Saturday, September 30, 2006

You will learn nothing from reading this

A Republican won yesterday's state election for Insurance Commissioner. I'm not sure who as of yet, but I know that because there were something like five Republicans and one Libertarian (who got about 10 percent of the vote). For a brief moment yesterday, while mulling my options, I felt like a Ralph Nader fan in California in 2004. Not good.

There were also a bunch of amendments. I voted Yes, Yes, Yes, No, No, No, No, Yes, No, No, No, Yes and Yes. This will used against me in my 2036 presidential bid, when I am accused of being a flip-flopper. "He voted yes before he voted no."

Yesterday was the first time (at least that I've noticed) that Lafayette Parish has used electronic voter machines. I like them, except for that whole nonexistent-paper-trail thing. I noticed that, though a green X lines up next to your ballot choice, there's an LCD screen at about crotch level that resembles the one on handheld games of Trivial Pursuit. I was too distracted by the shiny green X's to read what it said during the voting process, but I think it was a question about Ernest Borgnine.

I also noticed that the paper ballot lies atop the buttons, much like some Atari games used cardboard cutouts to turn your gaming console into a space-shuttle control panel. But you still knew that the "engage" button was really the "Game Reset" switch. The question now is, what else are those voting-booth buttons used for?

In any event, I trust these new computer booths to accurately record my vote. I left my polling place yesterday confident, knowing that at least I had not voted for George W. Bush. Probably.

Oh, and at no point did anybody survey me. So if you hear about any polls, they're wrong.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

7-Eleven to drop Citgo as supplier

Venezuelan gas too loaded with political baggage

HOUSTON - A week after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush “the devil,” convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc. said Wednesday it will stop selling gasoline from Venezuelan-controlled Citgo Petroleum, but both companies denied the actions were linked.

Chavez angered the White House and its supporters when he called President Bush “the devil” in a Sept. 20 speech at the United Nations and said the podium still reeked of sulfur after a Bush appearance there.

You see, he angered "the White House and its supporters," so now we're all left to deal with severe cuts in one of the only gas suppliers not directly fueling the Middle East war machine. You'd think an administration so intent on pissing off everyone would have thicker skin when someone criticizes them.

“Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans’ concerns over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made” by Chavez, 7-Eleven said in a statement.

Let me tell you, I am so gosh-darn offended about Chavez calling Bush the devil! And I'm glad that 7-Eleven retaliated by removing that country's stock from their pumps. Because everyone knows that a president's remarks speak unequivocally for 100 percent of his nation's population. And that the American people deserve fewer choices because of it!

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris told Reuters that was not the case. The decision to drop Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA, was made well before the speech, she said, and based on 7-Eleven’s desire to sell its own branded gasoline.

“People are making it out to be more than it is,” Chabris said.

Well, we're all a little jaded on the connection thing since 9/11 somehow became the war in Iraq. Suffice to say, the timing of this decision does seem a tad convenient.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is STUPID! We're going to start boycotting gas suppliers because their home country's president makes a crack at Dubya? In case you haven't noticed, almost ALL gasoline--as well as 90 percent of the products we all enjoy--originate from countries that hate us in some sense. At this moment, the United States is probably at its nadir in terms of world support; are we going to boycott everyone else as well, especially if our alternative is to deal with our enemies? Even a majority of this country disapproves of Bush. Are we going to stop buying American? Even more than we already have?

Moreover, this decision is economically hypocritical. Once upon a time, we allowed market forces to determine whether or not a company remained in business and/or in a partnership. But in this day and age, once a business has gotten on Bush's bad side, we no longer even have the choice. It's as if conservatives realized that their zeal for boycotts isn't terribly effective, so they must shut down any possibility that others will not participate.

I always advocated purchasing Citgo gas in the first place, because it burns cleaner and (can I stress this enough?) its profits don't go toward Mideastern warlords. Also, it's generally cheaper. And that's when I'm not buying Louisiana gasoline. Which, admittedly, is lately, since I currently don't have a car. And bike fuel is as cheap as it gets!

But if you're in the mood for some good ol' American chest-beating, then don't let these facts get in the way. Go on believing that purchasing gas from competitors is somehow not enriching people much worse than Chavez, who offered discount heating fuel to poor Americans (and who is not currently calling for the destruction of the United States).

I dare you to stomach the MSNBC comment thread on this affair. Some choice comments:

Good for 7 Eleven. Regardless of its motives, it sends a clear message that we back our President, irrespective of which party he is from.

As Americans...sometimes WE should shut up. We critisize our own, publically. Makes us look like wus to the rest of the world. And then they think we are soft. We are soft....because we don't stand behind ANYTHING together as a nation.

When will you people realize that no one, I mean no one likes us. Why? Is it jealousy towards our lifestyle or towards the God that we serve? [...] Thank God for real leaders like Bush who don't run on every poll that's out there. I don't agree with everything he does but at least he's true to his word, and hasn't brought any disrespect to the position he holds.

Any real American, despite their ideas about politics as a whole, is bound to buck up when an insane leader, such as Chavez, makes derogatory remarks about the most powerful man in the world.

And my personal favorite:

I think everyone should drop Citgo Gas and kick them out of the country. We should not be funding the evil ones to help them undermine our country.

Anyone willing to take this sentiment to its logical extreme will win my admiration. They will also find themselves in great shape, as they walk everywhere. Which actually isn't a bad idea.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

LOL: Leave Our Language!

Rule #32 in an ongoing series

Can we please stop with this "LOL" crap? Sure, we all wish it were still 2000; but we need to let go of this creaky bit of Internet jargon. It's like a pair of briefs; they may be comfortable, but you still need to change them once in a while to avoid serious chafing.

For one thing, "LOL" is too easy to say, a pat answer for the digital age. It keeps chatters from really having to think about anything. And no one ever objects, because we all like to think we're making others titter. But frankly, very few things spoken in a chat room are laugh-out-loud funny; that’s why we have Family Guy, kiddies.

Anyway, we know all you LOLLipops are lying. You're not actually laughing out loud! If you really were "laughing out loud," you wouldn't be typing L-O-L, because you'd be too busy actually laughing out loud! Get it?

Because I rarely laugh out loud during instant-messenging, I don't use "LOL." Instead, I type "ha ha," which takes even more effort than "LOL." But I have the extra energy, because I'm not laughing out loud when I type it. I'm laughing on the inside, like when I read "Ziggy."

Some people really kick out the jams with their "LOL" use, as if to convey that what they’re saying is super-de-duper funny. You’ve no doubt seen this in action:

LOL I had no idea how much trouble Stef’s mom got into with the law when she got drunk and drove her kids to the drug dealers house LOL! She said she forgot the kids were in the trunk LOL! But the cops threw her in prison LOL where she spent the night trying not to drop the soap in the shower LOL LOL LOL!!

Who laughs that much over one thought? I figure that real laughter would at least span throughout the sentence, instead of hiccuping through it. Assuming it's even a funny phrase in the first place, which it probably isn't.

Some people have completely given up on earning their LOLs. These people use it as punctuation, rather than as a tag for something actually humorous. I once actually received an e-mail that said this:

"Cletus and I are getting married on July 28, so mark your calendars. LOL."

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...gasp...HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...wait, wait..."Mark your calendars!" HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Make it stop before I bust a gut! Before the Internet, we had to rely on professional comedians like Larry the Cable Guy to lower the bar. Maybe instead of "GIT-R-DONE," he could just say "MARK-R-CALENDARS!" Hell, they’re both equally (un)funny catchphrases.

Another issue with "LOL" is that it's spawned a subculture of offshoot terms. Sort of a LOL-litter. Stuff like "lolz," "roffle" and "lollerskates." Virtually all of these terms take more effort to type than the words they abbreviate, further proof that everyone likes being dumb.

Others justifiably find the "LOL" zinger to be inadequate. So they express their lollitude in creative ways that say, "I'm no LOL zombie! I’m an individual, dammit!" Some of these terms include, but are not limited to: "LOOOL"; "LOOOOOOL"; and (if something's really, truly, calendar-marking hilarious), "LOOOOOOOOOOOOL." And nothing’s better for your ego than knowing you’ve made someone Laugh Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Out Loud. Roffle!

"Laughing Out Loud" should be used only in its proper reference, as the title of a Wallflowers song from 1996. A song, ironically enough, that isn’t funny. Just like you! Ha ha!

(Note: The first person to respond to this with "LOL" will be shot with Dick Cheney’s hunting rifle.)

So this is what winning feels like...

Last night's Saints-Falcons game could not have possibly turned out better for Saints fans and the long-demoralized city of New Orleans. From the pregame show to the post-game sea of stalwart fans, it was one aesthetic pleasure after another. Indeed, it could very well be the most perfect football event all year.

The Superdome looked absolutely spectacular. I didn't expect it to look as good as it did before, much less better. The new turf looks like real grass (though it apparently runs like real artificial turf), and the team introductions and entertainment were every bit as world-class as they were in previous years. The exterior lighting effects were also a marvelous touch. But most importantly, the seats didn't need their famous color scheme to look filled tonight. And the crowd alone was enough to bring back the beauty of the Dome.

Good vibes must have seriously been emanating from the Superdome, because I caught quite a whiff here in Lafayette. In what other situation would most New Orleanians be happy to see George H.W. Bush, Michael Vick and Tom Benson? I even caught one fan with a sign that said, "Tom Benson, all is forgiven." Wow! Who knew that feeling good felt so...good? Or is "high" a better word? Then again, they also lustily booed Falcons relic Morten Andersen, who holds the all-time Saints point record. That felt pretty good too, in a perverse way.

In this game, the Saints executed a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and scored with a double-reverse touchdown and a 51-yard field goal. They also kept the Falcons from scoring after four plays from the three-yard line. They so severely owned the Dirty Birds that I now know what it must feel like to support a Republican. I need a shower.

Falcons TE Alge Crumpler is the only player from either squad on my fantasy team, and I desperately needed his points this week. Considering that Joe Theismann was broadcasting and my team is named "Theismann's Tibia," I guess I deserved to lose. Not that I gave a rat's tight end tonight.

ESPN's coverage was about as good as it gets. They did a great job of depicting both the rebirth going on in the Superdome, and the considerable labor left to be done. I worried that they would try to gloss over the latter issue; but instead they confronted it full-on with footage of the hurricane damage and vastly contrasting shots of the Superdome chaos with tonight's revelry. Additionally, several celebrities noted that New Orleans will survive only through tourism dollars and sustained national interest in the rebuilding cause. Viewers of Monday Night Football's telecast will hopefully come away with the understanding that, while all is still not well, the cause is worthwhile and must continue.

Further props to MNF for having Spike Lee in the broadcast booth. This is a reminder of the show's glory days, when Ronald Reagan would teach John Lennon about football from the same forum. Moreover, the MNF trio allowed Spike to opine on the state of New Orleans and his own experiences as a documentarian down here. Were they crazy? I sure hope so!

Spike helped by not going directly for the political jugular; when asked what New Orleans still needed, he said, "I'm not gonna have a Kanye moment!" Actually, that pretty much said it all. Awesome.

At first, I was weirded out by the whiteness of the crowd. Fortunately, subsequent pans showed that the sellout crowd was far more diverse (and thus more New Orleans-esque) than initially shown. In any event, a cheering crowd never seemed more eager, or relieved, than tonight's Saints fans. One fan, during a cutaway, could be seen saying, "I lost my home, but we got back the Dome!" while pointing upward. At least I think that's what he said, because ESPN cut away from him a little prematurely. But I was very glad to see him, because that's exactly who deserves to be in the Superdome seats.

Even the post-game Benson Boogie was a reassuring sight, bringing us back to the salad days when our biggest worry was that he wanted to build a new!

By the way, the Saints won 23-3. They are now 3-0 and have topped the Falcons for control of the NFC South. Not bad for a team with a rookie head coach and a roster greener than fresh bananas. Almost forgot to mention all that.

If the rest of the season pans out like this, I'm going to write a screenplay about it. Hold me to it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Looking for Saints highlights?

In anticipation of Monday Night Fever, here are some Saints videos that I find fun to watch:

1) Check out the River City Relay, a play so infamous it won top prize at the 2004 ESPY awards. For the uninitiated, this is the 75-yard lateral-fest that brought the Saints a touchdown in the final seconds of a late-season 2003 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Saints fans know it well. Aaron Brooks passes to Donte Stallworth. Stallworth laterals to Michael Lewis. Lewis laterals to Deuce McAllister. McAllister laterals to Jerome Pathon. Brooks with the crucial block! JEROME PATHON WITH THE TOUCHDOWN!! Good stuff. Last-ditch lateral plays don't usually work that well without a marching band getting in the way.

Only Jacksonville Jaguars fans hate watching this play. Well, aside from Saints fans who watch it in its proper context, remembering that John Carney missed the extra point, allowing the Jags to win anyway. Taken on its own, however, the River City Relay is Saints football at its best--backed into a corner, no time left, sudden gelling and theatrics all the way to the endzone. Like with most epic Saints plays, it's best to forget that it ultimately didn't matter. Because one day--hopefully in a certain current year that ends in 06--it will.

2) Tom Dempsey's 63-yard field goal in 1970 is a record that still stands (albeit tied) today. It allowed the Saints to score one of their two victories that season. That last-second long shot must have been very emasculating for the Detroit Lions, considering that one-win teams who change head coaches midseason and can't get good field position are rarely a threat. But for the throngs at Tulane Stadium, it was a brief glow of triumph. Nobody parties harder than Saints fans in a good mood.

3) And what Saints video experience is complete without the very first Saints play in franchise history? A 94-yard opening-kickoff touchdown return by John Gilliam against the Los Angeles Rams. A very expensive Faustian bargain, sure, but legendary nonetheless. Check out other historical Saints videos here.

For more recent highlights, check out these recaps from the first two games of the Sean Payton era: Browns and Packers. Click on the highlight reels to see what we hope will gel on Monday Night against the Falcons. Whatever happens, it's going to be epic. Hopefully, the Saints will give the Falcons the drubbing they deserve for, well, being the Atlanta Falcons. Cha ching!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

You're only as old as your taste

Yesterday I was feeling nostalgic for 1993, so I spun several CDs that I listened to at the time. But back then, I listened mainly to the following four albums:

1) Sports--Huey Lewis and the News
2) Business as Usual--Men at Work
3) Thriller--Michael Jackson
4) The Beatles, 1967-1970

When I tell people that these albums--two of which were actual LPs--defined 7th and 8th grade for me, they remark that I look really good for 36. And where can they get some of that cream?

I would often bring these CDs to school to share with with three other people who cared. Everyone else would make fun of me and my decidedly non-Nirvana taste in music. Several of these classmates, ironically enough, are now in 80s-retro bands. For the record, I was into eighties music before it was cool--way back in 1993! Everyone else is just jumping on the MTV-VH1 bandwagon. Pretenders (no pun intended).

One of my earliest memories is of New Year's Day 1983, when I was not yet three years old, getting very excited when I heard the opening flute strains of Men at Work's "Down Under" on the radio. "That's that new song I like," I remember thinking, before trying to figure out what thumped in my chest after a round of jumping on the bed (I pictured a box fan). Ten years later, I was working on a Beatles project for school when I heard "Down Under" again. If you've ever had a moment where seemingly lost memories flood back with the right cue, then you know the rapture I felt at that moment. After that, I bought a secondhand Business as Usual LP at a comic-book store and played it constantly for about a year. My entire summer and 8th-grade year are soaked in it. I bought the CD in high school and still play it quite often.

So what exactly am I nostalgic for when I heark back to puberty? I grew up in the 1990s, but I wasn't totally there, you know? I'm asking this because it tends to disturb actual 30-somethings that we share almost identical musical memories. Maybe I should just lie about my age; I always saw myself as more of a Generation X-er than this weird consumerist TRL generation now growing up in the Ground Zeros Decade, anyway.

Which brings us to an even scarier question: will anyone look back at this decade as fondly as people do now with the 1980s? Common sense tells me yes, but it's very peculiar to imagine. "Wow, how that song brings me back to 9/11!" I'll guess we'll see when I'm 46. Or is it 56?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Things couples shouldn't say

1) "We're pregnant!"
No, SHE'S pregnant, and it wasn't some huge sacrifice on your part to get her that way, Bruno. She's doing all the work. To quote the old feminist saying, "Women have the babies because men couldn't take the pain."

2) "She finishes my sentences!"
What, was that a problem before? Did you fall in love with your speech therapist?

3) "We agree on absolutely everything."
Most people can't agree with themselves most of the time, so this is just too ridiculous to believe. Though it would make sense if Pat Robertson and George W. Bush got gay married.

4) "We're soul mates!"
How do you know? You've only dated one other person, and that was the cousin you took to prom. Yeah yeah, we know she was distant, but still...

5) "I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world."
Apparently that guy gets around. He's married to everybody.

6) "I can't even remember what life was like before I met him / her."
I'll tell you what it was like: you were fun! Or miserable. But in the latter case, you obviously do remember if you're saying something like this. Unless you've been married for 83 years, in which case it might be literally true. And kinda cool.

7) "I'm going to grow old with this person."
Most relationships do grow old really quickly.

8) "We've been dating for exactly 10 months, three weeks, five days, six hours and a partridge in a pear tree."
It's just creepy to clock something that closely. I could tell you how many days I've done this blog, but that's creepy too (843).

9) "He/she's my destiny and I'll do anything to keep us together."
Didn't Michael Douglas say something to this effect in Falling Down? Or was it that eternal romantic Mark Wahlberg in Fear?

10) "How much?"
At least in public, because that's against the law.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Willie Nelson bus busted for pot

Score another one for Louisiana PR machine

AP--Willie Nelson and four others were issued misdemeanor citations for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana after a traffic stop Monday morning on a Louisiana highway, state police said.

Nelson, 73, has recorded songs including “On the Road Again” and “City of New Orleans.”

Arresting Willie Nelson for pot is the law-enforcement equivalent of playing Jenga with Michael J. Fox. Sure, it's an ego boost and a brush with fame; but it's wrong to even consider. Leave it to Louisiana law enforcement to embarrass us once again! And they wonder why we have such a hard time attracting celebrities.

The citations were issued after a commercial vehicle inspection of the country music star’s tour bus, state police said in a news release.

This arrest is particularly intriguing to me because it happened roughly 10 miles from where I live. As a licensed driver in the state of Louisiana, and one who has traversed this particular stretch of I-10 almost as many times as Willie's performed "On the Road Again," I can say with confidence that I've never seen, or even heard of, these so-called "vehicular inspection stops."

While all Louisiana vehicles undergo a yearly inspection, it's typically done at a service station and not along some random stretch of interstate highway early in the morning. And judging by the extremely expired inspection stickers I routinely see on cars here, enforcement isn't so stringent that they'll pull you over just for that (nor, judging by my observations, for mere drunkenness).

Perhaps "commercial vehicle inspection" refers to the weigh-in stations that rigs frequent. But as a regular night driver, I never see them open. And as many busses as I've traveled in on red-eye journeys, I've never seen one have to pull over for this kind of thing. On the other hand, I can fully believe that a giant green bio-fueled bus with Willie Nelson stuff emblazoned across it would attract the attention of some bored, star-struck cops at an early-morning hour. The news release from the Louisiana State Police sure smacks of bombast:

Troopers Charge Musicians
September 18, 2006

On September 18, 2006, a Louisiana State Police Criminal Interdiction Unit stopped a 2005 Prevost Tour Bus to conduct a Commercial Vehicle Inspection. The traffic stop was conducted on the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 near milepost 110. When the door was opened and the Trooper began to speak to the driver, he smelled the strong odor of Marijuana in the bus. After smelling this, Troopers conducted a search of the bus. During the course of the search, approximately one and one-half pounds of Marijuana and approximately two-tenths of a pound of Mushrooms were located on the bus. Troopers placed the driver out of service.

No word on whether the driver was, in fact, stoned himself. If he wasn't, that sets an interesting legal precedent. Goodbye, designated drivers!

The press release comes attached with a photo of the contraband, for some reason. You can also see the stash here, courtesy of The Independent. As you look at this photo, breathe a sigh of relief that you are now safe from this horrifying menace. Your tax dollars at work! Awesome Ziploc plug, by the way. No yellow and blue seal here--only green!

There were enough drugs to merit a felony charge of distribution if they had been found in one person’s possession, state police spokesman Willie Williams said. But all five claimed the drugs as their own and the drugs were not packaged for resale, so each was charged with misdemeanors, he said. All were released after the citations were issued.

How rock and roll is that? "Honestly, officer, that weed is MINE!" If only our politicians would be this forthright! All right, so saying this got them off more serious charges; but you know damn well they weren't kidding. Willie is one of marijuana's most outspoken advocates, and he wasn't about to unload that comfort.

This arrest happened one year to the day--and almost to the hour--that my fabled truck of six years died for good on the side of Highway 90 near Baldwin (a good 44 miles from Lafayette and about three miles from a sign). At that time, I couldn't buy a state trooper, and even 911 couldn't locate me. Maybe I should've bought some weed before I broke down? Next time, I'll put a stash in my emergency kit, right next to the road flares. Because while the mission of the police is supposedly "to protect and serve," it's apparently much easier to get their attention if you're doing something naughty.

And while I'm no advocate of law breaking (or drug using) myself, I do think we put a serious strain on our national penal infrastructure by keeping marijuana illegal. But even if current law continues to prevail, common sense dictates that Willie Nelson and his band are not a threat to society. Hell, wouldn't we all like to be that productive and virile at 73? I say, channel that police muscle into real crime--you know, the kind that ends lives prematurely.

On behalf of the entire state of Louisiana, Willie, I am sorry. We hope that you will not find this stop as indicative of the character of our state, and hope you will perform here again soon. If you do, you may have the privilege of having this clumsy sub-headline appear in an article about you:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bush for President!

Accurate headline of the week

After death, Web takes on new life

Did you know that the Internet died? I didn't! Must have happened while I was eating barbecue yesterday. And look how fast they resurrected it! Even Jesus needed three days.

I'm just concerned over what this "new life" for the Internet truly means. Will it become a dumping ground for corporate zombies? Now that's frightening. Support Net Neutrality!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How I feel about faith

Here in Cajun country, there's an old joke that goes like this:

Boudreaux and Thibodeaux were at home when a massive flood began to hit. Boudreaux immediately evacuated, and asked Thibodeaux to go with him.

"Mais no, I'm gonna stay here," Thibodeaux said. "If the Lord wants me to leave, He'll give me a sign." Boudreaux shrugged and left.

As the flood waters rose, Thibodeaux found himself clinging to the railing of his porch. Boudreaux then floated by in a rowboat. "Come on, Thibodeaux!" he said. "The water's rising, yeah."

"Mais no, I'm gonna stay here," Thibodeaux said. "If the Lord wants me to leave, He'll give me a sign." Boudreaux shrugged and left.

By then, the waters were rising to staggering depths. Thibodeaux had no choice but to climb on his roof. A helicopter swiftly came to his aid. "Come on, sir," the pilot echoed through a bullhorn. "We're here to rescue you!"

"Mais no, I'm gonna stay here," Thibodeaux said. "If the Lord wants me to leave, He'll give me a sign." The pilot, unable to keep negotiating due to the pounding rain, gave up and left.

Thibodeaux drowned.

Upon reaching the Pearly Gates, Thibodeaux was called to the Lord's throne. "Dear Lord," he said. "I put all of my faith in you to rescue me from the storm. Why didn't you give me a sign?"

And the Lord said, "Well, hell, I sent a rowboat and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ann Richards 1933-2006

Former Texas governor dies of cancer at 73

I've been to Texas four million times in my life. But I think I enjoyed it most from 1991 to 1995, when my family made annual trips to Bonham for family reunions. I think my favorite trip was in July 1994, when we went to the reunion, then to Six Flags over Arlington and Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Somewhere along the way, I heard that Gov. Richards was up for re-election against George W. Bush, son of the former president. And then I got sick and vomited a lot. In retrospect, maybe it wasn't food poisoning...

As most of you already know, I'm not the biggest fan of Texas. Nor am I the most prudent follower of Texan politics. But I can say that my fondest memories of the Lone Star State--times when I seriously considered moving there after high school or college--coincide perfectly with Ann Richards' tenure as governor of Texas. Maybe it was because, at that time, I actually felt at home there. It was like a whole other country.

R.I.P., Madame Governor.

Lafayette spawns another blog!

Lafayette's coolest weekly newspaper, The Independent, now has a full-on blog, Da Bog. The alternative weekly contains some of the best local journalistic talent, including gonzo cartoonist and fellow blogger Greg Peters. Any new blogging from Lafayette is progress, and Da Bog has good breeding behind it, as a stuffy aristocrat might say.

Not that he needs one, but editor Scott Jordan offers this reason for the blog's launch:

In today’s 24-7 news environment, the nine days between our Monday press deadline and the Wednesday street delivery of the following week’s issue have sometimes felt like an eternity for our editorial staff.

I, too, know the peril of the nine-day deadline. Most of my Vermilion columns had the same lead time. More than once I had to completely rewrite them, such as when they caught the Beltway Sniper just in time to make my column about him totally irrelevant. Just one day after the 2004 election, I had to run a generic pet-peeve column, because I could say nothing about politics that wouldn't be grossly outdated by then. Nine-day deadlines, however unavoidable, SUCK. I learned long ago that blogging corrects that problem quite nicely.

For that and so many other reasons, I eagerly add Da Bog to my list of daily online haunts. If the give-and-take at their blog is half (twice?) as productive as it is at mine, then local media-watchers are in for a real treat. All newspapers should join this trend, so I can finally retire on my fat Blogger pension, spend my days playing shuffleboard with Nick and pine for the good old days. Just like I do now!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A bit of passive-aggressive marketing

For the past few days, I've been compiling what I think are the best essays, satirical articles, words of wisdom and other content from Not Right and putting them into a booklet. I was doing this mainly for myself, because I have a neurotic need to amass all of my writing into print form. I'm good at it, too; you should see my workspace! I'm very much like that severely OCD guy ABC profiled several years ago who couldn't throw away newspapers, and would shriek when someone else tried to do it for him. But I digress.

After a couple of days of hammering away at this act of self-indulgence, I now have more than 70 pages of material...and that's for 2006 alone, with almost four full months left to go. That's leaving out the short notes, direct rebuttals to other work, Caption Centrals, photographs, most graphics and all of the cartoons. Moreover, I left out a lot of the lesser-refined and/or more pointless rants. And still, it's 70-plus pages! Apparently I'm a prolific bastard; I don't think I change my socks as much as I write, and I'm a very hygienic person.

Surprisingly, the text fits a lot better on paper than you'd expect from blog output. It basically reads the same as any compilation written by a columnist. When all is said and done, I'm looking at a minimum of 100 pages if I stick only to 2006 (which I probably won't do). I'm also working on a cool cover and some bonus material.

If all goes well, I hope to have the Not Right book next to my toilet by year's end. If you have a toilet, you might want to consider the same thing.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cakes and candles not necessary

Today is the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Sure, it seems like it's been a lot longer; but time flies when you're having fun, right?

I'm not much for anniversaries, because they're more symbolic than anything. Anyway, I doubt anyone is really going to wake up today and say, "So 9/11 was exactly five years ago? Gee, I haven't thought about that in a while!" Trust me; no one in the world needs a mark on the calendar to remember that horrific day.

I'm not going to relate my personal tale of where I was that day. First off, I was asleep for most of the destruction. Second, who really cares what some college student from Lafayette, Louisiana, was doing at the time? I was fortunate to spend most of my day running errands in perfect weather, going to school (where my only class of the day was cancelled) and then work. The biggest impacts on my day were listening to live coverage of the chaos on NPR (including an asphyxiating reporter) and seeing no planes in the air that day. This was in stark contrast to two days before, when I worked a triathlon at the local airport and watched nearby planes take off, one after another, into horrendous storm clouds.

Big whoop, right? No doubt that snippet of information has added profoundly to your understanding of 9/11. Still, one event that happened to me in the aftermath is kind of noteworthy and--dare I say it?--slightly amusing.

Within days of the attacks, UL planned a campus-wide vigil. I was running late, and got there right as it started. As I walked toward the site, I found myself walking alongside a large contingent of foreign students. Turns out I had walked straight into a march of some kind. Bystanders flanked the procession, a mixture of other international students and gawking Caucasians. The silence was eerie, especially considering I couldn't see the sign that the lead marchers were carrying. There had been anecdotal evidence of racial clashes at school over the past few days, so for all I knew it could have been a protest against the vigil. All I knew was that I was walking alongside a silent group of people who either stood for everything I did, or who diametrically opposed all of it. And I wouldn't know the answer until I reached the vigil and gauged the general population's reaction.

When we reached the quad, a gaggle of cameras awaited. Uncertain of what I was marching for, and wanting to not diminish/abet that cause one way or the other, I jumped to the side. I hit a gate chain and nearly tripped in front of thousands of people. Fortunately for my ever-fragile ego, all of them were focused on the message brought forth by the marchers, which I was now at an angle to read:

I shouldn't have worried. But didn't we all worry in those days?

The flipside of this outpouring of support was a vocal release of the racist and chickenhawk tripe that even the most ignorant ranter would normally keep to themselves, or speak only behind a hood. More than once, "We're at war!" was spoken with something best described as lust. As much war talk as I had to hear from the armchair conservatives after 9/11, and as much ultra-nationalism as we saw in the ensuing days, I also saw an unprecedented outpouring of peace. It's often been said that national tragedies bring out both the best and the worst in people, and 9/11 continues to do so. I think the back page from the Sept. 19, 2001 Vermilion encapsulates the spectrum of thought (such as it was) at the time:

This was during one of my hiatuses from the paper, so my input was not requested. But I was fortunate enough to publish a column about it the following year. Published on Sept. 11, 2002, my column was titled simply, Today, One Year Later. An excerpt:

As for the government’s handling of the crisis, I give them in A+—in failing spectacularly. This assault was the perfect opportunity to show the world how justice is done right—the American way!

Instead, our esteemed leaders went the medieval route, with daily doses of Constitution shredding. Evidently, the current strategy is to out-terrorize the terrorists, even if the alleged “terrorists” are American citizens whose only contact with a bomb was seeing the movie “Battlefield Earth.”

In this bizarre pinball game of a year, the U.S. government has careened out of control with power, with only the flippers of a concerned American public keeping them on the playing field. But like any pinball machine, the field is slanted, and the ball slips through the flippers once in a while. In other words, the government, much like a pinball, does what it wants if we let it. Tilt!

The positive stories of this past year, and there are multitudes of them, lie in the regular people of America: the firefighters, the police officers, the working class and everyone else involved in the collective caring of a nation. These selfless patriots became unified not through some abstract concept of “fighting terror” or revenge, but through bringing hope and comfort to the afflicted.

In the face of Dick Cheney's war-no-matter-what comments, recent reports of Iraq's non-involvement in the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden's evident getaway, it appears that the hard-liners refuse to learn anything from the lessons of the past five years. In response, I can only reiterate what I said at the end of my one-year column, which I could just as easily write today:

Hopefully the American people will continue to have their hearts in the right place and government belligerence won’t force us into yet another “where were you when you heard…” incident. Let’s hope we never have to remember where we were ever again.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Apparently it's a rhetorical headline

Gene Williams is a staff writer for The Times of Acadiana. In his latest article, he explains to us Why We Need to Be in Iraq.

I am, among my friends and coworkers, one of the few people to defend the war in Iraq. At least out loud. If others think the way I do, they have mostly kept silent, lest they get the look, as in "What, are you out of your mind?"

The Times has been accused of being out of touch with the community as of late. This would seem to represent that, being that it's almost impossible in Lafayette to have no friends who support the war in Iraq. I can't throw a stone here without hitting someone who supports the war. No matter how hard I throw it.

One person for whom I have enormous respect has heatedly questioned my sanity, labeled me as a war monger and basically wondered aloud if I've had a lobotomy and can no longer function about the level of a carrot.

She is not alone in her vehement objection to my view.

I imagine that others have better objections, because no one writes a defense of their beliefs based on one tepid personal insult.

All I ever do is ask them to remember. Remember the sight of planes flying into buildings. Of people, nearly 200, trapped above the flames who leapt to their deaths rather than die in the flames. Of the buildings, impossibly, collapsing in a roar of anguish. Of the 2,752 who died in the buildings and the planes that crashed into them. Of the hole in the ground. In New York City. In the United States of America. I ask them to remember Flight 93 and the gouge in a field, now grown over, in Somerset County, Pa. I ask them to remember 184 dead and the gaping cavity in the Pentagon. In Washington D.C. In the United States of America.

What you've forgotten is that nobody's forgotten that! On the other hand, some people have moved on to thinking about honest solutions to the problem rather than the angry, "kill all ragheads" reactions. Is that what we should go back to? Has that helped any?

A colleague suggests this is insulting, that I believe those who don't agree with me don't remember those events. I don't mean it that way. I only ask that any argument against the war has to include where it started.

Terrorism did not start with 9/11, nor is it even within the first 30 chapters of the book. The problem is that most Americans never bothered to notice terrorism until it hit them at home, so they think this was the "first" move. It isn't and never was. The horrific actions of 9/11 were undertaken by terrorists who "remembered" the damages and military presence that we perpetrate in their own countries.

Those images are forever burned in my memory.

That's a thoughtful way of putting it. I imagine a lot of the victims share that view.

For reasons I can't quite fathom, many people have forgotten what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. No, I'm told, they remember. But how can they if they now think that the war in Iraq is wrong, that we should get out, that we never should have been there in the first place?

Because of that small caveat of, "There is no connection with the war in Iraq to the events of 9/11." Sin of omission? This is precisely where this editorial, as well as Bush administration rhetoric, completely falls apart. If I remember correctly (and I do), al-Qaida--a terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden and based in Afghanistan--was behind the 9/11 attacks. We swiftly moved in on Afghanistan, toppled the al-Qaida-harboring Taliban (however temporarily), and went after al-Qaida. And then, one day, we were suddenly in Iraq. And while that was no surprise to anyone who followed George W. Bush's foreign policy since early 2001, it still had no leg to stand on as a response to 9/11.

The Middle East is where the terrorists came from, where they fomented their plan. The Middle East is a war-torn area of the world where dictators and despots and religious fanatics have ruled for years. The Middle East is the key to ending much of the world's terrorism. Iraq is in the Middle East.

So is Israel. Are they in league with al-Qaida too, or are they an exception to your gross generalization?

Did President Bush manipulate foreign intelligence briefings he received to pick a fight with Iraq? Did he blatantly lie about weapons of mass destruction?

Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn't. Either way, not one moment of the Iraq War has been justified.

So many of you think so, fervently, passionately. But to do so is to believe that our president has cavalierly thrown the lives of 2,600 young American men and women away on a whim, that he cares not about whom he hurts, whom he destroys.

That's not much of a stretch. Bush has shown such callous disregard for everything that doesn't fit his single-minded agenda. He demonizes his critics as being anti-American; cuts aid to poor citizens; stifles scientific research in the name of fundamentalist religion; operates one of the most incompetent and unresponsive governments in our lifetimes; and employs a reckless foreign policy at the expense of world respect. What makes you think that his hubris stops at something as trivial as the common soldiery? Even I, Ian McGibboney, have been to more funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq than he has (I've been to one).

Why anyone still gives Bush the benefit of the doubt, much less someone in south Louisiana, is a mystery to me.

Since when did we become so suspicious of our leaders, of this leader? It used to be that we respected the office.

Hmmm...I asked the same question repeatedly when Clinton was getting the fifth degree over a blowjob.

Not always the man in the office, but the office. Now, we don't. They're all liars. Ford was a liar. Bush Sr. was a liar. Reagan was a liar. Clinton was a liar. Now Bush Jr. is a liar.

Well, it's probably because Reagan was a liar, Bush 41 was a liar, Clinton was (technically) a liar and now Bush 43 (not junior) is the biggest liar of them all. Oh, and Nixon too. Why leave him off this illustrious list?

I choose to believe that Bush is a man who cares about life. I choose to believe that his intentions in Iraq are good.

You can choose to believe that cars don't pollute and that Wham! will get back together. But that doesn't make them any truer.

I do not come by these beliefs easily. I grew up in the '60s, a time of great turmoil and change in this country, and I attended Kent State University, where, as a junior working for the school newspaper, I was among the students fired upon by the Ohio National Guard, wounding nine and killing four. Their sin? For most, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were bystanders in the struggle between the school's administration and student radicals protesting the Vietnam war. It's something I've never forgotten, never completely gotten over. So I don't much trust anybody in authority.

But if President Bush can spark a democratic foothold in the Middle East, in a country not named Israel, and if that promise of freedom of choice can take root and blossom, then, maybe, there won't be any more planes flying into buildings.

So you claim to not trust authority...and yet, you're willing to believe the most transparent liar of our times? Lyndon Johnson was the Dubya of the 60s; he advocated a questionable war to reach abstract goals, and insisted that withdrawing would only embolden the enemy and make us look weak. But thanks to the civic involvement of Baby Boomers, LBJ couldn't wake up without hearing anti-war chants right outside the White House. The young Boomers refused to overlook the continuous loss of American lives, and were not prone to believing governmental lies. The protest movement then was massive and had long-lingering effects; Johnson declined the 1968 Democratic nomination and the Vietnam war became a political liability to his successors.

At what point did we go from publicly calling Johnson on his train-wreck war to placating Bush on his? At least Johnson had the Civil Rights Act and slightly purer intentions in waging war. What does Bush have to counteract his disasters? Unless you're a crony, not much. So what's the problem? Why have we forgotten everything the Baby Boomers taught us in the 1960s? And why have so many of them forgotten it themselves?

I hear that we'd be better off putting our energy into finding Osama bin Laden, the man behind the 9/11 attacks and I agree that it would be nice to see him rotting in an American jail.

Yes...I think almost everyone in the world's been saying that for years, including your beloved president. At least until he declared bin Laden "irrelevant" once he realized he couldn't find him.

But would that single act accomplish the same thing as democracy spreading throughout the Middle East? Would the fleeting image of bin Laden behind bars, or being led to his execution, mean more to us in the long run than peace in a region that has never known it?

For me, yeah. If nothing else, bin Laden's capture would bring closure to the attacks perpetrated upon us. I care more about that than forcing democracy at gunpoint on people who clearly don't want it. America first, as you guys are so fond of saying.

Anyway, hasn't this whole War on Terror been about symbolic victories? The toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan (but who never really went away); the razing of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad; the elections that make for great pictures but have not resulted in true democracy or autonomy; the endless parade of apprehended number-two operatives; and, of course, that whole "Mission Accomplished" thing. By comparison, bin Laden behind bars would be real progress.

I'd love to see bin Laden captured. Love to see him brought to trial. Love to see him pay for his crimes.

But what's at stake is so much bigger than Osama bin Laden.

This is true; however, it so directly contradicts everything the Republicans (and the nation) stood for over the years that it can only be a way of trivializing the fact that we have failed to find him. I felt the same way when Bush suddenly decided that bin Laden was no longer "wanted dead or alive."

We need to ensure that there's never another plane flown into a building, never another body falling to escape the flames, never again a sacrifice like the one made by those on Flight 93.

First off, I doubt that would ever happen again. Terrorism works by shocking us, and the 9/11 attacks sure as hell did. No amount of similar attacks will ever shock us like that again, and the terrorists know it. They strike big and then hide, like all cowards do. What they want is our attention.

There's a hole in the ground. In New York. In the United States of America. Remember that.

Do you really think we don't remember? I get sick of this accusation, as if I don't remember these events because I am not bloodthirsty. Well, I never was bloodthirsty, even on that day, and I personally think we're better off as a nation as our solutions become more reasonable and less based on shock and passion. Like telling a grieving parent to constantly remember how horrible they felt when they found out their kid died, this is not helping us cope. The only thing we can do now as a nation is find a measured, constructed solution to the problem--one that is better defined than simply "stopping terrorism." Nothing will be done by perpetually remaining as emotionally vindictive as were back in 2001. That response didn't work then and there's no reason to believe it will now.

Oh, and apparently Iraq had nothing to with 9/11 after all. Yeah, let's not forget that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fall's fascist fashion forecast

Noticing that the section of my closet reserved for stupid was running dry, I took another trip to my favorite online tailor, Right Wing Stuff. This online W-Mart typically tops itself every year (so to speak), and this go-round is no exception. Here now is the official Not Right fashion report for Fall 2006!

And you know how the GOP loves its undocumented workers!

Um, didn't we already?

And Trix is what's for dinner

Unlike Christianity, which is cross!

As do anti-abortion activists with guns!

So America started it, then? I'm confused...

Yes! Let's save the country from...oh wait, that can't be right...

Remember that the next time you hear the phrase, "Compassionate Conservatism"

Expires in 2008, soon to be revoked in 2006...

Smoking, vengeance, racial slurs and misspellings...the perfect neocon tee!

And now we know whose desk we stored it under!

Diamonds not bloody enough for you?

This shirt dewrinkles itself with irony

Because your boss outsourced his call center to India!

Protect that Idaho border!

Semper Fi! Void where prohibited...

They kiss my ass and will never let go

He'll get you wasted quick!

"And I got written up for violating the dress code!"

On the back, it says "Draft me"

This is a's supposed to say, "I wiretap bleeding hearts"

We have no decency!

On the way home I stopped to pee at Right Wing Clothing, a fledgling boutique of a similar stripe. I'd post the images from RWC, but I'm all out of Alka-Seltzer (plus, the images are gigantic). Their moronic statements are in bold, and my brilliantly witty comebacks are, well, not.

--Freedom isn't go pay my tab, hippie!

--Proud member of the Reagan Generation! Born 1980-89...Not only is that chronologically incorrect, but it says more about your parents than about you. I'm a Carter baby, but that doesn't mean I was able to vote for him!

--Clinton-Guevara 2008...which even a Republican would have to take against Bush-Hitler!

--Minute Men concentrated border protection...sold in fine stores with Dole brand welfare!

--John Kerry...more positions than Paris Hilton...who by the way is the perfect Republican: a rich, vapid heiress with few concerns beyond connections and her own amusement.

--The 2nd Amendment: The Original Homeland Security...which apparently couldn't stop terrorism, so we had to establish a real Homeland Security!

Happy shirting!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Civil Wars in Tiger Stadium

Yesterday I decided to peruse through the latest edition of the LSU Reveille. Two major stories this semester concern (naturally) football games, and both reflect very sad cultural trends.

The first involves the withdrawal of a song known as "Tiger Rag" from the pregame marching-band program. Though officials claim they removed the song due to time constraints, fans suspect that it was actually because of the ridicule traditionally lobbed at the opposing side during the song. This ritual involves jeering and chants of "Assholes!" The song has been part of the LSU experience for at least three decades, according to the Reveille. The removal has prompted outrage from fans and band members alike:

"I don't think it's good to be calling the other team 'assholes,' but I agree with the tradition thing," Justin Bourg, mechanical engineering sophomore and trumpet player, said. "It's part of the tradition, it shouldn't be taken out."

This is bad for LSU, because how else are they going to show support for their school and disgust for their opponents? Riddle me that, Batman! But what really gets me is that Bourg can't decide between doing what's right, or keeping alive what even he sees as a bad tradition. Decisions, decisions!

The second issue has been brewing for a while, and involves the waving of purple-and-gold Confederate flags at games and tailgate parties. LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe has officially stated that, despite free-speech rights, fans should refrain from displaying the flag. Conversely, yesterday's letter to the editor encapsulated the pro-flag side nicely. Though the author claims his letter was unfairly butchered, I'm not sure I buy (or even understand) his correction.

Confederate flag and LSU are historically linked

As are a few other, ahem, peculiar things...

Ah, another fall semester at LSU, bringing with it lots of fall traditions such as Fall Fest, the Pajama Game, and of course the inevitable Confederate flag debate. Traditionally, this debate usually begins with a letter to The Reveille a short time after the first game and is usually kicked off by an upset student, though at least once in my previous six years at LSU it was started by a Reveille writer. However, this fall the chancellor decided to break tradition and start it off himself before the first game. In his broadcast e-mail, he urged people to respect others' beliefs and to not fly the purple-and-gold Confederate flag, while also reminding everyone else that U.S. Constitution keeps the University from banning the flag.

My purpose is to maybe reduce the amount of space used in The Reveille on the topic this semester,

So it's a letter writer's job to dictate what appears in the letter section of a newspaper?

...and to clear up one little sentence in the chancellor's e-mail, "This flag has no specific connection to LSU." I'm sorry chancellor, but I think any LSU history buff will tell you that's not true, as will a simple Googling of "origin of LSU Fighting Tigers" (which I suggest every reader do).

Nothing curbs debate quite like making a tenuous point and insisting that you have the final word!

The name Fighting Tigers has its origins in the Confederate Army. Starting with a New Orleans company nicknamed the Tiger Rifles, eventually all of the troops from Louisiana of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia became known as Tigers. What's that mean? That's right; the LSU football team is named after a Civil War battalion. Now, since battalions fought under a battle flag, this gives LSU a direct connection to the Confederate battle flag.

If this is true, it's probably best to lie about it.

Oh, I should point out here that the flag commonly referred to as the Confederate flag is actually a Confederate battle flag and not the official flag of the Confederacy.

Oh well, that's okay then! Shucks. Here we are, being all uppity for nothin'!

Chancellor, there is your "specific connection." So, if the Civil War Tigers fought under this battle flag, what's so wrong with the LSU Tigers "fighting" under a purple-and-gold battle flag?

Well, that depends. Do you find it appropriate to equate your football team to a separatist army that divided the country and fought for the right to subjugate blacks?

I agree with the chancellor and urge others to not fly the flag while tailgating.

But isn't that a concession that the flag is offensive to others? If so, then that negates every other point you make.

However, I also want to remind those who are offended that it is possible for the person flying the flag to not see the same symbol as them. Last fall, those who were offended by the flag were urged to confront the flag's owner about it.

Yes, because I imagine that LSU's legendary fans would be wide open to that sort of thing, especially if it came from a minority, a liberal or an opposing fan. I have a hard enough time getting smokers to respect non-smoking areas, much less asking a Tiger fan to put away their sacred symbol! Not that I would anyway, because I believe in freedom of speech. But I agree with Chancellor O'Keefe that the flag is a divisive symbol in a forum that should promote school unity.

This fall I urge those offended when they walk by a flag to just walk on by. You can't assume the person flying the flag sees the flag the same way as you, and confronting them about their flag solely on this makes you just as prejudiced as you believe them to be.

Except that, in this case, one group is asking for the prejudicial allegations and the other is simply asking not to have offensive symbols waved in their face on their home turf.

This is of course unless they give you real reason, if they yell at you as you walk by or throw things at you, then by all means, confront them about it. Otherwise, you're the instigator if a fight breaks out.

David Perrin
Graduate Student

I'm a white guy who grew up in Louisiana and was raised on episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard. My dad was a Dallas-born country-music DJ and my mom is of Cajun blood. That said, I have zero emotional attachment to the Confederate Flag. It doesn't speak for my "heritage," nor do I have any particular affinity for anything it represents. To me, it represents the failure of backward ideas. And while some of today's wavers aren't truly racist, I still interpret the Rebel flag--as many do--as a symbol of implied supremacy. At best, the Stars and Bars represents a historic era that most Americans would rather not repeat.

Anyway, isn't a purple-and-gold Confederate flag tantamount to desecration? I mean, you wouldn't wave a purple-and-gold American flag, right? Wouldn't that piss off people if you did? "Hey, that's disrespectful and un-American!" (On second thought, never mind.)

Funny how the same people who complain about the desecration of the American flag are the ones who proudly wave the most anti-American flag of all, the Stars and Bars. And they think nothing of altering that flag--which they claim to love so much--for the sake of a football game. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised; after all, most hardcore flag-wavers let their American flags rip and fade on their cars as some kind of twisted tribute to American resolve. My advice: if you choose to express yourself through flying a flag, then at least respect its official protocol.

Both issues (the latter in particular) highlight the kinds of "traditions" that keep the rest of the nation from taking Louisiana and its southern neighbors seriously. Despite all of the country's misconceptions about us, it's still easy to point at issues like these as reasons why we don't deserve federal support. Who wants to give aid money to people who are still this divided on racial issues? You might argue that these localized issues make for shallow reasons; but it's the little things that count in the shallow sphere that is politics.

LSU is the most visible school in the state, and in many Americans' eyes epitomizes the Louisiana attitude as a whole. In that respect, the fervent Tiger fans are (and have always been) correct. So is this what we want people to think of us? I don't. And I certainly hope LSU can resolve both of these ultimately minor issues to show that the university can grow morally as well as physically. Maybe then, Congress will begin to see Louisiana as a worthwhile bet.

There are far more important battles to be fighting right now. And pretty much all of the time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Caption Central

"Rumsfeld begs our Parton" edition

--EASY: Three of the the biggest boobs in America
--Unfortunately, Rumsfeld couldn't fake his way around "9 to 5" in any sense
--Can't spell "Grand Ole Opry" without "G-O-P"
--When you play this record backwards, Rumsfeld gets his popularity back, his credibility back, his previously sterling reputation back...
--Meet the USO's newest comedian, Bob Hopeless!
--Tonight, on BET...
--It's the Grand Ole Photo-Oppory!
--While Rumsfeld uses his left hand to show what he'd like to be doing to Dolly, she uses both hands to show what she'd like to do to his neck
--And just like that, appearing in the Beverly Hillbillies movie becomes Dolly Parton's second-most embarrassing cameo
--Recruiting at the Grand Ole Opry seemed like such a great idea at the time...
--"I'm looking for a few Steel Magnolias."
--What better place for a chickenhawk than a barn dance?
--"No, Mr. Secretary! This isn't Un-American Idol!"
--"Attention, KMart shoppers! Blue light special on aisle five!"
--Does Jerry Lewis have competition now?
--"And now, I will fiddle while Iraq burns."
--Rumsfeld hands over his post to someone twice as famous and twice as qualified

Today in sports non-news...

LSU won last night's game against the University of Louisiana, 45-3. The score obscures the fact that LSU had virtually zero rushing game all night, and that turnovers kept the score from being 31-17. The game was not the 48-0 (and statistical) blowout it was in 2002; both teams, though unequal, are quite good. Fans on both sides are in for some fun football.

In fact, I would have liked to see UL and LSU play each other at the end of the season. Sure, it's a blasphemous proposition conference-wise, and in most seasons would be as anti-climactic as (to paraphrase my dad) the Saints playing Lafayette High School. But given UL's likelihood of winning the Sun Belt Conference and LSU's dominance in the SEC, combined with the gelling that comes only through a rigorous season, I bet it would make for a textbook grudge match. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Maybe I'll write a screenplay about this. I'm thinking Adam Sandler, Tracy Morgan and Burt Reynolds. And Kathy Ireland. And maybe Corey Haim, if the equipment fits him.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Get some courage, cowardly lyin'

I'm upset that I've had to do this with my blog, but the negatives were outweighing the positives: I've shut off my anonymous-commenter option.

While I have long been infamous for allowing pretty much anything to be said here, certain recent threads have stretched my tolerance to the limit. Basically, I've been attracting numerous flamers, most of whom make a cursory attempt at debate and then rip into me with all the vengeance of a jilted ex-girlfriend who caught me cheating on live TV. Except that we dated only in this person's mind, and in fact they don't know me at all.

Such inappropriate remarks are not what this forum is intended to promote. I write my opinions on the world, with my real name and reputation attached, and I provide you the ability to comment and debate. Even if the debate gets heated, it should remain civil. Not Right is a hangout for numerous respectable conservatives, and that give-and-take is a great thing. But there's a line between being open and being a pushover, and I refuse to continue to cater to those who want to make every issue about me (Ian), especially when the flaming is at a frequency to where I can barely keep up, and hides behind "Anonymous."

As always, I will allow anything to be said here. But it will take a certain minute amount of courage in posting that some people nevertheless don't have. To my friends and family who occasionally post without a Blogger account (though sign their names/handles), I apologize, and hope that you find it worthwhile to sign up for an account to keep commenting.

I don't take this kind of anger-baiting in person and I won't take it on this blog. If you have something to say, then say it with accountability.