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250 Billion Here, 250 Billion There...

   ....and pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

    The always excellent Grunwald and Glasser today tell the story of the Louisiana delegation's request for $250 billion to rebuild after Katrina. A quick glance at the proposed Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act reveals that it is not hard to get to $250 billion if you take a lot of $10 million chunks and add some $100 million chunks and then throw in some $40 billion chunks. Here are a few random elements of the wish list:

   $10 million for a program to unite missing children with their family members

   $35 million to "the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board for the rebuilding of lost markets that have been challenged by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath."

   $100 million for "Mosquito abatement activities"

   $24,490,073 "shall be available until expended for completion of the ARS Sugarcane Research Laboratory at Houma, Louisiana"

   $200 million for an "entrepreneurship redevelopment program" under U.S. Department of Commerce

   $50 billion in Community Development Block Grants

   $40 billion to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

   The thing goes on and on. I need my staff to brief me on this so I can understand it better. Here's a mysterious line that seems a little ominous:

    "Allows president to waive or modify applicability of certain requirements under any law so that there is legal authority to continue to work without stopping work until it is cleared up or until  Congress Acts to waive the requirement." [This is probably known as the Godlike Power provision. You know that annoying Clean Water Act? Fuggedaboudit.]

   I also need to be briefed on a fundamental question: How much is $250 billion? Like, in dollar bills stacked up toward the moon, sort of thing? Translated into cash handed to every man, woman and child? In B-1 Bombers? In nuclear submarines? If I'm a neo-con, I'm thinking that $250 billion would buy one heckava war to start a conflagration of democracy somewhere.

    The thing about $250 billion is that it's very, very close to that legendary unit of monetary measurement, the kajillion.

     Fortunately our ace reporters translate the figure into something we can easily grasp:

    "[T]he Louisiana delegation's $250 billion bill would cost more than the Louisiana Purchase under the Jefferson administration on an inflation-adjusted basis."

    The human brain is not well designed to distinguish between millions and billions. In fact, any number larger than 12 is slightly befuddling to most of us. Above 12 is "many." The government grasps this essential fact, and the best lobbyists and legislators know how to take an existing number and add a zero on the end without anyone hardly noticing. They're incredibly skilled at saying, at a crucial moment, "Oh, million, billion, WHATEVER."

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 26, 2005; 9:10 AM ET
 
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Comments

I'd love to see how they came up with those numbers, since $40 billion is 10 times the Army Corps' budget for the entire U.S. Nice to see that politicians are still politicians.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The figure of around $200K per displaced person caught my notice last week.

I am reminded of the section headings in the interview-style chapter on Agriculture in O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores".

Now, if every upstanding American knew beforehand that they would be forced to pay a mean of about $1K per person in taxes to benefit Katrina victims, how would the Red Cross have made out? (And is my $1K in Katrina taxes tax deductable?)

Posted by: Les | September 26, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Americans do, in fact, want to help people in Louisiana, and have been very generous donating to such groups as the Red Cross. But all those lemonade stands and piggy bank-emptying fundraising drives at elementary schools, all the auctions and benefits etc., have raised a grand total of $900 million for the Red Cross since Katrina hit, according to a radio report this morning (and it's possible I misheard). That's a great number. That's a lot of generosity. But it's still not a billion, much less 250 billion.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 26, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

This is the first iteration of local news reporting of Bush's stop in San Antonio on Saturday, and on into Sunday. Apparently, he's keenly aware of the sports goings-on in the city, as well as the number of Katrina evacuees.

It's too bad he didn't drive the half-hour from Randolph AFB (on the city's northeast side) to Kelly USA (on the south side) to visit with evacuues from both hurricanes. As Froomkin would point out, Bush continues to stay in his protective bubble. Perhaps a presidential visit may have improved the evacuees' mental health needs?

As I will point out, the second iteration of this web-posted article dropped the following paragraphs altogether. It was the third iteration of the article that was published--sans the info below--in our paper this morning.

By Tracy Idell Hamilton
Express-News

"Mostly when the president talks, you just listen," Hardberger said laughing. "You don't do too much lecturing to the president."

Wolff said Bush is also focused on the long - term issues facing Katrina evacuees still in the city, including their mental health needs.

"It was clear that he was very informed about what's going on in San Antonio," Wolff said. "He knew we had about 2,000 Katrina evacuees still in a shelter - he even knew about the Saints playing home games here, and the efforts to sell out the stadium."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hmm-I was going to say that your point was correct--an hour after the Kit went up, and no 'boodle', making me wonder if everyone was indeed befuddled by the numbers bigger than 12. Then jw weighs in, with a comparison to the Corps of Engineers' current budget. Rather than befuddled, the kaboodle is obviously composed of budget analysts, busily analyzing the proposal before weighing in.

Posted by: Lmm825 | September 26, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The kit has been up for an hour? It just showed up about 10 minutes ago on my computer.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

It would also have been nice if our local paper had reported the following, as reported by Rick Lyman in yesterday afternoon's NYT about the 23 senior citizens from a Houston Marriott Brighton Gardens who were evacuated and died in a bus fire en route to Dallas:

"Global filed for bankruptcy in February, although a lawyer for an owner said Friday that this had not affected the safety of the vehicles.

Global's offices are in a white, flat-topped structure with green trim, with a mobile home parked to one side, on a commercial strip separating McAllen from the southern suburb of Pharr. On Saturday afternoon, a man identifying himself as Mark Cooper, a San Antonio lawyer for Global and its president, James H. Maples, emerged from the business and declined to answer questions.

"We're not going to comment on the bus or anything else at this moment, until this investigation is further along," Mr. Cooper said.

Then, he offered a written statement, the second the company has released, in which Global expressed sorrow for the loss of life and promised to cooperate with investigators.

Johnny Partain, a former oil industry engineer who now runs a company that installs generators in McAllen, has been embroiled for years in a lawsuit with Mr. Maples over a 1997 investment he made in Global. Mr. Partain said he warned a judge more than a year ago that Global's buses were dangerous and ill-maintained.

"I told them this was going to happen," Mr. Partain said. "I've personally driven those buses. I know what condition they're in."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and $100 million for mosquitoes? I say buy some Off bug spray and let the mosquitoes eventually disperse on their own. But then, I live in the land of mosquitoes the size of your head, so maybe I'm just overly mosquito-tough.

Back to payroll.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 10:39 AM | Report abuse

To get a handle on $250 billion:
a) that's just slightly less than $1,000 PER PERSON in the entire US (population about 295 million);
b) it's slightly more than $55,000 PER PERSON for every person in the state of Louisiana (I'm guessing a lot of people would take $55,000 per family member and be willing to move away).

Posted by: New Budget Poster Here | September 26, 2005 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Louisiana Purchase, why not give it back?

http://descant.classicalanglican.net/?p=691

Posted by: jarmuschguy | September 26, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

A small non-denominational church which recently moved into our neighborhood started a fund to assist a family (3 adults, 4 children) from Mississippi. All the neighbors chipped in and met the goal of $4600.00 for rent (mobile home), utilities and food for 3 months. They moved in last Saturday.

Posted by: Nani | September 26, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

$250 billion? No problemo. Rescind the Bush tax cuts for ONE YEAR and you get $225 billion in revenue.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Or, put another way,a quarter trillion dollars.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

What I am most curious about is the fact that apparently Joel now uses the kaboodle as his research staff.

Posted by: irregardless | September 26, 2005 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it would be great if the welfare-to-the-rich tax cuts were rescinded. But little boy is likely not inclined to do that.

BTW, the kit just appeared on my computer a few minutes ago (I've been checking). Last week it disappeared in the prime of the afternoon. Jeez, if that continues to happen, I just may have to get some work done.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 26, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I think gazillion comes before kajillion, but I'm not really sure.

Posted by: TBG | September 26, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

There is a scene in the classic film "My Dinner With Andre" in which Andre Gregory describes his visit to a commune community in Scandinavia where the gardeners reached an agreement with the insects to set aside a certain proportion of their crops for the bugs if the bugs would leave the rest alone. I wonder sometimes if we the people could just tell our elected representatives that we will tolerate 20% graft and corruption, but at 21% you're out of office. Probably wouldn't work. Somehow I suspect the insects in Sweden have a greater sense of honor.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

where does a googol fit in? (no not google - ie, the verb to google) i thought that was supposed to be a unfathomable number???

irregardless is back!!! oh, and we have another sa-15 user back with a different name...

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else thinking about "My Dinner With Andre" action figures too?

And not to pick on Kurosawaguy too much, but isn't "commune community" like saying, "Queso Cheese?"

Posted by: irregardless | September 26, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Stories like that almost make me cynical about government.

I somehow hang on to the belief that government can be an instrument for the common good. Perhaps if that money was spent on hiring every citizen a good lobbyist we'd feel better about the sausage-making.

Posted by: kindathinker | September 26, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm certainly not going to pick on kurosawaguy -- I once used the term "essential essence" on this blog.

Posted by: Dreamer | September 26, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to suggest another name for large numbers, courtesy of Dave Barry: a godzillion, which is, I think, a trillion billion kajillion...

Posted by: Mr. Bill | September 26, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

i was trying to describe a communal farm and not make it sound too much like communism. Language is pretty blunt tool in my hands. But then Dreamer made me think of the "Purity of Essence" line from Dr. Strangelove, and my smirk is restored.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Geez! I guy just can't live on a billion dollars anymore.

Posted by: Broke Millionaire | September 26, 2005 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Kurosawaguy, let me tell you about Swedish mosquitoes. The Swedish word for mosquito is "mygg" -- consider the comparison to the Soviet warplane "MiG" and there you have it. They are huge (especially in the mountains) and have little decals on their sides, propellers and everything. If you look carefully, there are little pilots inside with evil grins.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 26, 2005 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Suffering, death and destruction notwithstanding, Louisiana is also synonymous with graft and corruption. Given its inglorious past, do we really want to what write what amounts to a blank check? Let's rebuild the state, sure, but can we get somebody like Jimmy Carter to keep the checkbook?

Posted by: hominid | September 26, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see that this request is bipartisan .... both DEMS and Republicans committed to bringing pork back to Louisiana. What will be interesting is how long will the delegation keep making requests. Whatever they dont get in this request will be made next year and for years to come.

Posted by: Cap | September 26, 2005 12:45 PM | Report abuse

If I remember correctly, 1 ounce [troy] = 0.0685714 pound and 1 ton [short, US] = 2,000 pound and two hundred and fifty billion dollars is very similar to five hundred million one ounce (troy) gold Kruger ands @ five hundred dollars each.

7291.67 coins @ 0.0685714 pounds per coin is just about 500 lbs of Krugerands or the standard load of a one quarter ton Ford F-150 pickup truck. So a standard pickup truck load of gold Krugerrands is just about the same value as three million, six hundred forty five thousand, eight hundred thirty four U.S. dollars and eight five U.S. cents. Heck, that means that two hundred and fifty billion dollars is only about sixty eight thousand, five hundred and seventy one standard pickup truck loads of gold Krugerrands, give or take a fleet of F-150s. Or maybe that's the sticky purple liquid talking through my fingers again. You better check my math, 'cause I am feeling kind of dizzy, and I fear am just about ready to pass out...again.

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 26, 2005 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Moi Moi, long time no see!

Nice analysis.

I say give the money (or the Krugerrands) to the people - let the guvmint rebuild the roads and levees...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 26, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

How many hectares is that?

Posted by: kindathinker | September 26, 2005 1:06 PM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy: If we rescinded the tax cuts, that just means we won't be borrowing money for this project... just for about, what, a quarter of everything else. (It is important that that $250B is borrowed money right now, every bit of it.)

(And to find that 'quarter' figure I looked up a CBO publication... Depressing to see that, not including social security, there are two years- count 'em, two- from 1962 to 2004 that the federal budget ran a surplus. Everything else was deficit.)

(BTW, there's a Chinese company that ocasionally sells an 11-DVD set of Kurosawa films for $0.01 on EBay. $30 or so with shipping from China. Cool stuff. The only hard part is navigating the Chinese menu to figure out how to turn on English subtitles. I finally get to see "Akira"....)

Posted by: Les | September 26, 2005 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mostly,

Yeah, Moi Moi got snagged in the inter-netting again and Moi Moi just managed to cut Moi Moi loose. Moi Moi doesn't know 'bout the other bloggers and bloggettes filling this space, but Moi Moi is thinking that a solid gold boat anchor might be just the ticket for keeping Moi Moi from drifting off during those big blows.

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 26, 2005 1:15 PM | Report abuse

This is the best thing to happen for China

Posted by: dc | September 26, 2005 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Right. I've been wondering about that million vs. billion thing for a long time. Every time I tell someone that they're the same thing, as far as my deficient brain is concerned, people look at me like I'm crazy. People talk about infinity being an impossible concept to grasp. I agree, but I think that the inability to wrap one's brain around a given amount happens way sooner on the number line than at anything even approaching infinity. I don't know if I agree with you that it happends at about 12, but you've got the right idea.

Posted by: Joanie | September 26, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Right. I've been wondering about that million vs. billion thing for a long time. Every time I tell someone that they're the same thing, as far as my deficient brain is concerned, people look at me like I'm crazy. People talk about infinity being an impossible concept to grasp. I agree, but I think that the inability to wrap one's brain around a given amount happens way sooner on the number line than at anything even approaching infinity. I don't know if I agree with you that it happens at about 12, but you've got the right idea.

Posted by: Joanie | September 26, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

moi moi!!! i missed you!!! still on the sticky purple stuff huh?
that's a lot of gold!!!!!!

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I love Kurosawa's "Dreams," especially the first story, about the little boy whose mother tells him it's not safe to go outside if the sun's shining while it's raining -- those are the times when foxes hold their weddings.

I like the story about the peach orchard, too.

[I know, I know -- my favorite stories are the girly stories . . .]

Posted by: Dreamer | September 26, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

As noted Bush spokesman ( i.e. Fox News anchor) Brit Hume put it yesterday, "$250 billion spread over 5 to 10 years really isn't that much." Well, actually, its $25 billion to $50 billion per year, Brit.

Posted by: RT Briggs | September 26, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I guess they are going to make the new levees solely out of compressed $100 dollar bills.

Posted by: Disreali | September 26, 2005 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer, I don't know "Dreams"... I'll look it up. I got started on the "Hey, that's where the samurai deli guy came from!" movies. I've been working my way back to the others.

(BTW, the PBS "Great Performances" on Kurosawa from a couple of years back is super.)

Posted by: Les | September 26, 2005 1:46 PM | Report abuse

1.)It may be the economist coming out in me, but I like the part where the article notes some of the logic for the federal gov picking up the coastal reconstruction tab:

"They say their communities do not have the money to pay the standard 30 percent local share for Corps hurricane protection, or the time to wait several years for standard Corps studies."

Um, so why should WE subsidize this risk when you can move elsewhere?

2.) How's about writing out those zeros instead of million or billion?

250,000,000,000!

3.)Welcome back, Moi Moi!

Posted by: TA | September 26, 2005 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I really don't know what to think about $250 billion in aid to Louisiana. Frankly, my first reaction is disgust. Then I felt sorry for the residents who will be painted with the same brush as those in the state government who are falling all over each other as they line up at the trough. They have a chance to right some serious wrongs for which they are responsible; years of corruption, incompetance, racism, neglect, etc....wrongs that have literally buried their state long before Katrina arrived.

So typical of politicians. One of the greatest tragedies in history and they still have no shame.

Posted by: sa | September 26, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

This line from the "Act" intrigued me....

Gives the Secretary of Commerce the authority to direct the United States Customs Service to issue an
automatic liquidation to provide much needed relief to the domestic crawfish processors in Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama who have been adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina and the continued dumping of crawfish tail meat from China.

Could someone explain to me why in the heck you dump crawfish tail meat and where does a crawfish tail go to be dumped and what is that anyway?

Does Bubba Gump know this has been going on?

Posted by: FWIW | September 26, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

For those who haven't read the entire story, don't miss the lobbyist component to the request.

"Vitter and Landrieu tapped John M. Barry -- author of "Rising Tide," the definitive history of the 1927 flood -- to lead the working group on the Corps response to Katrina. Almost all the other members of the group were lobbyists from firms such as Patton Boggs, Adams & Reese, the Alpine Group, Dutko Worldwide, Van Scoyoc Associates, and a firm owned by former senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.). There was a lobbyist for the Port of New Orleans, a lobbyist for Verizon, and three lobbyists who were former aides to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska).

"Internal notes from the working group obtained by The Washington Post suggest that hurricane protection was by no means its sole preoccupation. A list of "outstanding issues" from a Sept. 15 conference call mentioned the possibility of authorizing at least six unrelated navigation projects, and included questions such as "Are there other things we can do to boost our ports?" and -- perhaps a joke -- "How much can I bill my client?"

Posted by: kindathinker | September 26, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Billions are more than I understand finacially, but some of these items don't seem too far out of line.

As far as the Corps of Engineers go, I work for a small construction firm, and I know what it costs us to do any project. When you think of the mobilisation of all the equipment to de-water, to install pilings, to haul tons of clay and gravel, to feed house and pay your manpower, to set up communications, and to do this all in a premium of time (and therefore a premium of cost), for how ever long the job takes till its done? If you tried to do it privately, with the speed and committment these guys show, I'm not so sure its out of line at all.

Is there anyone out there talking to construction people to find out what a comparable job, done by private industry would cost?

Posted by: dr | September 26, 2005 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they could let the former governor Edwin whatevers out of prison to oversee the spending.

Posted by: LB | September 26, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't cry for the loss of the Marriott hotels in New Orleans, as reported by Amy Joyce in today's Washington Post.

As I e-mailed jw this morning:

The NYT article [by Rick Lyman] is particularly poignant for me, since my 91-year-old mother is a Marriott Brighton Gardens resident in Del Mar, Calif. Her "rent/care" is about $4,000 a month. She's frail, but not on an oxygen canister, but if that had been my mother on that bus, I'd be contacting a lawyer to sue the heck out of Marriott Brighton Gardens, the McAllen bus company, and the state of Texas, and Gv. Rick Perry. I have issue enough with Marriott, since there was no heat in my mom's room when she moved in during the winter months in early 2002.

I have also seen the Del Mar, Calif. Marriott serve food that looks like glip-glop and serve fruit that isn't ripe.

You would think that in the evacuation of seniors from the Houston Marriott Brighton Gardens that the manager of that facility would have least asked to see the bus' safety inspection record, prior to letting the residents of Marriott's facility on board the bus that was supposed to carry the senior evacuees to Dallas, and subsequently became engulfed in flames.

More funny/sad humor on the today's local noon news re: the Mexican army relief efforts at Kelly USA. According to a local TV news report (ABC-Post-Disney affiliate, as I recall), the driver of the bus carrying Marriott senior citizen residents was driving with a Mexican driver's license.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Watch out for those Chinese DVDs Les! They may not play on your machine. I stick with Criterion- they are the best. Anyone interested in the films of Kurosawa but disinclined to the costume dramas (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon, Sanjuro, Ran, Kagemusha, Red Beard, Throne of Blood aka MacBeth in kimonos) should check out "High and Low", a police procedural about kidnapping, drugs and murder in 60's Japan, and especially "Ikiru" a truly great, great film about the search for meaning in life when faced with terminal illness. It sounds like a downer, but it is excellent, insightful, and in fact inspirational.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I believe Carl Sagan had a very good example of the difference between a million and a billion. If you were to sit down today and begin counting from 1 at a regular pace, you would be able to count to a million in a few weeks. If you wanted to keep going and count to one billion, it would take you 32 years. Pretty big number!

I think this was in his book "Billions and Billions".

Posted by: Dave | September 26, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"*Rabbits can count up to four. Any number above four is 'hrair'--'a lot,' or 'a thousand.' Thus they say U Hrair--"The Thousand"--to mean, collectively, all the enemies (or 'elil' as they call them) of rabbits--fox, stoat, weasel, cat, owl, man, etc. There were probably more than five rabbits in the litter when Fiver was born, but his name, Hrairoo, means "Little Thousand"--i.e., the little one of a lot or, as they say of pigs, 'the runt.'"

p. 19, Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Posted by: Reader | September 26, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

$250B? To build the city precisely where it once - and still does in part - stands? Makes sense. So when another huge blow comes past, we can rebuild it once again. Sure - I'm into masochism.... NOT.

The government down there is notorious for corrupation. We'd be crazy to dump $250B in their hands sans appropriate oversight. The people who need shelter will never see a penny. It'll be the hucksters and bloodsuckers who'll get the lion's share of the $250B. Hell - Haliburton in Iraq revisited.

Posted by: 1mainer | September 26, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

http://www.ucomics.com/doonesbury/

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE WATERSHIP DOWN!

Sorry for the caps. The problem with it is that it's one of those books I want to recommend to everyone. But then you try to explain it; you mention rabbits and they just zone out.

Is it just me, or does the story seem like a rip-off of the Aneid?

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

FWIW,
Dumping is a word made up by lobbyists to protect domestic industry against cheaper foreign imports. They say China is "dumping" or selling below cost crawfish, shrimp, whatever, in order to capture the market and drive domestic fishermen out of business. The standards for proving dumping on the part of another country are very low, so it's relatively easy to bring a case and get the gov to impose tariffs on the "dumped" item from the offending country. Economically, it makes little sense, as developing countries like China obviously have cheap labor and inputs, so can easily undercut domestic producers. And true dumping would be an unsustainable practice, especially for a developing country, because you're supposedly selling below cost.

Posted by: TA | September 26, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I love books about rabbits! The Velveteen Rabbit...The Velveteen Rabbit...that's all I can think of. Wait. Alice in Wonderland. It has a rabbit.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Aeneid. Nothing like mispelling a title when you're trying to sound literary.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse

if it takes 3 weeks to count to a million, then it would take 3,000 weeks to count to a billion, which would be roughly 60 years.

Posted by: muon | September 26, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse

assuming you count one number per second, it would take you 1.16 weeks to reach one million, or 1,160 weeks to reach a billion. that comes out to 22.3 years which doesn't sound so bad.

Posted by: muon | September 26, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I love "The Velveteen Rabbit" too, Sara. Reminds me of this:

JOEY: Hey! I'm meeting Kathy in ten minutes! I've been looking all over for you!

CHANDLER: I got something for her. It's a book!

JOEY: A book? Is it like a book that's also a safe?

CHANDLER: No, it's a book that's just a book, okay? It's an early edition of the Velveteen Rabbit. It was her favorite book as a kid. So, uh, just... let me know if she likes it, okay?

JOEY: You got it. Thanks man. Thanks for doing this, I owe you one. Oh, hey! There wasn't any change from that twenty, was there?

CHANDLER: No, it came out to an even twenty.

JOEY: Wow. That's almost as much as a new book.

Later . . .

KATHY: Um, thank you for the gift . . . Thank you for the book.

CHANDLER: Uh, the book?

KATHY: The Velveteen Rabbit. I kinda have the feeling you had something to do with it.

CHANDLER: What do you mean?

KATHY: Well, uh, when Joey gave it to me, he said, "This is 'cause I know ya like Rabbits, and I know ya like cheese."

-- From "Friends"

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Dear friends, Moi Moi rounds the reciprocal of the L-word upwards and in your direction. However, Moi Moi is embarrassed to admit that Moi Moi has been unable to locate a conversion factor from L-word units to a standard 1/4 ton pickup truck load. It sure does feel like a lot though.

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 26, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Cindy Sheehan arrested outside White House

Cindy Sheehan never got the meeting with George W. Bush she was requesting this summer. But today in Washington, the mother of a fallen Iraq War soldier got something else: Sheehan was arrested today during a protest just outside the White House.

According to the Associated Press, Sheehan was arrested after police told her and several dozen other protestors three times that they could not sit on the sidewalk in front of the White House. As Sheehan was taken into custody, protestors chanted, "The whole world is watching."

-- Tim Grieve

Posted by: Breaking News from salon.com | September 26, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Cindy Sheehan was arrested today for sitting on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

Question: does civil disobedience lose its meaning when what you're getting arrested for has nothing to do with what you're protesting?

Being arrested for eating at the wrong counter is one thing, but being arrested because you're being a nuisance, is well, just a nuisance. It's not like she's not being heard. Maybe she's just mad that she lost the lime-light to a couple hundred thousand displaced Americans.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The animated film version of Watership Down is excellent. But definitely not for young children.
Achenfan: "Friends". Made a deal with the grand-girls. If they'd watch one of my old films, Double Indemnity, I'd watch something they liked. Turned out I had to watch 4 back-to-back episodes of Friends (these gals drive a hard bargain).

Posted by: Nani | September 26, 2005 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I was scooped!

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Cindy Sheehan will be placed in the same cell block--or cell--as NYT's Judith Miller! Wouldn't that be a hoot!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Love the Kurosawa costume dramas, myself.

As far as the Federal budget for the post- Katrina/Rita rebuild goes, I think both parties will talk about throwing as much money as they can at it until the next round of elections for House and Senate seats...

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Surely you're not that tone-deaf, jw. You make it sound like she was arrested for spitting on the sidewalk in Peoria.

Being arrested for sitting on the sidewalk in front of the White House as part of an anti-war protest is quite a different thing, no?

Posted by: hominid | September 26, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I saw it on the Drudge Report.

The pic and headline are... tasteless, but I laughed anyway.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear, Nani -- Friends is entertaining enough, but it's got nothing on Double Indemnity. Four back-to-back episodes! You're a good sport.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

First Gilligan, now Maxwell Smart. Agent 86 has been 86ed. (Actually he was 82, but who's counting.)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/26/AR2005092600847.html

Posted by: pj | September 26, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The administration is on the right track. This would basically be a stimualtive spending program that is classically Keynsian - just like the rampant deficits. They should make it 270 billion instead of 250 because I need 20 billion as compensation for my virtually decade long poison torture ( by the whistling weasel gang ) - which the government effectively allowed by all but ignoring this situation.

Posted by: AVRAAM the POISONED | September 26, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I think the guy who wrote Watership Down also wrote another book about 2 dogs who escaped from an experimental lab and then deal with their various psychosis from being the subject of animal testing. It's a shockingly dark book and I've never quite looked at dogs the same way again.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

deal = dealt

Posted by: peanutgallermember | September 26, 2005 3:19 PM | Report abuse

That book is called "The Plague Dogs."

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 3:20 PM | Report abuse

i could never get into japanese movies... the closest i got was crouching tiger, hidden dragon... and a wonderful movie filmed in Tibet about a guy who kidnaps a young girl and how they live... can't for the life of me remember the name...

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

deal = dealt

Posted by: peanutgallermember | September 26, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey, and maybe they can throw Pvt. Lyndie England in with Cindy Sheehan and Judith Miller. Las Tres Amigas!

Maybe Martha would care to drop by to cook a nice dinner or for a jailbird chat. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

No, I don't think so. It's not like she's been prevented from doing all the protesting she wants. Not that I really know any of the salient facts, but the impression I get is that she had to try reeeeeeaaalllly hard to get arrested. Her personality is now overshadowing her message. I just think it was a tactical error on her part; she's become a characterture of herself. About one step away from being a farce, and the new season of SNL is going to be starting...

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Achenfan, I couldn't remember the title. It was also made into an animated feature (also not for the little ones).

And sorry for the double post, not sure why that happened.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha! Thanks for the "Friends" excerpt, Achenfan.

I don't know that I'll read "The Plague Dogs." It may make me sad. But I'm always up for "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH."

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

You'd have thought the girls were watching a comedy. They roared with laughter at Barbara Stanwyck's 6 inch blonde pompadour bangs, floral dress with football player shoulder pads, betty-boop lipsticked mouth. Oh and the dialogue.. "There's a speed limit in this town Mr. Neff, 50 mph." "How fast was I going?" "I'd say about 75." "I'm crazy bout you baby, that perfume in your hair, what's the name of it?" "I dunno, I got it in Encinado." But between the peals of laughter (love that giddy laughter), they actually got interested in the plot.

Posted by: Nani | September 26, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

jw writes:
"Not that I really know any of the salient facts, but the impression I get is that she had to try reeeeeeaaalllly hard to get arrested."

jw,
Why don't you come back to the discussion after you've held a dying comrade or a dying child in your own arms?

May I suggest Chris Hedges book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." Hedges, now a Princeton journalism professor, is a graduate of Loomis-Chaffee.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | September 26, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm with jw on this one. But I think her personality has been overshadowing her message (or has stomped her message into the ground all the way to the core of the earth) for quite awhile now.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

How about animated films, mo? e.g., Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle"? Kinda Goth-y (I think -- I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to Goths, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about).

I have a DVD of a Japanese film called "Kwaidan" (1965) -- a collection of Japanese ghost stories. It's creepy -- I love it!

I saw "The Corpse Bride" over the weekend -- have you seen that? (It's also kind of Goth-y -- I think.)

And speaking of rabbits: Donnie Darko!

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Please, sara and jw, I'd love to know what you both know of Sheehan's personality. Are either of you parents?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Donnie Darko! Woah. That's one dark rabbit movie.

And I love Miyazaki's films.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

i've never been into anime achenfan... tho' i do see a lot of goths into it... it just never did anything for me... oh, and i saw Ringu which was CREEPY!

did you like the corpse bride? i wasn't crazy about his nightmare before xmas so i've been shying away...

LOVED Donnie Darko!!

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Double Indemnity.... great movie. I love the part where Fred MacMurray is killing time, so he drops by the drive-in restaurant for a beer. They show him sitting in his car, picking up a glass of beer off the little table that hangs on the window.

And that's after he stops at the bowling alley to "bowl a few lines."

Posted by: TBG | September 26, 2005 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Now that the CIC has demonstrated he can tame a hurricane, should we expect to see him in Iraq?

Posted by: Haz | September 26, 2005 3:38 PM | Report abuse

No, anonymous. But no one seems to care that even her children have asked her to stop because they feel she's doing more harm than good and they think she's disrespecting her dead son. Why doesn't anyone seem to care about that? She's been heard. She needs to return to her family. If they'll still have her.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I'm not saying anything about her personally, or about the pain that she undoubtably feels. But she made the choice to become a polital force, and right now she's making it really easy for the people who should be listening to stop up their ears.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Wow, I lost a whole syllable there.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 3:43 PM | Report abuse

How about Halliburton kicking in some dough? They already have inside contracts on the reconstruction. I also hear they are making plenty of taxpayer money off that "America at War" deal.
Come Hally, you and the KBR kids can be good corporate citizens.

Posted by: iceblog | September 26, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse

It took me a few minutes to place that "Double Indemnity" but now I remember it, thanks to TBG's post. That was a great film. I miss the good ol' days before I was born when movies such as The Island or The Transporter didn't exist because plot was valued.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I loved "The Nightmare Before Christmas," mo. That scene where the kid wakes up on Christmas morning and pulls a shrunken head out of his Christmas package? Priceless. (Those Halloweentowners had such good intentions, though -- they were such sweeties, really.)

So yeah, I liked "The Corpse Bride," which had a similar "look" -- maybe you should stay away, if you didn't like "Nightmare."

[Must. Stop. Talking. About. Movies. I've lost it . . .]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I just saw The Nightmare Before Christmas on HBO the other day. It reminded me of how much I loved that book. I read it over and over again. So I bought the movie the other day, it's on its way from Amazon.com. I love that movie. I'll have to see The Corpse Bride. I think it looks good.

I thought mo would be a Nightmare girl, but guess that's just me accidentally judging a book by its Gothic cover. Sorry.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Cindy Sheehan has the right to grieve the death of her child and to protest the war that took him from her. I am shocked, but not surprised that Mr. Bush is too cowardly to speak with her. Betcha he would face her if the polls reflected disappointment in the way he has responded to her plight. He could have cared less about the displaced families in New ORleans and Mississippi until his popularity dropped. All of a sudden he developed some humanity.

Posted by: Nani | September 26, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't think "cowardly" is the right word. Maybe something with 4-letters?

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Mo, if you think you don't like Japanese movies, please try "High and Low". Millionaire gets call that his son has been snatched, but it turns out that the bad guys have taken the chauffeur's son by mistake. If he pays the ransom it will ruin him financially. Very interesting plotting, not hard to follow, set in modern times. Also try "Tampopo", the Japanese noodle Western, very funny. The classic "Rashomon", although a period piece, is very contemporary in it's themes and treatment of the nature of truth. A little like "Memento" but made 50 years earlier.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Mo, if you think you don't like Japanese movies, please try "High and Low". Millionaire gets call that his son has been snatched, but it turns out that the bad guys have taken the chauffeur's son by mistake. If he pays the ransom it will ruin him financially. Very interesting plotting, not hard to follow, set in modern times. Also try "Tampopo", the Japanese noodle Western, very funny. The classic "Rashomon", although a period piece, is very contemporary in it's themes and treatment of the nature of truth. A little like "Memento" but made 50 years earlier.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Mo, if you think you don't like Japanese movies, please try "High and Low". Millionaire gets call that his son has been snatched, but it turns out that the bad guys have taken the chauffeur's son by mistake. If he pays the ransom it will ruin him financially. Very interesting plotting, not hard to follow, set in modern times. Also try "Tampopo", the Japanese noodle Western, very funny. The classic "Rashomon", although a period piece, is very contemporary in it's themes and treatment of the nature of truth. A little like "Memento" but made 50 years earlier.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I think you're plugged into the Sheehan situation - can you help us understand what Ms. Sheehan is trying to accomplish with today's actions that resulted in her arrest? I understand the protests in Crawford, and the demonstrations this past weekend, but I'll confess I don't understand what transpired today, based on the mainstream press reports.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Goodbye bloggers. I have turned into the Soldier in White from Catch-22, the one who kept screaming "I see everything twice!" If this keeps up I'll just have to ksakkjcvbniuuhnf;heonfn;oaishfo lsjad;dsfooijsoovn!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 26, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I defintiely dig Miyazaki's films, and haven't seen "Corpse Bride" yet, but "Nightmare..." is a favorite at my house.

Elfman's music for TNBC is as good as Burton's story and visuals (Achenfan, my oldest daughter dressed as "Sally" for Halloween a couple of years ago, and occasionally, I'll blurt out "I'm....JACK! The Pumpkin King!" when I realize I'm being a little too pompous around the house.), I'm looking forward to "Bride".

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

yeah, "cowardly" isn't the right word. He isn't afraid to face her, it's just that she isn't important, at least not yet. She's an annoyance, like those blasted New Orleaners who ruined his vacation.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

bc:
A little too pompous? You?
Bah!

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Kurosawaguy: Yes, Criterion is the best. OTOH this was 11 movies shipped for $30, and they do play in my cheap player.

I've seen Ran and Ikiru on the big screen at AFI. "High and Low" is on my to-do list. I was way miffed at myself for missing out on AFI Silver's Kurosawa/Mifune festival a couple of years back.

Re: "Watership Down", Adams also wrote a book called "Traveller", which is written from the point of view of General Lee's horse in retirement. Rare, worth a read.

Posted by: Les | September 26, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan - I find it's less painful to cut myself down to size before the 4 women I share the house with do it for me. Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Think of it as a real world SCC.

And don't think that my goofs from 4:12:03 aren't nagging at me.

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Try this:

A million dollar stack of $100 bills is about 22 inches high.

A billion dollar stack of $100 is 1 thousands times as high. This would be about 1800 feet, taller already than the Empire State building (at some 1400 feet).

A $250 billion dollar stack is more than 250 times the height of the empire state building (in $100 dollar bills, no less!)

It's a bit of cash.

Posted by: $250 Billion...? | September 26, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

yeah, you'd think i'd be a TNBC fan huh? everyone does! i think the music was a little too smarmy for me... i'm totally weird...
i've heard about tampopo but haven't seen it yet... i'm really into french films... like Trois couleurs...

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 4:26 PM | Report abuse

yeah, you'd think i'd be a TNBC fan huh? everyone does! i think the music was a little too smarmy for me... i'm totally weird...
i've heard about tampopo but haven't seen it yet... i'm really into french films... like Trois couleurs...

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Sara: "But no one seems to care that even her children have asked her to stop because they feel she's doing more harm than good and they think she's disrespecting her dead son. Why doesn't anyone seem to care about that? "

Can you tell me where you got this information? From everything I have read, it seems that those opposed to her protesting were her inlaws, I've never seen any mention of her other children. I would leave the state of her marriage out of this argument, as many marriages dissolve after the loss of a child. I could be wrong - if you have sources, I'd love to read them.

Posted by: livvy | September 26, 2005 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, me too, mo. My favorite is "Red." (Too bad there wasn't a "Black," eh?)

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, me too, mo. My favorite is "Red." (Too bad there wasn't a "Black," eh?)

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

livvy, it was in an article I read in a magazine. If I remember correctly it was Newsweek...It was a couple of months ago, I'm sorry if I have that wrong. I know it was one of the news magazines though. Her daughters haven't commented because they're in Europe right now, but her son wants her to come home. He says his brother was proud to be a soldier and his mother is making it seem like he wasn't proud of that.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 4:38 PM | Report abuse

My first double-post ever. Weird -- I swear I only hit "Post" once . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | September 26, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the 'boodle's acting like Joel called for the Cone of Silence or something...

bc

Posted by: bc | September 26, 2005 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I read and loved Traveller! I did not realize it was by the same author as Plague Dogs and Watership Down. I should really pay attention more...

Now that Netflix is out and about, my friends and I hunker down for an anime night every other week or so. We tend to concentrate on serial anime instead of stand alone movies but we have seen some of the classics including Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I read and loved Traveller! I did not realize it was by the same author as Plague Dogs and Watership Down. I should really pay attention more...

Now that Netflix is out and about, my friends and I hunker down for an anime night every other week or so. We tend to concentrate on serial anime instead of stand alone movies but we have seen some of the classics including Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

the boodle is going koookooo!! double postings everywhere!

(my fav was blue and YES, there shoulda been a black - about a moody grandma goth... LOL)

Posted by: mo | September 26, 2005 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I only posted once! I swear! Grumblemumble...dratted pc...mumble...what I get for 'boodling at work...grumble...

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I have to confess, jw, that my loathing of Bush makes me predisposed to cheering most anything that discomfits that soulless fraud. And as a father I'm willing to cut her some serious slack, even if it seems like she's jumped the shark.

Posted by: hominid | September 26, 2005 5:02 PM | Report abuse

" . . . jumped the shark." I'm going to use that phrase somewhere, sometime. It's a good one.

Posted by: Sara | September 26, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

While I wasn't able to find the article you mentioned, Sara, I will say this: what possible personal gain could Cindy Sheehan get out of this? I don't really see her as the type to sign on for a Lifetime movie of the week. While you may disagree with her position, which is entirely your right, you have to agree that the best thing about this country is that we all have the right to express our opinion, and strive for change. Like Linda said - unless you've been in the position of losing a child, you shouldn't judge her actions. Finally, if there is someone/thing that you need to be upset with - direct it at the media that created the circus. Don't get me wrong - I'm a news junkie as much as the next person - but I believe that Sheehan's good intentions have been drowned out by overexposure (and hot air from the extreme right - yes, Rush, that's you).

Posted by: livvy | September 26, 2005 5:05 PM | Report abuse

It'd be great fun to see what one of those auto-translators did with phrase. Might just cause a meltdown.

Posted by: hominid | September 26, 2005 5:09 PM | Report abuse

...or married Irving, for that matter.

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Moi Moi dreampt that an anime rabbit in a white kimono popped out of Moi Moi's Toyota sub-compact's cup holder and told Moi Moi to pay Moi Moi's share of the national debt or get out and start walking. Moi Moi wonders what this dream means?

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 26, 2005 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow. How'd you get all the Moi Moi's to line up like that?

Posted by: jw | September 26, 2005 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Cindy Sheehan herself doesn't have a clear concept of what she's trying to gain from all this. Obviously she is experiencing intense grief and is trying to deal with that grief -- perhaps not in the most rational way, but I think that's understandable. I'm guessing what she really wants is to have her son back. Unfortunately, that's never going to happen. For now, the best she can do is distract herself until she is able to bear the pain of that harsh reality -- or at least partially bear it, since it will probably never go away entirely. In the meantime, she is attracting a lot of attention to an important issue, so maybe it is possible that some good will come out of her personal nightmare.

Posted by: Dreamer | September 26, 2005 5:27 PM | Report abuse


over the years i have watched the early
GODZILLA movies many times each...the
nefarious bad monsters...the good ones
and the sometimes good/bad guy playouts
are so over the top....the mayhem and
set designs with the primitive early
special EFX are always good for another
watch...for JAPAN to have provided so
much movie fun is something to be very
happy about...and thankful for... :-)..
....more seriously i would have hoped for
more balance and discussion about post
hurricane rebuilding and long term views
of what may be down the road..............
i am sympathetic to the many who have now
lost homes or loved ones....it has been
horrible to see the suffering unfold.....
but the idea of spending $250 billion or
more to rebuild only to have the same take
place again is not good thinking..........
the risks of living in the coastal and
low lying river delta areas should be made
more clear...and the FEDERAL role of
providing unlimited backup for realestate
buildups in marginally safe areas or the
intrusion into ecologically sensitive areas
scaled way back if not taken out in the
worst examples of poor zoning or planning..
sadly it looks like the spend and make more
money mob has already hijacked the process
and so when the next big hurricane comes
the postponement of better thinking and
more sound policy making will be there for
all to see again.....easy money or reckless
borrowing of money is very corrosive to
the process of good policy making........

Posted by: an american in siam.... | September 26, 2005 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Good discussion about rabbits today. Way better than exchanging recipes for them.

Peter Rabbit, the Runaway Bunny, Brer Rabbit, Uncle Wiggly.

Posted by: CagedRabbit | September 26, 2005 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Monday, September 26, 2005; Posted: 5:22 p.m. EDT (21:22 GMT)

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.

The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves into the sentencing phase, which will determined by the same jury. She faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

England's trial is the last for a group of nine Army reservists charged with mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Two others were convicted in trials and the remaining six made plea deals. Several of those soldiers testified at England's trial.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

american in siam,

Thank you for staying on topic and your words of wisdom.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | September 26, 2005 5:44 PM | Report abuse

In the coverage on Rita the other night, Nightline focused on the changes made at the Texas Medical Center in Houston after the devastation to that facility from Hurricane Allison a few years back. Changes included the installation of waterproof doors and other surroundings for critical areas, and even included the moving of back-up generator facilites to upper floors, far above potential floodwaters.

I don't see any of that in the plans for Louisiana.

Nor do I see any amount designed to make good on New Orleans' broken promises to St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes from the aftermath of the 1927 Mississippi River flood, when those parishes accepted New Orleans' agreement to pay for damages in return for St. Bernard and Plaquemines agreeing to having their levees breached by explosives to relieve pressure on the levees in New Orleans.

Such a state we have there.

Posted by: Larry, in Dallas | September 26, 2005 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Whatever it takes to complete the mission.

Posted by: George W. in Crawford | September 26, 2005 5:55 PM | Report abuse

joel - you ARE going to write something about the protest march, aren't you??

Posted by: protest | September 26, 2005 6:18 PM | Report abuse

A dollar bill is .0043 inches thick (according to the U.S. Mint). A $250 billion stack of singles would be 16,9665 miles high. Laid end to end, those bills would circle the earth nearly 973 times. That much money is enough to cover the flooded areas of New Orleans with one dollar bills 7 thick and still have nearly $88 million left over.

Posted by: calculatormonkey | September 26, 2005 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Going way, way back to what Les asked at the beginning of the day: "Now, if every upstanding American knew beforehand that they would be forced to pay a mean of about $1K per person in taxes to benefit Katrina victims, how would the Red Cross have made out? (And is my $1K in Katrina taxes tax deductable?)"

Personally I like the idea of being able to itemize how my tax dollars are spent, and Katrina relief would be a much higher priority than a lot of other things. I'd even be willing to fork over $1,000 to New Orleans specifically, because I love the place, would like to see it return to form, though perhaps above sea level this time. (Can we LOWER the level of the ocean so that "sea level" won't be so high? No, wait, we're doing the opposite. Never mind.) The problem is, if we spend $250 billion on Katrina in just this one bill -- and I believe it is in addition to what has already been spent (something like $60 billion) -- then that's a thousand dollars a person, and there are five people in my house, so it's really a $5,000 surtax on my Form 1040. And when I look at that number I get to wondering how much I like New Orleans after all.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 26, 2005 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I have a friend who lives in Baton Rouge -- the farthest south she has gone. Her initial and sustaining reaction to the state (and I think she's been there for maybe 3 or 4 years) is that it is, and operates as if it is, a third world country. Having been in a couple of third world countries myself, I see what she means.

Perhaps one of the problems is that if you want the services, yet don't want to pay for them, or are otherwise unable to pay for them due to poverty and a low skill set, you get what you get. When I lived in New Hampshire for a time, I recognized that the lack of buses in the capital city was a result of no state income tax. If you had a car, fine. If not, you walk. Everywhere. Which is great if you're not disabled.

Entitlement mentalities abound, on the right and on the left. The righties just don't want to admit it. Halliburton is going to continue to make out like the bandit it is.

For some time I have pondered the actual concept of "United States" and have, much to my consternation, determined that this American in which a great many of us live is not at all united, and one state is pitted against the other with abandon -- we're being forced into a constant state of sibling rivalry, which is not a good thing.

The money will be borrowed, it will be spent, it will be wasted and this will go on and on until we have a true adult leading this country. Unfortunately, those corporations sucking from the welfare trough don't want an adult. They just love little boy.

As I have posted so many times before: *sigh*

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 26, 2005 6:21 PM | Report abuse

They will rebuild New Orleans and other destroyed parishes because that is somebody's home. New Orleans and Louisiana have historical worth back through colonial times. If we're going to question rebuilding New Orleans and southern Louisiana lets question the wisdom of rerouting rivers and building aqueduct systems to provide water to arid regions in the earthquake prone California Coast. The Colorado River is so tapped out that it doesn't reach the Pacific Ocean anymore. And all those public works will be destroyed WHEN an earthquake comes. Why don't we retreat from Washington DC? The city is built on a swamp like New Orleans and as hurricanes can strike at will up and down the eastern seaboard there's a decent chance DC could be wiped out by a hurricane as well. Anyone remember the hurricane that struck Manhattan near the turn of the century? It's up in there in the top 10 most destructive hurricanes on US record. Here's the bottom line: New Orleans and southern Louisiana will be rebuilt. It's up to alert and intelligent people like those found in this blog to make sure our elected officials spend the money wisely. Do we need to spend $100 million on mosquito control? Gee, I'd like to have an outbreak of malaria, yellow fever AND west nile on top of the bird flu coming over from Asia. I think that sounds great. So yes, unfortunately that expense is a necessary one. But with Louisiana's track record of waste and corruption there does need to be a strict policing effort. 65% of the people in the lower 9th ward owned their own homes and have owned them for generations. For some, there is no where else to go but back. It makes me angry when people wonder at the wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans. To me, it is like asking whether to rebuild DC or Boston should something obliterate those cities. I feel that New Orleans has _that_ much historical value.

As this is a long entry it better not post twice....

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Book Review: New Orleans' turbulent past has taken a toll on its people
Web Posted: 09/25/2005 12:00 AM CDT

Char Miller
Special to the Express-News

New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape
By Pierce F. Lewis
Center for American Places & University Press of Virginia, $22.50

Transforming New Orleans and its Environs: Centuries of Change
By Craig E. Colten, editor
University of Pittsburgh Press, $19.95

An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans From Nature
By Craig E. Colten
LSU Press, $39.95

The River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans
By Ari Kelman
University of California Press, $29.95


It is tough to make sense of all we have seen and heard in the shocking aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destructive surge across southern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf coast.

As New Orleans and the coastal communities blacked out, then went under water; as causeways and communications collapsed; and as the death toll climbed and the social fabric frayed, like the Mississippi Delta slipping beneath the rising tide, the images of devastation -- gruesome and bewildering -- have provoked a deep sense of disbelief. They've also ignited a political firestorm, suggesting that Katrina's fury will long endure.

But why was New Orleans so defenseless? Why was this fabled city no match for a Category 4 storm, even one that veered east and thus did not make such a direct hit?

These are some of the questions that my Urban Studies students at Trinity University and I have been wrestling with since Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29 and that have sent us into the university library in search of answers.

In collaboration with the university librarians, we have discovered, and are establishing an online archive of, a rich reading list on the Crescent City, its economic prospects, environmental dilemmas and social conundrums, all set in a landscape as vital as it is vulnerable.

Until Katrina, those in New Orleans had managed those trade-offs, argues historian Ari Kelman of the University of California-Davis: "Despite its environmental woes, people have settled there because they believed the Mississippi would make them rich, or at least keep food on their tables."

But what happens if the tables are turned, and nature overwhelms human society?

That possibility, made real with Katrina, is why New Orleans is, in geographer Pierce Lewis' penetrating phrase, "the impossible but inevitable city."

The French understood the dangers involved in building there, knowing the vast wetlands "a good deal better than many of New Orleans' contemporary real estate dealers," observes Lewis in his recently republished "New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape."

That's why, when they surveyed the soggy terrain, they selected the highest ground on which to build the new town, siting what would become the French Quarter on a vital crossroads, "by far the easiest way into the great river from either the Gulf of Mexico or the sheltered water of the Gulf Coast."

That location set the context for the city's four-staged development: The European City (1718-1810), in which New Orleans, under French and Spanish control, dominated the Gulf and the Mississippi River valley; the American Western Capital (1810-1865), when this steamboat city fed the United States' expansionist ambitions; the Maturing City (1865-1945), whose cotton exports helped underwrite the implementation of innovative pumping technology, thicker levees and escalating social tension; and the New and Uncertain City (1945-), whose fortunes have fluctuated in tandem with the national economy and have been rocked by local deprivations.

New Orleans' future, Lewis contends, is only as certain as its residents' willingness "to do battle with the city's cruelest problems -- racial discrimination and intolerance, wretched public schools, miserable housing, and grinding poverty."

These damaging inequities are explored in even greater depth in Craig Colten's two books: "Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs," an anthology containing contributions from leading economists, geographers and historians; and his own magnificent study, "An Unnatural Metropolis."

Along with the contributors to "Transforming New Orleans," Colten, a geographer at Louisiana State University, exposes the troubling links between the city's physical landscape and the disparities in its social ecology.

The first levees, built with slave labor, allowed the French and Spanish to construct a port city that reinforced the sharp divide between whites and blacks. That gap increased after Americans absorbed Louisiana, as each succeeding generation further channelized the river and heightened flood walls: blacks, as chattel or freedmen, bore the brunt of that labor and lived in intensifying squalor in its "backswamp."

Those conditions changed but little after World War II; African Americans remained crowded into wards on the lowest, most flood-prone ground and inhabited the town's least healthy sectors. Desegregation, for all its political liberation, brought little relief, a bitter reality that Katrina's turbulent waters brought to the surface.

"A land between earth and sea -- belonging to neither and alternately claimed by both": That's how geologists Charles Kolb and J.R. Von Lopik of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described southern Louisiana.

Playing off their insight is the title to Ari Kelman's wonderful first book "The River and Its City."

An environmental historian, Kelman explores the complicated interaction between the natural and built landscapes, focusing on the point where the two daily collide: the riverfront.

That landscape, by law public space, was the key to human life in New Orleans until the 1870s, but its control has always been in dispute.

For the next 100 years, framed up by levees and warehouses, and despite legal challenges, the waterfront was sealed off from the citizenry; since then, the river has re-emerged in the public eye, albeit as part of touristic environment.

But as he charts these and other changes in the complex relationship between the Mississippi and the New Orleans it created, Kelman reminds us of a larger principle -- cities are not "antithetical to the natural world" but are tangled within its embrace.

None more so than the Crescent City (a name derived from the river's bend that makes the city possible), because, as each of these books reflects, its citizens have expended immense amounts of human energy, social capital and financial investment to make (and keep) dry what long had been wet.

But in the process of seeking an ever-greater distance between itself and the river, lake and wetlands, the city's actions have imperiled public safety.

The very canals, channels and levees designed to lift New Orleans above its swampy base have intensified its subsidence; automobiles have driven the construction of new, outlying and below-sea-level subdivisions, accelerating environmental degradation and elevating the risk to life and property.

Just how vulnerable New Orleans had become, we now know in full.

Although seven major hurricanes, and many tropical storms, have pounded the region since 1900, and although it has rebounded from each inundation, none packed Katrina's punch, none produced its disarray, none so scattered its people.

Moreover, in Katrina's wake, the city that geographer Lewis calls an "outpost of civilization on a challenging shore" faces its gravest threat, and one from which it might not recover.

There may be no fix for the Big Easy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2005 7:14 PM | Report abuse

type:
land sink new orleans
into a google search and you will get many pages of info: levees are part of the problem, NO will be completely underwater in 2100, etc...

and DC was not built on a swamp (it irks me when I hear that) read this:

http://www.geocities.com/bobarnebeck/swamp.html

and no part of DC is below sea level

True, a nasty hurricane will if it brings floods down our rivers will wreak havac(sp) on our lower lying areas... ah, scrweit, I'm irked!

Posted by: omnigood | September 26, 2005 8:09 PM | Report abuse

an explanation for my irkiness: a friend once said the reason for DC's high humidity was the fact it was built on a swamp. I looked at him dumbfoundedly, thinking this is an intelligent guy, how could he possibly say something so stupid. Then I said if that's true, the entire eastern seaboard is built on a swamp. Growing up in a Philly suburb, visiting upper PA many times, NY a couple, living in DC a few years: I knew the humidity was no worse here than those others.

ask me how this anecdote ended. goodnight

Posted by: omnigood | September 26, 2005 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I've had enough Blorph for one night.

And the alien creature in "Lost in Space" was Blorp. achenara

Posted by: omnigoof | September 26, 2005 8:25 PM | Report abuse

omnideaf, go watch your movie.

Posted by: omnibad | September 26, 2005 8:28 PM | Report abuse

more Blorph needed now...

must Blorph now;

BLORPH

Posted by: omnigoof | September 26, 2005 8:30 PM | Report abuse

AUTHOR: omniack
EMAIL:
IP: 172.148.232.160
URL:
DATE: 09/26/2005 08:34:44 PM

Posted by: omniack | September 26, 2005 8:34 PM | Report abuse

don't think anyone is visiting this boodle anymore but i had to say that the anon post re: NO was very informative. i too would like to see NO rebuilt but for purely selfish reasons... there's a magic pulse to that city that is unparallel! and as pgm said, it has enourmous historical value and was someone's home - many of those people had never left NO - centuries of families growing old on the same land. They'll return and so will the Big Easy...

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Sara-
Cindy's son, your reference, proud and dead. And all this from you with a flippancy that is nauseating.

Posted by: Cassandra | September 27, 2005 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Pardon me if it's been mentioned, but has anyone brought up the Dilbert strip's word for inconceivable sums of money--'frooglepoopillion'? One of MY favorites...

Posted by: taiwankeiki | September 29, 2005 4:40 AM | Report abuse

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but prolly it's (fill in the
blanks):

$10 million for Senator _______'s friend, _________, who runs a program
to unite missing children with their family members

$35 million to Senator _______'s friend, _________, who runs "the
Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board for the rebuilding of
lost markets that have been challenged by Hurricane Katrina and its
aftermath."

$100 million for Senator _______'s friend, _________, who runs"Mosquito
abatement activities"

$24,490,073 "shall be available until expended for completion of Senator
_______'s friend, _________, who runs the ARS Sugarcane Research
Laboratory at Houma, Louisiana"

$200 million for Senator _______'s friend, _________, who runs an
"entrepreneurship redevelopment program" under U.S. Department of Commerce

$50 billion in Community Development Block Grants

$40 billion to Senator _______'s friend, George Bush, who runs U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers

Posted by: Matt C | September 29, 2005 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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