Saturday, September 27, 2008

Crime Cameras Exposed

Gordon Russel starts investigating the crime cameras. The reactions of some of the city council members is interesting. As good as Russel's reporting is, Ashe Dambala was on this months/years ago. Is it good or bad that the best Times-Pic reporting sounds like the year old archives a blog?

There was a shooting on my block a few months ago right underneath the crime camera.

Well, a couple of weeks later, there was another shooting. Same spot. I guess same target.

This is right on my block a few houses down. Two blocks off the very busy (and very touristy) section of Magazine Street...

The camera was worthless in both shootings. The crime cameras are just a way for Nagin to look like he's doing something about crime while simultaneously funneling money to Meffert and his cronies. Meanwhile murders continue. Business as usual. And to think he was elected over the chief of police that actually knew about crime mapping and community policing...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Editorial Cartoon on Paulson Bailout

Ed Stein
Rocky Mountain News
Sep 24, 2008

H/T to First Draft

1 Local Scandal, 1 National Scandal

"Sterilization Plan Fights Poverty" Wow, the commenters at have finally put StormFront (no way I'm providing a link there) to shame. The administrators aided and abetted this racist shit, too. They placed that article at the top with direct links to the comments to fuel the fire.

I'll get past the obvious horror of the proposal to point out two things: this is a pre-planned ploy to get reelected and it will work.

LaBruzzo has been a dick for a while. He was recently famous for pushing hard for the legislative pay raise and then denying it. The pay raise issue would have killed his chance of getting reelected, but now District 81 will probably reelect him. He was a waste of oxygen, even without the eugenics, but now he'll get reelected. Far more people agree with him than people are comfortable to admit. He can claim he's being 'persecuted by the liberal media,' the 81st district will fall for the ploy, and they'll forgive a good ole boy. And then they'll have a few more years to put up with his sorry ass.

McCain Abruptly Cuts and Runs from First Debate. VERY shocking. He might have just shot his chances with the election on this one. His speechwriter should reserve some time to start the first draft of his November concession speech at this rate. It's been a HORRIBLE week for him. Reporters revolted, Freddie Mac has been paying his campaign manager all the way through August, the Edwards team at the National Enquirer is now going after Palin's past infidelity, ... (the list is rather long). Suffice to say, McCain has not been a happy camper recently.

I think the real reason is McCain is laying awake at night with what will happen when Palin gets asked actual questions. She's going to have a "Macaca" moment that will be the new buzzword for "Macaca" moments. They now realize what a fuckup they made with not vetting her. What they wanted all along was to delay/cancel the VP debates. They'll let McCain take the criticism for the presidential debates and hope nobody notices Palin is still being kept in a box. McCain has handled lots of devastating news. It's taken a toll, but he's still standing and he's kept the race close.

I feel so sorry for Ole Miss and Oxford, MS, though. They are the true victims in this mess. They've done a lot to clean up for the big date and they're shocked. Those that aren't shocked are furious. Ole Miss is getting incredible press (see this fantastic article from today's NY Times). They were looking forward to accommodating scores of national and foreign reporters to the first debate to show off how far Mississippi has come. McCain's decision to screw them over will have a price, though: the MS Senate race to replace Trent Lott. I predict the next polls will show Ronnie Wicker taking the heat for McCain in MS. Musgrove, the popular (and surprisingly liberal) former governor, will win big. Once a Mississippi politician wins a senate race, they pretty much have the seat for life. Lott/Stennis and Chochran/Eastland held most of the 20th century for Mississippi.

On a personal note, Ole Miss was my evacuation school. Katrina happened during my senior year of college and I had to fill in enough classes to graduate on time. Ole Miss took me in and, while I'm not going to lie and say I enjoyed it (it was Katrina, not the school), it was as good as it could have been under the circumstances. Everyone there was so understanding, especially the Dean of Students and the head of the engineering school. Thank you so much Ole Miss. Without them, I wouldn't have graduated on time or even worse. Thanks again. You have my sincere condolences and I hope McCain shows up.

UPDATE- Celecus has more on LaBruzzo with a nice roundup of the local blogosphere reaction.

Also, my dad grew up in north Mississippi. He knew the Mississippi McCains and my dad was a freshman at Ole Miss during the Meredith riots. He remembers every redneck in Mississippi converging on Oxford to turn federal agents into swiss cheese and the agents responding by shooting tear gas grenades into every window on campus, including his freshman dormitory. Curtis Wilkie, a friend and classmate of my dad wrote a wonderful book about his experiences growing up in Mississippi and coming back as an adult named Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South. I've read it and I recommend it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Email by Congress-critter about the economic crisis

Here's an email allegedly sent by an anonymous congressman about the subprime mess. I doubt a congressman wrote it, but a legislative aid, I'd believe. Judge for yourself:

Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers.

Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.

Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this. Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that. That's a real possibility.

We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn't budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill. There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week.

I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.

I'm open to other ideas, and I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the sons of bitches so I can beat the crap out of them.

I wonder why he's so hesitant about the bill. Could it have something to do with this?

Cunning Realist comes out hard against the bailout. In terms of legal prosecution, nothing should be off the table right now. No private or public sector official, elected or appointed, should be immune. Impoverishment via legal fees? Yes, please.

It looks like Obama and some key Dems are rejecting the bailout proposal. Very interesting to see how this develops. There's still plenty we don't know about the crisis that hasn't been made public, but if Obama comes out explicitly against this proposal, I have a hard time believing it will pass.

UPDATE- Made a few changes after I first posted this. Also, does this mean Goldman and Morgan Stanley are kaput? We shall see.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Project Truck Update: Iron Oxide Edition

Another local Stovebolter provided me with a couple of new doors. Both of my doors have heavy damage and rust and I needed replacements.

We went to work on the new passenger door, Bondoing a few small holes, scuffing up the paint, and preparing it for primer.

Because I'm going to have to start deciding about the paint scheme on the door, I'm thinking about interior colors. Back in the 60's, bright, 2-tone colors were all the rage. Red and white and blue and white were popular. Here's an example or two.

Recently, I noticed the water pump I installed a few months ago is rusty as hell and has sprung a small leak. I picked up a new, long-nosed water pump from O'Reilly the other day. The long-nosed ones are relatively hard to find. Thanks to that find, I can use my chrome alternator bracket when I install it (more engine chrome ;-) ). So I don't make the same mistake twice, I'm priming it and I'm going to paint it. Right now, the color options I'm thinking of are either black or bright blue to match the fan.

Now here's my big quandary:

What to do with the only undented driver's side door? My one is too badly dented to work with:

Anyone got any ideas for the rust monster? I was thinking phosphoric acid, but I need a smooth surface to paint. There's always the rat rod option. Know any good, cheap sandblasters in town? It wouldn't take 30 minutes with an industrial sized sandblaster.

I wonder: What is Bernanke up to this weekend...

All of the interesting stuff that's happened with the subprime mess and related fallout has happened on the weekend. I wonder what Bernake is up to this weekend...

If you're still trying to figure out what is going wrong and why, here's an excellent FAQ by the authors of Freakonomics.

The Fed is conduction a scare campaign against the Senate to get their bill passed as quickly as possible. With as few questions as possible.

Krugman comes out hard against the proposed bailout. There is no quid-pro-quo for the taxpayers. Without nationalizing failing firms before handing them loads of cash, what's going to happen, especially if it doesn't work? Also, there's no real attempt at accountability for the army of liars, tricksters, and greedy bastards that started the whole mess. Nothing to discourage the next mess.

Here are a few of my personal thoughts on the issue:
* I STILL don't know what a derivative is and how the derivative market works. I consider myself a fairly bright person and I've been researching it, but I still don't get it. I have a strong suspicion most of the people involved don't get it, either. The whole mess should either be shut down, or regulated to the point of driving out everyone except those that really know what they're doing (if those people even exist).
* A government bailout of the size they're talking about is going to light a fire under the commodity markets. Inflation, here we come! $6 gas, brought to you by the fat fucks on Wall Street! If only people would make the connection between the dollar and commodity prices...
* The political implications of this mess are MASSIVE. The Democratic coalition could be torn asunder. What I find interesting are 2 main factors: mortgage holders and gasoline consumers. Both constitute huge voting blocks. If politicians do too much to help out mortgage holders, they'll drive down the dollar and drive up the price of gas. If politicians let companies fail, the price of gas will plummet (stronger dollar + fewer consumers (less demand) = lower prices),* BUT they'll have a lot of angry foreclosed homeowners beating down there door. This is a lose-lose situation for politicians and I don't see a single one that has any inkling of what they're in for.

If anyone is going to anything about the subprime mess and it's related dominoes, the first step has got to be holding people accountable. That means jail time and confiscated assets for investment bankers, mortgage brokers, traders, "liar loan" applicants, etc. All of those people, though, are big contributors. Don't hold your breath. It looks like the lesson of this bubble will be to those that avoided it: participate in the next one, because you'll be paying for it whether you like it or not.

UPDATE- Wow, I knew energy prices would explode, but this is ridiculous. $25 a day is too much instability. They had to pause trading because the price was going up too fast! $6 gas on the way, thanks to Hank Paulson. And to think we could soon be back to $3 or $2.75 a gallon soon without the intervention...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Economy loses a wheel, but keeps rolling along, somehow

I've been silent on economics lately. There's been plenty going on, though. Even my mom is starting to get the subprime thing is pretty big. And subprime is only the beginning...

The big headlines:Merril Lynch gets bought by Bank of America at firesale price, Lehman Brothers bit the dust, and Washington Mutual is looking for a buyer. Maybe a Chinese buyer.

Speaking of China, this is the "biggest economic adjustment in 30 years". Wonder how many commies buried in the prisons of the most capitalist country on earth are saying, "Told ya so!" And then they get put on bread and water again in their prison.

Lehman Brothers failed at the delight of quite a few people. Fuld, the CEO, has been getting murdered in the press and deservedly so. An employee set up a potrait of Fuld in the lobby of the building for people to write on for $1. Some of the comments are classic. Both the NY Times ("Need a Job? $17,000 an Hour. No Success Required.") and the government of Argentina ("Argentina to Lehman: Worry about yourself") decided to rip Fuld a new one.

4 people who predicted the subprime crunch. There are plenty more than 4, but that's a start. What do these 4 people have in common? Not to be too mean about it, but all 4 have faces only a mother could love. Louisiana's Richard Baker (of the Baker Plan) is one of the 4.

An interesting report out of S&P: Pressure builds on America's AAA debt rating. They would never have the balls to do it, though. They'd be called financial-terrorists, hunted to the ends of the earth and sent to Gitmo never to be seen or heard from again. But if they did downgrade the US's bond rating...

And now, to close with: The Next Bubble: Pessimism. Published last week. Great timing. Good for a laugh.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Engineering notes

7 Wonders of Modern Engineering. My list would have a few different items (not the Bird's Nest or CERN {yet}). I'd include the Apollo program and the Dutch flood control works on my list. Probably some others but that's all I can think of right now.

Oil Engineers Strike It Rich. High demand, few engineers, even fewer professor equals high pay for those who do graduate. Tulane had one of the best Petroleum Engineering programs in the country, before they folded it back into Mechanical Engineering after the oil bust.

I-35W Bridge Reopens in Minnesota. Finished 3 months ahead of schedule and under budget. Workers worked 24/7, including during the Minnesota winter. The construction companies (Flatiron Constructors and Manson Construction Company) are also in line for a major bonus and good for them. When all engineers have to worry about is getting the job done, the results are breathtaking. Look at the incredible job Boh Brothers did repairing the Twinspans after Katrina.

When you don't have to worry about managing engineering hours or competitively bidding every little thing, you can get things done much quicker. I've seen penny-pinching clients triple the cost of projects because they insisted "project controls" that slowed the project down and kept engineers from getting the job done. The other thing clients do is complain about engineering hours. They can't complain if a valve costs, say, $80,000 when they budgeted $40,000. The valve costs what the valve costs. Take it or find another solution. But, if they think the engineering firm is taking too long or is spending too much time worrying about details, they won't hesitate reaming the project engineer in charge. Keep in mind total engineering costs might be 5% of total costs and a few hours of engineering can halve construction and purchasing costs on some items. Maybe you check through bids more closely or maybe you develop an easier erection order that saves minimizes the need for heavy equipment.

War in South Ossetia

Stuff's been blowing up and the US isn't (directly) involved. Here's some interesting reading on the war:

Secretary Rice now admits Georgia attacked first.

Gary Brecher recaps the war.
...and possible future Neo-con plans for the country. Suggestion: don't book any vacations there anytime soon.

What if a major news network conducted an extensive, exclusive interview with a major head of state and hardly aired a minute of it? Well, that network would probably face retaliation from that country... CNN is already none too popular in China and now they're pissing on Russia. Nice move. Here's the interview. Putin, on the whole, sounds quite reasonable. Especially for a pedophile.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Project Truck Update: Short Circuit Edition

Checked up on the truck for the first time since Gustav. I went to crank it and nothing. I checked everything, but no horn, no nothing. Battery was completely shot. Pull the truck out of the garage, look underneath and what do I see? A mass of molten rubber hanging off the main starter cable.

The main live wire got stuck against the hot exhaust when I drove it back into the garage. The insulation melted, the battery short circuited and stayed that way for 3 weeks.

I replaced the main wire (something I wanted to do anyway), hooked it up to another car for a while, and bingo, it cranked again.

Old trucks are very simple to troubleshoot and very easy to fix.

So, instead of doing bodywork like I intended today, I had a diversion. This incident has inspired me to get a new wiring harness soon and be done the rats nest of cables underneath the dash.

Floodgates during Ike

I read a lot of articles like this one after Gustav talking about how the levees passed their first test, but also exposed the flaws in the levees. It seems to me like Ike ended up having a much higher storm surge than Gustav. Ike forced the closure of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals much earlier than Gustav.

I was off early Friday, so I decided to take a little trip to the Lakefront.

Sure enough, the floodgates were down.

I noticed that only 1 pump was in operation. It turned out to be one of the Moving Water Industries pumps (which were the subject of much controversy when they were purchased). Now, as an engineer, I have to point out that water coming out of the pipe doesn't let them off the hook. The pumps might not be operating to their design curve and there's still questions about the purchasing of the pumps, but they did work when the Corps needed them to.

You can visually tell the water level outside the gates is much higher than on a normal day. Here's a photo I took a while back for comparison:

Notice the water level on the discharge pipes for comparison.

I also swung by the 17th Street Canal, which is much more important for the city. Unfortunately, the site is very cramped and due to the storm surge, you can't walk around it as well as you can with the London Avenue Canal, so I can't tell what's going on as well. It was so windy, I couldn't even tell how many pumps (if any) were in operation.

Looking back towards the city, the level looked awfully high:

Here's the rest of the photo set.

New Issue of the New Orleans Levee

The Levee lives up to its repuation and doesn't hold anything back this month.

My favorite article:
Nasty Tulane Frat Missed By Many.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gustav Street Blogging

Seen on St. Charles Ave.

Fixing Tomato

I don't know how many people will be interested in this, but I like fixing things, so here it goes.

The driver's side exterior door handle on Tomato broke. I disassembled the door, hoping something had just come disconnected, but found a plastic retainer that holds a spring had snapped. That meant I needed a replacement. I could go to the Honda dealership on the Westbank, spend $50 and wait 3 weeks for it to arrive, but I decided to go to the newly opened Pull-A-Part junkyard on the West Bank.

Roaming the lines of cars, I found a '92 Civic hatchback.

With some persuasion, I freed the driver's side door handle. That door handle sat in my car for weeks before I finally got around to installing it.

When I finally did, I opened up the interior of the door and removed the old door handle.

I then swapped the old lock tumblers into the new door handle.

When I was done with that, I reassembled the whole mess, careful not to end up with leftover screws.

The new door handle is black and I think it looks great. I might change out the other side to make them match.

I'm slowly undoing all the damage the previous owners did to this car. I need a new windshield, paintjob, and bumpers and I need to reconnect the cigarette lighter. Those mid-90's Honda's can be kept running forever if you take care of a few basic things. For a new car, they're also surprisingly easy to work on.

Racism and Obama

Salon Article on Racism and Obama.

Here are the articles' most important points, in my opinion:

* Most people are familiar with 2 kinds of blacks: the type they see locally going to church and the type they see on the evening news carrying a stereo out the window. Obama doesn't fit into either of these categories. He's an urban, middle-class, cosmopolitan black, which just doesn't compute to some.

* Despite being bitter political rivals, so many people's thoughts of Obama are colored by Jesse Jackson.

* The assassination angle shouldn't be discounted. I'm not entirely sure why, but it's important and will pops up in lots of conversations about Obama.

* Even people that fancy themselves as progressive might not vote that way. I wonder what would happen if you polled everyone walking into Whole Foods on their voting choice and then tracked those people's actual votes once the curtain closed and they were all alone in the voting booth.

The reason I'm writing about this is a couple of incidents at work. I work in a very conservative office and normally it doesn't bug me. I end up eating venison sausage fairly often.

In recent conversations, some have discussed the assassination of Obama more frequently. I'm still trying to figure out exactly why.

But what really disturbed me was a conversation with a lifelong Democrat who was a union leader earlier in life. He told me he's voting for Nader, but I was curious why not Obama. He's said Obama's policies are probably going to be along the lines of Clinton's, he loved Bill Clinton, and he knows the Republicans are out to screw over everyone but upper crust stockholders. He's never voted for a Republican because of how he saw the unions treated in South Louisiana. He also believes that the only reason Palin was selected was because she was a pretty face and will distract people from McCain's policies and how McCain is now beholden to hard-right wing of the GOP.

Yesterday, he told me, "I'm not voting for a nigger. I know how that sounds, but I don't care anymore." Coming from someone else, I could have just brushed it off, but given his background and my respect for the man, it was like a punch to the gut. I asked him a little more, just so I could learn why and it revolved around the failings of earlier black leaders (Jesse Jackson, of course being mentioned prominently) and how blacks control the politics of most urban areas.

Here's someone who knows the political scene, but just can't bring himself to vote Obama because of the candidate's skin color.

I think Dr. King's hopes might have to wait a few more years.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nagin thrusts his shiny head back into the spotlight

Ever since his little shindig downtown, Ray Nagin has been in the spotlight (or scurrying away from it). Here's a little recap:

First off, speaking of the awards, Chris Rose lays down this steaming turd of an article. What sort of an editor doesn't hit the delete key on this article? Editors at the Times-Picayune are now in the same area as aliens and bigfoot. They don't exist, despite occasional "sightings."

Nagin then walked out of a Katrina documentary after making the ridiculous assertion that cooks are making over a thousand dollars a week.

I can't even begin to recap Mayor Numb Nuts' actions with Gustav more than I already have because it simply burns me up too much. I will say this much: when he worries about people not evacuating next time, it's almost like somewhere in his shiny head, he thinks people don't like him.

Eli recaps the Airport deal. Nagin wants to "sell that sucker" badly, but only if he is in total control of where the money goes. I'll give you a hint: none of the money will go to anything, oh, say useful.

Matt McBride returns with a report on how Nagin now wants to unilaterally flatten the city. His analysis on the timing of the "emergency order" is VERY interesting. Looks to me like it might be a wonderful opportunity for him to know down a few houses on NOAH's list before the FBI can put together a case. Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice anyone?

UPDATE- Oh yeah, not directly related to Chromedome, there's Eli's extensive post about Southern Scrap and the personalities behind it. A must read for understanding corruption in New Orleans. Lots of connecting the dots.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stand Back: I'm Going to Try Science!

Today could be our last day on Earth. The Large Hadron Collider is starting up. Steven Hawking puts the odds of a black hole ripping apart the earth at "less that 1%." What does the LHC mean for the US? It means we're falling behind in science and science education at an alarming rate. Remember, Particle Physics is "the branch of science that delivered just about every major technology of the past hundred years." Computers, the atomic bomb, nanotechnology, the list goes on. And as I'm writing this post: CERN is up and running!

The US still has the best scientists in the world, but has the worst science education in the industrialized world. What are the problems with science education in the US? Well, let's ask the Mythbusters guys.

First off, you have lawyers:

Thanks to Visa, AmEx, etc. Mythbusters isn't allowed to tear gaping holes into RFID chips. Fuck you very much, assholes. I guess there are some things that are just too dangerous for people to learn, according to lawyers.

Here's how Adam Savage suggests we fix science education. Most important point: get your hands dirty.

And while we're at it, here's Jamie's thoughts on the energy crisis.

What would Houston and Galveston look like after a bad storm surge? Bad. The Houston Ship Channel becomes their MR-GO.

Phun. The coolest 2D physics sandbox ever. Free software. Excellent way to waste your entire Wednesday. Had I had this as a kid, we'd all be going around in flying cars by now.

One final comment: Remember, scientists are cooler than Denzel Washington, according to the man himself.


UPDATE- Damn I wish I had an editor sometimes. Misspelled the title. Oops. Now fixed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Brees/Colston '08

Jeffery's season preview.

My season preview is the same one I've said for the last 4 years or so: talented enough to win the Superbowl. Flaky enough to finish 8-8.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Aerial Hunting?!?!

Let me make this very clear: I have no problem with hunting. I spent the whole time in Mississippi in a cabin surrounded by trophies from a former president of the Boone and Crocket Club (who also happens to be a hell of a writer). I also understand the need for wildlife management, especially regards to predators. I walked Susie in the woods with a gun because she might run into wild animals. But this is sick:

Palin's Big Sleazy Safari. Palin fought hard to allow permitted wolf hunts from airplanes. Cruel doesn't even begin to describe what that subjects the animal to. There's no way in hell to get a clean shot on an animal from the air. The animal is going to slowly suffer and die or will survive and live maimed.

Also, that's a great article by Exiled. Nobody in the mainstream media would ever have the guts to write that article.

Post-Gustav Infrastructure Reconstruction

We all depend on vital infrastructure to support our lives and our way of life. As Ray put it, electricity is an anti-depressant. Let's see how we stand on the infrastructure front.


Here's the Times-Pic description of Entergy's efforts. Leaves out all the fun details. The phrase "Isle of Orleans" is once again accurate to describe New Orleans. We are now a "Power Island" isolated from the national grid. 13 out of 14 transmission lines were taken out by Gustav (most were around Baton Rouge) that provide power for New Orleans, Jefferson, and the sliver on the river all the way up to about St. Rose.

Entergy's engineers have to precisely balance the demand of the grid with the generation. They always have to be precisely in tune. You can't, for most practical purposes, store electricity. It is generated on an as-needed basis. Too little power, and you have brownouts or blackouts. Too much, and you blow the grid. The generation stations inside the island must do all this without any backup from the national grid. If they fail, all the power inside the grid will go out at once. Nobody in Orleans Parish or anywhere on the island will have grid power.

Think of it like performing a high wire act without a net, but don't fret too much. Entergy's engineers are good at what they do and right now, demand is still very low (because of all the people out of town and businesses shut down). Waterford, our main Nuke plant, was shut down ahead of Gustav as a precaution and they're working on getting it back up and running. If Waterford comes online, the Island should be secure until we're reconnected to the grid. In the meantime, it's fascinating a major US city can function independent of the grid.


Be careful about flushing your toilet in Jefferson Parish. 70% of lift stations are without power.

One of my coworkers is on loan to the Sewerage and Water Board while they fix the Katrina damage. He’s explained that New Orleans’ sewerage system works on a simple principal: shit flows downhill. There are long, gradually sloped conduits that carry effluent by gravity. There are large catch basins at the bottom and there are only around 100 lift pumps in the city. Much of the system can operate without power and it's easy to reconnect a small number of pumps.

J.P.’s system is based more on active pumping. Jefferson Parish has over 500 lift stations on the eastbank alone.

The New Orleans system is more expensive to setup, but requires FAR fewer pumps. The reason suburbs generally don’t do it is maintenance. If a line breaks, you only have to dig a shallow trench to reach the broken lines. In New Orleans, the S&WB has to dig halfway to China to reach the main lines. Look how deep some of there excavations get next time you drive by a work site.

Nobody ever cares about how the system works, until they’re knee deep in their own shit.


Looks like the oil industry got spared major damage. After Katrina, there were some modest improvements in infrastructure, but Katrina was so far off the scale, some in the industry don't consider it economical to build to withstand such a storm. That being said, the damage to the industry wasn't nearly as bad as people first feared. It was all repaired in short order.

Here's some footage from someone who rode out the storm on a Jackup moored in Port Fourchon:

It will take at least a week to get a full damage assessment from Gustav. One of the lessons learned in Katrina that surprised a lot of engineers is how much the deep currents can move and even break subsea pipelines. That was one of the hardest and most expensive things to repair after Katrina.

Restaurant Review, Evacuee Edition: Crystal Grill

I spent Gustav running around North Mississippi and there was one restaurant up there that I love. No, not Luscoe's ("The Galatoire's of the Delta") with their famous pompano. Nope, my favorite is The Crystal Grill with bitter greens and catfish. Candice and I ate there 3 days in a row for lunch. Lunch runs about $10 a person and for that you get a drink, 2 sides, entree, and desert. The blueberry cobbler was the best I've ever had. I stuck to what they did best: catfish. I had it fried, blackened and their Memphis Rub (nice and spicy).

Next time you're in Greenwood, MS, check them out. Right next to the Amtrak station.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back Home

Back in New Orleans. It's good to be back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Watching the Republican Convention

Heading back to New Orleans tomorrow. Hope the traffic won't be to bad. I'm doing my laundry before I go back and for some reason I'm watching the Republican Convention. Dead God, I want to gouge my eyes out and stick hot pokers in my ears.

I've watched Romney, Giulliani, and Palin and here are my thoughts.

Romney: "After accounting for inflation, government spending has doubled since 1980." Um, who the fuck was sitting in the White House most of those years? 'McCain will cut taxes, continue Iraq, and strengthen the dollar.' Choose 2, the last 1 will have to go. Sorry.

Giulliani: Only one 9/11 out of him. Sorry Biden. His vocabulary has expanded. Why pound the experience angle with Palin on the ticket?

Palin: my first thought was deer in the headlights. She also is trying to hide that "Don't cha know" accent. Her husband is also a strong union worker (after Romney went on about how unions are bloodsuckers and incredibly powerful and intimidate businesses). "Where ever he goes, John McCain is the same man." Yeah right, like on immigration? Oh yeah, and her daughter's baby-daddy was there. He wasn't introduced and you could tell the cameramen were trying to keep him out of the shots.

One phase the Democrats were afraid of: "Islamic terrorism." One word Republicans are afraid of: "Bush."

The audience: fit for a cattle drive (as the walking burgers, not the cowboys). Or induction into the Schutstaffel. The Fox News watchers will get exactly what they want from this convention, but fortunately there were very few of them. Lots of empty seats plus it looked like they amplified the crowd noise.

Sorry if that sounds harsh but, I'm in a pissy mood today. Blame Mayor Chromedome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Asinine Mayor

The headline on the local paper had the following quote from our mayor: "I don't think Gustav was the mother of all storms. More like the mother in law or ugly sister." Tim has more thoughts on that quote.

Nagin has also implanted his head up his ass on the reentry plan. Or should I say lack thereof. Surprised? Also, why reenter at midnight during a dusk to dawn curfew. That's strike three in the same press conference.

Fortunately, Head and Fielkow know that some people need to get in and do shit. Attention city council members: if you're next to Ray and his lips are moving, you're job is to smack him in the mouth and shut him up.