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Gustav Churns Towards Us as Cat 3 Hurricane

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

If you look at the NEXRAD radar at Weather Underground (best weather site online, imo), you can see that we're just starting to see bands of rain - the outlying strips of Gustav making itself known - coming ashore.

Here in Baton Rouge, the weather is calm...very cloudy, slightly dark, and with intermittent sprinkles.  I started my first 12-hour shift about 30 minutes ago, and traffic was light getting here - though there were a lot of people in store parking lots making last minute supply stops.

There's not really any wind, except a weird breeze that you barely feel - otherwise the air - to me, at least - has this "pregnant" feel to it, a certain electricity as well...something is coming, and that much is obvious.

It makes me wonder how my grandfather's family knew a hurricane was on its way.  Living at a time when there was no television, and quite possibly not a radio they could afford on their small, farm home, they had to judge the threat of such a storm coming by changes in nature around them, and the weather itself.  I wonder what signs someone such as my great-grandfather, and his father before him, looked to as portents that a hurricane was eminent.

I've no word on how the evacuations are going in New Orleans, though something I read online said that they were more than 500 buses short.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it is a sobering thought.

I'll update as more happens...for now it's the "calm before the storm".  We should start seeing rain and some wind as the hours pass, but I don't expect to start seeing any hurricane-type activity until more into Monday itself.  I'll be off at 6am, and hope it isn't storming too badly for that early morning drive home.

Grand Isle Residents Get Out

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

One of the always-worst hit areas of any hurricane is the coastal town of Grand Isle, Louisiana.  I wanted to share this interview with Chief Dubois and Mayor Carmadelle from that area to give you an example of how hard an area can be hit - and (to lighten the mood a bit) - share with you what one of the true Cajun accents sounds like (i.e. what you hear in the movies, is not).

Go to this page, and click the first video link, Grand Isle Preps (10pm Update).

Especially note the Chief's and Mayor's manner of saying "tings" rather than "things".  In Cajun French, as in French, there is no "th" sound and Cajun French-speaking or heavily accented Cajuns will never pronounce the "th" on their words - mostly because they cannot.

My grandmother, who learned English in grade school, went to her grave never being able to pronounce a "th" sound and her accent was not even that strong (at least, not to my ear).  As children, we always got a thrill out of trying to make her say "Thumbalina"  - and erupting into giggles when she could only say "Tumbalina".

Just a little Cajun-accent lesson for you, folks, and trying to lighten the mood - as none of us truly feel very chipper right now in southern Louisiana.  I'll be back with more later.

Crime in Baton Rouge

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

I wrote this piece last week and wasn't going to post it because, seriously, who cares about the crime in Baton Rouge?

Then a terrible thing happened at the Wal-Mart I used to visit at least once a week - a man getting arrested for shoplifting got the gun away from the police officer, a 51-year old woman, and shot and killed her. He also shot two people who were trying to help her, one of them a security guard. He then ran outside, carjacked someone outside and got away. He turned himself in just recently.

I can't tell you how many times I and my friends have shopped in this particular Wal-Mart late at nite, and all times of the day. It's not in the best neighborhood, but it isn't necessarily in a bad one either. I recognize the police woman - she was always there. After hearing about this, I thought my piece just might be relevant after all:

What in the hell is wrong with Baton Rouge? As if this fuckass sorry-excuse-for-a-city wasn't already visually ugly and full of ignorant, old-fashioned, horrible-driving asshats it now has to be one of the most unsafe places to live in the country.

Unknown to many people, Baton Rouge has pretty much always had a higher crime rate, per capita, than the sinfully renowned New Orleans. It doesn't appear to be improving.

As many of you are likely aware, last year found southern Louisiana gripped in fear and panic over a shadowy serial killer. The nameless monster we now know as Derrick Todd Lee was captured May 27, 2003 and the rest of the world soon forgot about Louisiana and its serial killer troubles.

It was a different story for the residents of my home state. Though two other murdered women were linked to Lee via DNA, bringing his total killed to seven, there were still too many unsolved murders floating around for anyone to be comfortable. What hasn't made the national headlines is that last month, April 28, 2004, Sean Vincent Gillis was arrested for the murder of eight other women in southern Louisiana. Looking at the timeline of the murders, this means that from 1994 up until February of this year, with the death of Donna Bennett Johnson, there were two serial killers on the loose and on the prowl.

All you can think at this point is, "That's the two they've found!" There are still unsolved murders that can't be linked to either of these men. If there can be two sickos out there at one time killing innocent people, why can't there be more? Louisiana is getting quite the reputation for churning out lesser life forms.

Everyone remembers the Washington Sniper, John Allen Muhammed. But does everyone remember where the Washington Sniper was from? That's right, Baton Rouge - born and raised. In an amazingly small number of years Louisiana, namely Baton Rouge, has managed to churn out three serial killers.

That's a lot of really sick people hailing from one location. Yet the number of serial killings is nothing compared to the simple old meat-and-potatoes murder that happens every day in Baton Rouge. Yes, every day in Baton Rouge someone gets shot. Every day. Just last week a co-workers' teen brother was killed in a drive-by; he was standing on his porch.

You might be reading this and thinking, "That's no big deal. It's a city - that's what it's like in every city." But this is Baton Rouge, people - it isn't like any other city at all. This is not New York or Chicago with miles and miles of concrete jungle and corporate skyscrapers. Baton Rouge's tallest building, its State Capitol, only has 34 floors. Public transportation is a joke for the fact that the city is so wide and sparse there are parts that buses just don't go to. I call Baton Rouge a "suburban city"; it is a fitting moniker. The people here have a small-town mentality, and if it weren't for the mighty Mississip flowing right through this place, it'd be a horrible choice for a state capitol. There's nothing showy or big or fancy about Baton Rouge. It's a big town with a bigger-than-itself title. The fact that crime is as rampant here as in the streets of New Orleans (which is much more a "real" city), or other real cities like New York or Washington D.C., frightens me.

Louisiana is second in the nation when it comes to stupid kids. No, let's be blunt here. We don't give a rats ass about education in this state - if we did, then we wouldn't have illiterate children graduating high school and more than half of the population now dropping out before they even reach high school. Second-to-worse. Could the influx of criminals coming out of southern Louisiana have something to do with our second-rate education system? I've got a hunch it just might.

Louisiana big-thinkers think the answer to wiping out the unlawful and murderous is to throw them in prison. Lock 'em up, and develop a life-with-no-possibility-for-parole system - that'll fix it right up. Yet it hasn't, and it won't. Louisiana prisons are full and getting fuller; low-level offenders are put back out in the street time and time again because there's just no room for them.

Perhaps it's time for a new approach. Let concentrate on our children, so that they don't grow up to be criminals. Let's stop the problem before it starts, rather than trying to put out a brushfire with a handkerchief. Creating bad apples then locking them all up when they began to rot is fruitless (forgive the pun). If we work harder at raising and educating our children, then maybe we wouldn't have so many Derrick Todd Lee's, Sean Vincent Gillis's, and John Allen Muhammed's running around.

What's the future for Baton Rouge? Who wants to raise a family in a town that produces serial killers and murderous criminals at such an alarming rate? Who wants to live in southern Louisiana at all with such people running around? What is it going to take for us to make a change for the better? When Baton Rouge is churning out two new serial killers every year, and hundreds of women have lost their lives, then will they wake up?

Gay Marriage Causes Cat 5 Hurricane, News at 11

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004

If you know little about the southern state of Louisiana, other than your exposure to it from me here, you might believe it to be teeming with open-minded, rather free-thinking, individuals. The truth is, you'd be very, very wrong.

While not sitting exactly inside of the "Bible-belt", Louisiana is still, for all intents and purposes, a largely fanatical Christian state and (barring New Orleans, of course) very conservative. Baton Rouge itself, where I live, is one tight-ass city. Even those just from New Orleans come and are shocked at the puritan, conventional ways of the common folk.

That said, it should come as no surprise to find out where the majority of Louisianians stand on the issue of gay marriage. This article appeared in yesterdays The Advocate (the main newspaper for south Louisiana):

Group Urges Ban on Same Sex Marriages

A group of Protestant ministers, a Roman Catholic priest and a handful of legislators told a committee room overflowing with supporters Monday that Louisiana needs a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

One of three bills in the Legislature to create that amendment is up for debate today in the Senate Judiciary A committee.

The group also opposes four pending bills that it deems pro-homosexuality.

"Sodomites have a right to marry, just not to one another," Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in New Orleans told the cheering crowd at the State Capitol.

Louisiana law already allows marriage only between a man and woman, and Louisiana does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

The bill being heard today would lock traditional marriage into the state constitution, making the law harder to change in the future.

According to Shanks, God views gay marriage as an abomination and, unless Louisiana bans it stronger, God might visit a calamity on the state worthy of Noah.

"One Category 5 hurricane coming up the river would take care of all Sodomite marriages -- along with ours and our churches'," he said.

The group -- which has no name -- was formed by Apostle Willie Wooten of Gideon Fellowship in New Orleans, said organizer Leslie Ellison. "It's not really an organization. Apostle Wooten led the charge," Ellison said.

The group -- ministers at the committee room's dais and people in the audience -- went to the Capitol to lobby legislators on the proposed amendment and other bills, Ellison said.

Supporters filled the 100 seats in the hearing room, crowded the aisles and clogged the hallway. House officials opened another hearing room with an audio-video feed to handle the overflow.

"We call on our lawmakers -- and especially the Black Caucus members -- to be strong and courageous as you give priority to this matter and do all that is in your power to protect historic marriage," Wooten said.

Disasters "heaped upon" Louisiana's black community occur because "a lot of our legislators are not on the side of God and His moral laws," Wooten said.

The four bills Wooten fingered for opposition, because he said they promote homosexuality, are all filed by black legislators.

  • Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, has Senate Bill 217 on granting sick leave. It would define a domestic partner as a spouse.
  • Sen. Paulette Irons, D-New Orleans, has Senate Bill 700 on making public schools create policies on bullying. The bill, Wooten said, would force schools to teach tolerance of homosexuality.
  • Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, filed House Bill 845, which would prohibit any discrimination based on sexual orientation. Wooten said it would make being homosexual a civil right.
  • Rep. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, has House Bill 1229, which would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"My bill makes sense," said Murray, who described himself as a practicing Christian active in his church.

"The Christianity I practices teaches that you should respect people," Murray said. He said his bill does nothing but bar discrimination against people who are gay.

Wooten disagreed.

"It is not a civil-rights issue. It is not an issue of discrimination. It is a moral issue," Wooten said.

The state needs to be protected from "counterfeit" marriages that will devalue other, traditional marriages, he said.

Homosexual marriage is contrary to Scripture, said the Rev. William Maestri, a priest with the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

"If you eliminate the uniqueness of marriage, you destroy it," said the Rev. Larry Bizette of the Baton Rouge Christian Center Church.

Because voters must approve it, "the constitutional amendment will allow the people of the state of Louisiana to define what marriage is," said Gene Mills, executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum.

The measure requires approval of two thirds of the House and Senate and majority approval by voters this fall.

One legislator, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, told the crowd that protecting traditional marriage in the state's constitution is vital.

A recent court decision in Massachusetts and actions by the "rogue" mayor of San Francisco to sanction same-sex marriages could force the state to accept those marriages, he said.

Scalise is one of the sponsors of another constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

We're working with some real geniuses here, folks.

My favorite line, also that of my gay friends that have read this bilge, is that a major storm will come and wipe out the state if gays are allowed to marry. That's right, their ever-loving and I'm-so-damn-peaceful-I-have-a-dove-for-one-of-my-symbols God is going to rain down a Category 5 Hurricane on Louisiana if gays are allowed to marry. Makes perfect sense to me.

And I'm angered, but not surprised, by this charming line:

...has Senate Bill 700 on making public schools create policies on bullying. The bill, Wooten said, would force schools to teach tolerance of homosexuality.

Oh for fuck's sake, let's not do that. Let's teach children that it's a-okay to beat up anyone in school they think might be gay. All the world needs is a few more horrible Matthew Shepard incidents; it's ok to bully and hurt gay people because "God doesn't like them". Yes, that's what I'd want to teach MY children. I thought Jesus taught to love everyone - even those you consider your enemies.

And are we living in the Middle Ages again? Make it okay to fire someone because of their sexual preference?? "Yes, sorry, Frank, you're the best employee we've got, you work your ass off, meet all deadlines and get along with everyone here at the office. But we found out you're gay, so we're going to have to let you go. You understand." Give me a fucking break.

Their big main gripe is, as always, about Sodom. Supposedly (though it never officially says so), the Sodomites were gay - so gay people today are sodomites; evil as can be. So what about lesbians? I always wondered...does God like lesbians, then?

I'm convinced that "Apostle Willie Wooten", leader of some anonymous "group", is nothing but a fucking crock anyway, but still. All of these other somewhat valid religious leaders going to rally against equality and the entire love-everyone concept fills me with anger, and shame for my home state.

God is Love they always like to say, but he HATES gay people. Where in the love is there room for hate? Why does God hate gay people? I've read, in one of those infamous Chick Tracts (my version - Trick Tracts) that sodomy was the only sin God ever wiped out an entire city for. Excuse me, didn't the old bastard wipe out the entire world once because everyone was so cruel and unloving? Yeah, thought so. I can't believe in a homophobic God, I'm sorry. God is so above our human foibles and worries and judgements it's not even funny. At one time, people read into the Bible and believed that God created black people to be slaves - it didn't make it TRUE or RIGHT! Chew on that one for a bit.

We can't give them equal rights because they are different - they are gay and we are not. Isn't the entire foundation of the United States equality for all? But still, blacks and women had to fight for their rights, and now, so do gay people. Want to hear the argument I always hear to that statement? "It's different - women can't help being female, and blacks can't change their skin color. They were born that way. Gay people choose to be gay." Oh, really? And you know this for a fact? Okay then, let's play a little game, Conservative Homophobe, I want you, right now, to choose to be attracted to, and able to have a relationship with, someone of the same sex. Come on, right now, do it. If it's so easy to just "not be gay", then try it. Do you choose to be straight?! No, you were born that way. So what's the fucking difference, you morons?

The whole mess makes me sick - it's so unfair and completely not right on so many different levels. I've never seen the Christian church do much of anything good, and this just furthers that stance. Burn the witches, strike down the non-conformists, stone the New Age shops, stamp out the gays. Welcome to the cult of Christ - believe or be damned.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go board up my windows for that Category 5 hurricane that is going to beat down on my bi-sexual self's house while I sit in a tub full of ice preparing for my downward descent into hell because I hang out with and support all these sodomites. Because, remember kiddies, "Sodomites have a right to marry - just not to one another."