Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Misc Stuff Update

Ok, now I spaz with this ridiculous-but-intense "fear of failure" vibe vis-a-vis school. My chemistry class tends to reinforce this feeling. I will have to work very hard at TWO WHOLE SEMESTERS of this crap. Gack. Oh well, 1) I will always find something to worry about and 2) I will memorize whatever I have to in order to pass these requirements with a decent grade. End of story. Doesn't mean I won't still be spazzing all the way.

Jeff bought us the series The Office (British version) and we've watched the whole thing. It's a brilliant hoot and sometimes painful to watch because the situations fall a little too close to home. Many a cringe-worthy scene.

Here's a very sad article about a nice guy who was shot and killed in DC while walking his dog. Depressing and horrible. But if any readers in the area have any info, the police contact info is at the end of the article.

This article is about yet another ridiculous appointment by the Administration of a person with no experience in the actual subject matter (remember the last FEMA director?) being charged with heavy-duty responsibility, this time at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (part of DHS). This really shows Bush's view of how important immigration is - put someone in charge without any qualifications. This is merely another depressing bit of evidence that Bush will do nothing responsible about immigration during his administration. Gack.

Give me some good news!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Quick Update/Notes on the Run

Hi there, happy campers! Just ended my 2nd week as student and I must admit, I'm a little overwhelmed. Much more demanding than I thought, but I've been taking steps to deal - better organization, less hours at work, scheduling stuff better, communicating with profs, to cover all bases. That said, there are a few thoughts I'd like to share on other topics:

- a very happy birthday goes out to my brother Chris today! Hopefully, he's not at work somewhere and can enjoy some sort of festivities!

- Jeff & I saw March of the Penguins last night and really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful film about the life cycle of the Emperor Penguin. Really amazing how the species survives given their hostile environment and the elaborate reproduction process they go thru (which involves alternately, each parent traveling long distances for food and the other parent going without food for months at a time). The cinematography was awesome, the "story" engaging (at least to us adults; a little girl who watched the film with her family was rather unimpressed), and we actually learned something. Oh, yes - the penguin chicks have a very high cute factor. My only criticism was that I would have liked to see a map of the territory discussed in the movie, to give perspective, but understand the film makers wanted to isolate the perspective for story-telling purposes (I assume). Anyhoo, anyone who enjoys National Geo will get something out of the film.

- had a science moment on the metro on the way home last night. A praying mantis on the metro. Cool, but you have to wonder how the guy on the metro car. Anyhoo, cool also because I hadn't seen one all year.

- Just finished a mystery novel, Crescent City Kill, by Julie Smith (1997). Perhaps I'm too much a fan of Patricia Cornwell (and protagonist Kay Scarpetta) and Sue Graphton (and protagonist Kinsey Millhone), but I wasn't able to fully engage with the book's heroine, Skip Langdon, a New Orleans cop. That said, I found the book a good read, with twists and turns and loathesome criminals, as well as some very interesting characters caught in the middle. I'd give the book a B or B-. Not bad, and perhaps I should read more of the novels in the Skip Langdon series to get a better feeling for the protagonist, but at this juncture, good but not great.

- On the down side, can I just say that this whole Hurricane Katrina operation (initial response, action taken, time span, leadership - or specifically, lack thereof, etc), from city level to Federal and Administration level, has been one enormous, embarrassing Charlie Foxtrot. Let's see, we have knowledge before the event that it's going to be a disasterous natural event somewhere on the gulf coast; we have knowledge that a certain city WILL-not-may-be traumatized by such an event (and have had this knowledge for YEARS); we have mechanisms and whole agencies devoted to addressing these kind of emergencies - by the way, not free - taxpayer supported - in addition to military capabilities that could assist effectively in aspects of the situation; an administration that could have taken control of the efforts when it was ABSURDLY CLEAR that State and Local gov'ts were incompetent (let's not even get into the FEMA mess); in short, there is PLENTY of capability all around to minimize the effects of the disaster - and what do we do? Totally screw it up. Big time. Irrevocably.

Now, I have the greatest respect and support for those on the ground at every level who were DOING THEIR JOBS, addressing the situation, and under VERY trying circumstances (due to natural and man-made obstacles). I am also very proud of my fellow Americans who came thru via donations (of all kinds) and opening their cities and in some cases their homes to Katrina's refugees. Time and time again in crises, Americans have come thru generously, and yes, heroically, to those in dire need. I do not diminish these contributions and am grateful for those fine individuals.

The fact remains, however, that the effects of this natural disaster could have been greatly minimized by effective leadership at all levels, by using the enormous collective resources at our disposal. Instead, there was gross incompetence, a total lack of leadership, finger-pointing, stupid bureaucracy, communications miasma, etc, etc. And I fear that there will be no real assessment and action to improve the situation - anywhere. Jeff at Kinshasa on the Potomac has story links and more in-depth commentary on the subject. Yeh, I know I'm lame, but I still got homework to do before I go to work this evening.

- Oh, yeh, anniversary of 9/11 attacks. Have we improved our security? No. I think we've done some cosmetic activities, but no real effective improvement in actual security. We're so concerned about not offending anyone, about continuing to have cheap labor, about keeping our friends in high offices, about keeping our "beloved" bureaucracies intact, etc, etc, that we as a country are WIDE OPEN to terrorist attacks. The response to Katrina shows our biggest vulnerability: the incompetence and the widespread promotion thereof. Oh, I weep for my country and fear that only a massive and horrific attack will open our eyes - and perhaps it will simply be too late.