Friday, December 09, 2005

10 things I saw on the Internet today

  1. When it comes to shopping, ever wonder where would Jesus shop?
  2. A soldier involved in providing faked photos of Iraqi abuse at the hands of British soldiers has "escaped facing criminal charges and a military court martial."
  3. Your wife leaves you to marry your step daughter's biological father and you still have to pay child support.
  4. Certainly not because they deserve it, but somehow Florida State is matched up with Penn State in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
  5. It's snowing so expect gas prices to increase.
  6. Some people still believe we can stop global warming.
  7. Be afraid. Be very afraid. PETA is on the hunt.
  8. Don't ever forget that you have no privacy when at work.
  9. The Hurricane Katrina victimes crying 'racism' really just don't like Bush.
  10. New Orleans residents are biting the hand that feeds them.

I love it!

It's only been a few months and the Saints are already losing their allure in San Antonio. With Saints owner Tom Benson pulling his usual antics, the San Antonio Express News is reporting that "local officials shouldn’t jump on the Saints part-time bandwagon." In fact, "... the Saints got a lot of front page coverage during the first few games, they’ve been relegated to the back pages, in favor of the Cowboys, in recent weeks."

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Freedom of speech in a blogging world

When it comes to the freedoms we in the United States are afforded, the line between it and persecution can sometimes get blemished. For example, I believe NBA players should conform to the rules about their uniforms but should not have their freedom of speech stripped.

For a better example, take a look at the case of a blogger and student at Marquette's School of Dentistry. According the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Marquette suspends dental student for blog comments), the student was "suspended for the rest of the academic year and ordered to repeat a semester after a committee of professors, administrators and students determined that he violated professional conduct codes when he posted negative comments about unnamed students and professors on a blog." The unnamed student "was brought before the committee for a conduct hearing last week after a classmate complained about his blog, a Web site that contained musings about topics ranging from his education to videogames and drinking."

This is an interesting case of freedom of speech and blogger rights. It should be noted that Dr. Daniel D’Angelo, the dental school's ethicist, maintains "... that [the student’s] entries on his blog do not rise to the level of ethical violations of the [school's] codes of conduct."

As blogging becomes more and more popular, we will start seeing an increase in the number of court cases involving freedom of speech, libel, privacy and the like. Blogging and the Internet are still in their infancy and that means there are many legal challenges ahead in determining how to police them.

Until then, take a look at Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers or the Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents provided by Reporters Without Borders.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005


"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It wasn't racism, it was ineptness

A House committee is investigating racism as a factor for the poor response in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

I wonder if the New Orleans refugees complaining to the committee are the same ones who used their Red Cross credit cards to buy liquor, Dolce & Gabbana handbags, DVD players and the like.

These people also fail to realize that "Orleans Parish is heavily represented by Democrats and blacks in the political system. It also seems to me that they are not doing anything to protect their people and to help get them out of poverty. Oh, I almost forgot, the great mayor of New Orleans is black and, you guessed it, a Democrat."

As Norman Liebmann wrote shortly after the hurricane, "When catastrophe befell what was largely a city whose population is mostly black, those who showed up with sustenance were mostly white. Yet, it was Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and hip-hopper, Kanye West, who urged their people to spit in the face of their salvation. The proponents of black activism are thus fueled with a lust for unearned revenge. Bitterness seems to be the one emotion of which this minority does not seem to feel emotionally deprived."

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The electric bill, Part II

Forget about ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell with their disgusting profit margins.

In October I wrote about how my electric bill had doubled in one month despite the fact we used less electricity. Entergy Corp. is the major utility company for the Gulf Coast region and they piled on an energy conversion charge which was more than double the actual rate for electricity usage. Keep in mind that despite lost profit from hurricanes Rita and Katrina, Entergy is still making record profits.

It was announced earlier this week that Entergy "filed a $496 million rate hike request with the Public Service Commission in an attempt to recoup costs from hurricanes Katrina and Rita." This must be the company's follow through on a November threat to "raise rates by 140% unless it gets a $500 million federal bailout ..." Don't these companies carry some sort of insurance policy or rainy day fund in the cookie jar for occassions like hurricanes, snow storms, employee injuries and the like? Perhaps this is all too esoteric for me.

Jack Ware writes about his concern that Entergy may move its corporate headquarters from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi. Frankly, I don't care much for New Orleans nor the phenominal murder rate and the detestable Saints of the NFL. Maybe the Saints and Entergy can share a U-haul.

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Where's help for Lake Charles

Granted, New Orleans is a much larger city and has a greater economic impact; however, southwest Louisiana (where Lake Charles is located) received nominal news coverage and subsequently diminished federal aid following Hurricane Rita.

Despite this, "(Lake Charles) leaders exude a can-do attitude that offers a sharp contrast with unrelenting criticism of state and federal officials elsewhere." (See "Google Blog Search: Louisiana, Politicians). In fact, the AP and KPLC-TV reported right after Hurricane Rita that FEMA could not help the Lake Charles "because the region hadn't been declared a disaster area."

This didn't stop victims of Hurricane Rita. When evaluating them, Michael Graham described the people of southwest Louisiana as being 'made of sterner stuff then you'll find in the Ninth Ward.' Pushing the point home, Graham notes that TV news viewers will not see these residents "blaming Pres. George Bush, looking for handouts and wondering where FEMA is."

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogs, privacy, protection

Jason Burks (They Call Me Jason …) noted a Nov. 7, 2005, article detailing the release of IBM's Public Image Monitoring Solution. The software, "assesses the tone of blogs and posts: positive, negative or neutral. It also identifies hot topics of discussion. For example, using the software to look at a particular make and model car would return content about fuel economy, roominess and safety."

As Jason points out, "The battle for freedom of speech might get a little trickier if this thing catches on."

This relates to a recent Forbes magazine article [Attack of the Blogs (They destroy brands and wreck lives. Is there any way to fight back?)]. Commenting on the article at the time, I wrote, "... how the business community is affected by blogs, how bloggers feed off of each other and how misinformation (either intentionally or unintentionally) spreads fervently ... It's difficult, the Forbes article points out, to fight a blog attack because of specific laws protecting the digital community. Therefore, it's harder to fight the libel often found in these extreme blogs much less track down the typically anonymous bloggers."

Basically, at this point and time, bloggers are able to get away with breaking the law because there really is no cyberspace law. Yet.

The first amendment protects freedom of speech in the United States. However, it doesn't guarantee full absolution for anything a person says or writes. There is always the potential for retribution no matter if what you have to say is right.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Latest on N.O.P.D. resignation

When New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigned udruptly in September, many speculated he did so for reasons related to corruption.

The Dead Pelican reports from sources that the resignation was "brought about by a number of factors that were rapidly approaching critical mass. In other words, the situation had reached a level at which things can no longer be concealed, hushed up or downplayed without calling in too many favors or costing too much money. In other words, Ray Nagin wasn't about to risk his political career to cover up for Compass any more than he already had without implicating himself in the upcoming scandals, so he orchestrated Compass' move to the private sector, sources tell The Dead Pelican ... Sources also say that both Compass and his wife were in possession of, and using daily, cars that had been 'appropriated' from Sewell Cadillac right after the hurricane! This was widely known at 'street level' and also known to AG Foti's investigation of the post-Katrina looting of Sewell Cadillac by NOPD, sources tell Rogers. Well placed insiders tell The Dead Pelican that it is all being 'hushed up' for political reasons. Compass isn't the only big shot who got a 'free ride,' sources tell The Dead Pelican."

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Katrina and Rita's lost children

It's been more than three months since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc across the Gulf Coast. In Louisiana, Hurricane Rita caused more damage a few short weeks later.

Since that time, "the fate of more than 1,300 children remains unknown."

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Louisiana documents events surrounding Hurricane Katrina

Documents recently released by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco confirm that the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina was also taking a toll on the state's political infrastructure.

According to the report, "Three days after the storm, Blanco wrote Bush asking that the 256th Louisiana National Guard Brigade be sent home from Iraq to help. The governor also asked for more generators, medicine, health care workers and mortuaries."

I'm not sure why Gov. Blanco was asking for the 256th to come home from Iraq since the state had a steady supply of guardsmen and reservists on hand. Not to mention the offers from such states as New Mexico to send their guardsmen to help out in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

"The stack of documents also includes a timeline put together by Blanco's staff detailing the state response; notes expressing frustration about missing items such as a communications center for police and rescuers promised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and e-mails working out logistics for New Orleans visits from Bush and cabinet members," the report continues.

All Gov. Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and other state agencies and politicians had to do is read the New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Management Plan. It details how everything should have been handled before and after the storm.

As I've written before, Nagin and Blanco never had a clue as to how to respond to such an event as post-Hurricane Katrina. Their lack of coordination and confidence (including that of the state's local and federal politicians) diminished any hope of saving lives and minimizing damage to the city.

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