Thursday, September 29, 2005

If I get scrolled

If I get scrolled off of the page by one of Eric' long-winded ploitical rants, there's gonna be hell to pay at Summerlea Manor.

I led with that sentence to get the writing juices flowing, but unfortunately I have been unable to generate anything else since starting this post, and am still at a loss for what to say.

Oh well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

God Bless America, pass the Ribs.

My daily morning walk to work follows Ellsworth Avenue to South Highland on my way to East Liberty. Passing the multiple bus stops and coffee shops, I get an opportunity to gawk at the hundreds of 20-something women waiting for the 71C to Oakland. Good way to start the morning right.

As I passed Spahr Ave. this morning, the air filled with the acrid stench of burning oil that exceeded even the worst of fumes from the busway. I turned. The small shops along Ellsworth were obscured by a cloud of white smoke. Leading this environmental catastrophe, a 1985 Chrysler Mini-Van with a gigantic American flag magnet plastered across the hood.

The ribbon thing is ridiculous, but a huge American flag? I was waiting for the cloud to dissipate, so I could see Patton's helmeted head protruding from the top of the van, screaming orders to the 5th Corp marching lock-step behind him. What the hell could possibly be flagman's rationale. Is he worried about being mistaken as an 'enemy combatant' by the airforce; in which case, green body and white star on the hood, Tex. Maybe its worse: he actually lives between Brit Hume and R. Lee Ermy. Ever since Ermy started strutting his shit in fatigues, and driving to work in a 1956 G.I. Jeep Willy, flagman has been in the dumps. Not this week though... he is showing a Nazi SS Officer's enthusiasm for the American cause in advance of Brit's Saturday afternoon Barbeque/Loyalty roasts.

As he passed, I saluted. Judging by the scowl on his face as he stared at me, I was the wierdo. It seems that, inspite of my best efforts, I'm never going to get my invite to that f**king barbeque.

The Ironies of Modernity

Today, while clipping articles for an international standards body, I came across the following author names: Manish Bhuptani and Shahram Moradpour.

Can you guess which of these four name-words Word did not recognize?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Debt Reduction Fire Sale

This morning, the Washington Post brought to light another revenue generating idea conjured up by the House Resources Committee. A "brainstroming paper" accidentally leaked to the public, details a possible fire sale of federal parklands & historic sites to help lower the ballooning federal debt. The committee Chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) estimates that such sale of assets could add 2.4 billion in new, one-time, federal revenues. Among the assets suggested to go on the block are Roosevelt Island just off the National Mall, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in NW Washington, and 15 other federal parklands. And why not some may ask. After all why should the government spend money preserving the home of a prominent, but little remembered, leader of the Civil Rights Movement when the funds are badly needed to bring democracy to Iraq?

Roosevelt Island promises to be a particularly profitable development oportunity. An interested developer would be able to jam plenty of luxury condo units & small but tastefully decorated retail locations onto the small garden oasis on the Potomac. Prospective residents will no doubt flock to get a piece of the action. Who wouldn't want a condo with sweeping views of downtown Washington, and easy access to nearby National Airport (less than 1/2 mile away). Heck, living directly under the filght path, a resident wouldn't even need to go to the terminal, simply stand on their roof with a prunning hook and snag a jetliner as it takes off. The Post probably sums up the wisdom of this proposal best with a quote by Craig Obey, the spokesman for the National Parks Conservation Association:

The nation undoubtably faces pressing financial obligations, for which Congress must come up with creative measures to address. Putting America's heritage on the block, in order squeeze out a few more pennies (2 billion is a pittance) to meet short-term need is not simply unwise, it is a breach of public trust.

Gaza, Bagdad, New Orleans

When Gaza was turned over to the Palestinians last month, pundits predicted that militants-turned-governors would be drawn into the political process through their newfound responsibility. People will tire of the militant's Intifada when the the militant's government is incapable of providing water, electric and employment. Its not hard to patch together a few Kassam rockets for an afternoon of smiting infidels, but building water treatment plants requires cooperation with people in the technological know: Israel & America. Palestine has seen a few bumps on this road, but the theory seems to be morphing into reality. The Palestinian Authority is working hard to legitimize itself by building infrastructure and providing stability.

Looking eastward, to Bagdad, the world's greatest superpower has fallen flat on its face. America can't provide basic security, let alone point to successes in our infrastructure projects. Most Americans were disgusted with Bush's inability to adequately cope with Katrina; but the true tragedy is that the Press allowed Lake Pontchartrain to drown out images of the Euphrates running red with innocent blood. If it aint Katrina or Rita, its Cindy Sheehan and a US body count on the front page. If it bleeds, it leads... just as long as the blood is American.

Our responsibility in Bagdad, as it is in New Orleans, is to rebuild as quickly as possible. Bush is willing to drown New Orleans in a flood of money, hoping to smother the images of dispair burned into America's conscience with reconstruction projects. But in Bagdad, there are no construction projects. For all of America's might, we can't even control the streets. As the spin-machine churns out conflict and confusion, Americans will disagree over responsibility for Katrina. However, over 2 years since the fall of Bagdad, Iraqis pray for basic security. From the standpoint of policy management, this presidency has been an abysmal failure.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dover Downs: Fragmented Gov't Cuts More Ways than One

In a Harrisburg Courthouse today, Dover School District will face off against 1,000 years of the corrupting influences of the Enlightenment. Though honesty, truth and reason rarely get a fair shake on the banks of the Susquehanna, hopefully this ruling will smack the zealot back into his cave.

Dover is one of 501 school districts in our balkanized, Byzantine Commonwealth run by a locally elected school board. The 20k citizens of Dover, with a median income of $45k, are solidly blue collar. Though church attendance is high in this rural area, college attendance is not: only 11% of residents have a bachelors degree or better. Statistically, Dover could be in York, Berks or Allegheny County: its par for the course. How is it then, that somewhere between Radnor and Edgewood, reason gives way to darkness. Underneath the unbroken canopy of trees you see from your $39 seat on Southwest flight from Pgh to Philly, you've got a Gun Toting, Bible Thumping Friend in Central Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's fragmented government includes thousands of feifdoms from which any fringe element might decide to seize control: for personal interest, ideology or enrichment. School District elections are decided at the poorly attended primary races. Only 528 votes (10%) separated the top and bottom vote-getters at the May Primary for Sto-Rox; only 945 (10%) in the high-profile Mt. Lebanon race. As a result, schools are operated through the closed circuts of local politics. All too often, this means boards focused more on intrigue and personal pettiness than good government.

Consolidated government might help to beat back the absurdity we now see in Dover. Though this religious fringe is a potent force in Central PA, it is by no means the majority. Parents can love God and Sanity at the same time, and few would agree their children should learn about the Dinosaurs and Unicorns on Noah's Ark in a Biology Class. A larger school district would likely be harder for insane groups of religious wackos to seize in an electoral coup. We should consider this as Pennsylvania's name is sullied on presses from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

Socks today, gone tomorrow

I learned today that it is the socks that make the man. I woke up this morning bright and early, good little worker bee that I am. I needed to head in to the office a bit early to put the finishing touches on a market analysis for a legal client, before my boss's 11am meeting.

Noticing that Rita's last gasp was coming down all around me, I scoured my room for my umbrella, and then the rest of the house. But I came up short, and headed upstairs to wash off the weekend grime and consider my options. After brushing, shaving, and some steamy musings in the tub, I came up with three options and decided on the last.

1. Wake up Urg or Grak and ask if they have an extra umbrella.
2. Take the one in the hall closet and deny, deny, deny if it doesn't belong to the absent roommate.
3. Bingo! Pack a bag and change at the office.

Choosing the charitable option, I packed up and headed off.

Shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, tie, papers, bus fare. Check check check check check check.

Wait! Andrew very confused in morning. Time for inventory.

Shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, tie, papers, bus fare. Check check check check check check. What if boxers get wet on the way? Boxers. Check.

And so I arrived at work, and after changing, I realized when it comes to mind over morning, morning always wins.

Hiding my bare ankles all day until I could buy some socks at lunch, and wearing my jacket to hide the void in my belt loops, I also learned another lesson today.

Don't tell Russell about your sockless feet if you don't want others to know.

Win One for the Gipper

The sky is newspaper gray this Monday morning. After months of spectacular weather, life is returning to normal thanks to the rain from Hurricane Rita. Here's a story about life, death, and football certain to add a little cheer to the disgruntled Steeler Nation.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lazarus, Garfield and Managing Decline

'And the dead shall rise to eternal life,' so sayeth the faithful to the jeering sneers of athiests. Athiests have a point: no one has seen the dead rise, thus why should we expect something that is seemingly impossible to happen again?

Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood, set on the southern face of Mt. Garfield, is far from dead. Thanks in large part to Bloomfield Garfield Corp., Garfield thrives inspite of serious socio-economic undercurrents, blight and disinvestment. Coffee shops, bars and theatres serve a multi-cultural clientele on Penn Avenue, as new housing rises deep in the neighborhood. Resurgent Garfield, given up for dead in the 1980's, sends the city-planning athiest back to question his lack of faith. But Garfield's progress still stands in the shadow of Pittsburgh's bleak demographic trends: there are fewer Pittsburghers every year, and we're sprawling out over an increasingly large geographic area. Are we rebuilding our cities and bringing more people in, or are we just moving people around town?

Today, a 1960's senior highrise joined East Liberty's towers in the dustbin of planning history. The Housing Authority, apparently a bastion of the faithful, wants to resurrect this isolated site with 'mixed income for-sale and rental housing.' Bordered on 3 sides by Allegheny Cemetery, on the 4th by a wholly depopulated neighborhood, completely undermined and partially reclaimed by nature, such a housing development is the anthesis of strategic development. It will not aid housing values in Garfield, it needlessly competes with other urban housing without adding value, and will not spur further invesment in nearby neighborhoods. Worst yet, this "if we build it, they will come" attitude ignores demographic realities. A large stand-alone project like this will likely not even sustain itself. Building on top of isolated Mt. Garfield was a mistake in 1960, rectified with today's demolition. Why make the mistake again with even less people to fill it in 2005?

Mt. Garfield should be converted back to woodland, and investment should work to bring more people back into the older Garfield neighborhood on the slope. New housing on vacant lots in Garfield would encourage existing residents to reinvest in their properties and build a contextual, sustainable community close to shopping, bus lines and more people! Such a plan will increase density in Garfield, creating a more vibrant neighborhood. As for undermined, abandoned Mt. Garfield; lets make it into a park or arboretum. Buildings are not necessarily the best, highest use for land: close proximity to greenspace will increase land values and quality of life for Garfield's residents.

We need to start managing decline in a sane, market-driven manner: building housing that benefits our neighborhoods, not just itself. It might sound like blasphemy to the faithful, but some of the dead need to stay in their graves.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Proactive Government

Dateline Cleveland:

While researching earlier this week, I stumbled upon a Plain Dealer article (Secret Squad, 10/13/04, B1) detailing the furtive intrigues of the City of Cleveland Heights Police Department. Yes the good old CHPD has found a new way to occupy the dull hours between staffing the ubiquitous speeding traps & goose-stepping practice, by rooting through neighborhood garbage cans. The CHPD has secretly established an undercover trash squad to carry out the task. According to testimony given by Detective Dolan in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, the squad goes "down the street just like the garbage men would, wearing a garbage outfit...and pick[s] up the garbage [from suspect houses]." Dolan further testifies that garbage pulls take place as often as three times a week, and in some areas every day. Once the garbage is pulled, the squad sifts through looking for drug paraphenalia & evidence of other crimes in order to establish sufficient probable cause to support a search warrant. Apparantly, users are absentminded enough to frequently toss baggies & pipes in with the household rubbish, and leave the whole incriminating bundle by the curb without a second thought. The CHPD has simply undertaken to collect/accept these early Christmas presents.

How can this be legal you ask? The case of California v. Geenwood (S. Ct., 1988) established, in a similar trash pulling case, that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy when information (read: garbage) is conveyed voluntarily to a 3rd party (read: waste managment & the eager hands of the trash squad). In other words, the Supreme Court is of the opinion that if you're fool enough to put incriminating evidence out on your front lawn every week, don't be surprized when the police swing by to take a look. Given the general ignorance of the lack of privacy of one's garbage, your friendly local trash squad is no doubt pondering the question: what's in your wastebasket?

Note: appologies to the sagacious reader for not including a link to the Plain Dealer article discussed above. The "newspaper" in question, being written mainly with quill & Parchment, does not include substantial archives on line.

You're Fulla Shit

Fulla, a new Islamic Barbie Doll in Syria that is fast outpacing the original in sales, reflects the country's increasing religious conservatism. Syria, once a secular state, now boasts a doll with her own prayer rug, (transilated to Pittsburghese) a babushka, and even authentic looking scars from where she was publically flogged by her father and a dozen of his drinking buddies for sleeping through the morning call to prayer. Advertisements say you can tell Fulla, "your deepest secrets." Syrian intelligence services, who have equipped the doll with radio transmitters, emphatically agree!

"Daddy's going away now. He won't be back for a long long time."

There are no plans for a male companion as of yet, but perhaps a husband. I suggest the new Mohammed doll come dressed in black fatigues, with his own green Hezbollah bandana and AK-47. Accessories include flammable American and Israeli flags.

editors note: this is incredibly racist, inflammatory, and written to drive traffic.

Bottle Up And Explode

A story in yesterday's National Enquirer stated that G.W. has fallen off the wagon. If you thought George Bush sober was a belligerent prick, just wait until he knocks back a fifth of Beam. Forget those man whores North Korea and Iran. He's eyeing the club's bouncer. How do you say "Noo-ku-lar holocaust" in Mandarin? I'll leave it to Daingerous to add his blistering wit to this story.

We report. You decide.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina's Revenge

Last night I had an argument with my smug roommate, arguing that Bush's lack of preparation for Katrina was inexcusable. The poor response was due to unqualified staff at FEMA, I argued. Perhaps the former head of the Arabian Horse Assn of America was in over his head when New Orleans drowned. My smug roommate (MSR) ridiculed me, saying that such preparations were impossible, and no one would have done a good job. He even argued Katrina would simply wash away troops & provisions stored 200 miles north of the coast in advance of the storm. Nothing could be done!

Under MSR's logic, our final salvation still lies with the village Shaman, who will beat his magic horse femur against a hollow log to ward off Katrina-sized storms. Paying 1/3 of my salary to the Fed, the most expensive item in my budget besides booze and hookers, I naively expect as good a bang for my buck from the Fed as I get from other expenses.

With Rita threatening the coast of Texas, the Washington Post reported the following:

"In Washington, the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, R. David Paulison, outlined a massive effort to pour military equipment and provisions into Texas ahead of the hurricane's landfall."

MSR, you are a jackass. Bureaucracy is supposed to be proactive, not reactive. A former Admiral, Paulison seems to recognize that fact. Texas is fortunate for it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Go Forth and SMITE

God is apparently still pissed off at the Gulf Coast.

Monday, September 19, 2005

G&T, Light on the Ice

"Meet us at Margarita Mamas," squealed the already drunk blonde on Brad's phone. "I've never been, you?" I asked Brad, who responded with a shrug.

East Enders rarely roam from our native habitat, fearing the all-white polo-clad suburbanites that descend on Station Square every weekend. Standing awkwardly on the dancefloor, Miller Light in hand, Bethel Park jostles with 55+ clones to get as close as possible to the lone 3 girl dance-party or a cluster of bachelorette revellers. He'll try to pick up ANY scantly clad girl, sneak her into his parent's house, and hopefully cop a feel on the family room couch before he prematurely ejaculates in his smiley-face boxers. The effect... Margarita Mamas offers bad music, a no-dance dance floor, and Steelers chants about every 4-6 minutes.

I walked into the bar, pissed that I had already blown $8 to park and $5 in cover. "Two Beefeaters and Tonic," I say to the greased-up tough-guy bartender. Guy got a snout like a pelican, but he is clearly the stud in this corral of smack-offs. He grabs two plastic cups and fill them to the brim with thoroughly crushed ice. I start waving frantically... Christ, a booze-free evening at this dump would be a fate worse than death. He makes eye contact, pretends he didn't, and spritzes the glass with gin.

"There's too much ice. I didn't want so much ice."
"You shoudda said sumthin."
"I did. I was waving my arms, and you saw me. There's too much ice."

He gives an incredulous look of disbelief. What a challenge! Like I asked him to strain the Artic Shelf from the sea with a plastic colander. After a series of theatrical Italian hand gestures, 'whaddaya whaddaya,' the ice is out and 1/2 a drink remains in the glass. My anticipation that the meathead would fill the balance with booze was apparently mistaken. "$10.00," he says.

I threw a $10, grabbed my drink and walked away. "Don't f**king come back," tuff-guy yells. Apparently, he expected a tip for his comic indignance. I smirk.

"Don't worry about it."

Aborted Brilliance

The best sitcom on broadcast television will air the its third season premiere tonight, but no one will be watching.

Arrested Development (FOX MONDAY, 8 PM) is the recipient of critic praise and winner of numerous accolades. But it's had trouble capturing the attention of the mindless masses entrenched in front of the boob tube. Last year, it ranked 115th amongst prime-time programs. AD is indubitably the best program on Fox (better than the tired Simpsons and conflicted Family Guy). Perhaps its writing is too smart and storylines too complex for Joe Coachpotato to understand.

Wake up, philistines!

As I walk to work each day

As I walk to work each day, I see many faces, many cuts of clothing, many asses, many strides. Scowlers and lawyers and daydreamers, maybe each is all at sometime, but on their way to work they are one thing or another. Some of my fellow Pittsburghers walk along at ease, and some hurry toward whatever task drives them from bed each morning. I wonder as I pass the men and women in their pea green scrubs what disaster they are coming from and which they leave. It's hard to tell if the people going home as I go to work, a different direction on the same bus, are worn out or just tired, but having been both, I wish them the latter.

Pittsburgh has a a lot of big butts, and that's probably not terribly true when compared with the national average, but yes on an international scale. And so I wonder if the people with the smaller butts are happier or going to better jobs, or if the fat, overweight, obese and chubby have it better. If my current trend continues, I hope it is the latter.

What's his story, the drunk guy sprawled out in front of Penn Station. And the woman whose breasts are bunched together with orange lace, and a sheer sweater, before 8 in the morning? She must have a sexy job. I wish I had that lawyer's suit -- I bet it wasn't cheap. Do I get to bill $500/hour if I get one? Do I get the woman in the orange lace? I'd prefer the former.

How many of these people love? Smoke? Drink coffee? Complain? Watch Friends?

Do I care? Do they share?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Porn: That's So Cute I Wanna Puke Edition

Who's a good boy? He's a good boy. In addition to devastating the Gulf Coast and displacing thousands, Hurricane Katrina also left many animals in the region without homes. Thankfully, many people have already been united with their pets, but hundreds still remain sans owners. So get yourself down to Baton Rouge and adopt a dog or a cat. It's worth the trip if you can make it, and you'll be granting a furry friend a better life.

But, until then ... Dance, you wonderfully tiny dog, dance!!

Addendum to the frenetic commuter

Last night, I pleaded to my roommate a case for mutual roadway acknowledgement amongst co-worker commuters. She was less than sympathetic to my cause. For those outside the know, I recently posted that I experience quite the awkward feeling when I speed past my co-workers. Should I beep? Do the half-hearted wave? Salute?

"They probably don't even think about this. Why are you giving this so much thought?"

I asked that she place herself in their role and tell me what her reaction would be.

"I'd look up in the rear view mirror, grumble your name, and take another sip of coffee."

I have imposed my own neuroticisms on my colleagues. That's a shame. I was hoping everyone could be as self-conscious as me about seeing acquiantances on the parkway. This really is about my aggressive style of driving. The mobile masses aren't used to making quick decisions (outside the BQE) and when someone like myself ignites a driving revolution in Pittsburgh, the bums are resentful.

Get out of my way, a-hole. Decision maker coming through.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Archbishop Joe McCarthy

Cardinal Ratzinger, flexing a love of linear authority and ideological purity first learned in his childhood days as a Hiter Youth, is turning on the church's celibate gay population with the loving Iron Fist of Christ. Still knee deep in sexual abuse allegations, and perhaps exorcizing some personal repressions of his own, the Pope made an inherently illogical leap: gay men molest boys.

The Vatican's religious KGB, styled after the effective Wahabbian Islamo-Cops in Saudi Arabia, will be monitoring activity on seminary campuses. They're looking for evidence of, "New Age and eclectic spirituality, evidence of homosexuality," and free-thinking faculty. Dogmatists are warned to... "watch out for signs of 'particular' friendships." Seminary students are encouraged to not smile at eachother, and the word Love will be replaced with either 'Appreciate' or 'Value' or some other amorphous, spiritually drained word that doesn't draw suspicion.

"For God so Loved the World, that He gave his only begotten Son, so that Whomsoever believed in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

What's that? You queer or sumthin? Get outta here before we bust your face... in God's mercy.

Casey widens lead over Santorum, poll finds

What could be worse for a powerful incumbent senator than trailing his rival by 11 points 16 months shy of the election?

Trailing by 14 points 14 months before the election.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Urine Trouble, Mr. President

Those spinmeisters over at the White House are geniuses. In order to deflect attention away from his FEMA bumbling, it seems Karl Rove has suggested to George W. Bush that he regress into childhood -- as demonstrated by this adorable note he scribbled to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during this week's United Nations World Summit. Oh, you're good, Rove.

Seriously, though: "I think I may need a bathroom break"? You're the leader of the free world and you're asking permission to make pee-pee? Remember all that "mandate" talk? How you were gonna concentrate on cultivating your legacy in your second term, President Bush? I'd say all that's lost now that this will be remembered as the least moronic thing you've ever written. I need a shower.

The People's Casino

City Council voted unanimously today to apply to own and operate one of the casino licenses designated for the City. Hell-bent on embarrassing the city by routinely passing measures that are unconstitutional, illegal or patently absurd, City Council continued this grand tradition of legislative embarrassment through this latest act.

Free Markets:
Joe King, soon-to-be-jailed President of the Firemen's Union, offered to represent casino employees while soon-to-be-jailed Sheriff Pete DeFazio monitors legal compliance. Giving the Democratic Party a quid-pro-quo slushfund or crony-stable has always bode well for local government.

Honor and Honesty:
The incorruptible Twanda Carlisle, famous for using tax dollars to buy books on Gay Black Men and paying her mamma's boyfriend $10k for 'unspecified consulting work,' worried about the Corrupting Influence a city owned casino would have on elected officials. Having raised the spectre of widespread corruption, she voted an emphatic YES! for a city-owned casino!

Casino Operations as Proposed by Doug Shields: Bobby 'Black Jack' O'Conner will be manning the card tables while Scruffs Deasey and Pips Peduto bounce the drunks and collect 'bad debts.'

Who are these morons, and who the hell elected them?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Round One

The prosecution of those people and organizations deemed responsible for the deaths of fellow evacuees following Katrina's massive destruction began today. Good. The owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home have been charged with negligent homicide following the discovery of 34 bodies at the Chalmette, La., facility. Stay tuned.

On Retirement, Weakness and America's Soul

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, the United States was amidst the greatest economic crisis the industrialized world had ever witnessed. As millions of society's weakest died from privation, the President peered deep into the soul of America to see if it really existed. Could a civilization be a civilization if it allows its weakest members to perish from want amidst plenty? As Roosevelt knew well, the path from vigorous health to physical infirmity is a well travelled one. All humans literally age and decay over time... or as my brother points out, despite our best efforts, the mortality rate is still at 100%. Society must protect the weakest, because every citizen will eventually fall into vulnerability through the trials of illness, economics or time.

In the wake of Katrina, 45 bodies were found at a retirement facility. This latest grotesque chapter in America's greatest tragedy lays bare our nation's soul as it never had before. The vulnerable were left to float, but the healthiest of the vulnerable were able to escape with their lives through cagey ingenuity and physical strength. These 45 elderly, the weakest of our society, died of basic privations available in abundance not 200 miles away in Texas.

Perhaps we have a greater crisis on our hands than a basic question of preparedness. Perhaps America, basking in the unprecedented wealth of the world's first 'Hyperpower' since Rome, simply never took the opportunity to look down from the elevated freeways that carry us past those undesirable places and asked why such places exist. Perhaps the culture that carried this President to the helm, one of Tax Cuts, 'self-sufficiency' and personal salvation, was too busy on the Up and Up to bother looking down. Perhaps the saddest truth lies in Bush's careless uncontested nominations to various integral service posts throughout the government... perhaps we don't give a damned.

I don't have the answers, and would deplore any LBJ knee jerk government program to solve our issues immediately... Sadly, these aren't immediate problems, they're historic. The Ghettos of Philadelphia, New Orleans, Los Angeles will likely stay as they are, as America's temporal concern for them blows away with the deadly Winds of Katrina.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Brown Out

Brownie, we hardly knew ye. It was reported today that our man in Louisiana, FEMA director and big crybaby Michael Brown, tendered his resignation. Brown's quitting follows directly on the heels of Operation Huge Embarrassing Failure, also known as the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Personally, I respect Brown's decision to step aside. Now is the time for our government to move forward in the recovery process, placing the needs of its affected citizens above mere political concerns, producing, finally, a new Crescent City which will serve as a model of good governance and the spirit of free enterprise. Whoops -- spoke too soon.

Tale of Two Churches

Last week, at Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, PA, the Rev. Lee Clark gave a sermon in which he decried the Fed's abysmal efforts to save the sunken city of New Orleans as racist. Before the all white congregation of Bethesda, this seemingly misplaced African American minister spoke a story often repeated in Black communities and often ridiculed in white ones. Black America, having often found itself victim throughout the history of the US, sees this as yet another chapter in a sordid tale of a downtrodden people. White people see the seemingly exclusively sea of black refugees, and can't seem to figure out why Black America is angry: "Well, those people lived in the ghetto half of town, which happened to be beneath sea level. Of course its all black." Read that rationale through several times, and ask yourself why you wouldnt be offended by every last word of it.

There was of course quite a flap, as Rev. Lee was on occasion a bit over the top. White Presbyterians, often supporters of our embattered President, don't like to be called racists. They aren't racists, and they shouldn't be called as much. The problem seems to stem from the fact that no one is a racist anymore, but not a damned thing is getting better. Do years of apathy qualify as racism? Therein lies the question that remains unanswered but will continue to fester for generations to come. In the end, feathers were smoothed, and a not-so-wealthy congregation ponied up $10,000 towards the relief effort... a monumental sum considering the church's paltry annual budget.

One mile away, at Round Hill Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Lowell Meek stood before his congregation, running his idiot mouth as he is wont to do. "Some have said that New Orleans was flooded by a vengeful hand of God, smiting our Modern Day Gomorrah. I can't say if they're wrong or right." Unfortunately, Round Hill sits too far above the Monongahela River for God to smite this modern day Pharisee by similar means. There was no outrage over this absurd statement as there was at Bethesda. Rev. Meek gave his congregation the opportunity to be smug, judgemental Christian Moralists whereas Rev. Lee challenged his to prove their Christian worth.

The congregation at Round Hill, significantly wealthier than Bethesda, is offering to send baseball-sized stones with their $1,000 check to Katrina relief agencies, so the remaining sinners can be dispatched in the old-fashioned way. At Bethesda Christians heeded the call of their faith, dug deep into their wallets and their hearts, and a little light was born.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Porn: DAAAAAAAAAAMN! Edition

Well, it's Fashion Week once again in New York, a time of year when the entire city can come together to celebrate what's really important in life: clothing, famous people, and the gay men who love them. For example, check out this picture taken from the inside of Roman Polanski's limousine. Way to go, Ro-Po. And don't forget the prizes. Here's an award statue for "Most Unrealistic Retail Price" in the denim pants category being prepped for the presentation ceremony. Save me a seat between Lenny Kravitz and Dame Edna, New York!

Bush on Vacation

Who could resist a little Mississippi small mouth on a sunny day like this.

Driver Etiquette

During my morning commute, it's not uncommon to speed past a co-worker. I'm usually traveling so fast that I do not notice them until they are fading away in my rear view mirror. Sometimes, my co-worker will spot my roaring four-speed escort rapidly approaching them and move aside.

What's the customary greeting here? When you both arrive at work in 15 minutes, you will say hello to each other. Why not make the hello on the road? Two short, succesional honks would not only satisify the office ritual, but also add a tad of whimsy to working life.

So far, I've employed the no-look rule. This device was popularized at socially awkward schools like Carnegie Mellon.
An example: you meet someone, perhaps in class, a dormitory, or a party. The first couple of times when you see this acquiantance on campus you give the polite nod. If you are feeling especially ebullient, you may even say "hello." But after a few instances of mutual acknowledgement, you divert your eyes and pretend you've never met.

I don't beep and I don't wave because no one else does. But I'm tired of this lemming lifestyle. Next time you see my polish-trampmobile weaving in and out of traffic, give me a double-beep. I'll be certain to return the favor.

Islamists Desecrate Memorial Design

From the 'Insane Religious Zealots' file comes this...

Fibbers Earn Mostly Agony

Michael Brown, the embattled FEMA director and former Arabian horse czar, just can't seem to catch a break. First, the liberal media jump all over him just because he let a few thousand people die. Now those muckrakers over at Time want to suggest that he may have been less than truthful on a few resumes. I say, So what? "Brownie" is qualified for this job. If you don't believe me then just ask his former boss, Edmond, Okla., city manager and pleasant old man Bill Dashner:

"He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."

There you have it, folks. So the next time you find yourself homeless because a globally-warmed super-tornado ripped the top off your house, forcing you to barter your sister to a roving band of sex criminals for the last raspberry Snapple, which grants you just enough strength to beat your heatstroked dog to death with an old oar you found floating amidst your now-submerged town's steady stream of fresh corpses, putting it out of its incalculable misery before finally slitting your own wrists with the same broken Snapple bottle, just think: "When Michael Brown gets here, in like three days, his shirt will be pressed magnificently."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Susquehanna Cesspool

Legislators who sit on the board of PHEAA, a loan-issuing government subsidized non-profit, want to cover up the fact they bought $1,000 bottles of wine on a trip to Napa Valley and snorted coke off a hookers naked ass in Reno... ALL on the taxpayer's dime. "Its all in the legislative record," the lawyers of our notoriously corrupt legislature croaked as they attempted to smother this latest shit-storm with the all-concealing, all pervasive cloak of Harrisburg secrecy.

I feel so much better knowing its all on the Legislative Record. That means our thrifty legislature will surely reign in any uncontrolled spending. My only question for PHEAA Board Members is, when you swiped your Legislative Corporate Credit card in the hookers ass crack, where did the receipt that you expensed print out? Or did it fall under your recent list of 'unvouchered expenses.'

Students Downtown and the Spirit of Gen. Tso.

A Chinese restauranteur in Orlando, Florida is being sued by his Landlord for not opening his restaurant in the landlord's complex as agreed. Chris and Yoko Chung have documented evidence that the space they leased for their restaurant is Haunted, and refuse to move in. Chung claims that his religion requires that he "avoid encountering or having any association with spirits or demons." Something tells me the apparition of a $2.6 Million lawsuit might be more haunting than a few ghosts, but Chung assured reporters that he has a star expert testimony in his defense.

With images of haunted, abandoned buildings still lingering in your mind, turn your minds towards the largely haunted, abandoned housing scene in the Golden Triangle. Point Park University, the Harvard of Stanwix Street, is set to house over 650 additional students to downtown Pittsburgh. Michael Lamb, failed candidate for mayor, wisely suggested enlivening downtown with students, pointing out the obvious: drunken students can be lots of fun. With Duquense University's 3-5k students bracketing the East face of Downtown, and Point Park's 1,000 holding the opposite end, they might just be onto something. Just don't expect it to turn into some beautiful urban educational mecca, like Oakland.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yahoo For Unfree Speech

If you ever find yourself in China criticizing the highly repressive policies of its government, for the love of God, do not take a Yahoo mail account. Because they'll collude with Beijing to disappear you, probably. That's what happened to writer Shi Tao, according to the Frenchies over at Reporters Without Borders.

Whatever the outcome, it has surely not been a good year for reporters' rights. Look for Yahoo Ltd. to increase its China operation while at the same time working behind the scenes to have Tao's sentence reduced, tamping down a possible public relations embarrassment. Thank God our glorious leaders at Google would never do anything to curtail information or reduce personal autonomy.

I'm in love

My love affair is not with a man or woman, but rather with a route. It's a short route, a speedy route. Some call it the east busway, I call it freedom. And though I never have a seat and must stand among the masses, it takes but seven minutes.

Thus, I am content.

In other news, for all that Wal-mart has going against it, once again its mythical supply chain has worked miracles. With the citizens of America calling for the blood of FEMA, Bush, and to a lesser extent local authorities in Louisiana and New Orleans, Wal-mart delivered the goods without so much as a "pay me back later." Wal-mart's usual critics are, at this juncture, delivering naught but unqualified praise. In record time, Wal-mart trucked in diapers, water, food, and other necessities to the bereft, even innovating on their stellar supply chain with tactics you can read about in the Post article above.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

For it's one, two, three, four, five strikes you're out!

His heart beat strong, but his batsmen whiffed badly. After five losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates fired manager Lloyd McClendon.

Parting is such sweet sorrow for this beleaguered Bucco loyalist. Lloyd's passion was palatable, his anger inspiring. He fought valiantly, but alas his players were a catchpenny crew of ham-and-eggers and no-talent greenhorns.

I curse the disreputable Kevin McClatchy and his frugality. Our tater-smashing third baseman and quality hurlers left this sinking ship and received a princely paycheck, written by the big market empires. And it all occurred with tacit endorsement of "Bud" Selig and his lapdog Kevin.

As Shakespeare wrote, "A walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more."


This morning's NPR continued the routine condemnation of FEMA & Co., blasting their unpreparedness, etc... Criticisms fell like rain, flooding my bedroom with a good dose of post-holiday vitrol. Seems I wasn't the only one not happy about going back to work. The last commentator of the morning, a relief worker, broke the routine. The military's efforts were completely in keeping with timetables on such things, he argued. America's ability to provide comprehensive aid during this effort in 3 days is impressive. What is out of wack, he claimed, were our expectations.

Three days is an impressively short response time answering such a response, but central to our concern is the fact nothing was waiting as the storm approached. Americans aren't pissed that it takes 3 days to mobilize a National Guard unit, they are pissed that the Fed addressed the crisis reactively, not proactively. I expect that no serious planning, risk assessments or roadmaps have been drawn up for a US Rescue mission to Port-au-Prince, but who gives a shit. New Orleans was, until last week, one of the largest cities in the south, and such scenarios were envisioned. All the components for a proactive approach existed, and none was taken. As a result, our televisions have been inundated by pictures of an American City descending into the depths of lawlessness, privation and chaos. The government's response this week might be considered a stunning success in Port-au-Prince, but is wholly unacceptable on American soil.

This administration is consistently underprepared: Bush is in all things reactionary. Americans are forgiving of mistakes in extraordinary, wholly unexpected scenarios like 9-11. But we are tired of seeing its government fall flat on its face in situations suffering from a lack of preparation, from Najaf to New Orleans, for 5 years. Its not unrealistically high expectations for our government that are distorted, its the government's low expectations of itself.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Flood ... of Funny!

If there is a silver lining in this darkest of dark clouds, it is this: Hurricane Katrina has revealed some of the ridiculous gaffes live television routinely subjects itself to. Here's just two examples -- sadly, Geraldo is not included -- of the news momentarily turning tragedy into farce. Surprisingly, the federal government had nothing to do with either.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Port au Prince, Mogadishu, New Orleans.

"Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists....'It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane.' FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

"Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said some 300 National Guard members from Arkansaswere flying into New Orleans with the express task of reclaiming the city. 'They have M-16's and they are locked and loaded,' she said. 'These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.'"

After 5 straight days of lawlessness met only with cheap excuses that the US Army can't get in to provide security or food, why is no one pissed. Mighty America, with the most powerful and high-tech military in the world, can't reach the little dry land left in a flooded city? As a result, rogue gunfire is directed at rescue crews, bands of armed youth roam the streets, and food provisions have fallen so that the weak and infirm have died on dry land. How badly prepared were we? America will soon be accepting aid advisors from Japan and Sri Lanka.... just like any third world cesspool would when overwhelmed by a similar crisis.

So little preparation was made that thousands are dead and the City of New Orleans has suffered a complete deterioriation of Law and Order for 5 straight days. Putin had his Kursk. Bush, riding bikes with Lance Armstrong in what should have been the critical hours of life-saving pre-storm preparation, has his New Orleans.

78...Going on 18

"Chico Harlan" is on the Post-Gazette sports page because his byline screams personality. But Harlan is more than a press box hack; he's a talented writer who allows the reader to explore the mind of the story's protagonist. His interviews are alive, presently happening as you read the story.

Today, Harlan files a fresh story about the "age-old" question, "Has the game of college football passed Penn State coach Joe Paterno by?" This isn't a milquetoast critque of one the game's most successful coaches. It's a story about aging - how the old feel young even when society tells them to get of the way...and off the road. Harlan even landed an interview with Hugh Hefner. Not too shabby.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Barbarism and Lethargy

I could roll out some old quote from Alexis de'Tocqueville about how Americans are courteous, generous and caring, but why bother. What is happening in New Orleans should transcend any appeal to your nationalistic sentiments or your sense of American duty. I'll simply provide you with this article from the NY Times.

As people run short of food, shelter and clothing, lawlessness prevails. If a city stands as the paramount achievement of mankind, flaunting the power of civilized ambition to secure for mankind peace, prosperity and plenty, the destruction of a city and its people by any means is the height of barbarism. To lay all blame on the power of nature is allowing ourselves too much freedom from responsibility. The prevailing lawless and want leaves me wondering which is more depraved: the man looting his ravaged city as people starve around him, or the man that stands idly by permitting it to happen. The barbarous man who pillages, or the barbarous man who refuses to protect or provide out of his own gluttonous laziness.

Reading this from the comfort of your home or office, I encourage you to scroll down to Daingerous' post. Civilization is bound by the weak sinews of law, charity and responsibility. The first was dashed by the storm, but the latter lie squarely with you. In the name of common humanity, the name of justice and peace, the name of the ruined City of New Orleans, give because it is right.

A pallet of blankets in every bedroom

I spent my first night at Summerlea Manor yesterday, and the vibe started out strong with tbones for everyone, a bottle of wine, and energetic conversation. My pallet of blankets was so comfortable that I am having second thoughts about getting a bed. My back feels better than it has since I moved in with Celanie. But I suppose I must avoid the image of savagery and elevate myself from the floor.

My bookshelves are stocked, my clothes and closet are full, and I need to just put a few more finishing touches on my abode -- hang some art, buy a full-length mirror and bed, get some more toiletries (I used a sheet for a towel today), set up my desk, buy a laptop, and maybe rearrange my furniture a bit. Typing all that out makes it seem like there is more left to do than I thought, but I should be able to get it all done this weekend, strategically avoiding the time of our labor day celebration.

I will make an announcement on this blog about the Summerlea Manor Labor Day celebration, so if you are a friend and like to drink and eat, stay tuned. Now it is time to get a cup of coffee and begin the day. I am involved in a 3-hour client meeting today -- should be fun!

Luckily, I got my falling asleep done yesterday at work, before I took the second half of the day off. My buddy Russelll called in the woman that works next door to me to look at me sleeping in my chair, and then gave me a hard time when I got caught in my lies "I wasn't sleeping". Unbelievable!