Monday Reads: We call it riding the Gravy Train

Louisiana Purchased

Good Morning!

I’m going to go a bit local on you again with this eye popping set of numbers and business welfare stories from The Advocate.   The state’s budget is in ruin.  Public hospitals and universities have been defunded to the point that their services are in shambles and their accreditation/certifications have been questioned.  However, we seem to have plenty of room to subsidize rich people and high earning industries.  The eight part series is extremely well documented and it shows exactly how much our state has given to these businesses for nothing comparable in return. Watch out for give aways like these in a state near or around you.

Duck Dynasty” is the most popular show in the history of A&E. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer. Valero is America’s biggest independent refiner, earning $6 billion in profits last year.

But despite all that success, they’re all receiving generous subsidies from the taxpayers of Louisiana, through programs that funnel more than a billion dollars every year to coveted industries.

Every time the Robertson clan films another episode of “Duck Dynasty,” Louisiana is on the hook for nearly $330,000, at last count.

During the past three years, state taxpayers agreed to fork over nearly $700,000 to Wal-Mart to build new stores in two affluent suburbs.

And when Valero announced an expansion of its Norco operations, creating 43 new jobs, Louisiana promised to cover $10 million of the cost, or nearly a quarter of a million dollars per job.

Louisiana’s giveaways to businesses, aimed at boosting economic development in what historically has been one of America’s poorest states, have been growing at a much faster rate than the state’s economy.

Louisiana isn’t the only state that actually bribes Walmart to ruin its local businesses and labor markets.  I’ve linked toscizzorhandz the subsidies in Louisiana, but you can find your own state’s largess at the site too.

There are no centralized databases of economic development subsidies, but Good Jobs First found 20 deals worth a total of about $96.5 million in Louisiana.  …

Many Wal-Mart workers are ineligible for health coverage from their employer or choose not to purchase what is available, because it is too expensive or too limited in scope. These workers often turn to taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicaid. Louisiana is among those states that have not disclosed data on the employers with the most workers or their dependents enrolled in such programs.

What we have is a mess and I have no doubt that Kansas and other Republican run nightmare states can’t be too far behind in the race to the bottom.

When the Legislature convenes next year, an even bigger shortfall of as much as $1.4 billion is expected. Many legislators, including Republicans overseeing key financial committees, speak of a “structural deficit” of at least $600 million that they trace in large part to the growing giveaways. Because the programs are built into the law, they don’t have to compete for funding with other state services: The state just pays the tab, whatever it is.

Indeed, Louisiana’s incentive programs are viewed with increasing bipartisan skepticism.

Liberals have long complained that the giveaways divert money from programs that help the poor and middle class, directing it instead into corporate coffers. Conservatives are uncomfortable with the state picking winners rather than letting private enterprise sort things out in the marketplace. An alternative would be to simply let taxpayers keep more of their money. And many members of both parties think the cuts, especially to higher education, have gone too far.

Still, the programs have proven difficult to corral, in part because Jindal — who holds considerable sway over the Legislature — has pledged not to raise taxes in any form. According to the rules of the pledge, promulgated by the powerful group Americans for Tax Reform, any legislative action that increases revenue to the state constitutes a tax increase, even if the action simply gets rid of a costly giveaway. Jindal responded to requests for an interview for this story by issuing a written statement saying his administration’s policies have led to economic and population growth, and that the state should not seek to increase revenues.

Jindal’s fealty to the anti-tax pledge may have helped keep his presidential ambitions alive, but it hasn’t necessarily made the business world see Louisiana as a tax paradise. Though some surveys put the Pelican State’s actual tax burden among the five lowest in the country, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently ranked Louisiana No. 35 among the states with the best tax climates for business.

It’s not hard to see why.

“States are punished for overly complex, burdensome and economically harmful tax codes but are rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions,” the group said in a news release.

With more than 450 tax breaks enshrined in state law, some of them massive, Louisiana undeniably fails that test.

You can read horror story after horror story in the paper’s 8 stories written by various Advocate staff.   Here are two more examples that just left me flabbergasted.

  • Louisiana’s film incentive program cost state taxpayers $251 million last year and returned less than 25 percent of that to state coffers in the form of taxes. Considered the most generous of its kind in the nation, the film incentive has made the state America’s busiest locale for making feature films. It’s no wonder: State taxpayers cover 30 percent of the cost of movies filmed here, including eight-figure star salaries such as the estimated $20 million paid to Tom Cruise for 2013’s “Oblivion.”

  • Refunds of a property tax that businesses pay on their inventory have more than doubled in the past seven years, reaching $427 million last year and widening the hole in the state budget. The tax, little known to most Louisianians, is assessed at the local level and paid by businesses to parish governments. The state then cuts refund checks for the entirety of the tax paid, under a law passed in 1992. The pass-through in effect means taxpayers around Louisiana are subsidizing parishes with heavy industry, which generates most of the tax. For example, roughly 6 percent of the revenue from the inventory tax program goes to St. James Parish, which has just 0.5 percent of Louisiana’s population.

So like nearly every other Republican who screams about being a fiscal conservative,  Bobby Jindal is pretty much proving it’s not so much about that as ensuring his donor base is tax free and  subsidized.  So some one please tell me why Tom Cruise is so deserving of a multi million dollar income support but we can’t feed poor children?  Any one?

EmperorOr hey, what about this?  You’re filthy rich, you own a highly subsidized business–namely a pro football team–so you’ve got big bucks.  Why not go take advantage of some homeless people?

Before every Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, dozens of men gather in the yard at New Beginnings of Tampa, one of the city’s largest homeless programs.

The men — many of them recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — are about to work a concessions stand behind Raymond James Stadium’s iconic pirate ship, serving beer and food to football fans. First, a supervisor for New Beginnings tries to pump them up.

“Thank God we have these events,” he tells them. “They bring in the prime finances.”

But not for the workers. They leave the game sweat-soaked and as penniless as they arrived. The money for their labor goes to New Beginnings. The men receive only shelter and food.

For years, New Beginnings founder and CEO Tom Atchison has sent his unpaid homeless labor crews to Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Bucs games, the Daytona 500 and the Florida State Fair. For their shelter, he’s had homeless people work in construction, landscaping, telemarketing, moving, painting, even grant-writing.

Atchison calls it “work therapy.” Homeless advocates and labor lawyers call it exploitative, and possibly illegal. It is the latest questionable way Atchison has used homeless people, and public money, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.

Now Atchison is applying to run Hillsborough County’s new homeless shelter, a contract worth millions of public dollars that would entrust him with the county’s most vulnerable people.

The Times reviewed thousands of pages of public records about New Beginnings, including police reports, bank statements, grant documents and court proceedings, and interviewed more than 20 current and former New Beginnings residents and employees. Among the findings:

• Employees and residents said Atchison took residents’ Social Security checks and food stamps, even if they amounted to more than residents owed in program costs.

• A New Beginnings contractor told the Times he overbilled the state for at least $80,000 of grant money, then gave the money to the program instead of returning it.

• While claiming to provide counseling, New Beginnings employs no one clinically trained to work with addicts or the mentally ill. One minister cited his experience running a motorcycle gang as his top qualification. The Times couldn’t verify the doctorate in theology Atchison said he earned from a defunct online school.

Atchison, 61, defended the work therapy as a vital component of his program, and an important source of revenue. He said he never stole any Social Security checks or food stamps.

So, here’s today’s list of people that got huge sums of money that certainly didn’t do anything deserving of it. First up, I know will think twice before I EVER EVER EVER watch anything on ABC again.   Why?  ABC Reportedly Paid Darren Wilson Six-Figure Fee for Interview

ABC offered Darren Wilson a “mid-to-high” six-figure payment to give his first and only public interview on the network, according to the website Got News. An unnamed source from NBC reportedly told the website that both networks engaged in a bidding war to score the first interview with Wilson but NBC backed out after its rival “upped the ante.”

WTF?  Will they be hiring Mr and Mrs Charles Manson for a show for Newly Weds next?feature7c47790737384c50fcf3162a3b1d

Two republican senators–Diaper Dave being one of them–think that breathing is a privilege.  Two little piggies at the taxpayer’s trough continue to sell their souls to big oil.

Right-wingers are already peeved about the  new EPA regulation proposed by the Obama administration this week. The new rule would cap ground-level ozone—pollutants that make air risky to breathe—at 65 to 70 parts per billion. The standard “will represent one of the costliest rules ever issued by EPA and will serve as one of the most devastating regulations,”  wrote U.S. senators James Inhofe and David Vitter, in an effort to convince the American public that gradually choking to death is much, much cheaper. (The New Republic reports that the histrionic numbers they’re bellowing about are based on “the strictest assumptions to generate the highest dollar value.”) Luckily, Inhofe and Vitter will soon have the opportunity to vote for the  “Science Advisory Board Reform Act” when the bill hits the Senate, thereby assisting big business temper tantrums to drown out peer review science in EPA advising. But why should we trust Inhofe’s and Vitter’s take on the relative frivolousness of breathing air? Because they are respected experts, that’s why. Inhofe once conclusively debunked climate change  by citing the Bible, after which he presumably dropped the mic and ran off to stone his co-conspirator David Vitter  for adultery.

It’s enough to make one run for the borders of Canada!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: 10,000 Full Cavitity Searches…on Pigeons?

Good Morning

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That tweet is something innit?

It seems like a logistical nightmare to me:

 China Subjects 10,000 Pigeons To Anal Exams Due To Terrorism Fears

On Tuesday, China’s largest newspaper The People’s Dailytweeted that thousands of pigeons had undergone “anal security checks” to ensure they weren’t carrying anything harmful in their bodies. These rectal examinations were performed as a terrorism precaution for China’s National Day on Wednesday.

[…]

Despite the fact that pro-democracy protests have been going on for several days in Hong Kong, China continues to aggressively censor news about the protests. This tweet served as a distraction and is just one example — albeit a ridiculous one — of China’s media complying and avoiding coverage of Hong Kong’s demonstrations. Additionally, China has also gone through social media to limit information being released about the protests — including removing protest-related posts from Twitter-like service Weibo and banning Instagram.

Seriously? Anal exams? On pigeons?

Ha…I couldn’t resist.

Okay, getting serious now.

It is October 1st.

The bloody shit has hit the fan, or what I really mean to say is that the Ebola virus has come to America:

First Ebola case diagnosed in US; fears others may have been exposed | Al Jazeera America

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday.

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation and that the hospital is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to keep doctors, staff and patients safe.

The hospital had announced a day earlier that the patient’s symptoms and recent travel suggested Ebola. An outbreak of the killer virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.

All the crazy talk before, when sick folks were coming to Atlanta and other US hospitals for treatment, that was nothing. Get ready for the mega news cycle that is sure to follow this story. (Not that is isn’t big news…but it will eclipse many important things that are going on right now….that need media attention.)

Ebola now in the US, first case confirmed by CDC

The CDC has confirmed that a man in a Dallas hospital has Ebola, CBS News is reporting.

[…]

Apparently the man had been in west Africa recently — Liberia, to be exact — where there’s been a rather large outbreak of Ebola. He’s been in strict isolation as soon as the hospital suspected Ebola.

According to the CDC press conference, the man left Liberia on the 19th of Septemnber. Arrived in the US on the 20th of September. Had no symptoms, but then around the 24th of September, began to develop symptoms. Sought care on the 26th. And then Sunday the 28th admitted to a hospital and placed in isolation.

He was admitted into isolation on Sunday.

The CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says that Ebola is not contagious until you have symptoms.

CNN says that while this is spread through bodily fluids, if you shook hands with this man between the 24th and the day he went to the hospital, you would have to be put into isolation for three weeks. Wow.

The good news is that he had no symptoms until long after he arrived in the US, so at least people on his flight are safe.

More on the man’s background, and how they are now investigating him:  Health officials tracing Dallas Ebola patient’s path

The patient, who is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, did not develop symptoms until four days after he arrived from West Africa, officials said at a hastily called press conference at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

“He was checked for fever before getting on the flight,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “There is no reason to believe anyone on the flight was at risk.”

The Ebola virus is not spread through the air, but through contact with bodily fluids of victims — sweat, blood, saliva and other secretions.

The patient, whom officials would not identify, flew to the United States on Sept. 20, and began feeling ill on Sept. 24, Frieden said.

He sought care at the Dallas hospital on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics, Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said at a separate press conference in Dallas. Goodman said the hospital is looking into why the patient was discharged.

On Sunday, a Dallas Fire-Rescue crew transported the man to the hospital in an ambulance. This time, he was admitted to the hospital, Frieden said.

The ambulance crew has been quarantined, and the ambulance taken out of service, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.

Gov. Rick Perry is scheduled to stop in Dallas on Wednesday in response to the news, according to WFAA.com.

None of the officials at the news conferences would say whether the man is an American citizen. They said only that he was visiting family members who live in this country.

But a statement released by the city of Dallas said the man had “moved to Dallas from Liberia a week ago.”

Frieden, along with Dallas County and Texas state health officials, emphasized that the patient did not become contagious until Sept. 24 when he began to display symptoms.

“There is zero risk of transmission” to other passengers on the overseas airplane flight, Frieden said.

Asked how many people may have been around the victim after he developed symptoms, Frieden said, “I think handful is the right characterization. Family members, and there may have been one or two or three community members. Our approach is to cast the net widely.”

Those who may have been exposed will be monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the Ebola virus, he said.

Officials would not release the name of the airline or the flight number.

A statement from American Airlines said: “American Airlines does not fly to Africa and we have been told the passenger was not on a connecting flight involving our aircraft. We follow the guidelines put in place by the CDC specifically for airlines and work with our crews to protect the health of our customers and employees.”

The patient “is communicating and expressing hunger,” Goodman said Tuesday evening.

He said the experimental vaccine that was used on two Americans who contracted Ebola in Liberia this summer is no longer available.

Hmmm, doesn’t The Walking Dead season premier start soon? Talk about a great way to drum up some hysteria and publicity. And think about it, all those Ebola victim Halloween costumes! Damn what impeccable timing.

Sorry that I am so snarky/bitchy. I am in a mood.

This is really a drop dead serious thing. Go to that link above to see how the CDC is handling it, and more specifically how Texas is handling it.

The city of Dallas activated its Emergency Operations Center and went to “Level 2: High Readiness” although no one was available to explain what that means.

Oh my. I think the pigeons over in China wish they lived in the city of Dallas.

A Dallas County spokeswoman said, “Level 2 generally means department activities and personnel have extended beyond the regular work day.”

President Obama has been briefed about the Ebola case by the CDC, according to the White House press office.

Good, the President should be briefed about something like this…right?

I mean, we want him to be ready to defend himself for the onslaught of blame:

And We Have Our First Conservative Pundit To Connect Barack Obama To the U.S. Ebola Case | The Daily Banter

If you had one minute in the over-under on how long it would take for a member of the conservative entertainment complex to connect President Obama to the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., congratulations — you win.

This afternoon, literally immediately following the CNN tweet announcing that the CDC had confirmed the Ebola diagnosis, 26-year-old Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted out this:

Now if you don’t know who Katie Pavlich is, that’s precisely why she made sure she was the first to invoke the name of the Great Socialist Satan in the wake of today’s Ebola announcement. She knew that, kind of like celebrity wedding pictures, the first one to get it out there is the one who gets all the free publicity.

[…]

Pavlich is one of the interchangeable conservative Barbie dolls that stake out the couch-of-shame on Fox News’s Outnumbered. She’s an editor at Townhall.com, which is a reliable online dispensary for the relentless stream of horseshit that comes out of the mouths of people like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt. She wrote an entire book on the pretend Fast and Furious scandal and has a new book out called, amusingly, Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women. In other words, there isn’t a damn thing special about her. She’s your average, by-the-numbers conservative entertainment troll. She knows how the game is played and she’s playing it for all it’s worth.

Pavlich knows that once she brings Obama into this, she gets attacked by sane people — which just increases her street cred on the right — and the crazies rally around her because she just threw them a bunch of red meat. It doesn’t even matter that she went on to deny she was specifically blaming Obama for Ebola in the United States, because the goal was never anything more complicated than getting some quick mileage out of dragging the president into the storyline.

You knew it was a Fox contributor, without even having to read about it…didn’t ya!
Global nightmare by Political Cartoonist Olle Johansson

154311 600 Global nightmare cartoons

FENCE JUMPER by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

154362 600 FENCE JUMPER cartoons

Those cartoons just seemed to be begging to be included in the post.

Ah, let’s add one more.

Secret Service Screwups

154363 600 Secret Service Screwups cartoons

And with that cartoon, a few links on the Secret Service’s disturbing service or non-service:

No More Mister Nice Blog

THE MAINSTREAMING OF RIGHT-WING EXTREMISM, PART LXVIII

I know I should be freaking out about Ebola, but I want to write about The Washington Post‘s appalling decision to publish an opinion piece by a former Secret Service agent that includes this recommendation:

[Secret Service director Julia] Pierson should be replaced and the next director should come from outside the Secret Service, with the deputy director remaining an agent. In this role, a true leader, not a bureaucrat, is needed. Someone like Florida congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West would be perfect for the role. West has successfully demonstrated that he possesses the leadership skills of a combat officer as well as managerial and diplomatic skills of a congressman, exactly the traits needed in the next director. Highly competent and beholden to no one in the Secret Service, he would be a superb director.

Allen West? Seriously?

Let’s ignore the fact that West resigned from the military a decade ago just as an investigation found probable cause to determine that he’d assaulted and mock-executed a prisoner in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Let’s ignore the fact that West specializes in verbal hand grenades, so it’s preposterous to credit him with “diplomatic skills.” The reason this is an insane recommendation is that we really can’t be certain that West would consider it his duty to protect President Obama from harm.

Yeah,

Just last month, West wrote:

Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center.

All the circumstantial and anecdotal evidence points to that conclusion.

See, it makes me wonder if maybe there are people out there who should be getting other areas of their bodies probed and examined. I am talking about West’s brain, because that…is just fucked up. (More crazy at the link.)

Digby has another take on it…Hullabaloo

Now I’m worried about the president’s safety #secretservicewingnuts

by digby

Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t been as freaked out about the incursion into the White House as some people. But if the fellow who wrote this op-ed for the Washington Post is indicative of the sort of people who are protecting the president, I am now truly afraid for him[.]

Oh you bet your ass sister!

If I was Obama, I would earnestly think about hiring his own body guards.

Report: Obama rode elevator with armed man | AccessNorthGa

The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson took full responsibility for a Sept. 19 breach of the White House. The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post report that the latest incident took place in an elevator during Obama’s Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The Post says agents questioned the contractor and discovered his criminal history after he refused to stop video recording the president with a phone camera.

Agents didn’t know he was armed until a supervisor fired the contractor on the spot and the man turned over his gun.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Damn. You know the people here in Georgia are nuts. Gun nuts that is.

Again, we see Fox News spreading the joy, they are loving it:

Fox News Analyst Wonders If Secret Service Purposely Didn’t Do Their Duty:  Did they wish or did they wonder? | Crooks and Liars

In other political news:

WASHINGTON: Study: In 2012, Florida voters waited the longest to cast ballots | Elections | McClatchy DC

(Not that it was really a big surprise.)

Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.

The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes.

Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average.

In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots – tops among the states surveyed.

And from Dakinikat’s home state, this long reads starts out like a horror story: Plaquemines Louisiana Environmental Disaster: The Land Is Vanishing | New Republic

In response to complaints some years ago about blocked plumbing along New Orleans’ Claiborne Avenue, city workers opened up the sewer main and found a human nose. Following the line down the avenue, popping open manholes and looking inside, they discovered ears, fingers, fingernails, shriveled flaps of skin, viscera. Where had it all come from?

To solve this mystery, the Sewerage and Water Board turned to Warren Lawrence, a former plumber who served as the utility’s inspector. Lawrence conducted his job with the perspicacity of a criminal detective. It wasn’t enough for him to repair a drainage problem; he made a point of pursuing each disturbance back to its source and holding the perpetrator responsible. When, for instance, Lawrence encountered a section of corroded pipes, he traced the damage to a battery factory near the Superdome that had been illegally pouring acid down the drain. After finding a black-and-white jumpsuit in a sewer, he learned that inmates of Orleans Parish Prison had been stuffing their uniforms into the toilets in an effort to back up the jail’s plumbing system. To increase their odds of success, every prisoner flushed their toilet at the same time. They called this a “Royal Flush.”

Lawrence followed the trail of body parts to Charity Hospital. The manhole that led into the hospital’s sewer line was clogged with flesh. Lawrence asked hospital administrators why they were dumping bodies into the sewer. They explained that, until recently, they had incinerated all unclaimed corpses. The stench was abhorrent, however, so they had installed a $1 million, 15-horsepower grinder pump. The machine ground the bodies into a slurry, but small parts escaped the blades. Lawrence ordered the hospital to remove the grinder. As he was backed by the force of City Hall, the hospital had no choice but to comply.

Take some time with that one.

On Jeopardy this week: – ‘Jeopardy!’ Category Titled ‘What Women Want’ Filled Entirely With Sexist Stereotypes

At a time when the country is struggling with serious issues regarding gender equality, Jeopardy! could have taken the opportunity to explore some of the things 21st Century women have been fighting for. How about equal pay? Or perhaps, access to birth control? Maybe greater legal protections against sexual assault?

Instead, the show offered such examples as “a new vacuum cleaner” and “Pilates.” Yuck.

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I know we have Jeopardy viewers here, anyone see this shit?

For your history/archaeology link of the day: Massive Roman Coin Hoard Unearthed in England – Archaeology Magazine

Archaeologists and conservators from the British Museum have announced that an amateur metal detectorist has found one of the largest hoards of coins ever discovered in Britain. The hoard is comprised of no less than 22,000 coins dating to between A.D. 260 and 350 that were in very good condition when they emerged from the ground, Devon County Council archaeologist Bill Horner told The Independent. Since the hoard was found ten months ago—its discovery was kept quiet to avoid looting at the site while archaeologists conducted a proper excavation—the coins have been cleaned, identified, and catalogued. Many bear portraits of the family of the emperor Constantine and of the emperor himself.

That is awesome, they are calling the find, the Seaton Down Hoard. (Sitting Down Hard…ha.)

Lastly, a review of a new DVD release…of a classic movie, that just so happens to be screening on TCM later this month:

Review: Just in time for Halloween, Criterion releases horror classic The Innocents · DVD Review · The A.V. Club

“I can’t judge you, Miss. A body can only judge themselves.” So Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), the housekeeper of a palatial country estate in the eden of rural England, concludes to Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), the new governess who’s grown increasingly convinced that her two young charges are possessed by the sinister spirits of their deceased former caretakers. The exchange happens late in The Innocents, as Jack Clayton’s formative but underappreciated horror masterpiece coheres into a ravishing neo-romantic takedown of Victorian repression, spooky and scathing in equal measure.

Miss Giddens, whom Kerr agreeably claimed was her best role, is a high-strung woman whose outspoken love for children may not be quite as selfless as it seems. Despite having no professional experience, Giddens is hired by an apathetic bachelor (Michael Redgrave) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew at his idyllic country home. Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) are strange and cloistered children who were previously exposed to the kinky sexual relationship shared between Giddens’ predecessor and the bachelor’s valet, and Giddens pities the kids for that, taking it as her mission to restore and protect their innocence for as long as she can. But as she begins to see apparitions around the property—a robed figure sweeping across a dark hallway, a man emerging from the night to press his demented face against a first floor window—Giddens starts to suspect that the children may be more tainted than she feared.

If The Innocents isn’t quite the oldest scary story in the book, it’s certainly by now one of the most familiar. (But it’s also damn old: The film was adapted from Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn Of The Screw, even though it takes most of its cues from the William Archibald play that inspired its title). Released in 1961 as a response to the somewhat schlocky Hammer horror films of the time, The Innocents is a comparatively restrained ghost story that owes far more to Jean Cocteau’s Beauty And The Beast than it does Terence Fisher’s The Curse Of Frankenstein. In fact, the case could be made that it’s not a ghost story at all; Clayton’s palpable use of the subjective camera ensures that the phantasms are almost never glimpsed from any perspective other than Miss Giddens’—a point cultural critic Christopher Frayling makes during the erudite commentary track included with Criterion’s new edition of the film. The script, co-written by Truman Capote, doesn’t spend much time entertaining the idea that everything is in Giddens’ head. But Kerr’s possessed performance as an unraveling woman nevertheless imbues each seemingly supernatural incident with the intimacy of a nervous breakdown.

Now I’ve never seen this flick, so I look forward to watching it:  Thursday, October 23 @ 08:00 PM (ET)

TCM has a long article about the film: The Innocents (1961) – Articles – TCM.com

And Movie Morlocks has a few blog posts that mention the movie, here is one of them:

moviemorlocks.com – Do You Want to See Something REALLY Scary?

During the month of October I’m often asked to recommend my favorite horror films. But recommending scary movies can be a tricky business. What frightens me might make you merely shrug your shoulders and laugh out loud. And if you’re a serious horror fan there’s a high probability that you’ve seen a lot of well-regarded classic films such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925), FRANKENSTEIN (1931), PSYCHO (1960) and Val Lewton’s various movies as well as Halloween standards like THE SHINING (1980), CARRIE (1976), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and HALLOWEEN (1978) so recommending movies can become rather redundant. Instead of simply suggesting some of my favorite horror films for you to watch I thought I’d share some of my favorite scary moments from films that have left a deep impression on me over the years. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable while I share something REALLY scary.


THE INNOCENTS (Jack Clayton; 1961) – The ghostly woman in black

THE INNOCENTS is one of my favorite films and in my not so humble opinion, one of the most frightening films ever made. Henry James’ classic ghost story has been adapted for the screen many times but no film has come close to matching Jack Clayton’s haunting retelling of “The Turn of the Screw.” THE INNOCENTS tells the eerie story of Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), a governess to two young children who she believes are haunted by ghosts. The film has a lot of chill-inducing moments but nothing terrifies me more than the startling image of an unearthly woman dressed in black standing by the edge of the water surrounded by tall grass. Kerr only gets a brief glimpse of the ghostly figure of the long dead Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) and if you blink you might miss her. But if you do see her, you’ll never forget her.

So be sure to check it out.

Well, let’s end today’s post with another little clip from 1996’s Beavis and Butthead. This one not only has another it cavity search bit, but gives Chelsea Clinton some ass kicking power in her teen years…and a jab at White House Security. Ah…life before 9/11…

Good times.


Friday Reads from Louisiana La La Land

Good Morning!

So, I’m sorry but I have to go all local today on ya!  There are just so many deliciously nonsensical things going on here that I cannot resist.

First, you download (7)know about our “kissing Congressman” if you’ve been awake and on line for several days. I first wrote about Congressman McAllister back in November when he won the special election.  There were several things that separated him from the politics as usual up there in Crackerland Central.

First, he had never run for office before but he was rich enough from that old grifter business known as the funeral parlor to self finance and win.  Second his buddies the let’s get ducks all horny and shoot’em for fun dudes helped him with commercials and such.  Third, he’s been telling Louisiana that we really need to take that federal money and extend medicaid benefits under Obamacare.

Now, we already know that it’s worked for the poor folk in Kentucky.  The difficulty down here is that our Governor doesn’t govern, he prepares his resume for his next political office and he’s got a small, tiny hard on for at run a the presidency.    Which, brings us to Jindal Gate.  Some of us think some of his buddies leaked the photos of congressman kissy face with Mrs. Peacock in the Alley by the camera.

The day this story broke was basically a day the press jumped on the usual republican family values dude falls short kinda headline day. But, over on facebook, a bunch of us who watch Louisiana politics like most folks watch the Saints thought hmmmmmmm, this is a little weird.  Lamar–who actually manages to stay up later than me–got to writing the story first and he gets tremendous Scooby Snax for it.  His article basically went viral but it seems that some folks are still trying to get back to the Congressman up in your family values face who was caught on video passionately smooching a friend’s wife who was also one of his paid  staffers.

The deal is this folks.  Check out the date on the video that’s been every where.  The kiss happened before Christmas in his office with Mrs Peacock right in front of the security cameras which was also the office and the security cameras of his predecessor.  This is the predecessor that retired early so Bobby Jindal’s handpicked buddy could go to congress.  That hand picked buddy called McAllister a liberal for supporting the federal extension of medicaid that Bobby Jindal doesn’t like, won’t take, and has chosen as the first little policy roll out of his pathetic attempt to get national attention.  Then, notice how quickly Politico got the tape.  The story originated from the Oachita Citizen whose owner backed the opponent and basically runs a virtual small town paper that’s about as notable as the PTA minutes from your local elementary school. Lamar’s got a tick tock that really lays it all out for you.

The story was first broken at 12:19PM by The Ouachita Citizen, a fledgling website that claims to have a paid readership of more than 5,200 people but, based on third-party web traffic analytical data, likely has a daily audience of between 200-300 unique visitors. An hour and a half later, the story was on the front page of Politico. An hour later, it was covered by almost every national news outlet in the United States- Fox, CBS, The Washington Post, NBC.

With all due respect to John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman, the two Politico journalists who broke the story nationally, it defies logic that they somehow randomly stumbled on a story published on a website that even most Louisianians have never heard of and verified the authenticity and provenance of a blurry surveillance video (which, by the way, was behind a paywall) all within a span of 90 minutes. No, this leak was coordinated and planned, and more than likely, considering it was recorded nearly four months ago, it had been in the works for a long time.

Notably, The Ouachita Citizen strongly supported State Senator Neil Riser, calling Mr. McAllister a “liberal” in a bizarre, apoplectic rant, which, ostensibly was an endorsement of Riser but reads more like a scathing attack against McAllister for supporting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. In its report on the McAllister video, The Ouachita Citizen claims to have received the video from an “anonymous” source, but somehow, inexplicably, they were able to verify the video’s provenance. The Ouachita Citizen, in my opinion, bordered on recklessness in their reporting, publishing Mrs. Peacock’s home address and implying, without any evidence whatsoever, that she may have never actually married her own husband. It seemed, to me, nasty and personal, motivated by more than a mere desire to inform the public.

20140403-kiss-x600-1396549483So, the fun part started yesterday when the head of the Louisiana Republican Party and then Jindal got all in a righteous huff about the kiss.  They called for his resignation because you know!!!  Religious right wing indignation and all that!  Funny thing is that both these asses were not so outraged when Diaper Dave Vitter was found on the list of the DC Madam and his diaper escapades went viral on the internet.  So, blogger, journalism professor, and political junkie Bob Mann can’t help but wonder if Vitter’s wet dreams of being governor aren’t going to wind up in the diaper pail?  I’ll see your kiss and raise you a felony soliciting prostitutes.  You know, the same kinda thing that forced a New York Governor to resign. But, not David Vitter, he’s pathetic entitled lily white ass just keeps on going and going and going …

Vitter, as you will recall, was embroiled in a sordid sex scandal in the summer of 2007, finally admitting to a “serious sin,” which everyone knew meant he had paid prostitutes for sex.

As Louisiana Republican Party leaders from Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana Republican Party called for McAllister’s resignation, a logical question for many journalists and other observers was: “If simply kissing a female staffer is a moral outrage that should cost someone his seat in Congress, why is it a lesser offense for a U.S. senator to pay prostitutes for sex?”

It’s a very good question and one which neither Jindal nor party officials addressed today after condemning McAllister. Vitter, of course, refused comment, too.

I’ll save for another day a full review of the rank hypocrisy of Jindal and GOP leaders who think it’s just dandy for the morally challenged Vitter to continue serving in the United States Senate, but find themselves absolutely repulsed by the idea of McAllister’s on-camera lip lock.

That’s like forgiving a bank robber, and then throwing the book at someone who writes a bad check.

Regardless, the uncomfortable questions keep coming from reporters, from the Twitter-sphere and elsewhere. Sure, the questions will eventually go away once McAllister himself has gone away.

Yet, that almost every political observer in Louisiana – upon hearing about Jindal’s call for McAllister’s resignation – immediately thought of Vitter’s prostitution scandal should tell Vitter and his Republican allies something.

Vitter may have assumed his sordid past was behind him. It isn’t – and this time next year it may be front and center in the Louisiana governor’s race.

So what is Jindal all uptight about?  He doesn’t say ONE word about Vitter but wow, the kissing congressman should resign because he’s an download (8)“embarassment”. Rank hypocrisy stinks enough, but there are those of us that really think he’s known about this tape for some time, is dropping it to get rid of a problem, and that some one close to him got that tape.

“Congressman McAllister’s behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign,” Jindal said in a statement. “He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress.”

Notice Jindal’s response to Vitter’s gubernatorial aspirations and the one thing that really stands out in this announcement is what little issue here?

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R): “It is far too early for me to be making an endorsement.”
“I appreciate his working with us on an issue that I think is one of the most important issues in the state of Louisiana.” — regarding Jindal’s 2012 education overhaul.


“I also appreciate his steadfast opposition to Obamacare, to the ACA.”

Yeah.  Like I don’t smell that unique mix of Curry and Watergate salad coming from the Capitol City. Bobby and Diaper Dave may hate each other, but Jindal does not want any one messing with his foray into health policy wonkery.   I really really want the FBI to go for it, believe me. Just in case you want to see the response to the Vitter thing by Jindal.  Well, here it is.

While we are disappointed by Senator Vitter’s actions, Supriya and I continue to keep David and his family in our prayers. This is a matter for the Senator to address, and it is our hope that this is not used by others for their own political gain.

 

Wedding-candy-bulk-milk-chocolate-font-b-hershey-b-font-font-b-kisses-b-font-singleOther uber embarrassing things are just adding to my desire to see New Orleans ask France to negotiate a retake.  This one tops my list.  Please, please, please can some one read these idiots the first amendment with emphasis on the establishment clause?


Legislation
 that would make the Holy Bible the official state book of Louisiana cleared the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs with a vote of 8-5 Thursday afternoon. It will now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, originally filed a bill to declare a specific copy of the Bible, found in the Louisiana State Museum system, the official state book. But by the time he presented the proposal to the committee, he changed language  in his legislation to make the generic King James version of the Bible, a text used worldwide, the official state book.

Still, Legislators became concerned that the proposal wasn’t broad enough and did not reflect the breadth of Bibles used by religious communities. In particular, some lawmakers worried that singling out the King James version of the Bible would not properly reflect the culture of Louisiana. The Catholic Church, for example, does not use the King James text.

“Let’s make this more inclusive of other Christian faiths, more than just the ones that use the King James version,” said Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro.

A few committee members fought the bill vehemently, saying the legislation was likely to upset some citizens who are not Christian and open the state up to legal challenges.

“I am so bothered by this bill that I just called my pastor. My pastor just said that he thinks we are going to have a legal problem,” said Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, who voted against the legislation.

Rep. Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey, tried to amend the bill to declare “all books of faith” the official state books of Louisiana, but the proposal failed 5-8. When asked if he would be open to making “all books of faith” a group of official state books, Carmody was fairly adamant in his opposition.

Well not even New Orleans is exempt from the usual asshattery.  After being found guilty of basically emptying the city’s accounts for personal trips, home improvements, clothes, family vacations, and all kinds of meals and stuff, we now have a plea for a legal defense fund for Ray Nagin.  Yeah, try kiss-part-12not to trip all over yourselves helping him get more money from others.

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s legal defense fund is real, and it has at least one donation.

After rapper 9th Ward Gucci (@IAM9THWARD) tweeted a pic of a digital receipt acknowledging his donation, Nagin (@RayNagin) retweeted the shot, appended with a shout out. “Maximum respect. Donated, spoke out, not intimidated. U the man!”

Try not to spend that $10 all in one place Ray Ray!

I did want to point to a story about one recent story about a crime here in uptown near the Tulane Campus.  This crime is really strange for a variety of reasons.  Not the least is the name given to the victim by the perp.

She first encountered the man, who introduced himself as “Patrick,” on April 1. She was visiting the Carrollton home of a friend, and saw the man staring at her from behind cars parked in the driveway next door.

“He was this huge, beefed-up young guy,” she said, “and the neighbors are middle-aged. My friends and I are all in our 30s. This guy just didn’t fit in.”

She remembers him saying, “Hi, I’m Patrick.” Uninterested in engaging with him, she didn’t respond and he walked away toward Carrollton Avenue.

The next day, she returned to the Green Street home. She started getting out materials to finish painting the trim on her friend’s front porch. It was still daylight. She thinks it was 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Suddenly, there was “Patrick” again.

This time he approached within eight to 10 feet and began pestering her with questions, small talk, and overtures to go out. He even raised his tight-fitting T-shirt, trying to impress her with his hairless, hardened abs.

“I’m sure I rolled my eyes and probably snorted or something,” she said. “I can be pretty icy, but he just kept on. I was getting kind of pissy, because I came here to paint a house, not listen to some college boy chat me up. I’m old enough to be this guy’s mom, practically.

“He said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry if I offended you. Let me introduce myself.’ And I’m 90 percent sure he said his last name was Bateman.”

Patrick Bateman, she later learned, is the name of the fictional rapist, sadist and serial killer who narrates Bret Easton Ellis’ novel “American Psycho,” made into a 2000 film starring Christian Bale.

Tired of his advances, she packed up her paints and brushes and went back inside her friend’s house and locked the door behind her. She was alone.

The man in the front yard walked away, she recalled.

So a few minutes later, she went to the restroom, closed the door, and drew a bath. As she finished bathing, she heard the stereo turned on and assumed her homeowner friend was home early from work.

“But it was really loud, and it was NPR,” she said. “Like, who blasts NPR?”

The woman dried off and got dressed in a shirt, blue jeans and socks. Her boots, and a canvas bag with her cell phone, were left behind as she came out of the bathroom. She called out to her friend, then to her friend’s husband, momentarily forgetting he was out of town on business.

She came down the hall to find “Patrick,” staring at her impassively. A black rope was in his left hand.

“He looked so much bigger inside the house than he did outside,” she recalled. “This dude was massive.”

The woman — 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 130 pounds — says she has taken Krav Maga self-defense classes and is physically fit from a job requiring manual labor. “But this guy was probably 6-1 or 6-2, and he probably outweighed me by 100 pounds,” she said. “All that self-defense stuff just doesn’t work when somebody is that much bigger than you.

“It was like fighting a tree.”

It seems women and children are never safe.

Some times a kiss is not just a kiss.

 

Here are some other headlines that you may want to check out:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Resigning via ABC NEWS.

CBS announces that Steven Colbert will be David Letterman’s Replacement and Rush Limbaugh gets the sads. “THE LATE

Some lady threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton in Los Vegas .

 Well,  that’s it from me.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Try checking out the real Haunts for Halloween

13475891-mmmainThere are many really cool things about living in a very old city and in very old houses that I don’t know where to start.  You pretty much knowlalaurie-mansion that death, disaster, and the wicked part of human nature have not been sanitized for suburban pearl-clutchers or commercialized by the mercenary.  You live next to churches built for victims of Yellow Plague and cemeteries where the rain can wash up bones.  Living in New Orleans isn’t like living in a European City with their pits filled of tens of thousands of black plague victims and underground cities stacked with skeletons.  But, being in the French Quarter on Halloween night sure beats handing out candy to future obese, diabetics decked out in WalMart’s worst.

I really love watching spooky shows and movies this time of year.  One of my newest addictions is the FX TV show American Horror Story: Coven.  It has some great American actresses in it and it’s filmed in New Orleans.  It stars Jessica Lang, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett.  The two latter actresses play real New Orleans people.

Delphyne posted a link to my Facebook about scary as hell places in the USA.   New Orlean’s St. Louis  Number One Cemetery–where Marie LaVeau is supposedly buried–always pops up on the list.  Bassett plays LaVeau in Coven.  Bates plays Madame LaLaurie whose house is considered so haunted that no one lives there for long.

Frankly,  I’ve never found St. Louis One to be spooky or ooky.  Holt Cemetery is far more full of those weird vibes that you can feel in cemeteries.  Holt is the potter’s cemetery where many of New Orlean’s best Jazz musician’s were eventually buried.  The graves are shallow and not the little above ground houses you think about when you think New Orleans cemeteries  so if you go there after flooding or rain you are likely to find human bones about the place. There were lots of them scattered around  after Katrina.  They’re trying to redo the place to stop these kinds of events.

I lived across from the LaLaurie Mansion for five years and never ever experienced anything akin to a haunt or a wicked bad vibe. Kathy Bates plays Madam LaLaurie who is supposedly cursed by LaVeau to live forever and is buried alive to be found in modern times by Jessica Lange early in the series.  The series very much uses the city as another character in the story.  The rest–of course–is pure fiction and very much in the genre of making a spooky story based on the modern idea of spooky.  But, I do have to say it’s a fun twist and I love watching it display New Orleans in all its spookery.

I thought I’d share with you the actual stories of the LaLaurie House–which has been considered haunted for well over a hundred years–since it figures prominently in the 13459083-mmmainplot of Coven.  Here’s the original news story on the house that exposed the horrific things that Madame LaLaurie did to her slaves.  This is also something that is essential to the plot of Coven.  Again, I  I lived across from the house for five years and really never experienced anything.  That can’t be said for my own house now or other places I’ve been.  We will get to that later.

April 11, 1834

The conflagration at the house occupied by the woman Lalaurie in Hospital … is like discovering one of those atrocities the details of which seem to be too incredible for human belief.

We would shrink from the task of detailing the painful circumstances connected herewith, were it not that a sense of duty and the necessity of exposing and holding to the public indignation such a wretch as the perpetrator, renders it indispensable for us to do so.

The flames having spread with an alarming rapidity, and the horrible suspicion being entertained among the spectators that some of the inmates of the premises where it originated, where incarcerated therein, the doors were forced open for the purpose of liberating them. Previous however, to taking this liberty, (if liberty it can be called), several gentlemen impelled by their feelings of humanity demanded the keys which were refused them in a gross and insulting manner. Upon entering one of the apartments, the most appalling spectacle met their eyes. Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. Language is powerless and inadequate to give a proper conception of the horror which a scene like this must have inspired. We shall not attempt it, but leave it rather to the reader’s imagination to picture what it was.

These slaves were the property of the demon, in the shape of a woman whom we mentioned in the beginning of this article. They had been confined by her for several months in the situation from which they had thus providentially been rescued and had been merely kept in existence to prolong their suffering and to make them taste all that the most refined cruelty could inflict. But why dwell upon such aggravating and painful particulars! We feel confident that the community share with us our indignation, and that vengeance will fall heavily upon the guilty culprit. Without being superstitious, we cannot but regard the manner in which these atrocities have been brought to light as an especial interposition of heaven.

81455-AHS-Coven-Kathy-Bates-jnHPThere are a series of later articles on the house’s haunted status that are also great reading.  I love reading the articles in the vernacular of the day. This one is written in 1892 and describes the house’s reputation at the time.

In the Rue Royale stands this quaint, old-fashioned house about which so much has been written, and around which cluster so many wild and weird stories, that even in its philosophic day, few in the old faubourg care to pass the place after nightfall, or, doing so, shudder and hurry on with bated breath, as though midnight ghouls and ghosts hovered near, ready to exercise a mystic spell over all who dare invade its uncanny precincts.

“La maison est hantee,” that is what the Franco-Spanish residents of the “vieux carre” will shake their heads and tell you; and every one who lives in the rue Royale, whether descendants of the ancient habitue or member of that recent cosmopolitan element that has invaded the street, know the history of that old house, and repeats in guarded whispers, “The house is haunted” and will volunteer strange stories of how ghosts and spirits may be seen flitting mysteriously about the rooms after nightfall who the witches and hob-goblins hold high revel there, of the strange unearthly noises that proceed from the damp dungeon and attic, the mysterious, lambent lights that flit rapidly from window to window and then vanish, only to reappear with confused rapidity and the long, ghostly procession that winds up the stairway at midnight, and peers cautiously over the roof, where the figure of a little child may be seen upon moonlight nights haunting the latticed belvedere. And all this began long ago, when the great house was shut up for many years and broken windows and defaced galleries told the story of the uprising of an indignant populace and

delphine-lalaurie-6laid the foundation for the wild and ghostly legends which succeeding years have woven about it. No house in the rue Royale has attracted so much widespread attention. Every stranger who visits New Orleans inquires for it, artists have painted it and travelers have written about it and several years ago Geo. W. Cable made it the subject of a special article in the Century Magazine. How much of that story is true, and how much the creation of Mr. Cable’s fancy the old Creole of New Orleans will tell you; but this fact remains, that the house has a history, a real true history that needs neither imagination nor art to make it one of the most interesting studies in New Orleans, both from a historical and romantic point of view.

The house is still on the Haunted Tours that are omnipresent in the Quarter.  It was, in fact, owned briefly by Nicholas Cage.  It is an imposing structure.  My kids were anxious to take these tours but I have to admit I’ve never done it.  I have been on many a street when guides were spinning the stories they spin at some point in time. I do know a lot of people that have lived in houses they will not return to and the majority of them are not on the tours so I kind’ve judge the entire thing based on that. In my experience, there’s an apartment sitting near Cabrini park at the edge of the Quarter that’s got far more hauntings.  I’ve known folks that have lived there and nearly all of them have left within months of moving in the place.

I have had my share of really strange things that have happened since living in New Orleans and you can officially place me in the category of no longer skeptic about some kind of weird energies that exist that cannot be explained.  Nearly all of my experiences have happened after really raging hurricanes which seem to have a habit of stirring up energy and the watery ground beneath the city.  I’ve had experiences in my own home close after Katrina that I really can’t explain. The first one happened shortly after I got home when there was no electricity to speak of and no one else around.  It was deadly quiet because there were also no birds about.  I was lying in my bed and I had my curtains open wide.  I no longer leave my curtains open on that side of the house now at night.  Just call me extra cautious.  I saw a glowing round, orangish face in the window over my desk.  I really thought it was a person and since the neighborhood was mostly deserted, I was freaked out.  I ran to the window and pounded on it.  I broke the glass actually.  It occurred to me the next day that there is no way any person could peer through my window.  They would have to be standing on the shoulders of some one else to do that.  There was no light to play tricks on me so I have no idea what it could’ve been.  I was not drinking. I was not asleep.   I was in the dark reading a journal article by small flashlight.  If you can develop some plausible hypothesis let me know.  Like I said, I never leave a curtain or window open on that side of the bedroom after dark any more.

My second experience in my house was not too long after that.  I was walking towards the door to the laundry room by the same desk.  A very solid thick glass, cheese crock that holds odds and ends lifted about 18 inches off my night stand, went across my chest in front of my eyes and dropped to the floor without breaking.  My lama was in the house at the time and I ran to get him to show him the crock sitting on the floor. I have absolutely no explanation for that.  It was midday. I was not drinking and I am very much a logical, data oriented person so I am not the kind of person that just sees spirits in everything.  I know what I saw.  I know there is absolutely no logical explanation for it.

The last time I really experienced something strange was last year after Hurricane Issac when I was sitting at a table at Buffa’s in the Quarter.  I had gotten up to talk to a friend of mine.  I felt a distinct tingly,freezing cold sensation in the shape of person walking through me on the left side of my body.  It was like some one about 4 inches shorter than me walked straight through that half of my body.  It was electric and cold and totally in the shape of a person. I distinctly remember the shape of a head and torso.  It was not a linear shape.   I didn’t feel it completely on that side. It felt like the imprint of a short-person.  My friend Randy saw me turn pretty pale and could feel the temperature difference between my left and right hand.  It was very odd.

Anyway, if you spend your Halloweens in the suburbs with kids and candy and fake costumes and fake tombstones bought at Walmart you are really missing out on things.  I really love the Day of the Dead Celebrations that have gravitated here from Mexico.  They’ve got the “spirit” of the day down pat.  You really need to take the day to go to a real “haunted” location or cemetery and check out the energy then ride it to wherever it goes.  Of course, New Orleans is probably the premier Halloween destination on my list.  But, there are so many wonderful historical American cities with equally rich and real culture that I am sure you can get to one or the other.  I’ve never been to Salem, Mass but I have to say I envy people within driving distance.  Now, there’s a perfect Halloween destination!!!

Anyway, we have a lot of severe weather moving our way tonight.  I’m going to be keeping the shade down on the window over my desk tonight for sure!!!


Home Sweet Home

It’s days like these that get me wondering why I’d want to live any place else in the world.

Yes.  That’s my neighbors doing that really old Kinks Song with a quick  appearance of the guys from the Preservation Hall Band.

But, really, let me tell you about my home town.

 

The last time Greg Newkirk visited New Orleans, one of his favorite local attractions was an actual local.

“I had walked into a shop to ask a few questions and ended up getting a thorough history of New Orleans voodoo by a man who was the nicest self-professed vampire you would ever meet,” says the Cincinnati-based editor of Roadtrippers.com. “He gave us weird travel advice, delicious food advice, and psychic life advice. If that doesn’t sum up the French Quarter, I don’t know what does.”

Such full-service eccentricity made New Orleans a natural contender for the nation’s strangest people, based on votes in the offbeat category of T+L’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey. Readers rank 35 metropolitan areas for features such as live music and food trucks as well as their residents — be they smart, attractive, or, indeed, lovably weird.

I do hope you know the next Top Chef is the New Orleans version.

Well, it turns out that Top Chef was thankfully not affected by the shutdown. Government program? No. Hour long advertisement for cars and grocery stores in between Real Housewives episodes? That it may be. Whatever it is, the eleventh season has begun and is off to a sweaty running start in New Orleans. If you like shows with transition shots that are exclusively brass instruments played by old black men and alligators briefly surfacing in a swamp, you are really going to love this season.

Hopefully, Hurricane Karen won’t shut us down for long.

Open Thread!  Indulge!!!


I remember 8 years ago

humvee1Today is the 8th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It is a day that changed my life completely.  At first, I didn’t want to leave my home. They had given us so many warnings before for hurricanes that really hadn’t come to anything I thought I might be able to ride it out; but something inside me knew this would be different.  So I loaded up my two labs and my cat, a big pink futon, and a badly packed suitcase and headed for a Lake Charles hotel room with some other Ph.D students from my program. I spent Sunday until Wednesday hunkered in.

I couldn’t think straight about what to grab or pack.  I tried to cover the Steinway up with a tarp and hoped for the best.  I brought weird stuff. I packed all my jazz fest t-shirts and some boxer shorts.  I packed a silk skirt and some really impractical black pumps.  I forgot so much that it wasn’t even funny.  I just remember looking at everything before I left and thinking that just a few things wouldn’t cut it so might as well leave it all. Now, I think I would have the presence to grab a few practical things and meaningful items.  But, not then.   The drive was also indescribable.  It was hours and hours of bumper to bumper traffic heading west on the I-10.  I had tried to grab a few neighbors that I knew didn’t have cars too.  Some folks were still determined to ride it out.

I slept on the futon between two beds for two nights with my dogs and cat, trying to get as much information as possible from a live broadcast from the TV and the internet.  I thought that I would be able to head back, until I heard the news that the levees had broken and water was filling up the city.  It was at that point we made plans to head to Texas to drop one student at the Dallas Bus Stop and the other at the Dallas Airport.  I was headed to Omaha to stay with a friend and to give my children huge hugs.  I spent weeks on the couch just watching Anderson Cooper and wondering if my home was okay.  When I finally met Anderson and hung with him several times over the next few years it was always like seeing an old friend.  He was a constant fixture in my life for what seemed like an eternity.

DSCN0088

I finally made it back the first week of October to a scene of indescribable, utter devastation, with no electricity nearly anywhere, massive clean up efforts, and a very empty city.  My home was mostly okay.  That meant I served as refuge for folks for nearly two years afterwards.  The only place that was pretty unlivable for awhile was my bedroom because the roof had come off my neighbor’s house and taken out the window and my bed.  It took me a few weeks to get all the electricity in the house.  I lived with the sound of AM radio.  For the first week, my only company was the Washington State National Guard.

There were no birds, no bugs, no sounds.  Everything was pitch black at night.

Later in the month, I spent nights in bars with returning friends whose stories of staying or leaving were often unbelievable.  You can hear some stories here at the Survivor’s Stories project by NPR.  Many, many of my friends have left and never returned. More than a few are still here but have become quite changed.  I have to say that many of them have had problems with drugs and booze since then so they’ve been lost in a completely different way.

It’s also been a year since our last big hurricane and the passing of Karma, who was the last of my two labs who made the great trek out of the city with me.  It is just Miles and me now that took that huge journey.

You learn a lot about people when you find yourself in the position of possibly losing everything.  I remember being offered money by folks in Dallas an in Lake Charles.  Every one in Omaha wanted to do something big to for any one of us that popped up there. It was lucky because it good cold fast and I hand nothing to wear.  I took my Red Cross Debit Card and bought clothes.  Friends and family sent me boxes of things at my friend’s house too.  I came home with care packages stuffed with cleaning things, food and clothes.   I really needed all of them by the time I finally opened my front door.  The hurricane had shaken all kinds of dust out of the old place.

I remember the Ford Dealer in Dallas looked at my car when I was wondering if it would make it all the way to Omaha and didn’t charge me a dime.  A GI in the waiting room took care of my dogs while I held Miles in my arm.  A woman asked if there was anything at all that I needed.  I also remember a Sugerland Trooper that pulled me over because I hadn’t decreased my speed since we were trying to figure out how to get to the busstop who announce to me that “This is Texas and we do things differently here than in Louisiana”.  All I could say was “Believe me, I am not messing with Texas. I am dropping her off at the bus stop, and her off at the airport and I am heading north to my family as soon as possible”.  All I thought at the time was he could keep this god awful place.  I just wanted to hug my kids and see my little house in New Orleans again.

This city is still in the throes of recovery.  There are parts that are still empty.  There are parts that probably will never be the same.  My part of town is now hip and cool and gentrifying.  The house prices have been increasing rapidly since the Hurricane and the population is changing.   So, there is good and bad.  Just like everything.  However, you can still tell us “old timers” because all we still ask is  “How you making out?”  and that always implies “after Katrina” .

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Wednesday Reads: Link Dump in the Morning

chF3Good Morning

Just a link dump today, so think of this morning’s post as an open thread.

In US news, 1 dead in same NC motel room where 2 died in April

North Carolina police are investigating why an 11-year-old South Carolina boy died and his mother was injured in the same motel room where two elderly guests were found dead almost two months ago.

Yeah, two months go by without anyone knowing that the first two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning? And they still had people using the room?

BOONE, N.C.: NC health dept.: Poison gas not in pool inspection

Inspectors checked a motel where three people were presumed killed by carbon monoxide fumes six weeks before anyone died, but their review didn’t include investigating for the poisonous gas, the local health agency said Tuesday.The Appalachian District Health Department said it inspected the swimming pool at the Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza in Boone six weeks before a Longview, Wash., couple were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in their motel room. Boone Police Sgt. Shane Robbins said the room is near the indoor pool, which is warmed by a natural gas heater.

Turns out the local coroner who did the autopsy report missed the carbon monoxide in the first couple. You can see a video report here: Hotel Room Where 3 Died Had Carbon Monoxide Leak | Video – ABC News

Here is another southeastern news story for you, but it touches on something that we have been talking about for months: 4 Ga. youth lockups among worst for sex assaults

The results of the 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody included four Georgia juvenile detention centers among a list of 13 with the highest rates of sexual misconduct nationally. The data, released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, was based on anonymous surveys completed by 8,707 youth randomly sampled from at least one facility in every state and the District of Columbia.

The four Georgia facilities were a regional youth detention center in Paulding County; the Eastman Youth Development Campus in Dodge County; the Augusta YDC in Richmond County; and the Sumter YDC in Americus, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Paulding County facility led the nation with 32.1 percent of youth inmates reporting last year that they were victimized sexually by staff or other juveniles. That was more than three times the national rate of 9.5 percent.

The survey results were released as Georgia tries to overhaul its juvenile justice system, which has been plagued by reports of attacks on teenage inmates and abusive behavior by staff members.

Researchers found that 15.8 percent of the 497 juveniles in Georgia’s criminal justice system who were surveyed had had a sexual encounter with a staff member, which is a felony even if it is deemed consensual. Just at the four Georgia facilities cited among the worst in the nation, nearly 300 boys reported sexual abuse last year.

Niles, the state commissioner, said the state has been working to build a “reporting culture” among the youth in custody and said officials had expected an increased number of survey responses from Georgia.

“DJJ will take a hard look at this,” Niles said. “DJJ will always teach our youth to break the silence and say ‘NO’ to sexual abuse.”

Just say no to sex abuse? Gee…yeah like that is going to go far in changing the “culture” of reporting sex abuse.

Speaking of which, Allen West And Michael Savage’s Dismissal Of Military Rape Exemplifies Why It Is So Under-Reported -

On Thursday’s airing of right-wing wackadoodle Michael Savage’s radio program, Savage Nation, Allen West agreed with Savage’s assertion that “Khmer Rouge feminists” are attempting a “coup” against the military by proposing to change the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. Allen West also took the opportunity to blame sexual assault on Liberals for allowing women in combat. Savage began with an audio recording of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) proposing a change in the way sexual assault cases are handled. The Senator wants the cases to be handled outside the victim’s chain of command. Savage, clearly not in favor of this proposal said the Senator sounded like a “college chick at a dorm” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) and made the Feminist claim:

 SAVAGE: “When I watch these Khmer Rouge feminists try to take over the military, this looked like an attempted coup to me, Colonel West.”

WEST: “Nah, you’re absolutely right and that’s a big concern that I have because when you start to get — you know, I understand civilian oversight of the military. We all understand that as all officers who served in uniform. But when you start to have this interjection of, you know, political, you know, will against, you know, the military, good order and discipline, where you start to try to usurp the commanders’ authority and I guess replace it with some type of political, legal officers, and things of that nature. Then the next thing you know, it goes from just dealing with this, you know, sexual assault thing to, you know, making decisions on the battlefield.”

Yes, because wanting a to change the way rapes are handled is clearly a military coup. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that many perpetrators of rape get away with it because they are buddy-buddy with their commanding officer. It has nothing to do with the fact that military rape is less likely to be reported than civilian rape because of the stigma attached to it. Nope. That’s not it at all.

Oh, the misogyny didn’t stop there. It’s not enough that the two pigs insulted lawmakers that are fighting for justice for thousands and thousands and thousands of rape victims; No, they also had to insult the actual victims of these rapes and call into question whether or not there is a wide scale problem:

SAVAGE: … Am I mistaken in assuming the following: When you say sexual assault, according to the new liberal interpretation of such a phrase, does that not include, “Hey honey, let’s go for a beer?” Could she turn him in and say that was a sexual assault because it was an unwanted advance?

WEST: Well she could. I mean that’s the –

SAVAGE: Alright, so amongst the 23,000 — amongst the 23,000 so-called cases that the Commander-in-Chief Obama talked about last, two weeks ago, at a commencement address, how many of them are fraudulent claims? We don’t know, do we?

WEST: No we don’t. And furthermore, Dr. Savage, we don’t know how many of them are female against male, you know, sexual assaults, or same-sex sexual assaults. So we don’t have those numbers either.

There is absolutely no doubt that the military has a rape problem. The Pentagon estimates that there were 26,000 rapes in 2012. A six percent rise from the previous year. Military rapes and sexual assaults reach over 70 per day. The head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program was charged with assaulting a woman. Furthermore, only 34% of women and 24% of men report assaults. All of this information is easily available to Savage and West, but they choose to stay ignorant and spread they’re filth over the airwaves. These are the kind of comments that motivates victims of sexual assault to stay silent.

Like I said, this is a link dump so…

In nation’s breadbasket, Latinos stuck in poverty

On a warm spring day, farmworker Cristina Melendez was bedridden and unable to make her way back into the asparagus fields of central California for the kind of backbreaking work she’s done since childhood.

The 36-year-old mother of seven was desperate. Her bank account had been at zero for months, the refrigerator was nearly empty, and she didn’t have enough to cover the rent. Lacking health insurance, Melendez couldn’t see a doctor or afford medication, so her illness dragged on – and another day came and went without work or pay.

A native of Mexico who was smuggled into the United States as a child, Melendez had once dreamed big: to be a bilingual secretary, to own a house and a car, to become a U.S. citizen. Agriculture, she hoped, would be the springboard to a better life – for her and her U.S.-born children, the next generation of a family whose past and future are deeply rooted in the fertile earth of America’s breadbasket.

California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation’s most impoverished. Sometimes called “Appalachia of the West,” it’s where families, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children, live year after year in destitution.

Boston Boomer sent me this link yesterday, The Most Epic Supercell Thunderstorm Footage You Will See Today «TwistedSifter

The Booker Supercell

Take a look at that link for more images.

No more ferry tales for New Orleans | Grist

Come the end of this month, New Orleans may lose its one and only ferry, thanks to a state uncommitted to keeping it financially afloat and a city even less sure about who’s responsible for keeping it from going under. This is the ferry that since 1827 has crossed the Mississippi River, transporting “West Bank” residents to jobs downtown. It’s the ferry featured in the HBO series Treme that carries the populist scold Creighton Bernette, a hopeless romantic for New Orleans, to his death at the end of the first season. Now, with its original funding stream dammed off for good, the ferry’s own ending is imminent.

Your Hidden Censor: What Your Mind Will Not Let You See: Scientific American

…when attention is occupied with one thing, people often fail to notice other things right before their eyes.

The Ghosts of Europe Past

THE cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.

Some might take that as a compliment; after all, the empire lasted for almost a millennium. But they shouldn’t. If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures.

Then you have this little shit at Fox, here is a laugh. I had found this last link while looking at the way Fox News, Drudge and other news outlets were covering the latest California shootout as it was happening. As you might as well have guessed Fox News and Drudge had nothing on their websites alerting to the shooting, ABC News also was downplaying the shooting as well. Even after the crisis was over, to find any news coverage of the “event” on Fox News you had to go searching for a link to an article. Anyway, here is some of the quality reporting over at Fox News. Like I said, it is just a little shit but it is funny in a racial/hypocritical/typical asshole Fox News way:  Baby names reveal parents’ political ideology | Fox News

Quick, make a guess: Are Liam’s parents Obama voters, or did they pull for John McCain? How about Kurt’s mom and dad?

If your gut suggested that Kurt’s parents might swing conservative while Liam’s are liberal, congratulations. A new study of baby names does, indeed, show that parents in liberal neighborhoods are more likely to choose softer, more feminine sounds, such as “L,” for their babies’ names, while conservative parents go for macho-sounding K’s, B’s and D’s.

The same research finds that liberal, well-educated parents are more likely to pick obscure names for their children, while conservative, well-educated parents take a more conventional naming path. Both methods seem to be a way of signaling status, said study researcher Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago though it’s unlikely parents realize what they’re doing.

Okay so you can probably guess where this is going, look at this:

Lots of research has focused on American political polarization, particularly whether liberals and conservatives in the general public are moving further apart. Some possible examples of the gulf focus on consumer choices, including stereotypes like Whole Foods-loving liberals and Walmart-shopping conservatives.
[…]

The results revealed that overall, the less educated the parent, the more likely they were to give their child either an uncommon name (meaning fewer than 20 children got the same name that year in California), or a unique name (meaning only one child got that name in 2004 in California). When parents had less than a college education, there were no major ideological differences in naming choice.

However, among college-educated whites, politics made a difference. College-educated moms and dads in the most liberal neighborhoods were twice as likely as college-educated parents in the most conservative neighborhoods to give their kids an uncommon name. Educated conservatives were more likely to favor popular names, which were defined as names in the top 100 in California that year.

For boys, 46 percent got a popular name in conservative areas, compared with 37 percent in liberal areas. For girls, 38 percent were given a popular name in conservative neighborhoods, compared with 30 percent in liberal neighborhoods.

Notably, the kinds of uncommon names chosen by upper-class liberals differed from the unusual names picked by people of lower socioeconomic status, Oliver said. Lower-status moms tend to invent names or pick unusual spellings of common names (Andruw instead of Andrew, for example).

“Educated liberal mothers are not making names up,” Oliver said. “They’re choosing more culturally obscure names, like Archimedes or Finnegan or, in our case, we named our daughter Esme.”

[…]
The liberal Obamas named their daughters Sasha and Malia, both names heavy on As and Ls, whereas the conservative Palin family picked more masculine-sounding names for both their boys and girls, particularly Track, Trig, Bristol and Piper (although third daughter Willow got a softer-sounding moniker).

What, so no comment about the “unconventional” names that Palin picked for her brood?

Anyway, that is all I got for you now, have a great day.