Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The buck stops?!?!?

He may try to weasel out of it and may not follow through on actually doing anything to make things better in the future, but... he claimed on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 that he does take responsibility for the problems with the federal response to Katrina.

I had hypothesized to myself in the last week or two that if President Bush actually accepted responsibility for the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina, that it would so astound liberals like myself that we would be shocked into silence for at least a short time, and um.

I told you before, you can't do that!

Yes, I am reverting to yet another bad habit of mine... replying to comments on a blog post by a main post. (it makes me look more active than I am!)

I think you should be full and blunt on your blog. It is your site, your world. And besides, 30 years from now when you look back you'll regret not writing out all those "personal" things because you won't remember them.

May I suggest creating an anonymous blog where you do go all out and blunt?

I'm as blunt as I feel comfortable being.

A good rule of thumb when blogging is to assume the person you would least like to read your blog is indeed reading your blog.

You also need to assume that even if you are in theory anonymous, that you can be found out (which is why I don't post to my more anonymous blog).

You further should assume that anything you write can come back to haunt you in the future.

That's correct, my ill-informed rants and plethora of typos will stay with me until the end of the internet (or longer).

Beyond protecting myself, I don't want to involve people in my life without them asking to be. I decided to start up this blog, and post under my own name. I decided to open up to the “unwashed masses” (thankfully there aren't many as the site logs indicate). Family and friends of mine did not decide to. It's beyond unfair for me to have my decision impact them. (of course, it may, but I would prefer it not to)

Also, I'd like you to elaborate on why our government sucks so much in the New Orleans situation. I realize the military took 4-5 days to get in, but they had to mobilize. I'm sure they didn't take so long to spite the poor N.O. folks.

This was a huge disaster and fixing it right away is almost impossible when it was a surprise.

Others have documented the catastrophe of the governmental response to Katrina far better than I have or could have. My problems involve inadequately slow respones, poor planning, poor execution, a decimation of FEMA, redirecting funds away from projects which MIGHT have been able to prevent or mitigate such a catastrophe, and when the pressure comes on, the greatest effort from the Federal government seems to be one to shift blame away.

Note: Local officials and local government also seriously messed up here too. I focus on the feds because A) dealing with this disaster is frankly beyond the ability of state and more local government and B) because Louisiana and Mississippi officials don't purport to represent me, and I have no real influence over them – the federal government however, IS my government. In addition a President whose primary argument for election in 2004 was one of safety and security failed pretty miserably at providing either.

Katrina was not really a surprise. We knew it was going to hit days in advance. FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security knew. Shoot, even George W. Bush knew (he declared a state of emergency on the day before it hit) about Katrina. We effectively had no warning for 9/11, but we did have a heads up for Katrina. I am not a military expert, but I do know that there was no good reason why it took 4-5 days to get a federal presence into New Orleans. People died because of this. That is beyond unacceptable.

For the record, I don't believe that there was a plan to decimate the poor (largely black) population of New Orleans (despite what a quote from the Representative of Baton Rouge may suggest). There clearly was neglect, but it was not malicious per se. (at least not on the federal level) I think Senator Obama sums it up perfectly:

"Whoever was in charge of planning was so detached from the realities of inner city life in New Orleans ... that they couldn't conceive of the notion that they couldn't load up their SUV's, put $100 worth of gas in there, put some sparkling water and drive off to a hotel and check in with a credit card.... There seemed to be a sense that this other America was somehow not on people's radar screen. And that, I think, does have to do with historic indifference on the part of government to the plight of those who are disproportionately African-American... passive indifference is as bad as active malice."

Though I will generally disagree about passive indifference being as bad as active malice, though clearly the effects can be largely the same.

And personally, I think great things will come of this disaster. I believe New Orleans, a few years from now, will be the most sophisticated city in the world.

True lives were lost, but thats life. Dying is part of life.

I know this may be digressing, but I recall reading Thomas Jefferson saying that big change requires blood and death. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants."

I believe this is analogous in any big, great change. I mean, what motivates change more than a great disaster? Disaster = blood.

No this doesn't mean go to war. In the bigger picture, it means change itself requires some loss. What was lost was a city.

Such is life.

That may all be true, but that doesn't excuse the catastrophe of governmental response. Those who died, and even those who lived through that hell (or are still doing so), never were asked if they were willing to sacrifice for this. The people who died did not die to make a political point. Of course New Orleans was lost, and even IF the flood control efforts had been fully funded, New Orleans may still have been largely lost. Many people did not have to be lost though. Of course, we owe it to their memory to make things better. We must do that, but even if we do, what happened is still deeply shameful.

Also, what is there to despise about going to the gym? It is a means to be physically healthy without having to buy all your own equipment or run outside.

Is that really your own opinion? Or, did you read that somewhere? Who are your influences?

I like to form my own opinions. I wouldn't put too much thought into what some loser had to say about going to the gym and despising it.

If anyone were to look at gym's objectively, they'd see it as a great thing.

This is a problem when I post a bi or tri-polar post. While I was serious throughout most of it, I was not as much during that part.

The entire issue of despising going to the gym was an attempt at humor.

I may think some (myself included) may go overboard on “going to to the gym”, and others may do so for largely narcissistic reasons or to “show off”, but in general gyms are OF COURSE a positive. It is still very unusual given how little I used to exercise to become one who goes regularly. I find great humor in that I now regularly go to the gym when only months ago I would recoil in mock horror when friends would tell me that they had spent x amount of time at the gym.

So was my aversion to the gym an opinion I formed on my own? Not really - it was an attempt at a joke I formed on my own. (a failed attempt apparently)

Maybe I should take a cue from the Department of Homeland Security and color-code my posts warning to the degree of bad attempts at humor. (note: this post would be beige)


“I think I saw you in an ice cream parlour /
drinking milkshakes cold and long /
smiling and waving and looking so fine /
don't think you knew you were in this song”

Sunday, September 04, 2005


So many changes...

I left GenUX last month. I'd rather not go into details in public, but I think it was an amicable split. (at least I hope it was) (yes, I still run Gentoo Linux on 3 of my 4 computers, the other one running OS X)

I became what I once despised... one who goes to a "gym." Yes, that's correct, the world is at an end, and I have joined a gym, and actually go regularly. (3-6 times a week, most weeks closer to the latter number) It's anyone's guess how long this will last (so far it has been going on for about 6-7 weeks). Some side-notes on going to the gym:
  • Listening to "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground while doing cardiovascular exercise is plain wrong, yet it works (and in case anyone is wondering, I went to Berkeley for 5 years, and I still have never taken any "drugs" of any kind except for those prescribed to me by an actual doctor for actual medicinal purposes... yes, I'm extremely square)
  • If the gym is open 24-hours a day, and one can survive on a schedule where they wake up after noon, then hitting the gym past 10pm can work really nicely.
  • "Soft-Hearted Hana" by George Harrison is a HORRIBLE song to listen to while doing exercise though with the continual altering of the speed of the song at the end. It kills whatever rhythm you have. Indeed, any track that varispeeds is probably going to be a bad one to exercise to. (note: I still like the song)
  • Early Beatles ('62-'65) songs are REALLY good for working out to since they're usually very high energy, indeed, the songs one listens to seems to matter a lot. I've found myself lose energy and focus too many times because I picked poorly for my "workout music" (eg: the album "I'm Your Man" by Leonard Cohen didn't work well)
Watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how horrific the Bush "administration" has bungled everything has managed to find a way to raise my level of outrage and disgust even higher than it had been before. No matter how low I place my expectations for this White House, it is ALWAYS undercut. I can't add anything eloquent or otherwise right now. I'm too apoplectic to begin to gather thoughts. Normally I would add that hopefully something good will come of this, but at this point, I can't even fake that level of enthusiasm and hope.

I started yet another semester of graduate school... one that promises to be my final for my Master's Degree in Computer Science (at least the last one I take courses during). I decided to take some classes beyond what I am required to for the sake of fun (yes, fun), and to fill in gaps of my education as well as working on my thesis that I plan to complete this semester. I am still trying to decide if I want to go for a doctoral program in Computer Science or not.

I am working on side jobs. Tomorrow I am going to help "Alliance For A Better California" (a campaign against our Governor's propositions this fall) set up computer networks for their field offices. I am getting paid, but I'm also glad to be doing something in the political process again. Even as disgusted as I am right now, I still want things to be better. I may have another opportunity or two coming down the pike as well. I have also put out job applications to various companies, mostly for software engineering positions. (in theory I'm pretty well trained for that now)

Let me see.. A new Rolling Stones album, "A Bigger Bang" comes out on Tuesday. I've heard an advance copy, and it's quite good (yes, I will buy the real thing when it's out). This will never replace anything in their "holy" quadrilogy from '68-'72 of "Beggar's Banquet", "Let It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile On Main Street", but it is rather good. I enjoyed their albums from "Steel Wheels" through "Bridges To Babylon", but this is better. It takes a few listens to get into, and not every track works. The "controversial" political track, "Sweet Neo Con" is not one of the better songs on the album, even though I generally agree with the sentiment. The lyrics are still awkward, and overly blunt. (or as a friend put it, clumsy) Still, this is easily the best Stones LP since "Tattoo You" 24 years ago. (Grade: B+)
Paul McCartney's new album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" comes out the following Tuesday, and I have only heard pieces of it - not enough to form any opinion with. I honestly don't know if this will be another middling effort with a handful of standout cuts, or a miraculous continuation of what I believe to be the best streak of Paul's solo career. "Flaming Pie" and "Driving Rain" I believe stand up as two of the best albums he has made since the Beatles broke up. Even with those albums not every cut works, but an amazing amount of the albums DO work, and they work VERY well. "The World Tonight", "Somedays", "Beautiful Night", "Calico Skies", "The Song We Were Singing", "Lonely Road", "Heather", and "About You" are amongst his best songs he has written since 1970. If Paul can manage ANOTHER great album, he will officially be one the best streak of his career since the Beatles. (yes, I am ignoring the wonderful "Run Devil Run" since it was mostly a covers album) I'm hoping for a continuation of the streak... even if I can't see him in concert this go-around.
Off-hand, I cannot think of any other releases I am looking forward to (including any Bowie as my misleading title may imply)

Of course, there have been many many other changes in the last few months (being able to listen to the Beatles being one), but most I prefer not to speak of on a public forum. (yes, they are largely positive changes)

Does any of this excuse my lack of posting? Well, no... but on the other hand, given my lack of readership, it really is a very minor issue. (if someone doesn't post, and no one is paying attention did the blog really not get updated? And if don't not speak in double negatives am I speaking in a positive tone?)