Monthly Archives: September 2005

The Most Marvelous Dream

I just had the most marvelous dream where there was a man in a theater-type place, and I was spouting the most lovely BS in the universe. I talked about how this online comic strip was representative of our times. He mentioned something in comparison, evidently he knew it was a load of BS. It was a gotcha question involving the Peanuts. However, I just continued, talking about how globalization had changed things. It was so magnificent. And now, I wake up from my nap, rejuvenated. I’m ready to face the world once more. My store of BS has restocked, long ago deplenished from having to do college applications.

It was quite an odd dream. There were cut-out pictures of old presidents playing cut-out instruments set to obviously synthetic music. Then, after that, I met this guy, and he told me that he was going a better way. I think I had the vague impression that he was one of the creators of that comic strip I was mentioning.

Anyway, I’d been fumbling with my pockets for a while. I had something extra in them. Like, two wallets or something. I pulled out what was inside just as he was talking to me. It was a piece of a remote control. You know, the thing that you take out so you can put the batteries in? Well, I realized it was his right before he said, “… and evidently, you have something that belongs to me.” Indeed it was his, and I vaguely remembered some previous lending and borrowing. (Dreams are like this with deja-vu. I had also gone to that theater before and remembered it was something crappy.)

This connection established, I followed him instead of returning to my parked car. We meandered about in some sketchy areas and ended up in a Subway sandwich shop. He said there were friends here. We sat at a rather large table (I think it was a few tables put together) where there already was a sandwich at the head of a it. The guy comes over. Before I can introduce myself, he says, “Hey, Shawn, you’re a freshman, right?” He knows the new guy next to me too. The last thing I hear before I wake up is that this is a safe place against the Manipulators.

I have no idea what these Manipulators are. Just a dream-thought, I guess. However, I’m drawing connections after the fact, and I wonder if that guy in the theater was a Manipulator. If he was The Man, and I was sticking it to him. BS was my tool. Fire with fire.

In any case, instead of awakening from this nap feeling gross and disoriented, I feel ready. Hey Manipulators! I can play your game! And I can beat you!

The Gathering Storm

Ain’t it funny? Cindy Sheehan was supposed to represent a watershed. She was supposed to tip the nation towards a Vietnam-style loss on the homefront. She was the next Rosa Parks.

Some liberals sure have a short memory. I got this flier while going to the Cindy Sheehan thing (which I walked out of) about a Baltimore school board protest, a nationwide strike day, and a national march, and whatnot. They got some funny bullet points, let me reproduce most of them:

  • Don’t let them kidnap our youth for the military!
  • Don’t die for the Pentagon & Big Oil!
  • Turn our outrage over Katrina into a movement — On the 50th anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks sparked the modern civil rights movement — Dec 1 Nationwide Strike — teach-ins, marches, sit-ins — Saturday — Dec 3 mass marches Wall Street to DC
  • Baltimore School Board — Honor Rosa Parks Day — No school!

Turn our outrage over Katrina into a movement? Just like the movement that Cindy Sheehan started?

And: Kidnap our youth for the military? These volunteers?

No wonder protesting doesn’t do anything anymore. These people have a very skewed view of reality.

I was talking to someone before the Cindy Sheehan thing and she said that she didn’t think we should have invaded Afghanistan. That shows you the mentality of those severely lacking an understanding of geopolitics.

One of the persons on stage did some type of rap about 9/11. He said 9/11 was justified. That really pissed me off.

They rattled on about Iraqi self-determination. They say we need to get out to let the Iraqis govern themselves, while they ignore that without the war Saddam would still be in power. They prattle on about the innocent Iraqis dying, ignoring the fact that the insurgents are the ones killing innocents.

They complain about propaganda from the right. They complain about our soundbite culture. Yet, their soundbite says, “The war is a lie.” They don’t understand that you can go to a war for multiple reasons: to establish democracy, to take out an evil dictator, to find weapons of mass destruction, oil, and more.

Go to a mass grave in Iraq and tell them that our American soldiers died for nothing. Tell it to an Iraqi mother who lost her child to Saddam. They say they care about human lives, but they’re hypocrites. Selfish hypocrites. Whither liberalism! These same people who say that we’re one global family say we should turn to isolationalism. They don’t care about their brothers and sisters suffering in Iraq! They don’t care about women being oppressed in foreign countries. All they can do is love their neighbor (and, for some of them, hate their country).

I don’t think this applies to liberalism in general. So, why are these whackjobs the spokespeople for the left?

cindy sheehan at jhu tomorrow

I’m gonna see Cindy Sheehan at JHU tomorrow. One of the sponsors is the “Hopkins Anti-War Coalition.” I know I’m going to go in there and disagree with her. What I really want to know is if she’s freaking crazy, or not… All these pundits think they know what she’s all about when they’ve read transcripts and selectively picked out quotes. I’m gonna see what’s going on for myself.


I dropped my pen, and I was gonna say, “Merde,” but I guess I wanted to say, “Fuck,” at the same time, so I started going… “ffff” and then it came out as “Ferde.” Wow, I’ve never made a bilingual language error before.

no partying for me tonight

I saw just about everyone heading out to have some fun this Saturday night. I feel a bit sick tonight, though, so I’m not going out. You can’t help but feel a bit like a loser for not going out, but when I started a coughing fit, I realized that there is a time for everything (and a season for every activity under heaven): a time to party, and a time to stay home. This is just one of those nights when I need to stay home, and get some sleep, so I can get better.

oh the humidity! the humidity of it all!

It’s so freaking hot… I’m dying. It was overcast this morning, and it felt so nice. But I could see the sun beginning to sneak its way through, and my smile dimmed.

My throat kinda tickles. I can’t tell if it’s allergies, or disease. Frankly, I think it’s the humidity too. You walk up one floor, it’s 10 degrees hotter. Up on the third floor, I can barely breath.

It’s way too hot to sit up here and weblog, so that’s all you’re getting for today. Besides, it’s a Friday. Go out and have some fun.

Beyond Katrina (Part 2)

Look at this from MSNBC: Major quake could be worse than Katrina. Finally, people are figuring it out… no, wait, they aren’t.

Yes, we need to upgrade buildings to be more earthquake proof, but that takes a lot of time and a lot of money. It’s money well-spent, but it’s not going to happen all at once. It takes time to do that. An earthquake could strike long before that gets done. And what if the earthquake is so big it renders older retrofitting defunct? Will we put ourselves in an endless engineering arms war against earthquakes?

Let me stress once more, this earthquake retrofitting needs to be done. However, we can’t make ourselves 100% safe this way. We need money on disaster response. Things will fail; we need to be able to respond and adapt. Just retrofitting buildings is an example of brittle security. If it fails, we’re fucked. The city and state needs plans on how it can take care of people, on how to get around if a bridge collapses, etcetera.

All You Need to Know About Katrina

I’ve found all that needs to be said. Sure, there are lots of issues, but deciphering the web of mythocracy is unneeded. All you have to do is cut through it with the truth.

How to make us safer: Katrina and Security from Bruce Schneier. If you don’t want to read the whole article, there are two things that we need to fund: emergency response and intelligence gathering. That will make us safer in the wake of all disasters, natural or otherwise.

Too bad the LA Times is getting rid of Michael Kinsley. He says all that I wish I could say about the fetid aroma of hindsight. But I’m young, in time, I’ll develop a more eloquent style.

The hindsight geniuses didn’t get the necessary changes done to prevent this disaster. In that sense, the little New Orleans Times-Picayune series, and the pork-consuming representatives failed New Orleans despite their supposed prescience. Thus, we need a different approach rather than I-told-you-so. That approach? Emergency response and intelligence gathering.

Shut the Fucking Door

If you leave the door open for about thirty seconds, the fire alarm goes off. The fire alarm goes off quite often, and let me tell you, it is quite annoying. More annoying than the guy who has to yell, “Shut the fucking door.” You know what? If the fire alarm is going off, it’s already saying, “Shut the fucking door.” Because it sure ain’t saying, “There’s a fire.” If there is a fire here, we are all going to die. Instead of evacuating, we’ll be consumed by the flames, all the while wondering why no one shut the door.

Baltimore vs. San Francisco, and thoughts on race

Baltimore is not as diverse as San Francisco, I don’t think. However, it’s more diverse than I thought it would be. I learned that they actually have Thai restaurants in Baltimore. I have seen a fair amount of Asians, but hardly any Filipinos or Latinos. Instead of seeing these people, I see more African Americans. Instead of mostly Latinos doing the grunt work, like cleaning my hotel room or washing my dishes, African Americans are doing it. I wonder if anyone will construe that as racist. It’s naive to ignore race in this day and age.

We wish we lived in that ideal world Dr. King dreamed of, but we don’t. I think we ignore talking about race a lot of the times in fear of being a racist. Yet, I must warn you… ignoring it doesn’t lead to stasis. It doesn’t mean the problems will stay the same. Ignoring race doesn’t mean racism will go away. Complacency leads to decay, not stasis. And by all means, ignoring race will not make racism go away.

I’ve noticed a lot of race-based comedy recently. I don’t know if it’s really a modern trend, but for some reason, I think it is. If comedians want a cheap laugh, they don’t talk about airport security, they talk about race. The comedians say the things we’re too afraid to say. That’s the importance of comedians in our culture. They approach the issues we’re too afraid to approach. We laugh because we keep these observations bottled up inside. The comedians give us relief.

I turned my observation about the cleaning personnel into a joke when talking to other people. When looked at objectively, this observation isn’t really all that funny. It’s only funny because of the way society is right now. We’re afraid to touch on issues of race unless in a comedic setting.

New Orleans got me thinking. I was flipping through channels in the hotel room. I saw Tucker Carlson and Al Sharpton on, talking (bullshitting) about New Orleans. Carlson said race played no factor, it was class, and Sharpton said it did. Sharpton said this type of disaster wouldn’t have happened in a rich white community; they would’ve all been evacuated. Carlson disagreed with “white” and agreed with “rich.”

I thought, but these rich white mutherfuckers wouldn’t be forming mobs. They don’t know how to form mobs. If they tried, they’d only have to see one police officer and they’d think, “Oh crap, we better stop.”

Or rather, they’d see these police officers and say, “Oh thank you officer, we’re so glad to see you.” You think the left-behind population in New Orleans generally look upon the cops as their saviors?

It’s important to notice generalizations for what they are: generalizations. However, generalizations are not useless. Especially when you’re analyzing mobs. People in mobs don’t act as individuals.

Did the looters know that help was on the way? Is that part of the reason why they looted, because they thought they had to help themselves, or die? It’s not simply a question of survival. It depends on if you trust the people who are supposed to help you.

I pose these as questions, not as answers. As an open inquiry into avenues I haven’t seen examined. It’s all I can do. I can’t go into New Orleans and think about these things myself. However, it would be interesting to see a sociological study on the breakdown of order in New Orleans. I think the problem is bigger than local and/or state and/or federal incompetence. It’s naive to ignore the issue of race.

Beyond Katrina (Part 1)


I know I said I wanted to take things apart before offering any suggestions, but I had to sound the alarm before anyone else did.

This from Slate: “A FEMA study in early 2001 pegged a hurricane in New Orleans as one of the three biggest catastrophes that might strike the United States (the others were an earthquake in San Francisco and a terrorist attack in New York).” [emphasis mine]

Look, a terrorist attack in New York… check. Hurricane in New Orleans… check. Earthquake in San Francisco… oh pish posh, that’ll never happen. “It’s not a question of if but when” is the same thing they say about a meteor; it’s a bunch of alarmist rubbish. *ahem* Don’t let the fucking mythocrats tell you otherwise. We need to start preparing now.

We need a comprehensive disaster relief plan. If our water system is destroyed in an earthquake, how are we going to put out fires? If our highways are destroyed, how can we evacuate people? What happens if our bridges fail? What will happen to oil prices? San Francisco is an important port, just like New Orleans; what will happen to the economy? If our cops can’t keep order, how will we get the military in? We need a Plan B if Plan A fails. We need Plan C’s and Plan D’s, and so forth.

We need to urge Mayor Newsom to start launching an investigation NOW. If you want thousands of lives to be saved, we need to start planning NOW.

The federal level stuff, now that’s the stuff I need to pick apart before I can issue suggestions.

This city planning needs to be done NOW. We need some type of letter campaign.

New Orleans BS

Turn on the TV, and there’s so much bullshit going on about New Orleans it makes me want to vomit.

I don’t want to try to “debunk” any of it because doing that only adds to the noise. Some of what they’re saying is true, and some of what they’re saying is false. The problem is, these people are just angry talking heads who have no regard for the truth. They just want people to blame, and everyone picks their own demons: Bush, global warming, racism, class warfare, New Orleans government, Iraq, etc.

Let’s take time to frame the situation rationally. I’m not going to talk about what’s going on now, or what we should do now. There are too many people doing that. Let’s try to think rationally about what went wrong. The problem was we didn’t react quick enough.

Why? I can only take this apart piece by piece before putting it together.

Obviously, one of the factors is money. Money that should’ve went to FEMA went elsewhere.

Another factor is the magnitude of the disaster. Sure, we had hurricanes in Florida. However, we have an entire city under water. The infrastructure is completely destroyed.

Lack of foresight is important. There should’ve been some type of plan to deal with this before it happened. Plan A, plan B. Plan A is fix the levees before the hurricane happens. Plan B should be plan for evacuation and relief, not whine about how Plan A isn’t happening. Obviously, there wasn’t some type of plan created before hand, lest this scale of disaster would not have occured.

Now, there are different levels of planning required. There are city responsibilities, and federal responsibilities. Neither of these got done. Federal responsibilities I addressed earlier: Money for FEMA went elsewhere. But there is something else I need to address: The Department of Homeland Security. It seems to me that the current organization of the department of homeland security has made us less secure. More bureaucracy means things happen more slowly. We need to separate the jobs of dealing with natural disasters and dealing with terrorist attacks. The old FEMA director had a spot on the cabinet. Would things have happened differently if we didn’t have a Department of Homeland Security? It’s hard to say, but I think the answer is yes. A man with a direct line to the president can interrupt him during his vacation and say things need to be done.

Well, that’s all I have for tonight. More piece by piece tomorrow. I’ll be putting it all together when I’m done picking it apart.

Cruel Katrina

When I put something in the microwave, it’s done in 60 seconds. When I turn on my computer, I get instant news. We live in an accelerating world.

Unfortunately, rebuilding an entire city takes time. Disaster relief takes time. The mythocracy likes to make you think that if they were in power, they could solve all the world’s powers just like that. They couldn’t have averted the hurricane. They didn’t cry and cry for preparing New Orleans for this disaster, and yet they say that everyone saw it coming. Some want to completely crush the looters with guns and tanks; some want to let the looters run free. Neither of those are perfect solutions.

This isn’t SimDisasterRelief. You armchair mythmakers probably couldn’t do a better job than FEMA is doing now. The world runs in real-time. Anything you say that should be done takes time and money. Real time, real money. That being said, there could have been better preparation for the disaster. But where were you hindsight geniuses before the disaster?

Some of them proclaim doom, saying oil prices will destroy us. I don’t think the international community would let them happen. It wouldn’t only affect the US, so we will see foreign aid. However, the choke point is refineries. It doesn’t matter how much oil we get if we can’t refine it.

There’s a certain amount of cruel irony in this situation. We were trying to guard ourselves against another 9/11, and instead we got hit by a hurricane. Funds that should’ve went to FEMA went to Iraq. The Department of Homeland Security focuses on terror, not natural disasters. Net result: America is less safe.

A doctrine of preventative war will bankrupt us. We won’t have money to deal with other real problems. In the end, it’s a net loss.