October 21, 2007

If I Needed Any Concrete Evidence…

…that I have somewhere along the line become a stone Internet (© Algore) addict, the last half week supplied all the proof I need.

I lit up Mr. Inspiron at Zero Dark Hundred Hours on Thursday to find a blue screen informing me that I couldn’t come in, because there was something-or-other afoot that would damage my computer if I did.

“Bummer,” I thought.

I called Dell Tech Support, went through the usual Pomp & Circumstance you go through before you find yourself in touch with a human being in the proper department, and was dumbfounded when I discovered that the homosapien in question was, while obviously elsewhere in the world (it’s hard to say whether she was a Latina or a Bangalorian, and I’ve always been really good with accents, but I think that was because her English, diction and vocabulary both, was nothing short of excellent), was eminently understandable, profoundly knowledgeable and had a real ease about her, the kind that comes, part and parcel, with experience. Our entire exchange was more a conversation, including some mutually enjoyed humorous asides, than it was a report/response exchange.

Her diagnosis was that I needed to reinstall Windows XP Professional, using the back-up CD they should have sent me with my notebook. She also told me that when I’d purchased the computer, Dell hadn’t been including the XP disc among the others in the box, so she had to overnight it to me. She made the soonest appointment available (for she or someone from her unit to call me and walk me through the reinstall, once I had the CD), which was for Saturday Afternoon.

Aaargh!!!! I was contemplating up to 2 1/2 days without being able to get online from a PJ-friendly environment! I repeat, Aaargh!

I must confess to a certain degree of withdrawal symptoms, probably like a heroin addict “Jonesing”, only without the physical stress. To pontificate and employ more scientific language, well, let’s just say it sucked.

So yesterday, a Dell Dude, also uncharacteristically knowledgeable and with undeterminate accent, called and we did the thing with the CD, which entailed him calling me back a few times while the disc took its time doing its job.

After that, it took 2 restarts and I was back in business.

Being of the half full and silver lining persuation by nature, I will say that my computer’s performance has improved quite a bit since the CD and the Dell folks did what they did, it turns out that a lot of a slowness of loading, despite the fastest DSL available from AT&T/Yahoo!, was as much the fault of some sort of deterioration in my operating platform as it was from the drag (as opposed to thrust) of IE-7.

Boy, don’t I sound high-tech…

Back on-line, I was confronted by a highly daunting quantity of emails to reply to, emailed news/opinion subscription venues to work my way through and 2 1/2 days’ worth of spam that goes around the filters thanks to what is hopefully only negligence on the part of Blogspot (don’t blame “Desenex”, I’m a Munuvian and I use Word Press: They allow megaspammers to use their servers — the only spam that penetrates into my comment sections have Blogspot URLs, and they come both simultaneously and in large quantities). Blogspot is apparently hosting a movie sequel: I, Spambot.

Plus, I have two days’ worth of catching up to do as regards visiting the sites of many, many fellow bloggers, which for me is a priority pursuit after eating and sleeping.


Now that we’ve gotten the above “adventure” out of the way, the first thing I want to do is express my intense satisfaction at the election of Bobby Jindal as governor of Louisiana.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal easily defeated 11 opponents and became the state’s first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction, decades after his parents moved to the state from India to pursue the American dream.

Jindal, a 36-year-old Republican, will be the nation’s youngest governor. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. It was more than enough to win Saturday’s election outright and avoid a Nov. 17 runoff.

This guy is phenomenal, he’s one of those rare politicians who embrace the concept of what I tend to think of as “practice over theory”. He does stuff rather than expound upon it, and at the relatively young age of 36 he has won the respect and confidence of the vast majority (just look at the figures, and these published by Yahoo!, a highly liberal, PC client of the Associated Press) of Louisiana voters.

I lived in Nawlins for many years in earlier periods of my adult life, from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, from days when the Superdome and the Hibernia Tower were pretty much the city’s skyline to an era in which there is a full skyline of modern hotels and other high rises.

Truth to tell, I preferred things the old way — I so miss pre-high tech architecture (from back in the days when men were men and sheep were scared — sorry, my own sense of humor, as bizarre as it sometimes happens to be, rendered it impossible for me not to interject that particular semi-appropriate cliche), when an architect was someone who designed buildings via creativity rather than computer model and a mason was permitted to add artistic detail to the project.

But as usual, I digress…

Remember my admission re “half full” and “silver lining”s? Well, keeping in mind Hurricane Katrina’s introduction of profound tragedy to the Crescent City and much of the rest of southern Louisiana, with its resultant out-of-state relocation of so many residents (here, at risk of sounding like the racist I’m not — this is for any readers who tow the PC line rather than the realism one) from the low-income neighborhoods that produce gang bangers and related homicides and draw the bulk of public largesse, and the fact that residents of parishes like Orleans and Jefferson hold the same kind of sway at the polls that NYC voters do in New York State politics, my own interpretation of the Jindal victory is that:

Louisiana voters see their present circumstances as an opportunity to fix the presently (and historically) corrupt, southern Democrat “old boy network” run political system, and they’ve voted in Jindal, exactly “the man for the job”.

Bravo to the Louisiana electorate!

The next item I would have posted on had I not encountered my computer problem would have been linking this must read column by Diana West.

In my opinion, the most powerful segment reads:

The point of my talk — based on my new book, “The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization” (linked below) — was to explain why perpetual adolescence is not just a cultural drag, but also dangerous to our way of life. I argued that the leveling of adult authority over the past half century or so was accompanied by a leveling of cultural authority.

This brought on the age of multiculturalism, a time when Western Civ (like the adult) no longer occupies its old pinnacle atop the hierarchy of cultures. The multiculti conception of equally valuable cultures (except for the West, which is deemed the pits) depends on a strenuous non-judgmentalism. This non-judgmentalism expresses itself in a self-censoring adherence to political correctness.

Such non-judgmentalism, such PC self-censorship, is infantilizing because it requires us to suppress our faculties of analysis and judgment.

Finally, we come to one of those topics that’s near and dear, as they say, to my heart: Security.

Security screeners at two of the nation’s busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.

Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, screeners missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons — including toiletry kits, briefcases and CD players. San Francisco International Airport screeners, who work for a private firm instead of the TSA, missed about 20% of the bombs, the report shows. The TSA ran about 70 tests at Los Angeles, 75 at Chicago and 145 at San Francisco.

How comforting is that?

Anyone who has visited here over the last couple of years knows that as a protection professional I’ve kinda-sorta expressed my doubts where the TSA, at ground level, is concerned.

From my own considerable domestic airport experience (speaking strictly as a traveller), my personal top rating for professionalism in post-9/11 passenger screening goes to Logan International — those folks have no intention of allowing a second 9/11 from taking off out of Boston.

Look, my air travel is haphazard, I usually fly on short notice and, if the trip is multi-city, I take things one-way by one-way. The security programming in post 9/11 airline reservations systems often forwards requests that TSA search the luggage of/wand the bearers of one way or “day or two before reservations” fares and/or give them “special attention”. I have no problem with that. All “out of the norm” situations should be investigated.

As a human being, I tend to look at issues with the inclusion of “pros” & “cons”.

That is pretty much why I thought I should bring up this product.

Privacy experts are concerned that a full body x-ray scanner the Transportation Security Administration is testing will produce such revealing images that they could violate Americans’ civil liberties. And some experts, who see no civil liberty problems, think the machines are too expensive, too bulky, and not needed given current security procedures at airports.

“We are not convinced that it is the right thing for America,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Program. “We are skeptical of the privacy safeguards that the TSA is touting.”

TSA, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, will be testing the Active Millimeter Wave body scanners at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, with plans to test machines at New York’s JFK and LAX in Los Angeles over the next few months.

TSA will also purchase eight millimeter wave units at a cost of $1.7 million to be used in other cities.

WTF is a “privacy expert”? Is this a bona fide job title or professional designation?

According to TSA, the process — a voluntary alternative to a pat-down during secondary screening — works as follows: A passenger steps into the machine and remains still for a matter of seconds, in two different positions, while the technology creates a three-dimensional image of the passenger from two antennas that simultaneously rotate around the body. Once complete the passenger steps through the opposite side of the millimeter wave portal.

The scanner’s manufacturers, L3 Communications, said the machine “penetrates clothing and packaging to reveal and pinpoint hidden weapons, explosives, drugs, and other contraband,” calling it “more reliable and less intrusive than pat-down searches.”

Yet “this technology produces strikingly graphic images of passengers’ bodies,” said Steinhardt. “Those images reveal not only our private body parts, but also intimate medical details like colostomy bags.”

“That degree of examination amounts to a significant - and for some people, humiliating - assault on the essential dignity of passengers that citizens in a free nation should not have to tolerate,” he said.

Before I comment on the immediate above, read this:

“They say that they are obscuring faces, but that is just a software fix that can be undone as easily as it is applied,” warned Steinhardt. “And obscuring faces does not hide the fact that the rest of the body will be vividly displayed.”

“Over time, the personnel operating this system will get mischievous, and it will be misused in ways that are very offensive,” added Jim Harper, director of Information Policy Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.


“Yo, Ralph! This guy’s wearing a colostomy bag!”

Haw, Haw!!!!

What a bunch of Bee Ess!

Who gives a xxxx?

This is a typical liberal pitch, based upon “what if?” — “This could happen, so we need to flee, capitulate or downright surrender, to do otherwise would be politically incorrect!”

The above paragraph defines those on the far left to the letter.

Thank G-d that we right thinkers don’t follow the same directives that are adhered to by the left.

Okay, that should more than adequately convey my own attitude on the subject.

My other concern here is that –

TSA chief Kip Hawley, responding to previous reports about screeners missing hidden weapons, told a House hearing Tuesday that high failure rates stem from increasingly difficult covert tests that require screeners to find bomb parts the size of a pen cap. “We moved from testing of completely assembled bombs … to the small component parts,” he said.

This is total bullshit (© El Toro). It is “in name only” security. Either you secure a venue or you don’t, period. If you own a dress factory, it’s okay to hire seamstresses who skylark as they work, but if you run a security department, contractor or agency you’d damn well better employ people who can stay focused and for whom you’ve spent whatever sums it takes to see that they are trained and prepared for every eventuality, in their area of responsibility, that might come to pass.

Ex: A friend of mine was the security director for a major tenant brokerage firm in the World Trade Center at the time of the first bombing, which occured on the front end of a weekend. When the markets opened on Monday, he had relocated all the brokers, etc to a location on Hudson Street and they were doing business as though nothing had happened.

Ex 2: When I was employed in casino security in Nevada years ago, I was fortunate enough to work for a security director who believed in training the #&*%^$#& out of his floor officers, investigators and supervisors (After coming in at entry level, I was all of the these as time progressed). We attended classes, courses, workshops, lectures, etc in every area that even remotely affected us and our responsibilities, and it all paid off majorly for the casino in a number of ways that would require either a book or an extremely long post to even scratch…

To continue, however,

Terrorists bringing a homemade bomb on an airplane, or bringing on bomb parts and assembling them in the cabin, is the top threat against aviation. “Their focus is on using items easily available off grocery and hardware store shelves,” Hawley said.

In My Personal and Professional Opinion (s), security concerns are paramount in both the Public and Private sectors, and costs should never enter into the equation. If you’re a guest in My House and tragedy ensues, I’ll put my life on the line to ensure that you emerge unharmed.


June 21, 2006

“Can’t'cha’ See We’re Talkin’ Stupidity Heah!!!?”

This story in the Guardian — thanks, Brits, you definitely got your story straight — from last week just kinda’ sorta’ popped up in a link in the course of catching up with my reading, and seemed to be a lot more to the point than many of its more partisan U.S. variations.

No matter who tells it, the story reports on a serious goatfuck, courtesy of FEMA, but I can’t, in any conscience, let the blame end with that heavily beleaguered agency.

However, this was the situation, according to investigators, as regarded the real spending of yours and my taxes in the aftermath of “Katrina the Bitch”:

About $1bn (£542m) in relief meant for victims of Hurricane Katrina was lost to fraud, with bogus claimants spending the money on Hawaiian holidays, football tickets, diamond jewellery and Girls Gone Wild porn videos, the US Congress was told yesterday.

The fraud, exposed through an audit by the Government Accountability Office, found a staggering amount of abuse of the housing assistance and debit cards given out by the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency as a way of granting relief to those who lost their homes to Katrina.

To put that in perspective, gubmint bureauracrats screwed the pooch and squandered our money on fraudulent claims. They gave a billion smackers of our money away to people who spent it on their own personal vices or vanities, or simply made a cottage industry of ripping off Uncle Sam’s money. Uncle Sam’s money is our money.

Just think, some of the taxes you paid on your hard earned money were invested in lap dances {for those who do not know what a lap dance is, it’s when a guy pays an exotic dancer at a strip club to writhe around on his lap for awhile}, jewelry, “drugs-of-choice”, all kinds of neat, fun things that had nothing to do with surviving the aftermath of a brutal hurricane, just with pissing away our money.

I don’t usually talk about my own charitable contributions, in fact I don’t write them off on my taxes. Doing so would mean taking money from other taxpayers, who are my partners in the ownership of America, who might not agree with the cause or issue I’m spending the money on. Liberals have little problem there, they believe in pouring our money into whatever they feel it should go to — we’re merely the unwashed citizen, they are the moral, all-knowing guardians of society, but I’m a believer in the running of our great country as it was meant to be run by our founding fathers.

I’m not rich, but I donated a combined 5 digit figure, in the wake of Katrina, to the Red Cross and to a number of church groups I had checked out first, who were providing basic necessities, medical attention and shelter to people and families whose lives and fortunes were turned upside down by the hurricane.

Ah, now we get to my point.

I know others who contributed considerably more than I was able to afford to the Katrina relief effort. The difference?

Our money went to private organizations that used our donations to provide goods and services that were survival specific. The government’s {FEMA’S and our money went as cash to anyone who gave them a bullshit story}.

This is really off the wall.

There is nothing in any of our nation’s founding documents that compels the government to spend our money on a catastrophe like Katrina, because it is a state issue. States are supposed to budget themselves for local disasters, not spend every dime they collect in local taxes as soon as, or before, they collect it. The entire reason we were divided into states was that these political subdivisions, according to our system of government, were to remain autonymous where internal situations are concerned.

What, for example, do you think Patrick Henry or Lyman Hall would say about this?

The audacity of the fraud exposed shocked the congressional committee yesterday. As much as 16% of the relief distributed by the agency was lost to fraud, the auditors said. They also said it was likely they were underestimating the scope of the fraud.

“We expected it, but we didn’t expect it on this magnitude,” Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the house homeland security investigations panel, told reporters. “It’s an assault on the American taxpayer.”
During the audit investigators filed their own bogus claims and used other undercover methods to discover that most of the improper payments occurred because Fema failed to verify the identity of those making claims, or to confirm their addresses.

In the largest instance of abuse by an individual, Fema made 26 payments to someone who submitted claims for damaged property at 13 different addresses in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, using 13 different social security numbers. Only one of the social security numbers was valid, and a search of property records revealed that the individual had never lived at any of the 13 addresses. In addition, only eight of the addresses actually existed.

Fema also paid rental assistance to people who were already enjoying luxurious hotel accommodation - footing an $8,000 hotel bill in Hawaii for someone who simultaneously received $2,358 in rental assistance.

This is a perfect example of the federal government being forced to assume responsibility for the failings of local government. Not their responsibility!

That entire brain-dead debit card fiasco was… was… WTF were they thinking!!!? I’m sure liberals loved the performance put on by our politicians, via FEMA, late last year — there is no truer way to throw money at a problem than to… literally throw money at it. Our money.

This is what happens when you make the government responsible for issues that aren’t their job.

You promote the growth of beauracracies, which are both milk and meat to Democrats. Hundreds of thousands or millions strong of folks who get paid the same no matter what or how much they contribute, know better than to rock any boats and are guaranteed a pension after they retire. The realities of other peoples’ lives are alien to the sterile environs of these peoples’ old plastic, cheap wood and corkboard offices.

My point being?

States have the National Guard. States have their own taxpayers. Presumably, states have people on the payroll whose job it is to troubleshoot — oh, wait, what am I saying? We’re talking about Nawlins, here, and Ray Noggin Nagin. Ooops!

It has been explained to me why it was in the Crescent City’s best interests that Noggin Nagin be reelected as mayor, which he was, and after considering all the data and being as I am a conservative, and having lived for several years in Nawlins, I have, sorrowfully, to agree.

I won’t get into the “why” of that, as un-Republican as it may sound, but we are dealing with The City That Care Forgot, and also one of my favorite U.S. municipalities.

I am saddened by the trend on Bourbon Street of Jazz, Dixieland and Blues entering extinction in the new age of frozen daiquiris and karaoke, but I’ve come to grudgingly understand that our young today are being weaned away from anything preceeding today’s liberal message in their schools, in movies and on T.V., in media, books, “recommended” websites, etc.

But that’s all neither here nor there. What is, is the fact that the Levee Board is not run by engineers, but by local businessmen as “rewards” for campaign contributions. How is it that Bush’s refusal to sign on to the Kyoto BS was splattered across liberal news venues, accusing the President of creating the disaster via “global warming”, but little was said about the Levee Board and its Boss Hogg membership?

We see here how public funded agencies handle tragedy — they throw money at it and believe that their “expenditures” figures will carry the day.

Whoa, not so fast!

The “Fed Is Mom & Dad” plan {see “Liberals”} is neither a part of any U.S. founding document nor a productive approach to the blueprints laid by our founding fathers. By “blueprints”, I mean those well laid plans that turned 13 colonies into the richest and most powerful country on earth.

What’s happening is that our liberal fellow citizens are still trying to milk some political mileage out of Katrina, so they’re still attempting to encourage racial hostility. They’ve managed, somehow, to rationalize the destruction delivered by the hurricane without exposing the fact of good ol’ boy politics being the only consideration for membership on something as vital as the Levee Board, done their damndest to contain any news of local politicians’ failures, etc, in order to focus perceptions of racism and all blame for the entire disaster on the Bush Administration. If racial hostility ceased to exist, so, probably, would today’s Democratic party, so they propogate it whenever and wherever they can.

Summing Up: In a corrupt 3rd World state that embraces Napoleonic Law and has always viewed its U.S. statehood as a necessary inconvenience, why should we all have to contribute to relief efforts that amount to tossing away cash for vice and/ or vanity spending?

This is a typical case of the federal government trying and failing, as they always do, to do a job that isn’t even their responsibility to begin with.

Hat Tip — James Taranto.

by @ 2:09 am. Filed under Katrina The Bitch

November 28, 2005

NOLA Restaurants After Katrina

I ran across this article at the Journal News website and, Nawlins cooking ranking right up there near the top in my personal culinary esteem, had to comment on it.

NEW ORLEANS — Breakfast at Brennan’s, a tradition since 1946, is postponed until next year. Dinner at Antoine’s, a French Quarter delight for 165 years, won’t be served until January or later. Same story at Galatoire’s, the century-old Bourbon Street landmark. In this city where two favorite pastimes are eating and talking about eating, Hurricane Katrina caused a massive case of indigestion for the world-renowned restaurant industry.

These days, instead of serving up shrimp remoulade and trout meuniere, owners are installing new coolers, fixing roofs and trying to replace wait staffs and cooks.

At least they’re all working hard to reopen, but even still they’ll most likely need a lot of local support owing to the fact that it will take some time to re-attain the comfortable cash flow of strong tourism they enjoyed prior to the descent of Hurricane Katrina on the Crescent City, if they are to even begin recouping both their losses and the costs of preparing their restaurants to begin serving again.

One prominent victim was Commander’s Palace in the city’s Garden District, where folks craving dishes such as fresh Gulf fish served with a potato crust in a caper beurre blanc will likely have to wait until March. The distinctive turquoise building received heavy damage when Katrina roared ashore Aug. 29.

Commanders Palace is one of my favorite among the most famous eateries in Nawlins, and their Sunday Jazz Brunch was{hopefully will someday be again} a really special experience. Their food is wonderful in every way and a trip through the upper Garden District by streetcar adds volumes of ambiance to the whole experience. I lived there for years, and my own sensation as such never diminished.

Commander’s is the jewel in the crown of the local Brennan family of restaurants, and not the only one of the group that suffered physically as a result of Katrina’s visit from hell.

Food isn’t the only concern. At Brennan’s, a wine expert is evaluating its 36,000 bottles of wine, which were left untended in soaring heat after the storm.

But let’s not forget the low-end economic concerns.

Finding waiters, bus boys and dishwashers is another chore, and wages are extremely competitive. Restaurateur Ralph Brennan, for example, is paying $10 an hour for dishwashers, up from $6 pre-Katrina.

This is interesting, since the national minimum wage was raised well above $6.00 long before Katrina came to call, but then, living in Nawlins for a few years can easily make you forget that you’re in the United States, anyway.

Maybe that’s why the food they serve you down in New Orleans, and for that matter the state of Louisiana, in addition to its mega-deliciousness, is completely different from the cuisines featured in other parts of the country. Because in spite of its membership in Congress and its presence on maps of the United States, the Pelican State really is a foreign country…

by @ 9:35 am. Filed under Katrina The Bitch

September 15, 2005

Katrina Today

On reading this morning’s Washington Times online, I was pleasantly surprised to find a statement I made in a previous post about Democrat politicians never accepting responsibility for their screwups but instead blaming Bush challenged, as it looks like we have an exception to the rule.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco yesterday took responsibility for failures and missteps in the immediate response to Hurricane Katrina and pledged a united effort to rebuild areas ravaged by the storm.
“We all know that there were failures at every level of government: state, federal and local. At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again. The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility,” Mrs. Blanco told lawmakers in a special meeting of the Louisiana Legislature.

I applaud Governor Blanco for stepping up to the plate and admitting her role in the local mishandling of the Katrina disaster.
Of course, being somewhat suspicious of the motives behind the utterings of today’s Democrats, I’m kinda sorta wondering if her emulating George Bush in taking responsibility has anything to do with the fact that there seems to be an outcry among a segment of her constituency for her impeachment, and she’s trying to make nice. Sister Toldjah’s got something on that front, while Raven talks about Captain Wiener’s wife Hillary being put firmly in her place and Ogre posts a great funny about a U.N. response to aid for Katrina victims.

No matter how things work out in Katrina’s aftermath, I believe the recriminations will go on for a long time on both sides, but it’s good to see that with hindsight has come the beginnings of cooperation. We Americans are a resilient people, as we proved after 11 September 2001, and businessmen, yes, the private sector ‘way down yonder in New Orleans are already beginning to lay plans for rebuilding what has been destroyed, which is as it should be and always has been in America. The government is there to help, not to facilitate a free ride nor micromanage local affairs, which is also as it should be.

by @ 4:07 am. Filed under Katrina The Bitch