There 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 know 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 plot 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.
There 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
laid 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!!!
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.
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.
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!!!
Today 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.
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” .
Just a link dump today, so think of this morning’s post as an open thread.
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?
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.
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…
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
Take a look at that link for more images.
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.
…when attention is occupied with one thing, people often fail to notice other things right before their eyes.
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.
I spent Mother’s Day napping on dad’s sofa mostly. I am such an exciting person!! I have no idea why I am so cold and so worn out but it is what it is.
Meanwhile, all hell broke loose in New Orleans. The gun violence that hit a Mother’s Day parade there was pretty much the kind of urban violence we see all too often with such easy access to guns. I wish I could say that gun violence was rare in the 7th ward. But it is not. Here’s a word from my congressman Cedric Richmond:
According to FBI data, 1,464 people were killed by firearms in New Orleans between 2008-2011. That’s 1,464 families who will never see their loved ones again. If we were to have passed the entirety of President Obama’s proposed reforms, sadly, many of those victims would probably have still been killed because violence is a pervasive and complex problem with a diverse set of causes. Economic insecurity, poor mental health treatment options, inferior education options and the scarcity of positive opportunities are all contributors, which one regulation alone cannot eliminate. That being said, if we only acted on just a few of the president’s proposals, we could decrease the supply of guns used in the homicides by reducing the supply of illegally purchased guns via universal background checks. This would decrease the use of guns in violent crime and keep a few more families from having to bury a loved one.
While I was serving as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, I introduced an assault weapons ban bill on numerous occasions. I took on the National Rifle Association in these battles not because I have a grudge against gun owners, but because I could find no reasonable defense of having these weapons of mass destruction on our streets. As a resident of Sportsman’s Paradise, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. However, I do not ascribe to the belief that Congress has no role in responding to the gun violence epidemic plaguing communities like New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.
A Mother’s Day second-line shooting on Frenchmen Street in the 7th Ward, on Sunday about 1:45 p.m., left 19 people injured, according to the latest NOPD numbers. Earlier Sunday afternoon, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said that about 12 people had been injured, but the toll later grew to 19, with the NOPD explaining that some victims initially hadn’t reported being injured and more people continue to come forward.
Police said 10 adult men, seven adult women, a 10-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were struck by bullets. Both of the 10-year-old victims had graze wounds to the body and were in good condition. A man and a woman were reported to be in surgery Sunday evening.
The shooting occurred in the 1400 block of Frenchmen Street at the intersection of North Villere Street. Immediately after the shooting police reported seeing three suspects running from the scene. One suspect was seen running on Frenchman toward North Claiborne, police said.
NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden said many of the victims were grazed, some by bullets that ricocheted. “At this point, there are no fatalities, and most of the wounds are not life-threatening,” she said in an email.
“But all medical conditions are not known at this time as victims were rushed to nearby hospitals,” Braden continued. “Detectives are conducting interviews, retrieving any surveillance video in the area and, of course, collecting all evidence. This is an extremely unusual occurrence, and we’re confident that we will make swift arrests.”
Kevin Allman, editor of Gambit Weekly, said one of the publication’s writers, Deborah Cotton, also known as the blogger Big Red Cotton, was shot and was in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
Shannon Roberts, 32, was in the Interim LSU Hospital in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon and early evening alongside reams of other crying and fear-ridden – and at times, angry - family members whose loved ones were injured in the shooting. Roberts said she was waiting on a 21-year-old nephew who was shot in the arm and stomach, a 37-year-old niece shot in the arm, and a 39-year-old cousin shot in the back.
“All innocent bystanders got hit,” Roberts said. “When I got the call saying they were shot, I wasn’t thinking at all, I was just shivering and crying… just hoping they be all right.
Hatred evidently has a basis in geography in this country. This is an interesting twist on studying information from Twitters, locations, and displays of racism, homophobia, and basic hate speech.
Twitter, even more than many other social media tools, can feel disconnected from the real world. But a group of students and professors at research site Floating Sheep have built a comprehensive map of some of Twitter’s most distasteful content: the racist, homophobic, or ableist slurs that can proliferate online. Called Geography of Hate, the interactive map charts ten relatively common slurs across the continental US, either by general category or individually. Looking at the whole country, you’ll often see a mass of red or what the map’s creators call a “blue smog of hate.” Zooming in, however, patches appear over individual regions or cities; some may be predictable, while others are not.
The map builds on an earlier Floating Sheep project that showed where President Obama was referenced with racial slurs, but it’s far more comprehensive and well-constructed. Unlike many other studies, for example, the tweets weren’t collected and analyzed algorithmically — a method that could accidentally collect non-derogatory uses of these terms. Instead, the team first searched through a year’s worth of geotagged tweets for words, then had a group of students at Humboldt State University look at each one. Only tweets they found explicitly negative went on the map: a derogatory use of the word “dyke” would be added, for example, but one reclaiming the term for a gay pride parade would not. In total, the map charts about 150,000 negative, slur-filled tweets.
Here is some “Terrible News About Carbon and Climate Change”.
This past Thursday, the daily average atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, as measured by the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, passed four hundred parts per million. In some way it was a meaningless milestone. We know that CO2 is increasing; we knew this moment would come; we know that four hundred is no more different from three hundred and ninety-nine than it is from four hundred and one.
Still, the number should shake us, if not shock us. We’ve got more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any point since the Pliocene, when there were jungles in northern Canada. And the number hurdles ever upward, as ocean levels rise and extreme weather becomes routine. Three-fifty was the old target; four-fifty is the new one. But what indication is there that we’ll stop at five hundred, six hundred, or even more?
We’ve failed collectively. As Ryan Lizza explained in miserable detail in 2010, the United States government couldn’t pass a tepid, eviscerated law. Activists have failed. We’ve all failed morally: a problem created by the world’s rich will now crush the world’s poor. In a grand sense it’s also a failure of the creators, and deniers, of climate change: the Exxon-Mobils, say, or the Wall Street Journal editorial page. A victory isn’t worth much if your children and grandchildren will one day think of you with anger and shame.
How do we get out of this mess? The political system seems hopeless. Yes, government regulation has done much to relieve us of acid rain and smog. But global warming combines two intractable problems. Reducing emissions mainly benefits people who aren’t born and don’t vote. And it requires international coördination, which is hopeless, and international law, which is toothless. We should do things like build more public transportation, which helps people here and now. We should design our cities for a future with terrible weather. But solving the problem of climate change through the U.N. is like a small man with olive oil on his hands trying to pull a whale from the water.
I’ve become somewhat fascinated with charter schools given their presence in New Orleans and their supposed success. Who makes money from these things and why is that important? It has a lot to do with Real Estate Developers and Hedge Fund Managers. This is worth reading.
Studies shows that charter schools don’t typically outperform public schools and they often tend to increase racial and class segregation. So one must wonder, what exactly is motivating these school “reformers”? And why have they pushed for more and more closure — and new charter schools — at such an unprecedented rate in recent years?
Pro-charter supporters will tell you that it’s time for public institutions like our schools to start competing more like for-profit institutions. Test scores and high enrollment, then, define success. Unsuccessful schools, they say, should close just as unsuccessful businesses do. For neoliberal school reformers from today’s Arne Duncan-led Department of Education to scandal-ridden movement leader Michelle Rhee to billionaire Bill Gates, it is taken on faith that market principles are desirable in education.
But since it’s not clear that market principles are benefiting students on a large scale, it seems likely that something else is at stake. And reformers may be more than a little disingenuous in publicly ignoring that other, less high-minded thing: Profit. Critics of charter schools and school closings point out that proponents may not really be motivated by idealism, but by self-gain.
But who precisely is profiting? And how? Untangling answers to these questions is a more daunting task. Compared to public schools, charters schools are an extremely unregulated business. They contract with private companies to provide all kinds of services, from curriculum development to landscaping. Most of the regulations that bind charter schools are implemented at the state level. And unlike public institutions, the finances of charter schools are managed on a school-by-school basis. Because they are not consistently held accountable to the public for how they distribute funds, charter schools are often able to keep their business practices under wraps, and thus avoid too much scrutiny.
Here’s economist Joseph Stiglitz warning us about the crushing student debt in the U.S.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, almost 13 percent of student-loan borrowers of all ages owe more than $50,000, and nearly 4 percent owe more than $100,000. These debts are beyond students’ ability to repay, (especially in our nearly jobless recovery); this is demonstrated by the fact that delinquency and default rates are soaring. Some 17 percent of student-loan borrowers were 90 days or more behind in payments at the end of 2012. When only those in repayment were counted — in other words, not including borrowers who were in loan deferment or forbearance — more than 30 percent were 90 days or more behind. For federal loans taken out in the 2009 fiscal year, three-year default rates exceeded 13 percent.
America is distinctive among advanced industrialized countries in the burden it places on students and their parents for financing higher education. America is also exceptional among comparable countries for the high cost of a college degree, including at public universities. Average tuition, and room and board, at four-year colleges is just short of $22,000 a year, up from under $9,000 (adjusted for inflation) in 1980-81.
Compare this more-than-doubling in tuition with the stagnation in median family income, which is now about $50,000, compared to $46,000 in 1980 (adjusted for inflation).
Like much else, the problem of student debt worsened during the Great Recession: tuition costs at public universities increased by 27 percent in the past five years — partly because of cutbacks — while median income shrank. In California, inflation-adjusted tuition more than doubled in public two-year community colleges (which for poorer Americans are often the key to upward mobility), and by more than 70 percent in four-year public schools, from 2007-8 to 2012-13.
With costs soaring, incomes stagnating and little help from government, it was not surprising that total student debt, around $1 trillion, surpassed total credit-card debt last year. Responsible Americans have learned how to curb their credit-card debt — many have forsaken them for debit cards, or educated themselves about usurious interest rates, fees and penalties charged by card issuers — but the challenge of controlling student debt is even more unsettling.
Curbing student debt is tantamount to curbing social and economic opportunity. College graduates earn $12,000 more per year than those without college degrees; the gap has almost tripled just since 1980. Our economy is increasingly reliant on knowledge-related industries. No matter what happens with currency wars and trade balances, the United States is not going to return to making textiles. Unemployment rates among college graduates are much lower than among those with only a high school diploma.
Who is the one person in the beltway looking for answers? Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is looking at handing the loans over the Fed. The problem is that no one seems to be taking the bill seriously.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has just introduced a new bill, the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, to offer student loans at the same rates that the Federal Reserve charges big banks through its discount window lending program. At the moment, that rate is about 0.75%. The rates on federally guaranteed student loans, meanwhile, is set to double to 6.8% this summer.
“Some may say we can’t afford this proposal,” said Senator Warren as she introduced the bill. “I would remind them that the Federal Government currently makes 36 cents in profit for every dollar it lends to students . . . meanwhile, the banks pay interest that is one-ninth of the amount that students will be asked to pay. That’s just wrong. It doesn’t reflect our values.”
“Now some explain that the banks get exceptionally low interest rates because the economy is still shaky and banks need access to cheap credit to continue the recovery.” She sighed loudly. “But our students are just as important to the economic recovery as our banks, and the debt they carry poses a serious risk to that recovery.”
It’s probably true that some say banks need low interest rates to keep the economy growing. But no one except possibly a lunatic has told Elizabeth Warren that banks are getting 0.75% at the discount window as a thank you for all the hard work they’re doing helping the economy. Discount window loans are cheap for three reasons: the borrowers have assets and income that are easy to seize, the loans are quite short term, and the banks are required to put up collateral.
As you’ll have discovered with your own mortgage or car loan, the shorter the term of the loan, the lower the interest rate. You will also have discovered that loans secured by collateral, like your car loan or mortgage, carry lower interest rates than loans such as credit card expenditures, which are secured by nothing more than your heartfelt promises to pay. You may even have noticed that the more durable the collateral, the more attractive a rate your banker will extend on it.
So it is with loans to other people, and businesses. Banks get a very low rate because they’re borrowing for very short periods of time–often overnight, always less than a year. The Fed correctly figures that the bank is unlikely to go out of business by next month–and anyway, they’re putting up collateral, which is unlikely to lose all its value in such a short period of time.
Students, on the other hand, are borrowing for a decade, and the only thing they’re putting up as a guarantee is their character. How good a collateral is their character? In 2011, 9.1% of borrowers had defaulted on their student loan within the first two years of the payment period.
The interest paid by the folks who don’t default is the only thing keeping this program from hemorrhaging money. Elizabeth Warren proposes to cut that interest rate to less than the rate of inflation.
So, those are my suggestions this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?