go-round. He is hoping that announcing will, in the words of AP political writer Beth Fouhy, re-energize his sagging momentum. As you can see from the picture we chose to run with, he needs to also re-energize other things that are sagging. Like his pecs.

In early polling, Phil Angelides is beating Arnold 46% to 42%. Steve Westly is beating Arnold by a smaller margin, 44% to 40%. No matter how you slice it, though, only 39% of registered voters want Arnold back. The Dem and Indie voters who helped get him in last time are simply not there to support him: 83% of registered Democrats and 61% of self-identified independents want him gone.

The only thing left for Arnold to rely on is the Republican base. And time and time again, it has been proven that this is not enough to win the State House in California.

Hasta la vista, schmuck.

Bloody Gretna...

The people who let 40 people die in a flooded nursing home are being charged with negligent homicide. Looks like a whole police department should be next. And while they're at it, the City Council should be brought up on civil rights charges.

If you arrived here late, the one route which could have provided an escape path for those stranded at the Superdome and the NO Convention Center was the Crescent City Bridge. Unfortunately for those hapless men, women, children and old people, mostly of color, the Crescent City Bridge leads to a suburb of NOLA called Gretna. The bridge was barricaded by Gretna PD cops with shotguns and police dogs. Eyewitnesses have confirmed this is what happened.

Let me break it down for you this way:

Burn Gretna Burn
(with apologies to my homie Chuck D)

Burn Gretna burn I smell a riot goin' on
Blocked the bridge, now my brothers and sisters are dead and gone
Get me the hell away from this TV
All this news and views are beneath me
Cause all I hear about is shots ringin' out
And the motherfuckin' sheriff wouldn't let us escape
Makes me feel something a lot like being raped
So I rather kick some slang out
All right fellas let's go hand out
Gretna Louisiana or would they not
Make us all look bad like I know they had
But some things I'll never forget yeah
And the city council said it was ok
To turn my brothers and sisters away from Gretna, LA
The joke is over smell the smoke from all around
Burn Gretna burn

Since the Los Angeles Times has one of the nastiest registration regimes of any newspaper short of the Wall Street Journal, I took the liberty of making a PDF of this very important story. (114Kb) To add insult to injury, the Gretna City Council has gone on record now stating they approved of the actions of their Police Department when they sealed up the Crescent City Bridge. They are now circling the wagons, Apartheid South Africa style. It's all in that article.

Racist assholes, the lot of them. Yeah, they have Black people living there, too, but I am willing to make a wild guess that there weren't any Black people in on that decision.

BTW: Dubya's speech last night was a load of garbage, and a whitewash over the big news about the rebuilding of New Orleans: Karl Rove is going to be Dubya's pointman during the rebuilding process. Chew on that awhile. :P

Thursday, September 15, 2005

WTF is wrong with this?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

One nation, indivisible.

Doesn't the Pledge flow better without that grafted-in invocation of the Abrahamic deity?

One nation, indivisible.

My husband Richie made an excellent observation yesterday evening. The "under God" part of the Pledge as it stands now, post Cold War, divides the Pledge and divides it unnaturally. It changes the whole meaning and divides what once was indivisible.

We are a divided nation now. We will continue to be a divided nation even if this document was returned to its pre 1954 state. I'm sure the 51% of the nation who wants a theocracy will be hopping mad. I'm sure that if the California decision goes before the Supremes it will be struck down, especially with Roberts as Chief Justice and another Bush batshit crazy right-winger taking Sandra Day O'Connor's seat.

Two nations. Divided. With liberty just as far off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

An American Pieta
photo by Bruce Chambers, Orange County Register

The picture is horrifying, but it is beautiful because it represents a miracle of survival. A miracle which would have slipped away if members of the California National Guard hadn't disregarded FEMA orders and broken into Edgar Hollingsworth's New Orleans home.

He lay on his couch for almost three weeks, going in and out of unconsciousness. His faithful dog sat at his feet, in forlorn hope that his master would get up and feed him, or maybe just pet him. He had apparently not eaten or drank for days.

He is now in the hospital. Maybe he will recover. However, he's 74 years old and has been starving and dehydrated. His chances aren't so great.

Let me refresh your memory about what Michaelangelo's masterpiece looks like:

And let me reacquaint you with the words attributed to the man in the sculpture:

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:34-40, KJV

I know I've been quoting a hell of a lot of scripture lately for an unbeliever. However, I was on the other side for a while, and in times like these the sickening hypocricy of the G. W. Bush administration and the readiness of them to quote scripture for their purposes makes me want to cram this down their throats.

If you know your Christian Bible, you know that the next words of Yehoshua ben David took this beautiful picture and twisted it 180 degrees around, where the damned, the "goats," were pitched into Hell because they wouldn't do what the true believers had done throughout their lifetimes. Inasmuch as thou hast fucked over the least of these my brethren, ye have fucked over me. Maybe it's not exactly what he said, but you get the idea.

I hope this man survives. I don't believe in an afterlife, but if I did I could see this guy testifying against Dubya and his buddies before the Great White Throne. And I can hear the judgement now..."depart, ye sinners, into the place God hath made for Satan and his Angels..."

A disaster of Biblical proportions, indeed.

Note 9/21/2005, 6:40pm: Edgar Hollingsworth didn't make it. He died a few days ago and was buried yesterday. Details here, including Flash-delivered video.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A brief moment to blog before my next class. Yes, I love this pervasive (although ubiquitous is a bit of a misnomer) bandwidth here.

I still can't say that I *like* Math, but it has been getting easier and easier for me. I will be coming here early tomorrow to get some more Supplemental Instruction, and today I not only had Math 149 but a S.I. session. Tuesday is the day I stay at Woodbury pretty much the entire day. I have three classes, and it doesn't make sense to go home between them.

I feel a lot more prepared for the test on Thursday. I thought I might have to take the test today because that's what was blocked out for me, but no, my call is Thursday afternoon from 3 to 5. I think I would have done ok today anyway, because I did some extra prep work and I almost got through a review of chapters 1 and 2 in an hour, and that was a good crop of questions, not all of them easy.

It is wonderful how my other classes dovetail so well together. Yes, they are all Psych classes, but I have managed to get Abnormal Psych, Cross-Cultural Psych, Family Systems and Psychology of Aging together in one semester. Each seems to relate to each other. I seem to also have a few classmates who are in just about every single class I'm in, except for Family Systems which is a weekend class, and nobody wants to take classes on a Saturday unless that's the only way you can get them.

Even though Woodbury is hardly as sprawlingly huge as Cal State University Northridge or even LA Valley College, it's on a hillside and there are a few places where the grade of the Verdugos is palpable as you walk. I'm losing some weight, finally, and Tuesdays when I have my wheeled computer bag and a full book bag dragging along behind me can feel like dragging a sledge across the Antarctic. I've got to take some pix of the is huge. Then again, I *could* lighten the load if I only took Navi and left BlueTank and its accessories behind at home. I have most of the install work done on the little darlin' but I still have tweaking to do. As Jim Smith would tell you, that which doesn't kill you really hurts a lot. And it does make you stronger.

I think I'm really getting to like it here. LAVC still feels like "home" but this is quite comfortable. And I'm really getting used to the good food. You couldn't live on LAVC cafeteria food. Ever see "Super Size Me?" It wouldn't take a month to do the kind of damage that the guy did from LAVC food. I'd give you a week, tops, before the toxicity got you. I could see living on the food at "Woody's," though. Good eats.

Class is about to start...I'd better wrap this up.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Forget what I said about "Maybe say yes on 79 but no on everything else."

We need a simple frame for this special election. And this is it:

Just say NO to Arnold and his wasteful special election. Tell Arnold NEIN!

79 is a good initiative, especially when you consider how much it's making Big Pharma sweat. However, for the sake of a simple message that we can take everywhere, NO on EVERYTHING can't be beat.

Yeah, it does fit the "Party of No" frame that the GOP tried to hang on the national Democratic Party. But every mother and father knows that when the brats are running wild, someone needs to slam the brakes on and reestablish authority. A responsible adult, when faced with the irresponsible and inept actions of the overgrown Austrian baby, needs to take charge and say NO.

Tell him NEIN. Take that message to every one of his "Town Hall" meetings he's doing. Take it to every appearance. Take it to every photo op. Tell Arnold NEIN! He can't be trusted. He's not a responsible adult. He needs to be spanked at the ballot box twice: on November 8th, and when (and if) he stands for re-election next year. Just say NEIN. That is all.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four years after "The Day Everything Changed" and we *still* haven't caught Osama bin'Laden. That's criminal.

A tragedy that will, even with the lesser body count, dwarf 9/11 is unfolding in the Mississippi Delta. However, new facts are starting to emerge now that we are getting a little distance from the events. The horror stories of rapes and murders in NOLA are turning out to be rumors blown up by Fox News Network.

After Hurricane Dubya, the hurricane's namesake is at 38% popularity. The wisdom of the sign on Pres. Harry S. Truman's desk remains after all these years:

Yes, Mr. "President." Learn from your predecessor. The buck indeed stops here, with you. No matter how you spin it, no matter how you dissemble it, no matter how you parse it or deconstruct it, you set the tone and you have the responsibility. The public isn't buying what you are selling about the problem being the state and local officials, especially those with (D) after their name. The buck stops here, with you, and you can't pass it anywhere else.

I said it before, I'll say it again: unless our electoral system is completely compromised by black box voting machines, pre-Voting Rights Act shenanigans designed to prevent racial minorities from voting and good ole fashioned ballot stuffing, 2006 will finally be our chance for an "accountability moment" for the G. W. Bush administration. If 2006 ends with the House and the Senate in Democratic control, we'll know the system still works. If 2006 ends with the House and Senate still as they are, in the hands of the Repugnicans, then the electoral system is broken and our only hope for change will be non-violent resistance activities throughout the nation ala Gandhi and Vaclav Havel and the Solidarnosc movement of Poland.

I am holding on to what I hope is not a vain hope: 2006 will be the real year "everything changes." This is the midterm grade that will hopefully "flunk" this obvious miserable failure currently stinking up the White House. However, he's got very powerful buddies and they are not below dirty tricks to keep their man in office and out of impeachment trial scrutiny. :P

Oh yeah: remember the 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11/2001. Don't sully their deaths by linking the wrong perpetrator to the crime. Saddam Hussain had zip, zilch, nada to do with 9/11. Osama bin'Laden is still a free man somewhere in Pakistan. Saddam was a bastard but he's in jail now. He will likely be tried in a show trial by the Islamic Republic of Iraq and Iran, a new member of the Axis of Evil, brought to you by the G. W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and the usual gang of idiots. Saddam should have been brought to trial at the World Court for his many crimes against humanity, but that is about as likely as someone doing the same for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et alia. To link 9/11 to the Iraq War is wrong, bad, and downright evil. Shame on the Bush Administration for continuing to make the link. Again and again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

From the "all woken up but nowhere to go" department...

Woodbury sure runs things strangely. I came here right on time to attend my class, 8-12 Saturday Morning. Surprise: nobody's home. Miller Hall was locked up tight, and only due to the good graces of the computer techs was I able to get in.

However, the moral of this story is a familiar one: RTFM. Or the syllabus, in this case. Apparently my Saturday class meets every other week, not every week.

If I had only paid attention to the syllabus, I could have slept in today. Groovy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Must see TV: no, I don't mean the Hurricane Dubya telethon either.

Us And Them: a meditation on current events.

By Joe Max, based on a concept by Driftglass.

(Warning: Some *very* disturbing imagery)

Unfortunately this is QuickTime which is not F/OSS friendly. It's not even Windows friendly. I want to save this, but you have to get QuickTime Pro for that. I am so pissed off now at Apple for basically cutting both of my MacOS X capable Macs off of iTunes with version 5 with its 500MHz CPU minimum (I have a 350MHz Blue-And-White minitower and a 300MHz Clamshell iBook) that I don't want to give Apple any more money. Tiger? Bite me. Mac mini? I'll get a refurbed one. Pay for QuickTime Pro? FOAD, Steve. When Panther ceases to be useful I will Debianize both of my Blueberry Babies. The Minitower could theoretically get a Tiger in its tank, but no way, not after this.

For the people iTunes abandoned, Panic Software has been offering its very worthy Audion mp3/Ogg Vorbis/CD player for free since they abandoned it after Version 3. Hell, I might even *buy* their Transmit FTP program to thank them for such a bitchen little mp3 player.

Anyway enough of that. Tomorrow will mark the end of Week II of the Woodbury U experience, and I can blog a little about that here right now.

1.) There is just as much red tape and bureaucracy at a small school as there is at a big school. Which sucks. I want my fsckn money's worth considering how far they are bending me over on student loans. I want a concierge desk to handle the red tape for me. It's good to have a personal academic advisor. If you wanted academic counseling at LAVC you needed an appointment. It's as easy as going to my Abnormal Psych class for me.

2.) All the accomodations for my math disability have been dealt with, and I have lots and lots of resources now to get through Math 149. Also, the book is a huge improvement from the horrors of Educo's books/software.

3.) Not sure if I'll be able to handle 15 units of coursework. However, I will give it my best shot.

Which reminds me...I have a "journal" to do for one of my classes. Better wrap this up.

Note 9/11/2005, 10:20am: putting the link to "Us And Them" in my blog was useful because I could just hold down the mouse button on my Mac and capture the QT file to disk. "Save to disk" is your friend. Steve Jobs isn't.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Michael Moore puts his money (and his @$$) where his mouth is:

Cindy Sheehan has moved Camp Casey down to Louisiana in a citizen effort to bring aid and comfort to the storm-torn people of New Orleans and environs. And guess who's brought his entire staff down to help? Yes, that's right, the Republicans' boogie man, Michael Moore.

Here's his announcement.

Of course, the Mainstream Media has said exactly jack and shit about this.

Right on, Mike.

Dubya says kiss my bass!

Yeah, it's a Photoshop job, but a really, really good one. Kudos, whoever did this.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More obsessive Hurricane Dubya stuffs...

Flash Timeline: Drowning In The Bathtub

This is pretty cool...anyone know how to save a .SWF file? Show this to your favorite clueless GOP diehard...if you must...

Rage Against The Obscene: how Hurricane Dubya is making the rest of my life suck too.

Someone very wise once said this: Rage is the intersection of anger and powerlessness. Or was it anger and hopelessness? In any event, basically I feel like my skin has been rubbed raw by sandpaper. The slightest irritant feels much worse than it actually is. Doing my math homework feels like I've been tasked with the same task King Sisyphus got in the afterlife. Brushes with bureaucracy at school feel like a skirmish in a war. I got so keyed up today that sitting through a class today I couldn't concentrate worth a tinker's damn. Minor annoyances blow up into big horrible things. Of course, rationality always wins and I stop myself from doing stupid things like killing people who annoy me.

It's hard to keep one's "eyes on the prize" when one feels that there's people who need not only your help but the help of people with more resources than you and you can do fuck-all to help them. If I was to simply pick up and leave for one of the places where the Hurricane refugees have been relocated, I would lose the momentum I have picked up with school and be exactly 2 years away from my Bachelor's Degree. I would likely owe Woodbury University beaucoups argent without getting any benefit from it.

Anyway, I think what I should do is to get some counseling, stat. I have an appointment on Friday but maybe I should drop in at the Woodbury clinic tomorrow. I can at least take some cold comfort in the fact that I'm not the only person feeling like this.

Monday, September 05, 2005

May you live in interesting times. Yep, that about sums it all up, doesn't it?

Dubya has Roberts now as his candidate to replace Rehnquist. If Justice Roberts wasn't scary enough, think of how scary CHIEF JUSTICE Roberts is.

I am impressed by how open-hearted the American people are being in light of the New Orleans diaspora. However, there are opportunists out there who are taking advantage of things. And some of them are right in our own backyard here in LA.

The "Dream Center" is a church run by TV evangelist Joyce Meyer. It may or may not be an offshoot of the "International Church" aka "The Boston Church" which has been known for a long time to practice a very authoritarian form of Protestant Christianity. Rev. Meyer also preaches a variant of the "prosperity gospel," a variant on Calvinism which holds that an outward sign of being one of "God's chosen" is financial prosperity, and an outward sign of rejection by God is poverty. This is a belief system which is also held to by the very powerful and influential Dominionist, aka Christian Reconstructionist movement. Pat Robertson is perhaps the most familiar Dominionist/Christian Reconstructionist.

Anyway, enough of this attempt to untangle this gordian knot of theology. This is an authoritarian religious group which is taking people in from the New Orleans/Mississippi diaspora under the pretense of being charitable. They are looking to enlarge their base of adherents by taking in these very vulnerable people. Just like the Church of Scientology went to Ground Zero immediately after 9/11 to find people to "counsel," authoritarian religious groups are going to take this tragedy as an opportunity. I suspect there will be a huge wave of increase in membership in what some would call "cults" during this post-Hurricane Dubya period.

In other related news, the official spinning of the Hurricane Dubya tragedy has begun in earnest. The chief scapegoats are the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana, both from the Democratic side of the aisle. However, official neglect of the problem of a huge hurricane hitting the coast of the Gulf of Mexico has been documented time and time again in the Congressional Record, with pleas for help and condemnation of G.W. Bush Administration budget cuts dating back as far as March 6th, 2001. Georgia10, one of the Kossacks who helped break the Downing Street Memo to the mainstream media, has now focused her attention on the documented words of several Cassandras whose warnings on the floor of the House and Senate went unheeded, ending in the tragedy I like to call Hurricane Dubya. Wikipedia has also compiled a list of links from credible media sources of warnings about the precarious state of the Gulf coast.

Lastly, I want to draw your attention to the eloquent words of author Anne Rice, whose entire literary output has been touched, in one way or another, by the influence of New Orleans. Yes, it's in the New York Times and requires soul-sucking registration. Use BugMeNot if you wish. But read it. If your heart isn't already broken, this piece will break it.

Note 9/11/2005, 10:24am: The Los Angeles International Church and the Dream Center are affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination, but are also cross-affiliated with the Foursquare Gospel Church, the denomination founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920s. They apparently have no ties to the International Church of Christ aka The Boston Church. However, the mention of the "prosperity Gospel" is accurate.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Big blog pimpin'...

PenguinRocket (I wonder if s/he's Linux powered?) came up with a wonderful list of horrifying links about the Hurricane Dubya debacle. It's a few days old at this point but it's chock full of goodness for defeating the spinning after the spinning.

I finally got to see the Face The Nation footage this evening. My god. Forget about Ray Nagin, I think I know who should be President of more than just Jefferson Parish. Aaron Broussard has been sounding the alarm about the precarious state of New Orleans for years now, one of many voices in the wilderness who should have been heeded but weren't. He has been one of the people promoting wetlands restoration to mitigate hurricane damage and seems to have been trying to get people to listen to the science about it for years.

Oh yeah, when the talk gets to rebuilding, we need to talk to the experts from The Netherlands on what to do to prevent another Hurricane Dubya. Between the Delta Plan and the Maaslandkering Project, the Dutch have managed to keep the North Sea at bay quite well since the tragic floods of the 1950s. Here's a link to some information about these great feats of engineering. The guy who runs this site admires Pim Fortuyn, a racist anti-immigrant politician who was to Holland what Jean LePen is to France and what groups like The Minutemen (not the band, the guys who go off to play "cowboys and Mexicans" at the US/Mexican border) are to the US. However, this does not change the fact that this is a very readable and understandable description of what they are doing to keep Rotterdam, an important port city very much like New Orleans, out of flood danger.

I am beginning to be in danger of getting obsessed with this whole Hurricane Dubya situation. I'd better watch myself. Ms. Geek out.

Yesterday was a blur of activity, from an 8am-Noon class on to the first FreeHead gig in 9 years. I had no chance to stop off and blog.

Apparently the "Cavalry" that came in behind Dubya on Friday has been primarily used to cordon off the city. There are escorted convoys of buses picking up people at both the Superdome and the NOCC, but the process is still like molasses in January. PEOPLE ARE STILL DYING FOR WANT OF HELP IN NEW ORLEANS, and the new wrinkle, which emerged yesterday, is that FEMA/DHS has been PREVENTING HELP FROM GETTING THROUGH.

I'm not a religious woman, but this is sinful and wicked according to any moral code.

The Mainstream Media has been reorganized around a bright, shining lie that help and rescue is finally getting to people in NOLA. It isn't. It just isn't.

Here's a dispatch from NOLA, relayed by Maryscott O'Connor on DailyKOS and no doubt also on MyLeftWing.

There is further evidence of how bad it still is on NOLA.Com, a site run by the NO Times-Pickayune.

The Jim Smith (co-creator of Ren & Stimpy and The Ripping Friends) sketchbook signing and FreeHead gig was hastily rejiggered into a benefit for Hurricane relief. Jim donated all sales of his sketchbook, Richie brought a bunch of CDs -- we're getting close to the last few -- to sell with all proceeds going to relief. It wasn't a huge benefit but it was something, anyway. However, what disturbs me mightily is that not only is help not getting through, help seems to be ACTIVELY PREVENTED from getting through.

Aaron Broussard, the President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was on Meet The Press this morning with a ghastly tale to tell. Tim Russert wasn't too sympathetic, but Broussard's testimony was powerful and could not be denied. I believe his words need to be heard more, so I am posting the most powerful part of his testimony here.

I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us…

The video is on Crooks and Liars right now. Quicktime is currently available, Windows Media is on the way. Unfortunately there is no XviD AVI or MPEG for those of us running on Linux, alas.

I made the comment on DailyKOS that instead of calling this hurricane Hurricane Katrina, it should be rechristened Hurricane DUBYA. Someone picked up on this meme and is now selling stickers on CafePress with proceeds after CafePress' cut going to relief. Buy a few. Slap one on your car.

Hurricane Dubya

Someday, someone will have to pay for this stupidity, incompetence and downright genocidal treatment of the people of New Orleans. It's times like these when I wish I could believe in a higher power because dammit, that payment might wind up be postponed until some sort of Final Judgment. When and if there is one, may whomever is judging those responsible for this malfeasance give them the worst possible fate. Whether they are committing genocide intentionally or genocide by negligence, this is indeed genocide. And the blood of thousands and thousands who drowned in the South during Hurricane Dubya cries out for justice.

Update at 11:15am: NB: I didn't mention the death of Justice Rehnquist because I don't think that's news yet in light of the horrors in New Orleans and Mississippi. We all knew he was going to die soon anyway. So now we have two justices to replace. I fear this process of replacing both Rehnquist and O'Connor is going to be rammed through, and we will be left with a packed Supreme Court. If the Democratic Senators and Congresspeople grew spines, we could use the confirmation process as leverage to make sure the Gulf States get the money and help they need. But alas, spines and cojones are in short supply. The bad guys win. Again.

Friday, September 02, 2005

"Bush don't care about Black people" -- Kanye West, tonight on the NBC telethon broadcast

No shit, Kanye. No shit.

I didn't hear that line of Mr. West's impromptu speech when it aired here on the Left Coast. It was edited out. However, someone on the East Coast had the presence of mind to roll tape, then encode it to AVI with XviD compression. It perhaps was not the most articulate statement, coming right from the heart, but it was a REAL statement. West is usually quite articulate. He must have been really, really mad tonight.

Perhaps he knew about this?

(from the American Red Cross site, reprinting in its entirety to save it from the Memory Hole if the Bush Administration forces them to take it off)

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

* Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

* The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

* The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.

* The Red Cross shares the nation’s anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.

* The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.

* The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.

* As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.

Jesus H. Christ on a stick!!! This is genocide!!!

Here's another view...apparently it was not the LA State Homeland Security Department...this order came down from the DHS Director, Chertoff.

I said it before, I'll say it again: The United States Of America IS a Failed State. Bush might have finally made it to the Gulf Coast and actually got out of his aircraft today. But he is still AWOL. And the people in his administration are making positively ghoulish decisions. Another forbidden analogy is Bush as Hitler. Well, I would call keeping the Red Cross out of New Orleans to "encourage people to leave" a Nazi-like decision. What about those who are too weak, too sick or too frail to leave? ARE THEY BEING LEFT TO DIE??? WTF is this shit?

This is either a Failed State, or this is villainy of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot proportions. Either way, it sucks. Bowie was right: This Is Not America. And he has every right to be afraid of Americans. I'm afraid of certain Americans right now.

Update 12:03am Sept. 3rd: Kanye West speech transcript is up at Crooks and Liars. I wish I could host the XviD file but I don't want to have to tangle with NBC/Universal and MPAA goons.

An email to George W Bush...

I know it probably won't get to him, but here goes nothin'. One of the only people who has stepped up to the plate in this slow-motion Apocalypse down in NOLA and Mississippi is the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. And today he gave a desperate plea to everyday, common Americans to besiege their representatives and the President with email.

My thanks to LibertyTree at DailyKOS for the wording of this letter. If I had wrote this myself it would be knee-deep in obscenities and a lot less diplomatic. You are welcome to use the wording if you like.

Subject: Enough photo opportunities, Dubya...ACTION needed...

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing at the request of Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans, LA. He
has asked me, and every other American, to write to our federal
representatives and demand action in areas devastated by Hurricane

And unlike my government, when people in desperation ask for my help, I respond.

I know Congress has already allocated money for the relief effort, but
obviously that isn't helping anyone yet.

If you feel comfortable in knowing that you have done all that you
can, then I pity you.

You need to do more. Right now.

I am personally ashamed of how my government has reacted. You ought to
be ashamed as well.

You, however, have something I don't: the power to speak out, and be
heard both in public and in the halls of government.

Your country needs you and I need you to stand up and be a leader. We
are letting people die for no reason. We have the money, the
resources, and the people--all we need are leaders who will stand up
and take action right now.

The mayor of New Orleans should not have to beg the federal government
to save the lives of thousands.

But he did have to beg, and I am begging, and you should consider it
your duty to respond.

S. Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
Panorama City, CA 91402

I doubt that will do any good. Dubya seems out to lunch and off his meds today as he visits the disaster zones. I hope he is greeted with jeers, cussing, and maybe a thrown stone or two. He's 4 days late and billions of dollars short.