Saturday, July 22, 2006

GOP dips toe into "reality-based" community 

Wapo:


Republican lawmakers acknowledge that it is no longer tenable to say the news media are ignoring the good news in Iraq and painting an unfair picture of the war.
...
"It's like after Katrina, when the secretary of homeland security was saying all those people weren't really stranded when we were all watching it on TV," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.). "I still hear about that. We can't look like we won't face reality."


Catch that? "We can't look like we won't face reality." It's still the appearance that counts for these guys. If they could get away with ignoring reality, they would. Troops and taxpayers be damned! But the curtain has finally been raised on this blame-the-media approach to Iraq. It was a very convenient ploy for 3+ years, and many voters bought into it. Now, after hundreds of billions spent and thousands of lives lost, the ruse is "no longer tenable".

And these people want to be re-elected.


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Billmon and Greenwald have much, much more.
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Friday, July 21, 2006

 
Greg informs us that conservative blogger Carl Tritschler (former Lafayette Parish Republican Party Chairman and former member of the Louisiana Republican Party State Central Committee) was arrested for domestic abuse battery.

This guy's the earwax eating type I worried about a few weeks ago. In a recent column, he wrote:
We Americans live in a time when our basic freedoms, our God given inherent natural rights, are under tremendous assault both at home and abroad.
...
Domestically, the forces of the Left are attacking American values... and [are] undermining the family by promoting homosexual marriage and legalized gambling.

Why is it that so many self-appointed "protectors of marriage" have souls made of slime? I'd let any random atheist gay couple babysit my daughter at a casino before I'd leave her with the likes of Carl "family values" Tritschler.


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Unrelated: do you love Star Wars as much as I do?
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I hit the Big Time! 

My first post is up at After the Levees. It's titled "The road to Baghdad doesn't run through New Orleans". All killer and no filler, baby. Why not click over and pretend to read it?


Please note: As you might expect, over at the fancy shmancy TPM empire, we'll get our kicks above the waistline... sunshine. So no group masturbation links.

Yet.


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"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free"
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Item! 

I have an idea for a Rising Tide conference fundraiser. Who's willing to lend a hand?




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via
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Dark Kristol (pt II) 

Apparently Neo-conservative genius Bill Kristol is militating for war against Iran. Again. Yesterday, Think Progress posted a priceless quote from Kristol's magazine The Weekly Standard written just before we invaded Iraq. Savor this thick slice of hubris.


We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam's regime... History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

The Weekly Standard's appeal to "history and reality" is quite remarkable, since history and reality are two things that have never altered the magazine's ideology or certitude. Even now, after reality has "weighed in", and "clarified" who was right and who was wrong about the war, the Neocons seem blissfully untouched. Their foreign policy is basically "give war a chance and if it doesn't work then we can always try war" (hfn). It's a Chickenhawk Martingale strategy played with other people's blood and treasure. For those who are still wondering, I believe history will show that guys like Gen. Clark and Sen. Bob Graham were right about Iraq. They believed that the invasion of Iraq was a world-historic strategic blunder; a monumental distraction in the so-called War on Terror.




So, let's see how conservative columnist George Will responds to Kristol. Will has been known to open a history book now and then. Perhaps he can give us a first look at history's judgment of the neocons. (My emphs and link):

[It] is not perverse to wonder whether the spectacle of America, currently learning a lesson -- one that conservatives should not have to learn on the job -- about the limits of power to subdue an unruly world, has emboldened many enemies.
...
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything .

"No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria . . ." You get the drift. So, the Weekly Standard says:

"We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

"Why wait?" Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Bashar Assad's regime does not fall after the Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?

As for the "healthy" repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication's powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation's behalf before all of the surprises -- all of them unpleasant -- that Iraq has inflicted.

Ouchers, George! But wait, did he say that the wars in Afghanistan AND Iraq are deteriorating? Deteriorating?! How can a conservative pundit, one of Reagan's warriors, assert this? And how can he say that the criticism of our leader has been "just"? What accounts for this unvarnished, reality-based mumbo jumbo?

Why does George Will want to sabotage America? Has he been brainwashed by THE LEFT?

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Update: As you might expect, there's a good deal more at 2 Millionth.


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* DK pt. 1 here.

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Dramatic drop in crime last month 

Arrests are way up, and the murder rate is way down in New Orleans. It seems that the additional National Guard troops have helped secure the city's outskirts from looting while special NOPD task forces have been able to concentrate on interior "hot spots" such as the much-ballyhooed "Triangle of Death" in Central City.
Deputy Chief John Bryson called the results "remarkable." He credits the special task forces, assembled from the ranks of flooded-out, mostly vacant districts, now reassigned to work beats in the troubled streets of Central City, Pigeon Town and other repopulated neighborhoods that have grown increasingly violent.

One can only hope that the dramatic reduction in crime in N.O. is covered by the national media half as much as last month's rise in crime, which preciptated the National Guard's return to New Orleans. This is not a city spiralling out of control. It's not a city that needs curfews, the National Guard, or a perpetual "state of emergency". It's a city that needs 300 additional well-trained, professional police officers, plus sterner courts, and candid leaders. That's all.


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No word yet on whether popular blogger Chad Rogers will choose to write another false, misleading "humor piece" about escalating crime and "urban war" in New Orleans.

Update: A hopeful "rant" has appeared (7/20)! Rogers states that "recent developments... seem to prove that New Orleans is not doomed to be a sewer of violent crime".
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Formidable! 

Internet "Kook" C.B. Forgotston says (my emphs):

The Department of Homeland Security should be equally as concerned about the damage done by the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] as it is about terrorism. Perhaps Homeland Security should raise the alert level for incompetence. As long as millions of souls are dependent upon the USACE for their lives, there is great danger to America.

If and when the next levee breach occurs, and we're scrambling to plug it, I think we should phone Forgotston. The man possesses giant stones.


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Update: Michael provides a great DHS Incompetence graphic.
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Three views on energy 

George H.W. "Poppy" Bush at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992:

The American way of life is not negotiable.

WH Press Briefing May 7, 2001:

MORAN: Does the president believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The president believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one..

Maitri's VatulBlog, 2006:

Participation in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons is not a problem if we collectively promise to be more responsible about their utilization. I love my job as an oil industry geoscientist and am proud of my work. However, it pains me to stare at a painstakingly developed oil/gas reservoir on my computer screen, and look out the window to see one person in an H2 driving down St. Charles Avenue. It's not life - it's unnecessary and wasteful. We're working our tails off, onshore and off, for that?
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What will the Youth In Asia think? 

Adrastos has a spicy post about the mercy killings/alleged homicides at Memorial Hospital during the days after Katrina. If you need a quote to motivate you, here it is:


[The] patients involved were terminally ill and were being legally administered doses of morphine that would kill the average person reading this. Why? The worse the pain, the more morphine you need; so, the doses must be increased to properly relieve the pain.

My understanding of the case is that the patients involved were in an hospice program, which means that they were near death before the storm. The hospital's generator failed rather quickly post-K so these patients were in for a very painful and horrible death because of the conditions. Additionally, the doctor who brought these allegations to public attention is a publicity hound whose story has changed 97 times since he appeared on CNN last fall.

Unlike Adrastos, I don't have any inside juice on this topic, so I'll just wait for more facts to come out. The Evil Center has a good post on this, as well. Dangle claims that "under the circumstances, it was the absolute correct and compassionate thing to do." Then adds: "Perhaps I am wrong and they just got bored and decided to become murderers. Prove it."


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In other drug news, St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain combed the streets for drug dealers, and arrested thirty suspects. No word yet on whether their hair was dreadlocked or "chee wee", but investigators did blame "construction workers", whose "paychecks are fueling the increased drug activity."


Damn paychecks always causing trouble.


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HT to Roux and Jeffrey
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Clarification Session 

Chad Rogers issued a "clarification" flash sheet in response to my dissection of his Rant from 7/6. Chad now says that his original rant was meant to be "both humorous and superfluous", and he had assumed "most readers would understand" it, but that "some readers in the New Orleans area did not." He claimed he was making a "humorous stab at the locals' questionable ability control crime in the city", and nothing else.

First, YRHT thanks Chad for the clarification.

Second, I'm proud to call the actual city of New Orleans my home.

Third, in my response to Chad's rant, I said "Obviously Rogers is trying to be humorous, but he's stretched his point so far that it's unrecognizable." So, it wasn't that I didn't understand it. I clearly understood it was an ATTEMPT at humor, but the piece was so poorly constructed, and so dangerously misleading, and so unfunny, that I felt obligated to take it apart to show all the false assumptions upon which it was built.

Let's review: in order to take a "humorous stab" at the "locals'" ability to control crime, Rogers makes the following claims (which I've presented in order):

1. "[T]he presence of the national guard in New Orleans has... only made [things] worse".

So begins Rogers funny "Rant". Precisely how are Dead Pelican Readers supposed to know whether this is true or not? It's not obviously false OR true to most readers. That becomes a problem, because the rest of the piece rests on this claim.

2. Chad prints an unlinked, BOLD quote from the Times Picayune about "crack-slinging" and "prostitution", and completely misrepresents the story from which he pulled it. Why did Rogers include this? I assume he did it to support false claim #1. But why? Why did he need to abuse a news piece in order to make fun of Nagin's control of crime? Aren't there enough facts out there to work with?

Again: how are readers supposed to know that this quote is totally out of context? Surely, in a humorous piece, Rogers doesn't expect his audience to research the context of his bold quotes. Yet, if people didn't do that for his rant, they'd likely be misinformed.

3. "Let's face facts here. The Louisiana National Guard is immersed in a segment of Louisiana culture that it does not understand. As a result, the street thugs have grown more resentful of the guards' presence and as a result are committing more crimes."

This is where the Rant becomes dangerously unfunny. Rogers claims that it's a "fact" that street thugs are resentful of the NG, and are "committing more crimes"-- but he doesn't give his readers a hint that this is totally untrue. This marks Rogers' third consecutive deceptive claim, and yet none of these counterfactuals are obviously wrong. That is, most people thought what he was saying was true. It wasn't obviously wrong enough, therefore it wasn't funny, either.

Granted, Chad's charged rhetoric alerts readers that some sort of satire is occurring. But what, exactly, is Rogers up to? It's still unclear.

4. "The governor and the mayor clearly should have known better. One cannot install military law and order in an impoverished, crime ridden area."

This is the alleged punchline. In his "clarification", Rogers says he's targeting ineffectual "locals". Yet this sentence mentions the governor, who certainly isn't a local New Orleanian. Further, military law was not "installed" in New Orleans. The National Guard hands suspects over to the cops. But, again, how are DP readers supposed to know this is false? It's the fourth consecutive untrue claim that wasn't obviously false. Why is this necessary?

5. "This is all worsened by the fact that Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have given no timeline for troop withdrawal, and no exit strategy. This is recipe for quagmire, and we're headed there fast."

Another alleged punchline! The highlighted words here seem to refer to the Iraq war. That's how I took them, anyway. But Chad claims he was not commenting on the war. He was just being cute and "superfluous", and taking jabs at Nagin and Blanco. But at this point in the Rant, how could his audience possibly think this line was funny, unless they had been effectively misled by the preceding claims which supported this "jab"? In other words, imo, the only way this could possibly be funny is if you were a reader who believed the previous false claims, and thought this was a parallel to the Iraq War. (Yet even then the satire's logic breaks down pretty quickly.) Conversely, if you were a reader (say, a New Orleanian) who understood the previous claims to be false, then this comedic payoff is hopelessly compromised by the previous false premeses. Rogers' urgent warnings about a quagmire have no comedic force if someone understands there's no battle going on between the NG and the thugs.

Either way, it's just not funny.

6. "The governor and the mayor need to act quickly. They need to withdraw the National Guard troops so that the New Orleans security forces can take over. This is the only hope to end the violence in New Orleans. The present course will only lead to an ever mounting increase in casualties and an open-ended urban war with no end in sight."

War is a tricky subject for comedy, and Rogers' decides to introduce war terminology in order to make fun of New Orleans "locals" Nagin and Blanco. It's extremely difficult to get this sort of thing right. Perhaps someone else could make it work, but not Rogers. He doesn't quite seem to be able to rein in all his assertions at this point.

For example, there's plenty of people around the state and country who think that New Orleans IS an "open-ended urban war[zone]". So, when Rogers makes satirical statements that seem to support such views, he better do so in a way that makes clear he's joking. As is, they're not funny.

Rogers should know better, too. He's done some reporting on the crime/police issues in New Orleans. It's not a topic he's unfamilar with, and there's endless ways to make a comedic play on this (admittedly) delicate topic.

For example: Nagin should be mocked for allowing New Orleans to become the nation's murder capital (per capita) while he was running for reelection on a campaign platform of "everything's fine". Nagin and Blanco should be mocked for the public-relations disaster they created when they sent the NG to N.O. with almost no warning or good explanation. Nagin and Riley should be mocked for letting crime mushroom in May and June. There's plenty of ways to do that without contorting the facts. Crime in New Orleans is a "target rich" topic for harsh satire.

But this city is on its knees, and doesn't need misinformation disseminated that isn't obviously untrue (in a funny way). Sadly, Chad composed a Rant that was almost entirely "truth-free". It was intended to be funny, but he botched it. It wasn't false enough. Certainly more people were misled by his "superfluous" piece than were amused by it.

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If you haven't had enough "clarification sessions" and word parsing, go here and here for more.

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Here, maybe I can use my own internal blogging process to offer an illuminating example of what I was trying to describe in the above paragraphs. YRHT readers know I try to make humorous connections about current events. So, Rogers had a "clarification" flash sheet, and then at the end of my post I made two links to W's recent "clarification session" overseas. What I originally had in mind with this post was to combine either Chad's or W's "clarifications" with a quote from the movie L.A. Confidential. I sensed, with some playful editing, I could incorporate these things into a really funny and scathing post. See, they're all superficially related with the "clarification" word, and I intended to draw out more connections. Here's the L.A. Confidential. nugget I wanted to use:
DUDLEY: I've long been involved in containing hard crime in such a way that myself and a few colleagues might someday enjoy a profit dispensation. That day will soon be here and you'll share handsomely. Grand means will be in our hands, Wendell.

Imagine crime limited to the criminal element who perpetrate it. Imagine the means to keep the [expletive] filth sedated. But don't stop there. Extrapolate. Imagine the police in control. It's big, lad.

BUD: You lost me, Dudley. I don't know what you're talking about.

DUDLEY: You have your extracurricular secrets, I have mine. We'll hold a clarification session soon. For now, I need your fearsome old habits at the Victory Motel.

Those familiar with the film can immediately see what a nice, rich exchange this is. There's a lot to work with here: crime, power, corruption, police... and the hideous words "clarification session" (plus "Victory Motel", for that matter). But after mulling the quote over, I didn't know how to incorporate it successfully into this post. My modest abilities weren't up to the task. Either I'd have to abuse the film script beyond recognition, or I'd have to force current topics into an analytical model that was misleading.

So, basically, I lacked the skill to "make it work", and filed it away. Perhaps Chad was also overly ambitious with his "Rant" in a similar way.
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"Go together like a horse and carriage" 

There's a Married With Children episode where Al Bundy is spying on his neighbors, Steve and Marcy. I forget the specifics, but Al thinks they're hiding or planning something... so he has a sort of "Rear Window" motive. Anyway, it's nighttime and he's spying on them through their open bedroom window. I think he's even using binoculars.

Then, something horrible occurs.

Marcy [speaking to Steve]: I know why you're back. You're back... for this! [she rips off her nightie, revealing her negligee]

Al: [off screen] I'm blind! My eyes, my eyes!



Eyesight is precious. Don't jeopardize it.




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Fun fact! Back in the day, oyster thought Jefferson D'arcy was a good role model.

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Be Back Soon 

YRHT is bizzy right now, and won't have any posts till this afternoon. Sorry. Please plan your day accordingly.
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Simple Misunderestimations, that's all 

Paul Krugman's latest column trots down memory lane and prints some quotes from our wise leaders. He also inserts a reality-based "comeuppance quote" after each statement, which I don't think is even necessary. So here's a sampling of some of the quotes Krugman unearthed, excluding the "comeuppance" rejoinders (except for the Mashhadani gem-- I had to include that one because we need to learn more about this Iraqi Freedom Fighter).
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"The greatest thing to come out of [invading Iraq] for the world economy ... would be $20 a barrel for oil." --Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), February 2003.

"The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion," saying that "earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high." --The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2002

"Peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There's been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia." --Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and now president of the World Bank, Feb. 27, 2003.

"Iraq's new government has another able leader in Speaker Mashhadani. ... He rejects the use of violence for political ends. And by agreeing to serve in a prominent role in this new unity government, he's demonstrating leadership and courage." --President Bush, May 22, 2006.

"Some people say 'we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor.' These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew." --Mahmoud Mashhadani, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, July 13, 2006.

"Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits for the region. ...Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced." --Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now." --Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on the campaign against Slobodan Milosevic, April 28, 1999

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Lagniappe:

"Russia's big and so is China." -- President Bush at the G-8 summit 7/06.
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More context and speculation about this comment here.
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Action 

If you live outside the "Gret Stet" Dangle has an explanatory letter you should read concerning the Revenue Sharing provisions being negotiated in the latest Energy Bill. I join Dangle in urging you to write or call your Senators. Tell them you believe Louisiana deserves its fair share of royalties.

Now is the time to shout our case loud and proud, Pelicans.

While you're feeling like a responsible citizen you might want to review your Senator's stance on Net Neutrality, and make a call or write a letter in defense of a free and open internet. (Sen. Vitter opposes Net Neutrality, and Sen. Landrieu has not yet taken a side.)
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

There is a Rising Tide forming 

People Get Ready:


Most of the people reading this entry will appreciate what I'm about to say. The New Orleans blog movement has become an incredible network of information dissemination, storytelling, and mutual support, and I would argue that the New Orleans movement has emerged as a stronger expression of community than in almost any other forum of "extra-personal" (i.e., non-interpersonal) communication anywhere else in the world.

True, that's a bold statement to make, but I still think the New Orleans blog community is a nascent, fragile community -- for a lot of reasons. Nevertheless, what one finds here is remarkably enriching, providing a profound sense of shared values and commitment to a common cause.


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Other entries about the Friday "Geek Potluck Dinner" event here:

Gentilly Girl: "All of this reminded me of family gatherings decades ago here: I guess, in a way, we are now family, and family of the heart is so special."

Maitri: Highlights:

-- A lot of New Orleanians I talk with and admire online in one place, joking and commiserating.
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-- Alexis, Dudley and I saw Sasquatch in a chicken suit in the fetal position by the pool. Believe it or not.

Loki: As I cooked and had a few drinks the rogues gallery materialized. Shecky Darwin aka Adrastos, Dangerblond, Sophmom our NOLAblogger adoptee, Ashley, Maitri, Ray, Oyster, Editor B., Markus, Karen, Lisa, Schroeder, and Gentilly Girl (in whose honor this post shall be long), bombarded the place with personality and joie de vie.

It was most peculiar having people tell me they liked my stuff. Many are the times I feel I am simply ranting into vacuum. It was an interesting counterpoint to finally attaching faces, voices, and personalities with the words that regularly scroll across my computer screen.

Talking with Lisa was great, she and I have lot in common even if she is a Mac Elitist, I'm jealous she actually saw the Sex Pistols!

Adrastos: It's quite interesting to meet people who read your blog. They already know certain things about how your mind works and at first greet you like a minor rock star. I got the Rick Astley treatment several times myself. (In the immortal words of Nick Lowe, "Do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit, it was ghastly.')

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The Sweaty Mime has more.
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