Monday, July 31, 2006

A Portrait of Peter

As temperatures climb to numbers higher than I can count (I went to school in Baltimore) and Israel bullies the U.S. while stoking the fires of WWIII, I turn to America's Pass Time to calm my frazzled nerves. Ahh baseball, you'll never hurt me.

Ummm, wait a minute. What's this I read? The O's front office has put together a spectacular deal? Might I have hope for the future? Disgruntled and aging shortstop Miguel Tejada whose range rivals that of Stephen Hawking for pitcher Ervin Santana and top shortstop prospect Erick Aybar! Sold American. Finally the O's front office is putting things together. We just have to get it past that horrible troll under the bridge, Peter "We're One or Two Players Away" Angelos. Damn, he nixed it. Turns out he knows more about baseball than Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette. Who knew? Peter knew.

If I found a magic genie lamp and got 3 wishes, I would wish that Angelos could swap places with the Scarecrow just before they got to see the wizard. Seems like some one is in more desperate need.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

When I'm not a slack RUFNKM blogger, I'm a dilligent, activist, urban dirt archaeologist, and I spend a lot of my time digging on old worker housing sites around Hampden. Anybody looking for something to do for a few minutes this morning can stop by my excavation for our open site. If you were wondering what activist, urban, dirt archaeology looks like, this is your chance to find out.

All are welcome to drop by for a vist, screen some dirt, or just take a site tour on Saturday July 29, 2006, from 10:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. Our current excavation is at 3839 Falls Road, between Sirkis Hardware and McCabe’s Restaurant

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And a Ray of Something...

While it is confusing, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. If it stops the bombing of civilian Lebanon, I think I'm ok with it.

A ray of hope

Just saw a cicada defeat, stun, and escape from a cicada killer wasp. Its the kind of thing that makes a discouraged leftist feel better about stuff. Things just may be looking up...

Shorter David Adesnik

"Despite the existence of directly contradictory evidence, I'm sticking with my previous assertion because what I want to be true is true. Because I say so."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Final Time With Feeling

Over the weekend, Gregory Djerejian at Belgravia Dispath wrote:
Three years ago, I would have poo-pooed anyone using the word "radicals" to describe the neo-cons. No more.

I would very much like to make a point that has been obvious to some of us for a while now. Maybe it takes having hung out on the fringes of the hard-left to get this point. All that arguing about ideological purity and who's "for the people" and who's an evil bourgeois sometimes counts for something: it allows you to smell the maniacs who are in it for the power and the intellectual hard-on. So for those of you who don't have the benefit of participating in the ideological struggle for the soul of mankind, I'll try to put it simply.

The common joke that neo-conservatives use to describe themselves is: "A neo-conservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality." Leave aside that none of the neo-conservatives - who live in their academic enclaves of Chicago and New York and form a cadre that amounts to a fifth column - have ever been mugged by anything. They are not liberals and they aren't conservatives. A neo-conservative is simply a Trostskyite who's decided the workers are schmucks. That's all there is to it. The same way that Horowitz hasn't changed at all (demanding ideological purity on pain of imprisonment - Stalin was the same), neo-cons love the idea of being part of an intellectual revolutionary vanguard (and letting the lumpen proletariat do their dirty-work for them). It just so happens that the end result of their vanguardism isn't world-wide solidarity of the workers, but world-wide gratification of their own desires to use force to prove how tough they really are so that no one will ever make fun of them again. People (myself included) have spent an awful lot of time trying to understand neo-conservatism, and it's all been a waste. It's an ideology based on the egos of people with no actual expertise in anything. They do have an undeniable contempt for democracy, however, and their professors told them that because they read Plato, they know better than you or me how things ought to run.

Ok, so, point being: some revolutionaries are revolutionaries because they think the current order is unjust. Others are revolutionairies because they think it'd be better if they was runnin' things. Neo-cons are of the second type. There ain't much more to it than that. Now, can we please not let them run anything anymore?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Quick Note on Bolton

This Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will re-start hearings on the nomination of John “Kiss Up, Kick Down” Bolton. For any of you C-Span junkies out there, this will at least make for some interesting viewing. I was lucky enough to catch the committee hearings last year and it was pretty good stuff, and one of last year's top 5 C-SPAN moments IMHO. If the coming hearings will be as good as they were last round, all I can say is: pass the popcorn.

Unfortunately, Bolton will very likely get past the committee hearings and onto the floor for a sure nomination unless something big comes up (disastrous foreign policy in the mideast won’t stop our congress from making the wrong decisions, as usual).

In anycase, I usually like to watch Foreign Relations Committee hearings - when they’re not being detained by Russian police. Collectively, it’s a pretty sharp group, and includes a few lawmakers I tend to like most of the time: Feingold (D-WI), Hagel (R-NE) and Sununu (R-NH), and to a lesser extent, Obama (D-IL). On the other hand, there are also some real losers in that group too, like Allen (R-VA) and that most mercenary of politicians Norm Coleman (R-MN). I really do not like that man at all.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Things Fall Apart

Our state’s Katrina outreach team has, in some ways, been a slow motion train wreck since the beginning. Some of it has to do with internal problems, but I’d have to say that most of it has been due to circumstances beyond our control. Now, all of a sudden things are falling apart fast. This week alone, we have lost at least one team member and this coming Monday we may lose another, both due to some pretty serious ethical breaches.

What is an ethical breach? It’s a term of art. Nothing either of these two people have allegedly done – that I know of – should warrant any sort of serious retribution if they were done within the context of one’s personal life. But when you are operating in the context of a FEMA sponsored crisis counseling program, it’s a different matter entirely. Some bad choices have been made here, and humans being humans we often don’t choose to do the most rational things. Additionally, and unfortunately, I sense that some of the stress that has been building up since September among the team in the field is now percolating to some of the higher-ups who are administering and evaluating the project, and that’s causing some problems too. I guess I can be included in that latter group of people.

Its interesting how just a few months ago, we thought wrapping this project up would be a cake walk since a major entity in our state got some big bucks to do case management – something that had been lacking here for nearly 6 months. Case management was arriving just in time: summer was coming, kids were out of school, and the anniversary is coming in the end of August – a period in which all the research literature and collective experience of disaster response projects across the country knew would be the time when all sorts of negative reactions would surge among survivors. Unfortunately things haven’t gone that well with our case management program. Sure there has been a lot of good done, but there are a lot of problems also. And again, there are no heroes or bad guys here. Humans are fallible, and when it comes to responding to all the shit that happens after a disaster, at times it seems like we play to our weaknesses a lot more than to our strengths.

I will be the first to admit that in many ways, I have lived a very lucky and quite a privileged life when compared to some of the people we have had to deal with here. And of course, I did not live through the flood. But being involved with trying to pick up the pieces hasn’t been a pleasant experience. There is a first time for everything. Today was the first time I have ever been involved in bringing Child Protective Services into a case.

I know this is something that some of you seasoned social workers out there may deal with every day. And I can only say that I have the utmost respect for you if you are reading this. At the same time, I get the feeling that it doesn’t get any harder to initiate a process in which the state may take some kids away from their parents. At least that’s the sense I get from working with a few of our field workers who had originally brought the matter to my attention. These individuals have been in the social work and counseling game for decades, yet they were still buckling at having to go forward with this because they know how serious this process can be.

I also know the family involved. I have no idea what they were doing in New Orleans before the flood. But since they have been here they have consistently been one of the few truly high needs cases on our radar. They’ve got several young kids. All the usual suspects are there: Chronic drug and alcohol abuse, the parents can’t hold jobs, and a variety of physical and mental ailments. The $10,000 check from FEMA has run out, and they sold the big screen TV they bought last fall for drugs and alcohol. And when the social security disability check comes in – which is their only legal source of income - the scum dealer is right there to take what’s owed to him. Their house is a mess, and last time I was there I heard the utilities were going to be turned off. I’ve heard hearsay from our workers that the kids smell like urine and shit all the time and no one changes the little ones’ diapers. Having seen the kids themselves I tend to think that might be true.

Bringing in CPS doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically take the kids away. I do know that they are experienced professionals that have to abide by strict regulations, and that a thorough investigation is completed before any drastic moves are made. Still, this is not something I feel very good about at all.

I don’t think that I will be happy when this project ends, which will probably be shortly after the anniversary. I will however have the luxury of being able to look the other way and forget about this whole experience if I choose to. My only hope is that nothing like Katrina will ever be allowed to happen again.

Speaking Of Panic And Alarm

This does not sound good.

There's also this, which lays out more background (via Cooper).

Special Message To Our 10 Regular Readers

If you are not reading Duck of Minerva on a regular basis (especially this week, including today), then look at this photo and imagine the guy on the right is me and the guy in the middle is you. Then please do yourself a favor and subscribe to their feed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why I Love My Brother Sister-In-Law

Relayed to me by my brother this weekend: "You know, if you were for the war and a fucking fat-ass, you'd be Christopher Hitchens. And don't forget, that makes you a neo-con."

Why I Obsessed Over Leo Strauss For So Damn Long

Monday, July 17, 2006

More War Link Dumpage

Still lacking intelligent things to say about the escalating war. Still offering links to things we think are useful: Democracy Arsenal,
Duck of Minerva, Lawwyers, Guns and Money, Cooper provides link dumpage too, Steve Clemmons, OxBlog and Yglesias.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rock 'N' Roll Is Killin' My Will To Live

Hey now

Hey now now

You put your goth in my glam...!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sometimes He's Just Too Clever

While making a very good point about something else, James Wolcott misses the opportunity to just be plain snarky. Let us pick up the slack. He writes:

Barely an earth rotation goes by without some chortler at Pisspoor Media or noisy cicada over at NRO's The Corner relishing the decline of the New York Times stock price, and using it as a proxy for the parlous state of liberalism and MSM journalism. And it's true, Times shares have suffered a rocky decline, as have the shares of most other newspaper companies.

He then goes on to make a larger point about the the ethics of the Wall Street Journal's editoral page. He neglects to mention that according to Rich Lowry the NR has been a loss leader for 50 years (link via TBogg). So by their own logic, the ideology espoused by the National Review is about as appealing as getting car-jacked. Just sayin'.

RUFNKM Link Dumps on the War

Except to offer panic and alarm, I have nothing of value to say about the developing war between Israel and Hizbollah. However, lots of other people do.

Update: These guys do too.

Update II: Let's hope this rumor is really just a rumor. Otherwise I think it suggests a certain amount of "things spiraling out of control" along with a certain amount of "things being hopeless". Also maybe something about the decline in our ability to lead the world. Hope our neo-con friends are happy.

Update III: Corrected spelling thanks to Accuracy Before Tact.

Update IV: This and this seem sensible while this is less than useless.

Update V: And then this, which, given what could be happening, sounds vaguely optimistic. Except there's this.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Good Trying...

To not be bummed about this, at least for me. Via Sadly, No! we learn that Syd Barrett died last friday. I'm among the small yet pathetic minority which maintains that (the) Pink Floyd only went downhill post-Barrett (with exceptions granted for "Meddle" and some of the soundtrack work). The first time I ever obsessively searched for a record was at age 14 when I spent an entire saturday riding my bike around to every record store in my northern CA suburban town and poured through stacks of used records trying to find "Madcap Laughs". I didn't actually find it, but a week later I discovered that my buddy's older sister had a copy and I got her to tape it for me. At the time I remember it being pretty mind-bending. I don't listen to that album much anymore, but there's a great compilation of all the Barrett-Era Floyd singles which I still play all the time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On The Whole Coulter Plagiarism Thing

Given everything else about Coulter, we don't find it at all suprising that she doesn't write her own material, and so we're tempted to say "So she's a plagiarist too, so what?" However, we would like to note that Michael Olesker went down for far less. Also, Gadi Dechter appears to us as something of a cynical careerist while The Rude Pundit is a partisan curse-machine.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why I Don't Give A Shit About Lieberman Vs. Lamaont

There's a 72 year old woman in Connecticut who's verging on senile and who's barely making it on a state funded teachers retirement. She's had breast cancer and has been just lucky enought to survive. What the eff are either of these two jokers going to do to help this woman? I haven't heard word one. One would prefer we fight a war about it. The other would prefer we elect him. Whatever. Screw them both. Both Kos and the Moose can call me back when either one of them is willing to trade in something other than empty symbolism. The "Scoop Wing" vs "The Netroots" amounts to nothing but a shitload of empty to the people who actually deal with the day to day. So may you both be left to eat nothing but websites in your dotage. Love, Jay.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Local Light Friday Fare

Woot! Our local NPR affiliate's arts show just podcasted an interview with Jennifer Bodine. She's the daughter of A. Aubrey Bodine (see link on sidebar). Which reminds me that I still haven't seen the retrospective at the Museum of Industry, which is rather lame on my part.

Update: Fixed linked to podcast, which was the whole damn point of the post in the first place. Typing one finger short's a real pain. It's my only excuse.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Erhlich Saves Bay....From Fish

For those of you living locally, I'm sure you've heard or seen the ad blitz for Republican incumbent Bob "Is that an endangered species? Hit it with a shovel!" Ehrlich. In the ads, a carefully chosen multi ethnic/multi class crew of Erhlich supporters lauds Ehrlich's accomplishments ranging from taking the bold stand of supporting B.G.E. in the current rate hike hullabaloo (Hullabaloo being another way of saying "ass effing of the citizenry") to apparently curing cancer with nothing more than the gentle touch of his baby soft palms.

The most laugh-out-loud funny part is the Republozombie they found to laud Ehrlich for his bold stance protecting the Chesapeake. From what, I'm forced to ask. Fish? Oysters? Wetlands? On the flip side, an invasive species known as "The Developer" is thriving.

Maryland was once at the forefront of smart growth initiatives nation wide. It didn't take long for Ehrlich to take care of that. Exemption after exemption was granted gutting the critical areas protection.

For most of my childhood, I spent summer weekends fishing on Sue's Creek in Eastern Baltimore County. It was pretty idyllic. A few shore shacks with out-houses nestled into the heavily forested banks that buffered the creek from nearby farms. When I was ten that changed. A developer bought the land with a plan for a marina, hotel, condos and a veritable happy meal of McMansions. One little snag. Nearly the entire area was in the bay's "Critical Areas" and would be illegal to develop. Beyond that, little Back River Neck Road was not up to the task of supporting the planned development. Widening the road and building the infrastructure for sewage and city water would destroy hundreds of acres of forest that was home to some rare and threatened local species. Additionally, the development was hugely unpopular with long time residents.

The development was stonewalled for the better part of two decades. Of course, the election of Bay Protector Bob Erhlich heralded a new "green" wind from Annapolis, "green" in a Mr. Yukian sense. Within a year of Governor Yuk's election hurdles were lowered and cleared. Construction began, accompanied by a massive state welfare program to build roads and infrastructure for this new habitat for multi-millionaires.

Ehrlich claimed a victory for the environment as the development was smaller than the original plan. Of course, the original plan had failed to gain legal traction since its inception and the new plan would never have gone through without Ehrlich.

Before Ehrlich, one could count on Maryland to provide a counterpoint to Virginia, A.K.A. Texas East's rootin' tootin' major pollutin' legislation. The Chesapeake Bay, when healthy, is an oyster reef ecosystem. When the first Europeans arrived in Maryland in the 1600s, they were greeted by oyster reefs that broke the surface of the water. Today, those reefs are gone. The oyster population, and as a result the bay itself, is in rough straits.

Virginians hatched a plan to save the day. They would introduce Asian oysters. What could possibly go wrong when introducing new species to an eco system? We've got nothing but success stories ranging from the delightful zebra mussel to the wonderful tale of the old woman who swallowed a fly. Well, for one thing, Asian oysters reproduce much faster than C. Virginicus, the Bay's native species. Further, they do not build reefs, a hugely important aspect of restoring the bay. Finally, compared to the natives, they taste like crap. Anyway, Maryland would never get on bored for such a short-sited plan, well, until we elected Governor Yuk.

Ehrlich follows his mentor George Bush's lead by practicing photo-op environmentalism. Saying Bob Ehrlich is a friend to the Chesapeake is akin to calling Elmer Fudd a friend to rabbits. If we were going to have honesty in advertising, the commercial would be mother nature bent over a tree stump, Ehrlich, standing on a Baltimore City student for leverage, givin' her his big business (friendly policies) while the bloated body of B.G.E. hangs from a pleasure swing having it's nether bits suckled by the eager governor.


Ken Lay Dies. Shocked Nation Enters Period of Deep Mourning

Ken Lay has left this Earthly plane. The sixty-four year old son of a bitch died of a massive coronary shocking a world that was sure he possesed no heart.

The streets are full of mourners overcome with deep sadness, "I am truly stunned and saddened by this news," said Jim Meyer a 33 year old Baltimore comedian and SuperOceanLad guy summing up a common sentiment. "I feel that his passing has left a huge void in the world, a void that could only have been filled by seeing Ken Lay buggered to death in prison."

Meyer was heartened by the abiding faith that Lay has gone to a better place, well, a better place for him. "I am a person of deep personal faith. The one thing that gets me through moments like this is the knowledge that Lay is slowly roasting in hell, probably on the same spit as Hitler and Bob Irsay."


Monday, July 03, 2006

God Bless