Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Archive for March 2011

Texas Goes Nuclear…

leave a comment »

Well, I suppose if the remaining fish glow in the dark, they'll be easier to catch...

Wow, just wow…

One of Bobby Jindal’s corporate buddies made the news today…

Turns out that the nuclear industry in Japan has a horrible safety record, which some experts are suggesting is partly to blame in the severity of the meltdowns as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.

And now, the Japanese nuclear industry is coming to America.

TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company is coming to Texas to build two nuclear plants and they apparently have a safety record that could make even British Petroleum look like, well…like a different oil company than British Petroleum.

Anyways, all nuclear power plants have to be certified for “SQ” or Seismic Qualification be it Japan or any other place and the easiest way to do this is to lie, something the industry apparently does a lot of. In 1988, a nuclear plant in Shoreham, New York was told they didn’t  meet their “SQ,” and in order to do so, it would have cost one billion in updates. Instead of spending the money, the company in charge of the plant told their engineers to simply change the tests from “fail,” to “pass.”

So, guess what company put in the false safety report?

Stone & Webster.

Guess what Stone & Webster is now?

The nuclear division of Shaw Construction.

Guess what company is going to be working with TEPCO on the new nuclear plants in Texas?

Oh yeah…

The Gulf really needs this right now.

Read the article:

Some Experts Cast Doubt On Official Version Of Radiation Leakage – And Safety

Have a nice day.

Hang in there…major sleep disruptions

with one comment

Back to the job I love, adjusting...

Hey all, hang in there a little longer…I’m in process of switching my sleep to a third shift schedule and it’s causing major routine disruptions…

Ya know tho’…not too sure how many of you work a third shift gig, (I have before and its preferred, including 3rd shift bartending in New Orleans at one time) but once things shake out, am I the only one that finds the whole turning everything upside down, lack of sunlight, more solitude and that kind of comfortable loneliness of less people being around to be intellectually stimulating?

Maybe its the novelty of change.

Maybe its the better traffic.

Maybe its good strong coffee…in any case…see ya tonight people…

- Drake

My Two Cents on the Rail…

with 2 comments

Because, it's important

First, a disclaimer…when the Krewe of Eris rolled down the streets of the Marigny and the Quarter, I was over 1000 miles away. Wasn’t there, didn’t see what happened and I won’t pretend to understand the events of that night from any kind of firsthand knowledge. What I do however understand from my own experiences are things like police over-reaction and brutality, bad-apple syndrome, gentrification and yes, anarchism.

I am an anarchist.

It’s the political philosophy I identify with, simply because it makes the most sense to me, and it makes more sense day by day, especially in these days. More specifically, I am an anarcho-syndicalist who believes strongly in the power of unions and community.

By now everyone has read the accounts of what happened at the Krewe of Eris parade and from what I am able to gather, most everybody was doing fine and having a swell time until a few people took it too far (minor property damage) for that kind of a situation (a parade where not everybody shared the understanding of what would happen, including bystanders who got caught up in it), and then in response the NOPD really got stupid, again. Tasers, batons, pepper spray and random arrests, and if some of the first hand accounts are true as they seem, further threats of violence and a denial of medical care for some of the people arrested.

In the midst of these accountings of said events, I’ve read in a few places where writers suggest that for certain members of the Krewe of Eris the parade was about anarchy and anarchy is about chaos, so chaos is what happened.

I can’t speak for the members of the Krewe or their intentions, so I won’t, but what I can speak to is the idea that Anarchism is about no structure, no rules and chaos. This is simply not true, not at all. All forms of Anarchism are based on three main principles: tolerance, equality and mutual aid. The idea of anarchism as a bunch of bomb throwing nihilists shouting “No rules, man!” is a media invention, and frankly, its bullshit. Self proclaimed anarchists who act in this way haven’t really read the philosophy behind the slogans, words and patches. Influential authors such as William Godwin, Peter Kropotkin, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman and Ward Churchill have studied and advanced a political philosophy that is about helping others, not telling others what to do and working together through consensus to lift entire communities, not just its wealthier members.

But you know, like in any group…when everybody gets together, there’s always going to be the asshole…such as it would appear occurred during the parade when a few people started busting up some cars. This would seem inappropriate in the moment, not that I decry property damage. I actually support it as a media attention-getting exercise and a rather freeing, liberating experience if done responsibly, and kicking dents in the cars of working class people and artists be it during a parade or in any other setting is not responsible. What is, would be actions like shattering the windows of large multinational banks and investment firms, or of other companies that inflict damage on people and/or the environment in this country or any other country….yes, I can buy into that. What will the breaking of windows change? Not much, I understand that, but every political movement needs its moments of excitement…so, so be it.

But yeah, if fringe members of the Krewe of Eris were damaging the cars of artists and the working class people of the Marigny, well, that was pretty stupid because that damage costs money. Also, the parade was a bad setting to inflict said damage because it gave the police the excuse they desired to shut the whole thing down, which by all accounts would be precisely what they did. As mentioned above, in any group there are going to be assholes and from what I’ve read and at other times experienced, the New Orleans Police Department has got a lion’s share. So, they shouldn’t have done what they did either. There was no excuse for it, property damage or not, one of them getting hit by a brick, or not. If somebody hits a cop with a brick, the cops can arrest the man or woman who did it. It’s not reason to start a police riot and randomly arrest and do violence to whomever they wish, period. The idea that police officers work a high pressure job is no excuse for brutality and breaking the law. If they can’t handle the pressure of their job, quit. Some people simply are not made to be police officers.

In any case, there was an apparent police riot in the Marigny…and then of course the repercussions begin, including the closing of the Ark building, home to the Iron Rail, the bicycle collective and a number of other artists and activists.

But as was so well put by a certain writer in his concerns about gentrification in the Marigny, Bywater and St. Roch neighborhoods, the Ark could very well be only the beginning. Gentrifcation has a tried and true pattern of development, one I’ve personally watched occur in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago and the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco. It works rather simply. You got a fucked up, crime ridden neighborhood where the rents are pretty cheap and soon, artists and activists move there because of the cheap rent. New businesses begin to open up to serve the needs of those same artists and activists and over time, the neighborhood gets safer and becomes more desirable to the rest of the city who sits, silently watching until the day they start moving in. Soon enough, the rents rise and the artists and activists get priced out. A few years later, the neighborhood is a hollow imitation of the culture that drew in the money that was ultimately responsible for kicking out the culture.

Round and round we go…

There are some who would make the argument that since Katrina, this would be a way of describing the development of the entire city of New Orleans…maybe, but it certainly is a way to describe the recent goings ons in the Marigny, Bywater and St. Roch neighborhood, and the closing of the Ark building is another step down that road.

So, who gets the blame for all this…the bad apples, the Krewe of Eris, the NOPD?

I don’t know for sure.

Like I mentioned, I wasn’t there, but a persual of the accounts would indicate the NOPD lost their shit in response to some minor provocation, and then the combination of it all led to the first of retaliatory measures called for by neighborhood advocates of gentrification…

In any case, anarchism certainly isn’t to blame.

An oft quoted line from many a conversation is “My freedom ends at the beginning of your nose.”

Meaning: Anarchism is not about mindless violence or the belief in nothing. The philosophy is about tolerance and equality, about helping each other out, for ourselves and against the people who are trying to take it all away. It’s about building, about replacing the government with a system which flows ground up by consensus, rather than orders from the top we have no choice but to follow, or else.  

On several occasions, I’ve been to the Iron Rail and the Ark building and enjoyed my experiences there. I thought it was a tremendous asset to a vibrant and diverse community, and the shutting down of that building troubles me greatly. It’s existence was one of the larger reasons I have been planning my move back, my return to the city of New Orleans, a city I love so much.

A number of writers have also commented that the Iron Rail should have had the proper permits.

I see the point, yes…but at the same time, there’s certainly something contradictory about a bookstore that advocates the end of government applying to the government for permission to be open. I get it. People in the anarchist community feel differently about such ideas. A collective I’d been involved with in Chicago got permits because the Chicago PD would have closed it down the moment they opened their doors. A collective in Berkeley got permits as well, for the same reason. The Iron Rail for whatever reason chose otherwise, and had been open for several years, so there was probably an assumed understanding, rightly or wrongly, that they would be left alone…and it would appear they had been until the NOPD decided they finally had cause to do otherwise.

So, the point of all this rambling?

It would simply be that now is the time to work hard, to help end the gentrification of the city and the neighborhood. Anarchy didn’t cause the melee at the Krewe of Eris parade, assholes did. The NOPD haven’t appeared to have learned too many lessons, and continue a dangerous, heavy-handed approach.

Finally, bring the Iron Rail and everyone active within the Ark building back, into the Marigny, Bywater and St. Roch neighborhood, in whatever form possible.

For a diverse, thriving community it’s both necessary, and important. Whenever any space where the expression of alternative ideas are encouraged gets shut down, the surrounding community gets one step closer to a mind numbing suburbia that benefits nobody, especially not in a city as unique as New Orleans. 

Have a nice day.

Thanks Mr. Dudley, but why don’t I feel better?

with 5 comments

We are so, so sorry our screw-up has resulted in more scrutiny to the business and environmental practices of each and every one of your companies...oh, and to those fishing type people too, and um, the dolphins, sorry for the dead dolphins...our bad.

Bob Dudley apologized for the oil spill on Tuesday.

Bob Dudley apologized for the oil spill by saying “BP is sorry. BP gets it,” adding, “We need to earn back your trust, along with that of state and federal leaders and the trust of Gulf Coast residents and customers…we are determined we will once again restore that trust, and I realize this requires action, not words.”

When Bob Dudley apologized for the oil spill, he made this apology at the CERA gathering, speaking to a collection of industry bigwigs in the corporate oil and gas community.

“Actions, not words,” he said.

In light of that statement, it should also be known that in the past couple of weeks Bob Dudley and BP have reneged on promised assistance for the restoration of the oyster beds in Louisiana, they have low-balled requests by Gulf Coast states for money to help boost tourism, they have made no statements on the increasing sicknesses across the Gulf Coast from exposure to toxic fumes and they have also complained that the meager payments to claimants from Ken Feinberg and the GCCF are too high.

“Actions, not words…”

Perhaps more important than a mea culpa at a conference for industry insiders, Bob Dudley should apologize for the oil spill in each and every affected home in Grand Isle, Lousiana, in the fishing communities of Plaquemines Parish, in Gulfport, in the bayou, all across Alabama and Florida and in every other affected community along the Gulf Coast.

I understand it could be argued that this kind of demand is unreasonable, unrealistic and excessive…maybe, but so was the flood of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the dumping of Corexit dispersants and the loss of life on the Deepwater Horizon.

Making things right is not a generic PR apology to your buddies at an oil industry conference. Sorry Bob, that’s just one more half-assed stunt with no real accountability.

Have a nice day.

The Amity Choice…

leave a comment »

Shark's kind of oily...

Spring Break is coming…

That annual rite of passage where drunken teens descend upon the beaches to get a rest from their studies and are often side by side with families, also on vacation from the thawing but still cold North is almost here, and all along the Gulf Coast, resorts and towns who typically make a great deal of money from this annual retreat are crossing their fingers. It’s been a pretty bad year…the economy, the now rising gas prices, the BP oil spill and the resulting tons of Corexit dumped into the waters to combat said oil spill…

So, is it safe for the people to spend time on the beaches? Is the sand and water clean, or is it poison?

It would depend on who you ask.

The CDC says all is well. The NOAA, the FDA and the EPA say all is well…come on down and have a fine time, and those are some pretty heavy hitters. It would appear safe to say that the Federal Government believes nobody will come to any harm by spending days on the beaches of the Gulf Coast, in the water, breathing the air, and the owners of the resorts, the people who work in these towns certainly hope the government is right.

We all do, even British Petroleum, who even while they scale back cleanup across the Gulf Coast continues to focus their attention on the sands of the resort towns, the places where the media doesn’t fear to tread because they know that Spring Break is a proving ground for progress. It’s the time where people will come to the Gulf from all over the country and see with their own eyes whether all their PR efforts, the commercials on television, radio and the internet are right, or are what many in the Gulf believe…a load of shit.

The last thing BP needs is another batch of dead dolphins to come rolling onto Panama City Beach while the MTV crews are around, or a massive fish kill, or a storm that might bring a few more tons of tar balls from the tar mats of oil offshore.

Its also the last thing business owners in the Gulf need.

And that brings us to a choice, the choice…

Nobody in the government wants to be Roy Scheider, the Sheriff of Amity running across the sand yelling, “Oil!”

The government instead chooses the uneasy role of the mayor, anxiety and defiance etched in his quickly aging face and threatening to fire anyone who finds the shark in them waters. Meanwhile, the business community of the Gulf Coast shares the anxiety, torn between trying to revive their economy and a creeping feeling of hope that nothing bad will happen, that the oil won’t come ashore and that nobody will get sick.

Having written on this subject for awhile and having spoken to many others who also write on this subject, it is much akin to writing about seafood safety in the Gulf. Logic would seem to dictate that if you dump that many toxins into a body of water that the seafood is unsafe, but to actually write that is something else entirely, because tugging at your conscience is also the knowledge that this meme would also harm the industry of a part of the country you care for very much, and a great many people who you care about.

As I mentioned, the choice is difficult, especially when you believe that the government and its agencies, as they have been throughout this whole catastraphuk, are only giving you part of the truth or their best case scenario. For British Petroleum and the government, logic and what you believe are unimportant. What is important is what you can prove, and they seem to believe nobody can prove the Gulf is unsafe.

All despite articles such as:

NASA Data Strengthens Reports of Toxic rain on the Gulf Coast From BP Spill – Jerry Cope

or

The BP Oil Disaster: Results from a Health and Economic Impact Survey in Four Coastal Louisiana Parishes

or all of the important information available from the website:

Florida Oil Spill Law

Again, the choice is a difficult one.

But, much as I wish it weren’t the case, I’ve read too much and heard the stories of too many people for me to bury my head in the sands cleaned by British Petroleum, and I am forced to add my voice to the growing crowd of people who are pointing at the surf yelling, “Oil…Oil…Oil…” because whereas I do believe in the importance of an improving economy, I also believe that more important are any potential health risks for the people, even more important than a full beach.

Have a nice day.

And now, a word from our sponsors…I’m having a “moment” version.

leave a comment »

And now, a word from our sponsors…

Gave Up – Nine Inch Nails, featuring Marilyn Manson

The hidden subtext?

Obviously…

“Throw it away…Throw it away…Throw it away…”

Kinda seems what our national politicians are doing these days. The political process is threatening women, children, the environment, life…politicians out there are actually doing detective work on miscarriages to make sure they weren’t secret abortions?  The poor and middle class are getting screwed again. Teachers are told to sacrifice while the Wall Street assholes who screwed the entire economy are getting paid. Unemployed tea partiers put their head in the gallows and cheer the blade as it falls. And the same conservative financial rapists now coming back for seconds are celebrated by Fox News viewers because the TV told them fraud is good and man, thinking for oneself is so, so tired. 

The logic of all this is as dead as the globe.

Me?

Well, I’m torn between my social worker instincts that give a damn about people and their suffering, versus my own sense of antisocial disgust that screams, “You voted in these morons who are allowing the next great Rock n Roll swindle, so ya get what you deserve!” But, as always, when the moment passes and compassion returns, so too does the recognition that we have to be there for our community, we have to because nobody else is guarding the outhouse for us, not anymore.

“We all get to heaven on the arm of someone we’ve helped”

- Neal Cassady

Have a nice day.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 218 other followers