Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Night Champagne Blogging - Serenity edition

Nicolas Feuillatte Rose Premier Cru

This is much better than Dom Perignon, and I'd rather buy this than White Star. When it's cold, there's no aroma, but when it warmed up it had a woody aroma. It's definitely dry, but has that raspberry finish that sort of redeems itself. - Ginger Haired Yank

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Actually enjoying Collapse

Had put the book aside maybe a month ago after reading the bad second chapter - 50 pages on how Montana folks are having a hard time adjusting to the modern age of Charles Schwab buying up a bunch of land to create a gated community of McMansions for Über-rich folks wanting a pied-à-terre in Montana. Who cares? What does that have to do with the theme of why pre-historic civilization collapsed? Since I didn't care for Guns, Germs & Steel that made me that much more wary of starting the book again, but the tome did not disappirate & I'd finished with my library books, and siblings wanted to read it after I finished, so what choice did I have.

The third chapter - possibly the highlight - deals with Easter Island. It is amazing how intelligent folks can have a set idea & ignore all evidence that contradicts their theory. The examples given being Thor Heyerdahl & von DÃniken who mistakenly thought that the Easter Island settlers from the Americas or outer space.

Will be curious if subsequent chapters continue to hold my interest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

De Tweeling and the Roder Market

Yes, the book is even better (as it often is) I have heard. It sold huge in the Netherlands. Have not got a clue why it takes so long to get nominated. A reason could be that it first has to become a hit in the home country, before the Oscar people have a look at it.
This week it is Roder Market week. Annually Horse market in my village. A week of drinking a lof of beer and the famous Horse Market. Every year I am astonished at the rituals of horse selling. Do not know if it is common in the US but over here, if you are a horse seller (or buyer) you wear wooden shoes, a wooden walking stick and preferably smoke a cigar. When buying a horse buyer and seller clap each other hands for every individual bid, a process that can take quite a while as the buyer or seller walk away often in mock disgust of the low/high bid of the other and mock reconcile after a few minutes. Everything goes in their local dialect. Every year I get the feeling I am from another planet when walking around. Maybe something to share on your next visit??

Monday, September 26, 2005

Was it as good as the novel?

Worthy nominee
Happy that this nominee is superior to Zelary and far superior to Twilight Samurai and happy that the DVD is finally released (last week for a 2002 movie - go figure).
Will have to ask my co-blogger to provide Holland's view of the book & movie. Still don't quite get why a 2002 movie was part of the 2003 Oscars that are held in 2004. Why wasn't de twelling a nominee the year before?
Oh, in answer to my question, there will be no moratorium on WWII movies for the rest of my lifetime - I guess it's sort of a cinematic funeral that Europe keeps giving itself.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Grieving for my hometown

Can't help but mourn my birthplace reading
In New Orleans, fast-rising water from Rita's outer edge spilled over a freshly patched levee to flood neighborhoods already deserted and devastated by Katrina. Officials said they expected few deaths. Water from the city's industrial canal, where the levee breached during Katrina, submerged streets in the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish where nearly all the homes are already ruined.

and despite knowing when i was 17 that i'd never return to live there. Hearing now that even my brother is toying with staying in Baton Rouge saddens me, driving home that New Orleans will never be what it was. All guesswork, but i'll predict that 50% of the blacks and 10% of the whites will not return to live in New Orleans - why should they? The city has a certain appeal, but has survived off its history & charm for too long. If 1/3 of the city does not return, then that leave Baton Rouge as the state's biggest city for the rest of my lifetime.

While I can understand that New Orleans never wanted to make the sacrifices that Atlanta & Houston made to become Major cities, I'm not sure what options that left New Orleans. Certain medium size cities like Portland or Madison can make it by ok, but charm & efficiency are mutually exclusive.

Final remembrance - back in the early 80's at the Fair Grounds, I was watching some businessmen there during the day betting on the ponies & thought "when our civilization comes to an end & people ask 'where was everyone when things were falling apart' I'll say 'they were out gambling at the Fair Grounds'.

Friday Night Wine Blogging - Hurrican Rita edition

Shiraz - Rosemount Estate (2003)

Sad to hear of another levee breach back home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

8 down - 40 to go

Well Bush's 2nd term isn't exactly speeding along, but it's far less less worse than his first term than I could have imagined. Obviously Katrina relief will dominate for the next couple of months & then what? Bush's momentum was all but dead & now cannot see any hope of restarting it, so no fears that any momentous legislation will be passed by Bush this term (i.e. no more drug give-aways or Iraq wars).

Getting back to my usual metrics:


Well, feels good to be back blogging again.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hanging out with the name bloggers

I went to a Kevin Drum get-together today. He instigated a gathering at the Farmer's Market, where I introduced him to the Ginger Haired Yank who just earned her degree at UCI - Drum lives in Irvine, so good conversation starter. Think he spent more time talking about her education than any other topic (we probably chatted for 5 minutes). The items that surprised me were (1) not that many of the attendees were bloggers - at our table of 6, i was the only one (2) not too much political discussion - i thought more folks would be strident liberals, but conversation floated around discussing Katrina, the rapture & a request for reasonable right wing blogs {i suggested balloon juice and Belgravia Dispatch - who's most recent posting on the 15th is coincidentally in reply to a recent Kevin Drum posting}. (3) Political Animal was Very low key - sharp contrast to Arianne Huffington who showed up for a bit with her star power.

Curious how compares. Heard that it garners 200 folks sometimes, so may have check it out - elite bloggers or not.

Finally read Air Raid

Varley has a pretty entertaining into about his Hollywood experiences - the film was in development for about a decade. Varley thought millennium was a rotten movie: i disagree, it was a good bad movie ranking below Cyborg 2 (jolie's 1st flic) but somewhere around toxic avenger. In hindsight, he regretted not killing the film after it went through something like 5 directors, but his experience in Toronto does sound neat: the airplane crash site was so convincing, pilots in real airplanes were calling in a crash site.

Now having read the short story, novel & seen the movie, i'd rank them short story then movie then novel in that order. air raid leaves you wanting more, while millennium leaves you scratching your head especially since the last chapter was written by God as he sends humans 100 million years into the future (short story has them shipped off to Alpha-Centori). Oh, the movie should have had Cheryl Ladd having sex with her android, who was more androgynous & less aware in the novel.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Figs and Pinot Noir go together perfectly

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging - HTML edition

Sanford - Pinot Noir 2001

Thought i'd practice my HTML skills again. The codes given for the comment field from 1 blog were...blown away when i posted so really not sure what the point of letters below are.



  • li

  • dl



    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Why Katrina continues to hurt Bush

    Best editorial I've read is from a New Orleanian of course with many $$$ quotes, and three that hit home politically:

    It's true that the Bush Administration has repeatedly proposed cutting the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers, and that for years there has been a list of widely agreed-upon hurricane-protection measures that the federal government has chosen not to fund, with now horrific consequences. But it's also true that, after the levees broke, we watched every single system associated with the life of a city fail: the electric grid, the water system, the sewer system, the transportation system, the telephone system, the police force, the fire department, the hospitals, even the system for disposing of corpses. Perhaps it is all the fault of the force of the storm; I suspect that, as we move into the yearned-for realm of reliable information, we will find out that society and nature were co-conspirators in the tragedy. And the societal fault won't all have been the federal government's.

    It seems like a million years ago that President Bush had admirers who saw in him a Churchillian ability to rally a nation in crisis; last week, as both the President and Michael Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, offered bland, undignified, and ill-timed restatements of the obvious about the direness of the situation, you could practically see them thinking, I'm not getting blamed for this! But they were positively helpful next to Louisiana's governor, who cried and said that we should all pray, and New Orleans' mayor, who told citizens they should evacuate but didn't say how, predicted a second major flood, which didn't materialize, sniped at the federal authorities, and kept reminding everyone that the situation was desperate.

    Even to have a person who could project calm and hope, and who could offer useful, reliable counsel would have been a gift from above, but that the emergence of such a person seemed so completely out of the question demonstrates an unimaginable failure at all levels. If national officials are incapable of rising to the occasion, the responsibility and duty of local officials goes beyond simply pointing that out.

    While the right has accurately pointed out Blanco & Nagin's failures, most of the country knows that Louisiana's failures are their own, but the national failures affect every other citizen's survival. Residents of other states have to be thinking "what if that was a hurricane in Florida? or an earthquake in Los Angeles? Or a follow up terrorist attack to September 11th. In 4 years, the Department of Homeland Security still hasn't worked out electronic communications amongst first responders?!? Would I feel safe for my family if Brown & Chertoff were in power as responders of the last resort?" Even with Brown deservedly dumped, that thought has to be in the back of every citizen's mind now.

    Of all the errors that have come to light, that one surprised me the most is the inability to communicate by the first responders. To add to my surprise, I haven't even heard of a plan to solve that technical issue and that's what we Americans do solve technical problems. In the weeks after Katrina, I haven't heard 1 word mentioned that a plan was in the works for emergency communications, but some SNAFU or pissing match delayed it, but this tragedy will break down the remaining walls & the new system will be implemented by the end of the year. Thatdisappointingappointing by itself, but to hear nothing means that there's been no serious work on the most basic technical issue brought to light by September 11th which is sad, though too numbing to be frightening today.

    Moral of the story? Time to purchase MRE's.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Whither now New Orleans

    Katrina isn't a mortal blow, but New Orleans just does not have the resources that a Manhattan does, so it's recovery will not be as robust. Had not realized that the city had lost 1/3 of its population over the past ~30 years or that its poverty rate was the highest of any major city besides Detroit.

    Will the underclass return? What's there to come back to? No house? No job prospects. What future is there to be had in a dead end job & life? Will Desire or St. Bernard or St. Thomas housing projects be rebuilt?

    Hopefully the areas near Lake Borgne will return to wetlands & the drainage canals will all have hydraulically controlled locks that can seal during hurricanes after they rebuild.

    My prediction is that New Orleans will lose another 75,000 occupants & decrease in size below 400,000, but the metro area will stay larger than 1 million.

    When growing up, there was always an insecurity compared to Atlanta or Houston. Not sure if that's as pronounced now. Clearly Atlanta & Houston have surpassed New Orleans in size & power & money for the foreseeable future, but at what a cost. Both those cities are your classic gaining the world & losing your soul.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Grand Marnier, Mingus & Red Velvet Cake


    Friday Night Wine Blogging (True OTBN edition)

    Dom Perignon ('95) - in honour of the Ginger Haired Yank officially becoming a Ph.D. (Citrus & honey aromas & flavors with a slightly nutty/oaky finish; opens up to reveal apple notes.)

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    The dilation of time

    It seemed eons between when Katrina hit New Orleans and when I finally reached my mother even though it was only 3½ days. Now it seems like weeks since the military finally arrived in N.O. to bring order when it was just 6 days ago. The post-mortem accusations are on their way, and the breadth and depth of incompetence are amazing at the parish, city, state & Federal level. For the levees themselves, the parish & city must take the lion's share of the blame, but post-Katrina, the mayor and governor and Army Corps of Engineers and Orleans Parish Levee Board and FEMA and Department of Homeland Security all failed the city.

    My anger at Nagin, Blanco, Brown & Chertoff finally dissipated from the fury I felt last Friday while driving to work - how can you not get food & water to survivors at the Superdome & Convention Center for 4 days?!?

    Can only hope that Bush does fire Brown, who should do the honorable thing and fall on his sword stating that "I have neither the aptitude nor the competence to hold this job. Please give it to James Lee Witt, or any other individual who has proven hiscompetencee."

    Can only hope that Louisiana fires Blanco in 2 years - who knows maybe Edwards would can run for a fifth term in office from the prison in Oakdale.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Experiencing technical difficulties

    No home internet access for past couple of days. Either the cable modem or the ISP and the ISP won't send a repairman until Thursday. Very frustrating right now given that 504 cell phones are marginally working, so family communicating via Email that I can't access.

    Also no blogging at home - wanted to give my thoughts a week later on Katrina disaster - so this is my first time to blog at work.

    Fuller thoughts will have to wait until home access, but the short version? Worst government response to a disaster in my lifetime. Near complete failure at the city, parish, state, and federal level. This is a clear sign that if another major terrorist attack occurs, the government is completely unprepared for the aftermath.

    Update: Turned out to be the cable modem dying after 4-5 years of usage.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Friday Night Wine Blogging - Hurrican edition

    Chateau St. Michelle Merlot - 2003

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