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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"But for a puff of dry air..."

As bad as things are along the Gulf Coast, by every indication it should have been much, much worse.

Devastating as Katrina was, it would have been far worse but for a puff of dry air that came out of the Midwest, weakening the hurricane just before it reached land and pushing it slightly to the east.

The gust transformed a Category 5 monster into a less-threatening Category 4 storm, and pushed Katrina off its Big Easy-bound trajectory, sparing New Orleans a direct hit _ though not horrendous harm.

"It was kind of an amazing sequence of events," said Peter Black, a meteorologist at the Hurricane Research Division of the federal government's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
Adopt a parish.

The following is Heather's stroke of inspired genius, with a few ideas of my own tossed in.

Why don't we organize and ask each of our individual parishes to adopt a devastated parish in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama?

Anything and everything could be donated: cash, food, clothing, spare Bibles/missals/hymnals/lectionaries/rosaries/clerical garb/chalices/etc.--you name it, someone's probably going to need it. Many people are going to have literally nothing left, and will be fortunate and happy to worship in a gym for the foreseeable future. Be creative: for example, Heather is going to speak to the chair of our parish bingo (her mother) to see if this week's profits (or a future week/weeks') can be donated. How about an additional collection at Mass for a few weeks?

If Houston zoos and restaurants can generously offer free goods and services through the end of October, surely we can top that.

Coordination is going to be difficult, and I suggest we contact the various affected diocese to see how we can get the help where it is needed. Or perhaps your own, which could collect it and arrange shipments.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Apocalypse in slow motion.

For a while, it looked like New Orleans would escape the worst-case scenario. God still forbid, but now it looks like Prof. van Heerden's nightmare may be coming true.

The Governor of Louisiana has just ordered the total evacuation of New Orleans. The levee breaks have flooded 80% of the city. As this helpful map and diagram note, the situation is dire with water pouring in from the shattered levees along Lake Ponchartrain. The Tulane University Hospital is particularly vulnerable. It's going to take a Dunkirk effort to get them all out, but it's possible.

Remember also in your prayers the people of Mississippi, who took the sledgehammer brunt of the storm. At last word, hundreds may have died in the Gulfport area alone, where the storm surge reached 30 feet. The authorities simply do not have any reliable figures yet.

Again, the American Red Cross is doing yeoman's work. They are worth your hard-earned treasure. An awful lot of lives are going to have to be rebuilt, and it starts with something as simple as a hot meal and a safe place to stay.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pray for New Orleans.

According to LSU Professor Ivor van Heerden, interviewed a few minutes ago on CNN, it's "50-50" whether we will be discussing the loss of an American city tomorrow evening.

I also recommend making a donation to the American Red Cross. We ourselves made one earlier.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hiatus.

I need a break. Work and personal concerns and projects are on the front burner. I may do one more collected writings post, but that will be it for a while. Bluntly, my heart's not in blogging right now.

I also may post over at the family blog, too.

Like the man said:

"Be seeing you."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tagged Like the Contents of a Morgue Locker, Part II.

Iles klar, Der Tommissar?

Yes, Tom has hit me with a time travel questionnaire. E.g., what were you doing 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 year ago, and yesterday.

10 years ago:

I was clerking at a small law firm that specialized in employment law cases. I was a lapsed Methodist who hadn't darkened the door of a church in several years. I was looking forward to my third year of shark school, and not looking forward to the bar exam the following July. My brother would be married in six weeks, and I had my eye on a particular redhead to be my "date" to the wedding. Eventually, she agreed to go along.

Five years ago:

I was an attorney specializing in employment law cases. I was a Mass-attending Catholic who hadn't darkened the door of a church in several days. I lived in a two bedroom apartment and was looking forward to making more money at some indefinite point. I was married to a particular redhead, and was looking forward to our first wedding anniversary in October, and looking more forward to the end of yet another blast-furnace Michigan August. Eventually, nature agreed to go along.

One year ago:

I was an attorney who specialized in employment law cases. I was still Catholic, if somewhat more irritated and pleased with the status. I lived in a two bedroom house and was looking forward to making more money at some indefinite point. I was still married to a particular redhead, but now was also living with two short demanding people named Madeleine and Dale III, with a third due to arrive in seven weeks. My wife was looking even more forward to the end of yet another blast-furnace Michigan August. Feeling threatened, nature agreed to go along.

Yesterday:

I was an attorney who specialized in employment law cases. I was still Catholic, and in the same basic religious mood. I still lived in a two bedroom house and was still looking forward to making more money. I was still married to a particular redhead, but now was living with three short demanding people named Madeleine, Dale III and Rachel, with none due to arrive. All five of us were looking forward to the end of yet another blast-furnace Michigan August, but the three shortest of us were able to run in the sprinkler, giving Dad a welcome excuse to postpone lawnmowing. Nature seems remarkably uncowed this year. We enjoyed seafood and spinach salad for dinner, and eventually stalemated nature with a Kenmore A/C.

Next! Tom Fitzpatrick and Mike Inman.
Tagged Like the Contents of a Morgue Locker, Part I.

Twice. Two new memes.

The first is from Greg Krehbiel, to whom I forgot to say "no taps back." He has an interesting idea, so I'll let him describe it:

It’s called “The Virtue in Entertainment Awards.” The idea is to highlight elements of pop culture that are actually wholesome and promote good values. You can nominate a book, movie or song for any of the following three categories: Love, Family, Courage. You can also comment on how this concept can be refined.

So, here’s my first stab.

Love — “Skin,” by Rascal Flats.

Family — “She’s Somebody’s Hero,” by Jamie O’Neil.

Courage — “Letters from Home,” by John Michael Montgomery.



Great idea! Here's my stab at it, with a strong film focus:

Love: High Fidelity.

Family: Cinderella Man.

Courage: Savior.

I'm resisting the "cultural weight" idea even though I think Greg's got a good point. Unfortunately, with the exception of Cinderella Man, the films didn't have much impact and even CM did less well than expected. However, each features major Hollywood talents in the lead roles, so we're not talking Cremaster-type arthouse fare. Moreover, each is of high quality, with genuine artistic and technical merit. Frankly, they deserve wider audiences.

So there. And, yes, I'll be happy to defend my choices at exhausting, annoying length.

I hereby transmit the infection to Der Tommissar, SAM, and Zach (yes, "again"--no taps back, o font of eeeeeevil).

Second meme upcoming.
The Playable Wargame, Redux.

Tom Fitzpatrick has a magnificent essay on the subject, including his experiences in the heyday of board wargaming.

Plus, he posts a photo of a gaming collection that leaves mine looking paltry by comparison.

Hmmm. eBay....

Monday, August 01, 2005

I didn't hear the "miracle of sharing" interpretation this weekend.

I never have, actually. Hopefully it's on its way out.

I've always thought the quickest way to snuff it out would be to borrow the killer rebuttal I read about once. Approach the errant Father after the homily and ask him, in the presence of several parishioners in the glad-handing line:

"So, Father, you are saying that the 'miracle' was Jesus getting Jews to share?"

You'd never hear it again.
"Wanted: A functioning, sensible, and alert opposition party."

"Must show some resistance to being distracted by shiny objects."

Exhibit A: during the last month, the Democratic Party and the MSM have been obsessing over whether Karl Rove may have "blown the cover" of some pipsqueak of a CIA analyst.

In the meantime, 14 of the 16 temporary provisions of the Patriot Act were made permanent.
The Supreme Court Nominee Post.

I was going to comment about the nomination, but the St. Blog's discussion quickly degenerated into "Ready...Fire!...Aim..." panic-mongering and demands for the behavior that a Properly Catholic™ Nominee is required to display. E.g., he must enter the Judiciary Committee chambers through a hole in the ceiling made with plastic explosives, wear a "Death to Roe!" tattoo on his forehead, and has to lash Pat Leahy with a rosary whenever the Senator from Vermont fails to phrase his queries in Latin. Moreover, failure to agree with these demands makes you Ted Kennedy's drinking buddy.

I quickly tired of trying to converse with mindset.

So, instead, I'll leave you with this non-partisan, non-religious observation:

There is something dangerously out-of-whack with the American political system when a single nominee to the Supreme Court is this important.

That is all.