Thursday, September 29, 2005

Got gas?

As I noted when we bought our Mazda Tribute, as much as we wanted it for good reasons, the numbers didn't add up for hybrid version:
One of the oldest lessons economists have for thinking about what changes consumer demand is that moral exhortation doesn't change people's behavior. Prices do.
(Via Assymetrical Information.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New York Times charges for op-ed page, poor hit hardest

LOL:
News of the NYT policy comes at a time when Hurricane Katrina has raised profound issues of race, class, and gender.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Guest post!

Gasoline Prices. Folks, we live in a capitalistic system, which has served us pretty well these last couple hundred years. Our system depends on the so-called "animal spirits," which drive us all in the aquisition of wealth and profit. We seem to be going through a period where acquisitiveness is getting a bad name - sort of. We object to seeing gasoline price signs change so rapidly and so unpredictably. Before we start another investigation that inevitably leads nowhere, stop and think about a couple things. Gasoline prices have increased less in the last 50 years than the consumer price index and minimum wage. You want a law that forbids a seller from making more than a legal percentage based on the cost of goods sold? Ok, how about throwing houses into that pot. If you buy a house for $200,000 then let's make it illegal to make more than 10% over your cost when you sell it. That way we have a stronger case to apply that to oil economics, which few critics understand. By the way, I am betting the average profit of those price-gouging, anti-social profiteers is less than five cents per gallon, maybe one ortwo percent, and they squeeze that out after we imposed about 50 cents per gallon on their product in state and federal taxes. Let's hear it for Adam Smith and the capitalistic system. And if you don't whine about me selling my house at market prices then I won't whine about yours. Thanks. Time to be wheeled out in the sun.
Diversity in the senate

James Taranto argues that racial gerrymandering keeps African Americans out of the senate:
The Obama-Rangel contrast points to an important reason for the political marginalization of black Americans: racial gerrymandering. In order to win election statewide, Obama has to appeal to nonblack voters as well as black ones, whereas Rangel comes from a majority-black district where expressly racial appeals are the most efficient way of keeping constituents loyal. One consequence of racial gerrymandering is that most black House members are far to the left of their states as a whole, and thus find it very difficult to win statewide office. That's why Obama is the only black member of the Senate.
I hadn't really thought about that before.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita

More from John Little:
The homes are fine but there is some minor damage in the downtown area. A few trees are down, one carport was blown over, any sign not mounted in concrete is pretty much toast, lots of limbs around, and a few lines down. The photo above was take on Morse street near River Oaks.

One of my neighbors said that at around 1am he counted 18 HPC cars surrounding the CVS pharmacy nearby and they were sending the dogs in after looters.

Who are you calling compassionate?

While hunting down an article by Jonah Goldberg on how the federal response to Katrina was anti-homosexual, I found this interesting column on compassionate conservatism. A few excerpts:

The basic neoconservative criticism of the welfare state was that it had most of its incentives lined up incorrectly. Young women were told that government would essentially pay them to have more babies out of wedlock. Criminals were led to believe it was someone else's fault they robbed liquor stores. Students weren't — and still aren't — compelled to excel at school.

The neocons didn't oppose the welfare state per se. They opposed a welfare state that made society worse. (Irving Kristol even argued for a "conservative welfare state.") Hence Social Security never bothered them much, because delaying subsidies until one's golden years is unlikely to create the sorts of perverse incentives that might lead to roving gangs of octogenarian car thieves.

The compassionate conservatism of such intellectuals as Marvin Olasky and Myron Magnet was really just a fleshing-out of these neoconservative observations (though, in Olasky's case, with a bit more religion thrown in). They emphasized that not only is it bad public policy to encourage destructive behavior, but it's uncompassionate to the very people government is trying to help.

Welfare-state liberals insisted they "cared" more because they favored higher spending on schools. The compassionate conservatives responded with "care all you like, but the schools stink." The best summation of the entire enterprise was Bush's mantra about "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

So, if I agree with all that, what's the problem? First, as a political slogan, compassionate conservatism was always a low blow. Almost by definition, people who claim to be compassionate conservatives are suggesting that other kinds of conservatives aren't. Conservatism, rightly understood, never needed the adjective.

(snip)

A great many liberals in recent weeks have argued that conservative hostility to big government suggests we don't support agencies like FEMA or fire and rescue services. This is nonsense. Every conservative I know wants firemen to put out fires. We don't, however, want firemen asking us how our marriage is going or lecturing us about how to be more "sensitive." A fireman can't put out the fires at my house if he's at your house giving you a big hug.

Ultimately, this is the core problem with all ideologies that try to make government an extension of the family. Welfare-state liberalism wants the government to act like your mommy. Compassionate conservatives want the state to be your daddy. The problem: Government cannot love you, nor should it try.

Anyway, some interesting ideas in there. I'll keep looking for the anti-gay federal response to Katrina.

Update: Here it is and an excerpt:

Surely, this time around the Fourth Estate would hit the ground running with up-to-the-minute exposes on the "Other" Other America and trenchant-yet-lachrymose essays on What This Says About America, that one of America's zestiest gay resorts was left to twist in the wind.

The questions raised by unlovely Rita are as painful as they are obvious. Will gays stay behind in disproportionate numbers in this disproportionately gay city? If so, Why? If gay marriage were legalized, could some of this disaster be avoided? Would George W. Bush have responded more quickly if the victims were just a tad less stylish? And, of course: Will the federal government help keep Key West festive?

Why weren't reporters standing at the ready to caterwaul about the wreckage at their feet? Cher albums and the collected writings of James Wolcott strewn about like beer cans and pizza boxes in an apartment yet to be transformed by the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Holy Toledo!

This picture makes me wonder which of my neighbors owns a firearm? Blogs of War reported looting at his parking garage while residents were evacuated. But a couple of well-armed neighbors stayed behind.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Protest

I have no right to comment on what's hot and what's not. Yes, I worked in the fashion industry, but I never read fashion magazines, didn't even look at the pictures. I don't know the names of the faces on People or Us magazine. I do not wear stylish clothes. With that in mind my opinion probably is way off the mark: I think protests are old hat and out of style. Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts from the Daily Kos (via Instapundit) for this week's big anti-war protest in D.C.:
Do be creative:

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of doing the same thing over and over again with little to show for it but a frustrated mind. We have to protest in a way that's intriguing, news making. Block the street, do guerilla theater, dose your self in gasoline and go out for ice cream. Whatever. Just don't do the same thing when it doesn't work. Think.

(My bold and italics.) Maybe they should try something different entirely, like research, write, publish. With an emphasis on the research. They might be able to persuade a few more people.

The "Don'ts" are hilarious by the way.
Rita evacuation

Utter heartbreak:
A fire in a chartered bus filled with elderly Hurricane Rita evacuees, including some who used oxygen, killed 24 people and injuring at least one near Dallas Friday. Authorities said the bus apparently caught fire due to a mechanical problem, and that oxygen tanks then started exploding on gridlocked Interstate 45.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More Rita!

Well, I panicked and filled up my tank, just in case three million Houstonians decide to head north on I45 toward the big D. Via Brendan Loy, I see many of them are also stuck on their way to Austin:

Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana and Texas were log-jammed in traffic, trying to drive north. The situation was particularly frustrated around Houston, the nation's fourth-most populous city.

Houston resident Tim Conklin told CNN that he had been in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 13 hours and had traveled only 48 miles. He said the drive to Dallas, where his father-in-law lives, usually takes about four hours.

On Highway 290, a major road between Houston and Austin, people were pushing their cars and minivans to save gas -- and were moving just as fast as the vehicles that were driving. Others were stopped on the side of the highway after breaking down or running out of gas.

Egads--what would happen if it were more than just water and wind chasing us?
Rita slowing down?

Update from Jeff Masters:
All these signs point to a substantial weakening trend for Rita that will continue through Friday and probably reduce her to a Category 4 hurricane. The GFDL forecast model and NHC predict that this weakening trend will continue until landfall Saturday, when Rita will be a Category 3 hurricane. Lower heat content water and continued shear are expected to cause this weakening.

While this is cause for some relief, Rita, like Katrina did, will still bring to the coast a storm surge characteristic of a much stronger hurricane. A Category 4 or 5 level storm surge is likely along a 60 - 80 miles stretch of coast to the right of where the storm makes landfall on Saturday. Storm surge heights will peak at 15 - 20 feet in some bays, and bring the ocean inland up to 50 miles from the coast. Large sections of I-10 between Houston and Beaumont could be inundated, and the flood waters may reach the cities of Beaumont, Orange, and Lake Charles. Wind damage will be severe, and Houston can expect a hazardous rain of glass from its high rise building like was experienced during Hurricane Alica in 1983. If the eye passes just west of Galveston Bay, the storm surge will push 1 - 3 of water into some of Houston's eastern suburbs, such as Deer Park.
More to come I'm sure.
Rita

My brother who lives near Houston writes:
If you are watching the media coverage
you are seeing that the Houston highway system is filled with evacuees who
are basically in standstill traffic. Many folks are running out of fuel and
the traffic is making it difficult to re-supply the gas stations. There are
lots of folks stranded on the freeways some for more than 12 hours.
Hopefully since the evacuation started early it will allow most of these
folks to make it away from the heart of the storm before it hits on Friday.
We believe that we are much safer in our home in Spring than we are on the
road at this point. With a little luck the storm will continue to track to
the east and we'll get the clean side of the hurricane. At the moment the
eye is headed on a direct course for poor Galveston.
Meanwhile via blogsofwar, Dr. Jeff Masters of The Weather Underground reports,
The latest runs of two key computer models, the GFS and GFDL, now indicate that the trough of low pressure that was expected to pick up Rita and pull her rapidly northward through Texas will not be strong enough to do so. Instead, these models forecast that Rita will make landfall near Galveston, penetrate inland between 50 and 200 miles, then slowly drift southwestward for nearly two days, as a high pressure ridge will build in to her north. Finally, a second trough is forecast to lift Rita out of Texas on Tuesday. If this scenario develops, not only will the coast receive catastrophic damage from the storm surge, but interior Texas, including the Dallas/Fort Worth area, might see a deluge of 15 - 30 inches of rain. A huge portion of Texas would be a disaster area. We'll have to wait for the next set of model runs due out by tomorrow morning to know better.
My folks, who were due to return to their Houston-area home today, are instead flying into the Dallas area.

Here in North Texas, the sky is bright blue, without a cloud.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita

My in-laws near Corpus Christi were ordered to evacuate. My sister from Houston writes:

Houston evacuating like there is no tomorrow (for hell's sake). It is probvably overdoing it but its a big storm and all that so here is the deal: Gas stations running out of gas. Stores running out of supplies. Banks shut down. Businesses, including mine, shut down. Just got back from my first "run on a bank". Was fun. They wouldn't or couldn't give me the $1000 I asked for but I did get out of there with 200 singles.

Eek. Here's a guy with lots of good links, who is blogging about the hurricane from Houston. Remember, Bystander Manor is open to all Rita evacuees!
Go to your room!

Hmmm ...18 months is too soon for time outs? Well, the baby didn't seem to mind being put in his crib--but he didn't seem to notice he was in trouble either--and I don't think, as one commenter put it, that time outs some how take away a toddler's dignity. In any case, there's got to be some way to keep the baby from hurling toys at his sister's forehead. If not, I'm going to have to teach her some defense postures. So far, she's been great at not retaliating.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It's the evacuation, stupid

Radioblogger (via Vodkapundit):

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Mainstream media--pro-hurricane?
That's news to you!

There's so much to like and dislike in this NY Times article on Ivy League women looking to someday become stay-at-home moms.

At Yale and other top colleges, women are being groomed to take their place in an ever more diverse professional elite. It is almost taken for granted that, just as they make up half the students at these institutions, they will move into leadership roles on an equal basis with their male classmates.

There is just one problem with this scenario: many of these women say that is not what they want.

I'm not real comfortable characterizing that as a problem. Also, as noted later in the article, the definition of leadership needs to be broadened ...uh, at least to the author and editor of this article.

This part makes sense to me:

What seems to be changing is that while many women in college two or three decades ago expected to have full-time careers, their daughters, while still in college, say they have already decided to suspend or end their careers when they have children.

"At the height of the women's movement and shortly thereafter, women were much more firm in their expectation that they could somehow combine full-time work with child rearing," said Cynthia E. Russett, a professor of American history who has taught at Yale since 1967. "The women today are, in effect, turning realistic."

Agreed. How can you be an effective parent if you're in an office from 8:00 until 8:00, as is required of many CEO's?

I'm very suspicious of the words "many" and "some" and "few." Where are the hard numbers?

While the changing attitudes are difficult to quantify, the shift emerges repeatedly in interviews with Ivy League students, including 138 freshman and senior females at Yale who replied to e-mail questions sent to members of two residential colleges over the last school year.
(snip)

The women said that pursuing a rigorous college education was worth the time and money because it would help position them to work in meaningful part-time jobs when their children are young or to attain good jobs when their children leave home.
That describes me pretty well. I don't see much of an issue there.

In recent years, elite colleges have emphasized the important roles they expect their alumni - both men and women - to play in society.

Don't let them brainwash you! I don't remember The Columbia School of Journalism emphasizing any important roles to me. I do remember writing in my application letter what I hoped to do with my degree--find a husband with it.

For example, earlier this month, Shirley M. Tilghman, the president of Princeton University, welcomed new freshmen, saying: "The goal of a Princeton education is to prepare young men and women to take up positions of leadership in the 21st century. Of course, the word 'leadership' conjures up images of presidents and C.E.O.'s, but I want to stress that my idea of a leader is much broader than that."

She listed education, medicine and engineering as other areas where students could become leaders.

I can't believe she didn't mention Valentine's Day gift bag committee at pre-school!

In an e-mail response to a question, Dr. Tilghman added: "There is nothing inconsistent with being a leader and a stay-at-home parent. Some women (and a handful of men) whom I have known who have done this have had a powerful impact on their communities."
Ah. Well, she's not leaving us out entirely thank you very much.

Yet the likelihood that so many young women plan to opt out of high-powered careers presents a conundrum.

"It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?" said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, who served as dean for coeducation in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
(Emphasis added.) Have there every been quantifiable returns, other than alumni donations? I mean, I know the next Supreme Court Chief Justice is a Harvard man, and if we did a study, we'd probably find that most SCOTUS judges come from one of the Ivy League Universities, but across American society, what are the numbers? Where did the CEO of Walmart graduate? For that matter where did Tony Cao go to school? He's the proprietor of a new hair salon in North Texas--changing people's lives, one head of hair at a time. Think of the environmental benefits!

(snip)
University officials said that success meant different things to different people and that universities were trying to broaden students' minds, not simply prepare them for jobs.
I hope they didn't conduct a study to conclude that. Although, I'd like to add here, based on nothing but casual observation, universities are churning out people at alarming rates who are ready to work only at universities and the occasional low-stress restaurant!

(snip)

"They [college-age women] are still thinking of this as a private issue; they're accepting it," said Laura Wexler, a professor of American studies and women's and gender studies at Yale. "Women have been given full-time working career opportunities and encouragement with no social changes to support it.

"I really believed 25 years ago," Dr. Wexler added, "that this would be solved by now."

See--I think we've solved it ourselves with flex-time, part-time work, staying home when your child needs you the most, working when she doesn't, like when they're in school. Dr. Wexler's question was answered at the top of the same page.

Dr. Bushnell said young women today, in contrast, are thinking and talking about part-time or flexible work options for when they have children. "People have a heightened awareness of trying to get the right balance between work and family."
It's an endless conversation in my crowd. I say each family do what's right for them! Not every woman is cut out to care for little children. They are crazy people--trust me! And they can be terribly rude and ill-mannered at times. I had no idea. There are some days when I still wonder would it be healthier for the kids if I went back to work and put them in a daycare where people are paid to be patient.

Children are always changing, needing new things, new kinds of attention and new stimulation--and it's never anything cool like surfing the web or learning to cook gourmet meals. It very often involves a doll or a toy that I'm not only not interested in, I find no inspiration to even feign interest.

Whoops--sorry about the tangent. Anyway, as Dr. Phil once pointed out, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody in the family happy. And if those aren't the truest words ever spoken, I can make them the truest words ever spoken.

Another thing to consider, as Ann Althouse pointed out, who at 22 can really predict with certainty what they'll be doing and want to be doing at 30? I think not so many.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Headline news

Here's what the link says: Violence Heralds Afghan Vote. So, I thought I'd read an article about violence marring the Afghanistan election. Here's the actual headline to the story, plus the subhead:

Old Guard Lurks in Afghanistan Amid Vast Throng of CandidatesDespite Enthusiasm, Rising Taliban Violence Could Mar Election

Seven paragraphs down, here's the basis for that teaser headline (emphasis mine):

The elections are a key step in an international agreement intended to ensure Afghanistan's emergence as a stable democracy and to allow the United States and other nations to draw down their forces here in the near future. Yet the balloting will take place amid the most significant resurgence in violence by Taliban guerrillas since their ouster four years ago.

Finally, while Afghans have demonstrated enormous enthusiasm for the election -- about 12.4 million people have registered to vote, 2 million more than for last year's presidential election -- international observers fear that a complicated balloting procedure, combined with intimidation by insurgents and regional strongmen, may prevent voters from expressing their will.

The next sixteen paragraphs describe the different types of candidates, and then it ends. It's kind of a weak piece to begin with, and headline writing is one of my major challenges, but I came to this article expecting to read about violence in Afghanistan and didn't. It may be that I don't have a sound understanding of the word "heralds," but I still don't think the teaser headline paired up well with the actual article.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Don't let the door hit you...

I finally got my Dear John email from the New York Times:
On Monday, Sept. 19, we will introduce TimesSelect, a new
service from The New York Times, providing exclusive online
access to Op-Ed columnists, The Archive, Web tools and more.

As a loyal NYTimes.com member, you can sign up early for
TimesSelect at a significant discount. You have until Sunday,
Sept. 18, to take advantage of this offer.
And it's something like $49.95 a year for those of us without home delivery. I think the only person I'll miss is the public editor, right now Barney Calame, who recently made public his battle to get Paul Krugman to correct himself, and editorial page editor Gail Collins to follow corrections policy. As Mickey Kaus noted, his predecessor waited until the end of his term to go public with his battles of op-ed columnists, something I noted wanted to note on my own blog while it was down.
Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

The part about Safire broke me up because when I lived in New York, I made it a habit to read his columns, in part as a vocabulary game with a co-worker, but also because his columns fascinated me, and I always wondered how he knew so much. Apparently so did the public editor.

<>Anyway, I'm not exactly married to the Wall Street Journal. They don't cover everything, but the Times is like an ex-boyfriend. I just don't think it's right that we see each other too much anymore, if at all. And pay for it? Honey, you ain't all that!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A guess

I have a guess as to why the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security disallowed the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to bring in water and food to the evacuees at the Superdome and Convention Center. Their stated reason was so not to attract more people to the already overcrowded areas. But at some point, Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, head of Louisiana's Department of Homeland Security must have re-thought that policy.

Did he have working communication devices to then get back in touch with the Red Cross and Salvation Army officials or to get in touch with Governor Blanco to change that policy? Just wondering.
Delay that

Conservatives are unhappy with Delay. I guess that's not new.
For Annie

Judge Robert's expression during the hearings seems generally reminiscent of Ollie North's during Iran-Contra. Check here though for a close-up. (Via Althouse.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Wife beating

How does that saying go? How long has it been since you stopped beating your wife?
On ABC News' "This Week" last Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked one of those compound questions that can be only refuted only by Jesuitical parsing: "Did government neglect turn a natural disaster into a human catastrophe and was it rooted in racism?" In the course of "interviewing" Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois), Stephanopoulos sometimes dispensed with questions altogether, preferring to make statements, such as this: "So many people in this country have looked at so many of the victims being African-American, the sluggish federal response and said racism has to be at play." To which Obama, a cautious enough fellow, answered that the "incompetence" he espied in the Bush administration was "color-blind." Of course, such a tepid response wasn't good enough for the ex-Clinton White House spinmeister, who came back at Obama with, "But it was racism, I guess is the question." These weren't questions at all, of course, but rather witness-leading rhetoric: "How do you explain why President Bush didn't seem to get this early on?"
(Via Instapundit.)
Astroworld

Hurry to the park. It's about to close. (Via 100 Words or Les Nessman)

Monday, September 12, 2005

ood Gay "I" Bay Emma Gay!

Is it quite all right for me to be terribly annoyed by the father who drops off his son at my daughter's pre-school, but not without speaking to him in German and in Italian before saying goodbye? The guy has an American accent, so it's not as though English is his second language. Is my annoyance wrong or am I just having keeping-up-with-the-Joneses reflux in my heart?
NR nO

I like reading the National Review Online, even though I often disagree. Usually there's some smart, well-reasoned or entertaining arguments to be thought through.

Not this piece by Susan Konig. She writes a self-congratulatory article on how she and her friends are such well-organized moms. Too bad they weren't in New Orleans when the levees broke,
For any parent, the concept of fleeing a disaster without bottles prepared, dry diapers, wipes, and soothing ointments, infant Tylenol, and cozy clothes and blankets for a baby is a nightmare just to consider.
(snip)

As we watched the suffering of refugees fleeing after the fact, one friend said, “If we were in charge, every kid would have Goldfish crackers, a Band-Aid and a blankie.”

Not the answer to everything but I understood what she meant. Moms have a way of figuring things out, managing to make do and accomplish what’s necessary to make everything all right.

Not me. I would definitely need my husband's input. In any case, has Konig ever been poor? I have and I lacked just about everything I'd need on an evacuation, but back then I didn't have kids. Gold fish crackers for a family on $1000 or so a month? Hmmmm...not likely. Wipes? Washcloths are cheaper. Children's tylenol? Maybe, but not if he hasn't had a fever in a while. Inventory is standard for those with means, a luxury for those without.

I'm not saying moms (and let's be clear, Konig is describing middle- to upper- middleclass moms) aren't great child managers--I'm just saying the Katrina disaster is not the event on which to make that arguement.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Insightful observation:

Instapundit:

THE PRESS WANTS TO SHOW BODIES from Katrina. It didn't want to show bodies, or jumpers, on 9/11, for fear that doing so would inflame the public.

I can only conclude that this time around, the press thinks it's a good thing to inflame the public. What could the difference be?

(Pick me! Pick me!) My guess is that the collective press is building up attention on federal failures, as opposed to state and local failures, so the bodies will help them get the public as angry--rightly or wrongly--at the president as they are.

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's for you

Vonage gets press (subs. only) from Katrina:

When emergency power finally returned to the Hyatt, Scott Domke, a member of the city's technology team, remembered that he had recently set up an Internet phone account with Vonage Holdings Corp. He was able to find a working socket in a conference room and linked his laptop to an Internet connection.

At 12:27 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, the mayor's inner circle made its first outside call in two days. Eventually, the team was able to get eight lines running from the single Vonage account. That evening, the phone rang and it was President Bush calling from Air Force One.

Meanwhile, on my Vonage account, my incoming calls have gone straight to voice mail or gotten a busy signal, and my outgoing get an immediate busy signal. Well, that was two days ago. That happens sometimes with Vonage.

But my husband wondered why the infrastructure that supports VOIP, would not also support a regular land line.
On media
Jay Rosen on the media's handling of Katrina:

Spine is always good, outrage is sometimes needed, and empathy can often reveal the story. But there is no substitute for being able to think, and act journalistically on your conclusions. What is the difference between a “blame game” and real accountability? If you have no idea because you’ve never really thought about it, then your outrage can easily misfire.

(snip)

If you can think with the situation it doesn’t matter (for your journalism) if you break down and emote. If you can’t think, and can’t draw conclusions that influence your reporting, then bringing passion to the table isn’t going to change a damn thing. And I don’t believe Katrina has “saved” the news media from itself, either, although I agree that nola.com, by turning itself into an online forum, has been an inspiration.

Finally, the challenge for American journalism is not to recover its reason for being, but to find a stronger and better one. The world has changed. It’s not enough to be tough.
I like Rosen--he develops and thinks on page. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Archive update

I'm making excellent progress updating my archive section. I have most of '05 complete, except where I'm running into some CGI problems. I'll have to ask my husband, aka Tech Suppor,t for help there.

Meanwhile, he's just finishing bathing the children and is now diapering the baby, who is screaming the scream of a Nazgul on Froto's trail. The child will be ready for his first protest by kindergarten.

In other archive news, bringing over my picture essays looks difficult, and thus I'm omitting those for now. Cutting and pasting my old posts into my new blog feels dishonest. I can manipulate the date and time with each post, which makes me feel uneasy. Reader, you'll just have to trust that I haven't changed anything, at least not intentionally.
Explainer

Major Garrett does an explainer on FEMA, something I'd been hoping to do myself. Ah, but where's the time?

Here's part of the transcript:

BRIT HUME, HOST: An indignant Senator Leahy asking a question no doubt asked by many others. FOX News correspondent Major Garrett has been looking for answers to some of those questions. He joins me now.

Major, first of all, obviously, the focus of all of the attention has been FEMA (search), the Federal Emergency Management Agency. What is FEMA?

MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2,500 full-time employees, 4,000 standby employees. A mission statement very simple: Prepare, respond, help recover, reduce risk.

How does it do it? By coordinating with state and local entities and other groups, the Salvation Army (search), Red Cross (search), dedicated to helping the needy when disaster strikes.

HUME: So FEMA is relatively — it isn’t very labor intensive. It mostly works through other agencies?

GARRETT: It works through other agencies. But it has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. In this crisis, it is a bit a victim of its own bureaucratic boastfulness.

Earlier this year, the new national response plan, released by the Department of Homeland Security, promised this: Seamless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local and state capabilities. In the minds of many Americans, this one did, and FEMA, at least initially, in the minds of some, didn’t not respond enough.

HUME: Yes, and the word "seamless" doesn’t exactly spring to mind.

GARRETT: No, it does not.

HUME: But look, I mean, they’re down there. The Red Cross, for example, is there.

GARRETT: Standing by, ready.

HUME: Standing by, ready. Why didn’t FEMA send the Red Cross into New Orleans when we had all of those people there on that bridge overpass and elsewhere?

GARRETT: At the Superdome (search), at the convention center...

HUME: Lack of water, right. Why not?

GARRETT: First of all, no jurisdiction. FEMA works with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other organizations, but it has no direct control to order them to go one place or the other.

Secondarily, the Red Cross was ready. I just got off the phone with one of their officials. They had a vanguard, Brit, of trucks with water, food, hygiene equipment, all sorts of things ready to go, where? To the Superdome and the convention center.

Why weren’t they there? The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security told them they could not go.

Today's Cooking Light budget buster

Pine seeds, 99 cents an ounce. Required, 2 tablespoons. Sold in packages of eight or four ounces.

Last week's Cooking Light budget buster: Poppy seeds @ $5.00

Previous week's Cooking Light budget buster: peanut oil, cost--can't remember; oyster sauce, cost--can't remember; chile paste--special trip to World Market and cost-- can't remember, but altogether it was about $15. Still, I learned how to make lo mein.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Home life

Kids are in bed. Not in record time, but not bad for ice cream night, either. Tonight we chose Marble Slab, where Emma and I both chose the double dark chocolate, mine with Heath bar mixed in, hers with colorful sprinkles. "I like color sprinkles because I like them and I have them whenever I get chocolate ice cream," she said, the sleeve of her favorite shirt hovering perilously over a spot of the dark brown stain maker.

The stain fighter in this house is batting about .300. Not a good average--I'm trying to do better, partly with an ounce of prevention.

I was thinking recently we don't see much of our non-parent friends and relatives anymore, mostly because they are very busy. Funny, when I was single I thought it was parents who were busy. After a careful in-depth first-hand study of both lifestyles, my conclusion is that both are busy, but doing different things.

The childless are working long hours, going to movies, museums, theater, all the while wondering--perhaps as I did--what it would be like to do all of that with a child; the child-full are at home watching the kids, wondering why their single friends never visit. (My friend Laura would probably disagree here. I don't believe she's ever missed an opportunity to tour a museum or go to a festival--whether she is visiting relatives or not--be it with an infant, toddler, pre-schooler or older child. But then, she's ambitious.)

So, while we're home, Gene and I turn our thoughts to the house and the lawn and make them our projects. The fence Gene built in late May has been stained. Now that I'm running out of rooms to organize, I see the bedroom could use a good paint job, some curtains, and new bedding while we're at it.

Will having a new bedroom make me happy, I asked my husband last night? No, but you'll enjoy the project, he said. True enough.

In other news, I called the above Laura for parenting advice today. Would it be cruel to go out for ice cream as we do every Wednesday, but not allow a scoop for my oldest child because she broke a rule?

A voice inside of me had already answered that. But we are talking about ice cream and I didn't want her poor behavior to ruin it for the rest of us!

Do not threaten a punishment that you're not willing to go through on, she offered. Ah, my touchstone. Also, an untimely punishment will not help her learn any lesson, it will only seem cruel.

I wasn't trying to be mean--it's just that ice cream was involved--but the way I'd envisioned it did seem callous. So double-dark chocolate for both of us. It is Wednesday. It is still summer, and she is, afterall, her mother's girl.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Very odd

I have a lot of sympathy for Mayor Nagin, but I'm beginning to question his judgement, uh, some more.
New Orleans: City authorities s have offered stressed policemen and firemen five-day holidays in Las Vegas after two policemen committed suicide and hundreds walked off the job.
FEMA

I'm looking at the FEMA site to learn more about it. Here's the section of dam breaks and flooding. It does not denote what FEMA will do, but what it recommends local officials to do. Here's one interesting statistic (I'm typing it out as it's in PDF form and I can't cut and paste in that form):

There are 74, 053 dams in the United States, according to the 1993-1994 National Inventory of Dams. Approximately one third of these pose a "high" or "significant" hazard to life and property if failure occurs. Structural failure of dams or levees creates additional problems of water velocity and debris.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

School days

Cathy Seipp on education:
I didn't have room for this in the NRO piece, but at the PBS press conference I asked Esquith why, if he has such success teaching fifth-graders Shakespeare and "Huckleberry Finn," so many crappy young adult novels remain on the curriculum for much older kids.

"Many of the teachers we're hiring aren't very literate," Esquith said. "They're not readers, so they're not capable of teaching -- whether it's Shakespeare or any great literature, to students. However, there are classrooms all over the country who have come to me and are doing Shakespeare in their classrooms because they watch what I do, and see that I'm nothing special and my students are nothing special -- we just work hard."
My two cents: My ninth-grade teacher refused to believe me and some other kids that our seventh-grade teacher had introduced us to Shakespeare. She just kept shaking her head and saying, you couldn't have learned anything. I disagree with her, but what do I know?

Seipp has argued before the lack of qualified teachers in public education, but qualified or no, it is the rare student who will learn without a parent who encourages and supports her in that endeavor. My limited experience in education overwhelmed me with the sense that most parents don't care.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

I don't know what could have been done better in New Orlean, which level of government is responsible for what, who should have anticipated what. Jonah Goldberg over at the Corner points us to a picture of school buses in a flooded parking lot. And I believe he noted in another post, that Gov. Jeb Bush had prepared a bunch of buses in his state in case the hurricane hit Florida.

I've watched a little CNN and Fox this afternoon. Wolf Blitzer was interviewing Rep. Elijah Cummings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Blitzer was baiting him--do you agree with what some people are saying-- into crying racism at the Bush administration. Cummings kept trying to stick to a theme of these are poor people, sick people, elderly people, but he eventually got dragged into agreeing with Blitzer, ie yes, if this weren't a city of mostly black people, it would have been rescued more quickly. James Taranto picks up the racisim theme, noting which publications are pushing the theme, quoting a USA Today editorial,
Although TV correspondents covering Hurricane Katrina avoid commenting on the obvious, their cameras hold back nothing. The people who couldn't or wouldn't leave New Orleans are overwhelmingly poor and black. As are the looters.
and then commenting, "Avarice and depravity are human failings, but our race-obsessed liberal friends may be contributing to the notion that they are racial ones."

I can't wait until it's over and those that are still a live are safe, and clean and have bellies full of food.

Update: I started this post yesterday. Here's a Snopes explanation on why one press agency captioned a picture of a black man carrying off goods as looting and another press agency captioned a white person as "finding" bread.

Update again: I have no idea why I can't control my font size.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Do you own a gun?

Will Collier's got a post entitled Shoot to Kill with lots of links to stories of the following:
  • looting a children's hospital
  • leaving the Superdome to loot on Canal Street
  • taking advantage of Walmart's generosity and looting unnecessary items
  • cops getting in on the action
  • vigilantes
Add to that this AP report of carjacking a nursing home bus and looters shouting for residents to get out: "We had excellent plans. We had enough food for 10 days," said Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot." (Via K Lo).