Monday, March 30, 2009

Life of a Cylon Centurion

Something to cheer Maitri up...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Patches has a furry friend

Candice took this photo a while back. There are paw prints on the roof of the cab of the truck. A cat has been crawling around the truck while it's in storage in the garage.

Today, I got to meet Patches' furry friend:

Haunted by the Recent Past

Some fascinating reads out there recently. Don't miss these 4 articles:

Mystery surrounds post-Katrina death, and some point to involvement of NOPD officers Saturday's cover story on the Times-Pic. All about some shady shit that went down in the aftermath of Katrina. A bunch of cops allegedly killed a man, beat up the witnesses, stole a car, and tried to hide their crimes by burning the body in a car. I think articles like this will continue to leak out for a long, long time. Lots of incredibly sketchy shit went down after the levees broke and there will never be a full accounting of what went down.

Flashback to the Interoperability Grant. Out of everything the Nagin administration has done, nothing compares to what Meffert and crew did in this fiasco. After 9/11, it was learned that communications failures cost hundreds of lives, so the Feds set up a grant to several cities to purchase a fully inter-operable communications system on specially reserved bandwidth. Minnesota was one of those cities and so was New Orleans. Minnesota's system worked almost flawlessly and saved lives. What happened in New Orleans? Greg Meffert, the crooked muppet, tried to steer the contract towards one of his cronies. The Feds figured out what he was up to an yanked the grant. No grant, no radios, no bulletproof communications system. A year or so later, Katrina hits, thousands die, and communications failures were one of the biggest complaints after the storm. Out of everything the Nagin administration has done, from NOAH, to Tracie Washington, to Veronica White, to Chocolate City, nothing compares to the Interoperability Grant. That fuckup probably cost hundreds of lives. Someone deserves to get lethal injection for it, unfortunately it looks like Jim Letten is looking primarily into more recent activities. Too bad. I'd love to see Meffert indicted with a thousand cases of negligent manslaughter (Mass Murder?).

Reversal of something or other. Tracing Tracie Washington's history in Dallas. I'd heard some of this, too. I was also reading around the archives of the the archives of the Austin American Statesman and Austin Business Journal. I got beat to the punch on posting. The only other things that I'll add is Tracie Washington allegedly called one of the attorneys suing Cap Metro a son of a bitch in front of a huge number of media people (TV, paper, radio, etc.). That was the final straw that got her fired. Also, the parking lot that drew all the attention was owned by the Praise Tabernacle Church. Tracie Washington allegedly had some sort of connection to the minister. Wasn't really made clear in the articles I read, but they alluded to a connection. The point of the story is Tracie Washington has a very dirty history, but then, we already had indications.

Checkered Past Comes Full Circle. Eli exposes Warren Riley's past. Wow, you talk about some bombshells. Warren Riley was once suspended for hiding a domestic violence call from a cops wife days before the other cop kills the wife and dumps her body in the swamp. I'd always heard that Warren Riley knew where the bodies were hidden because of his days with IA, but never any details. Warren Riley/Eddie Compass/Ray Nagin have supervised the demise of what was once a model police force and its replacement with it's national-nightmare predecessor. The thing is, the people that should be the most afraid of this is the cops themselves. I'm betting it's 6 months until you get another Antoinette Franks (cop that kills another cop).

I'll end with a quote from when Pennington lost after losing to Nagin in 2002:

"Pennington professed to have information abut Nagin that ‘sickened him to the core’, without specifying its nature."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Project Truck Update: Door Salvage

So, now that I've got the door on, I need to fill in the innards. It's a good thing I just mounted the shell first, because with the innards (especially the heavy pieces of glass) the whole door weighs about 90 pounds.

Sat down to start stripping the old door for parts.

Even after a lot of Liquid Nails (smelly, but effective), some of the bolts didn't come loose.

They were clutch-headed bolts. After going to the hardware store looking for something to connect to them (keep in mind, they've barely been used in 20 years), I found something.

Even with the right tool, still no dice. What to do with stuck, stripped bolts? Weld them! That's right, I took a piece of scrap metal and welded it to the bolt head.

Worked like a charm. Those bolts were stuck badly, but were no match to a big hunk of steel welded to the top. I also didn't take the time to cover up, so I ended up welding in shorts and shirt sleeves. I've got a tan above where my gloves were below where my shirt sleeves were (from the UV rays of the welding arc). Of course, who needs protective equipment when you're unfazed by beads of molten metal showering your body!

And here are what the innards look like once you strip them into the door.

One last thing: I got a coat of paint on the passenger's side door.


Stripped another door. Now I have a nice box o' spare parts for the doors:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

500th Post

This is my 500th post. I originally started the blog in December 2006 as a way of keeping up my writing skills, given that most engineers aren't given much of an opportunity to write prose.

I wrote a lot about crime mapping for a while.

I've blogged about the oil industry and posted a few wetland photos I took.

I've posted a little about New Orleans history.

I originally wanted to avoid posting about politics, but later decided to because, let's face it, it's a part of everything and you might as well embrace it.

And of course, there's Patches.

The best part about blogging is the people I've met. Maitri, Oyster, Adrastos, Jeffery, Homan, Greg, Varg, Ashley, Ray, Leigh, Dambala, and, of course, Candice. I also can't forget about the great Rising Tide conferences, especially when Dangerblonde gets to kick some Commie tail.

Don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I'm sure it'll be an adventure.

Here's to 500 posts and many more ahead.

Lower 9th Ward: 1302 Days After Katrina

December 2005 photo by author

Looks like the Lower 9th Ward is coming back into the spotlight on a few issues:

Congregation looks to oust pastor. Looks like a crooked pastor has been sitting on a pile of money and not rebuilding his Lower 9th Ward church, so the congregation is looking to oust him and get a hold of all the financial records he's been keeping secret. Could turn out to be a microcosm of the city reflected at this little church.

CNN Revisits the Lower 9th Ward.

Cliff has been wondering what's up with the illegal dumping in the Lower 9. Looks like it's just a disgruntled employee trying to blackmail Sidney Torres, but there are a few more possibilities, like a competitor trying to take out an upstart. We'll see what other facts come out. More here.

Let the rest of America not forget that the Lower 9th Ward is all around them...

December 2008 Photo by author.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mayor's Office of Technology

Getting confused about the whole crime camera shenanigans? Need a diagram to keep things straight?

I'm working on it. Here's a sample of what I've got started. If anyone is curious for more, let me know.

Project Truck Update: New Door!

Put that door I've been working on on the truck today.

Just swapped it out at the hinges. I also changed out the rubber stopper on the other end of the door.

Here's what the driver's door looked like before and after.

Took a nice overall shot of the truck in it's current state, too. A little damp because I got ambushed by some light rain.

The brand new white looks almost jarring compared to the rest of the cab. Lots of tools strewn all over the cab. Made a very wise choice installing the shell of the door first. The old door with the glass, locks, etc. weighed almost 80 pounds.

march09 040
Originally uploaded by candice quates
More work to do next time...

More here.

Beware the Ides of March

Something is creeping up behind Nagin...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St Patty's Day Throws
Originally uploaded by Noladishu
A couple of the throws.

More here.

Jim Letten's true nature to be revealed?


After a lot of wondering about what Letten is really up to, it appears that something big is finally in motion.

Jim Letten is the Federal Prosecutor for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He was Eddie Jordan's chief assistant and did most of the heavy lifting in the Edwin Edwards case.

After Jordan left to become Orleans DA, Letten was appointed by Bush. After taking down most of the Morial administration and nailing Oliver Thomas, Jim Letten has been extraordinarily quiet. Very little visible action was taken after the NOAH story broke. The only brief interruption was when the crime camera report from the OIG office came out.

Supposedly, Cerasoli had been sitting on the report for months, at the behest of Jim Letten, who didn't want to endanger ongoing investigations. Cerasoli had to leave for health reasons and had the report released shortly after he left for Boston, straining the relationship between the OIG and Jim Letten's office.

Now, there's a lot of speculation out there about why Letten's office has been so quiet for so long. The dark side of the speculation says he's a Rovian attack dog (along the lines of the Donald Siegelman case)), bent on taking down only Democrats. As evidence, they cite the Canal Street Madam case early in his career. Letten took down a major brothel that served many of New Orleans' movers and shakers. Allegedly, Letten shut the investigation down early because too many Republicans including a few national Republicans, were in the Madam's little black book. There's also a flagrant violation of the Travel Act that has yet to see the inside of a courtroom.

Furthermore, remember that Nagin's most loyal backers are Republicans (the "Couhig Conservatives") and Greg Meffert, Nagin's Pampy Barre, is a behind the scenes player with the local Republicans (Intelliport, a Meffert company, put together Joe Cao's new website).

Recently, Nagin's been acting like he know's he's untouchable, either because he has friends in high (Federal) places or because he knows that any indictment of him could tear this city to pieces. Take a look at Jeffery's character portrait of Nagin. Lots of interesting points. Nagin plays the fool, but the joke's on us. Some of Nagin's theatrics below:

He makes the reporters act like total fools (and the reporters are dumb enough not to even realize it).

So, could the much beloved "Dragon-Slayer" really be in on a bigger corruption racket?

There could be a lot of innocent explanations for the delays. First off, corruption cases are VERY hard to put together for one big reason (amongst many others): politicians tend to hire very good defense attorneys. Cases have to be airtight. If you're outside looking in, it can be very hard to put all the pieces into place in a way that will stand up in court, especially if you don't have a snitch (or does Letten have a snitch in Nagin's administration?). Also, the Federal Prosecutor is required to have a certain percentage of his prosecutors on violent crime cases (generally putting local thugs who work through the revolving door local justice system into the federal system on gun charges).

There's no definite evidence to say that Letten is either assisting the corrupt (knowingly or unknowingly) or is just trying to put together a case in tough circumstances.* Whether or not Meffert goes down, or if it's just smaller players, could finally settle the matter, though.

It's getting exciting. I don't know what I'm looking forward to more: the ending of Battlestar Galctica, or what Letten's next moves are.

*For the record, I think it's the latter. Full disclosure, my dad used to work for a friend of Letten's and used to go to lunch with his boss and Letten. He's always spoken highly of Letten.

UPDATE- Detailed analysis of the legal implications for some of the lawyers involved. A whole lot of lawyers (Tracie Washington, Penya Moses-Fields) probably deserve to be disbarred.

If you really want to get down to business, look at the offsite backups. That will tell you instantly what's going on. Any monkey business with those tapes and you have a serious federal offense.

For real tinfoil-hat territory, Ciber, a Meffert company, was a security contractor for Premier Election Solutions [Diebold]. Nagin, whose reelection depended on higher than expected turnout at satellite voting stations in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, etc. might have gotten an extra boost from Ciber/Diebold audited machines at those polling stations...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stewart vs. Cramer: 3 Rounds

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Jim Cramer gets totally owned. The best part is when they start pulling up quotes from this video:

Jim Cramer explains how hedge funds manipulate the market in illegal/unethical ways and the SEC is too slow/dumb to catch them.

Related: Handy chart tracking Jim Cramer's stock picks. Predictions are in one direction. Performance (with the exception of IBM and GM) are in the other. Not a good track record.

More on Jim Cramer and CNBC destroying billions of dollars of wealth (& enjoying it).

These guys burned the fucking house down with our money and walked away rich as hell... and you guys knew about it. Here's what he's talking about: Morgan Stanley uses taxpayer funds to short Ford. Destroying American jobs with taxpayer money.

UPDATE- The most amazing thing about the interview? Not a single raised voice.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Project Truck Update: Door Painting

The end of Mardi Gras means resuming work on the truck. I'm going to try and finish up on the driver's door and get it mounted before moving on to the passenger door.

I think I'll leave it red on the outside and white on the inside, because the contrast is just so cool. The inside needs a more sanding and another coat, but it's coming along nicely.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dinosaurs running around in the Louisiana Governor's Mansion

Since Louisiana's governor is a nutjob who really believes in creationism and thinks Rush Limbaugh is a "great leader," here's a post dedicated to you, Bobby:

Bill the Science Guy takes on Pseudo-Science

I've actually felt a little guilty about not writing more about this earlier. Thanks Oyster, Maitri, et. al. for covering Jindal's anti-science agenda.

Links of the day - 3 March 2009

PennyMac opens for business. "Sort Of Like The Arsonist Who Sets Fire To The House And Then Buys Up The Charred Remains And Resells It" Screw up CDO's and then get to profit off taxpayer bailouts.

Toyota asks Japanese government for 200 Billion Yen Bailout. This a HUGE story that nobody is picking up on. It's only about $2 Billion USD, but this is just the beginning. Given the huge amount of government support that Toyota gets and Japanese cultural values, this is hugely embarrassing. If you read through the details, Toyota is trying to downplay the situation and save face as much as possible. What's that Senators Corker and Shelby?

Toyota just can't build cars to keep up with the Domestics. They've been struggling for YEARS. They insist upon their antiquated business structure to reap profit from sub-standard cars. They need to focus on more fuel efficient vehicles. Enough with all their sports cars! Toyota just really needs some decent cars right now. Oh, and they really need to consolidate their brands and dealer network. End the struggling Lexus and Scion brands. I can't stand Toyota. Let them die. They need to learn from their lessons. This has been coming for a long time.

Finally GM can be on top again.

Open wide for those feet Senators.

'CNBC Teabagger takes legal department butt plug all the way in, cancels Daily Show appearance, issues groveling apology.' I love the Exiled.

13 year old allegedly kills 16 y.o. brother to take over drug ring. So many fucked up things about that headline.

Pastor John Raphael believes the solution to stem violence in New Orleans must come from within African American community. Pastor Raphael is an ex-NOPD cop and truly believes in empowering those who most have written off and giving them a reason to live.

Dallas levees structurally deficient. Could George W. Bush end up on a rooftop begging for FEMA help? (H/T Greg)

Crime Cameras and City Council Emails - EVEN MORE UPERDATED

The Office of the Inspector General released it's much anticipated crime camera report. First off, all of Ashe Dambala's reportings on Verascent, Imagine, Greg Meffert, and company are totally vindicated. The report exhaustively laid out what got us expensive, broken, useless crime cameras. Also, Jim Letten is directly CC'd on the report with a letter suggesting serious violation of federal law are present in the contracting and accounting irregularities of the Mayor's Office of Technology (MOT).

Now, I think the report was exhaustive enough to rise above any criticisms or racially inflammatory reactions.

... and then this came out. Tracie Washington requested the emails of the council's four white members plus one other city official, also white, on Dec. 3, 2008. And this activist got (tens of?) thousands of emails of all the white city council members on a CD in record time. Meanwhile, WWL can't get squat from Nagin because of "executive privilege" (Nagin copying Bush yet again).

With Veronica White and an activist on a fishing expedition against certain council members thrown into the mix, expect fireworks. Oyster recommends a hazmat suit and a silkwood scrub (whatever the later is?). This could end up like one of those late 90's/early 2000's Orleans Parish Public School meetings.

UPDATE- Talk about synchronicity:

The crime cameras at the end of the block are working! It has missed 3 shootings while being inoperative. Now they're back up and aimed at exactly where the shootings were.

UPDATE 2- One thing I found interesting in the OIG report was the installation and wiring standards. Look at the photos at the bottom of the OIG report. Shoddy workmanship. I'll keep an eye out for specific examples in the future.

UPDATE 3- WWL TV led off their news reports with the Veronica White story, not the OIG report. I know WWL is involved in the emails thing, with their lawsuit and all, but I'm disappointed at the choice of lead story.

UPDATE 4- Now the camera is pointed directly at the telephone pole it's mounted on. FAIL!

UPDATE 5- Now all the Council's emails have been compromised...

UPDATE 6- Dambala's take

Monday, March 2, 2009

News and Notes - 2 March 2009

Must suck to work at Chystler right now:
Great Job Bill!! At this rate, by the end of the century we will have recouped the hundreds of millions of dollars AME Senior Management lost on the Patriot/Compass launch. You remember that launch. That's where AME Senior Management decided to blindly outsource the body shop and not require the supplier to follow our standards or involve our Engineers. Thank God with the new reorg we lost those managers....NOT. We couldn't afford to lose that talent now could we. You can force me to use both sides of the toilet paper if you'd like, but until we lose the no talent never waz's running our AME organization, our fate is sealed.

Stress testing mortgage CDO's. What did they learn? They're STILL massively overvalued.

Louisiana Unemployment Claims Gain Again. No more "bucking the trend."

A good investment strategy is to short whatever stock CNBC is in love with. CNBC is leading the herd off the cliff. Related Rick Santelli: just another Wall Street cheerleader who's getting taken care of behind the curtain.

Texas to legalize gambling? This would be a huge blow to Lake Charles and Shreveport. But, we can't have any real, productive jobs. We've got to have crappy service industry jobs that suck the lifeblood out of economy.

Taxes: Businesses brace for higher taxes. Related: The highest economic growth occurred when the highest marginal tax rate was over 90%. Another of US economic history from Mark Ames.

Public Colleges Get Surge of Acceptances. $40,000 tuition not the bargain it used to be?

"Republicans aren't getting a dime more in committee money for staff than we got last year." That's the point.

US Guns in Mexico. Which is why Obama is thinking about reviving the assault weapons bill. It has become one of the hottest topics on Reddit I've ever seen.

The end of (Wingnut) Welfare as we know it.

Some rightwingers have had all the hate they can take and are taking it out on evil liberals/gays/browns/etc. I remember after 9/11 when a Sikh was beaten to death and some local "patriot" decided to throw a molotov through Mona's plate glass window. This is far worse than that. The scary thing is it has the potential to get even worse.

James Gill takes on Jindal and Harry Lee. Excellent read. H/T Oyster.

Google Maps displaying blast impacts of various nuclear weapons. Put it on your favorite address (say, City Hall on Perdido) and drop the big one.

No call of duty without the rules of war. Forcing war gaming kid to read the Geneva Convention.

Are outside volunteers helping or hurting New Orleans' Katrina recovery? I don't agree, but it's interesting food for thought.

The guy who started WikiScanner (a site that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits to the companies, like Diebold, to their changes of their own entries) comes a fun little experiment. Books and music that make you dumb. Fun fact: there's a 67 point difference in SAT scores from "Bible" readers to "Holy Bible" readers. Note to self: listen to more Beethoven and Counting Crows.

Guinea-Bissau coup linked to drug smugglers?

Louisiana leads the nation in Incarceration. 1 in 55 Louisianians are currently behind bars. WE'RE #1! Oh, wait. Got a couple more to add behind bars. The Lorino case is particularly tragic. I didn't know him, but he had a reputation for being an extremely kind person who would give you the shirt off his back. He was killed in his Irish Channel home by someone he'd helped out before. His dad is still the CFO of Tulane, I believe.

I'll leave you with this:

How bacon is made.