Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sensitive Chaos Holiday Music 2008

Hi Folks!

I performed my first 3-hour-plus set at the Academe of the Oaks Sparkle "N" Splurge Benefit Auction yesterday.

If you enjoy chillout, downtempo, holiday-tinged electronic music and would like a copy of the live recording I made or would like to share it with friends, you can download an mp3 copy here:

Scroll to the bottom of the list and you'll see three links; Academe Holiday 120608 Pt1 - Pt3, each links to an approximately hour long segment of the performance. Right Click or Option Click to download the mp3s to your computer.

A short word about what you'll hear (or what you heard). All the music was composed spontaneously, on the fly, emerging as I was sitting there over in the corner of the room. Nothing was prerecorded.

As I was supporting a holiday event, the music uses alot of sounds associated with the holidays, namely bells, strings, organs, pianos, and drums, with some synth sounds and a kalimba thrown into the mix. I was playing off the energy in the room, so tempos, volumes, and dynamics were created to complement the vibe during the event. The music is intended to be ambient, so playing quietly in the background is recommended. Think "a slightly less cheesy Fresh Aire holiday" album.

There's no charge for these downloads, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Dad, The Master Pilot

My dad, a lifelong pilot (private, Air Force, American Airlines, corporate), was awarded a Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Agency.

"I am convinced that human flight is both possible and practical." Wilbur Wright, 1899

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years. Recipients are awarded a certificate and a lapel pin and are recognized in our Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award - Role of Honor located online, here, at!

Here's my dad, on the right, receiving his award on November 26, 2008.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Danny Yarbrough, RIP

In the course of my social networking today, I was shocked to run across the news that my boss and mentor from 30 years ago at CBS Records, Danny Yarbrough, had passed away in Savannah, GA, on November 3rd.

Danny was the branch manager at the CBS Records Dallas branch when I was a College Marketing Manager (college rep) and when I was promoted to Single Records Coordinator. We spent alot of time together visiting accounts, hanging with stars, and philosophizing on the state of the world. If there is anyone who could take credit for teaching me how to drink, it would be Danny.

When I was a college rep out in the hinterlands of Norman, Oklahoma, Danny made sure I got my fair share of recognition, promo bling, and exposure to the nuts and bolts of the record "bidness", as Danny would call it. When Pink Floyd toured The Wall and only played at two venues in the US (Nassau Coliseum and The Forum in LA), Danny got me two fantastic tickets and an airplane ticket to New York. When I graduated, he was instrumental in getting me the Single Records Coordinator gig.

Danny is third from right in this photo and I'm on the right. We're backstage at a John Schneider concert.

Danny was a teenager at heart, a complex man, and the epitome of a real record person when that meant something, for better or worse. I'm sorry I missed his funeral.

Here is the obit.

Danny Yarbrough, 64, former head of Sony Music Distribution, died in his sleep Monday night (11/3), in Savannah, GA. Yarbrough was named president of that company in May 1994 and became chairman in 1998, replacing Paul Smith. Yarbrough joined CBS Records in 1965 as a sales representative in the company’s Southeast branch in Atlanta. In 1975, he was named field sales manager for the New York branch and a year later became branch manager. In 1979, he was appointed branch manager of the company’s Southwest office in Dallas and then moved back to New York in 1987 as VP of sales for Columbia Records. In 1989, he moved back into distribution in 1989 as SVP Sales and Distribution. After leaving Sony in 2003, he joined Musicland, staying there for a year, then became an industry consultant.

World's Tallest Mohawk

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Escape (Doing My Best)

My friend Giles Reaves is one of the best electronic musicians in the world. But many folks do not know that he is a fabulous drummer and percussionist, too. Here is his current drum spot, the band Junior Giant, from Salt Lake City, who just won a spot on the Oct 17 MTV’s Choose or Lose Presents: Locksley Tour with JUNIOR GIANT @ The Avalon Theater.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Freezepop @ Masquerade Oct 14, 2008

A cellphone photo of the Freezepop show at Masquerade last night. I had never heard them before and was there to support my friend Raquel's band Indigovox. But I walked away impressed with all three bands (including Boy In Static). Freezepop's encore songs were "Final Destination" and then "Don't Stop Believin'". Awesome.

Monday, October 13, 2008

City Skies 08 Electronic Music Event on Nov. 8, 2008

City Skies 08 Electronic Music Event Nov 8, 2008

The next City Skies 08 event will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2008, with an afternoon Master class workshop with Richard Lainhart (Multi-Dimensional Control for Realtime Analog Synthesis Performance using Buchla 200e and Haken Continuum Fingerboard controller) from 2pm-4pm and performances starting at 8pm. We showcase the region's best electronic musicians at our favorite venue, Kavarna.

Confirmed performers on November 8 include Richard Lainhart (from New York), Collaboration with Sounds (from South Carolina), and Bribing The Buddha (from Atlanta). Shows kick off at 8pm.

The Richard Lainhart workshop for the November show promises to be quite amazing. Please tell your friends about it. Attendance will be limited:

Multi-Dimensional Control for Realtime Analog Synthesis Performance

The promise of electronic music has been, from the beginning, to provide the composer with the means to create his or her own unique sounds and musics without the need for intermediaries like performers and technicians. And the problem with electronic music has been, from the beginning, to endow synthesized sound with the same organic expressivity found in acoustic instruments and natural sound while making synthesizers viable performance instruments in their own right.

The first electronic instruments intended for performance, such as the Theremin and the Ondes Martenot, while providing the performer with highly nuanced pitch control, had limited sound-shaping control and could only play one note at a time. The first modular analog synthesizers, while offering polyphony - the ability to play multiple notes simultaneously - and unlimited sonic control, had limited expressive performance control and were completely impractical for live use.

There have been many attempts since then to integrate the unlimited potential of modular analog synthesis with practical performance capabilities, and to provide the electronic music composer/performer with the kind of expressive musical control available in advanced acoustic instruments. Among of the most successful and creative of these efforts are the Buchla 200e analog modular synthesizer and the Haken Continuum Fingerboard.

Buchla's 200e is the first modular analog synth with patch memory and the ability to re-route patchcords on the fly, making it an ideal instrument for performance, capable of both the highest and lowest levels of control. The Continuum is a unique multidimensional controller keyboard that senses direct finger movement in three dimensions (X, Y, and pressure) for each of up to 16 fingers, making it one of the most advanced performance controllers available today. Together, the 200e and the Continuum make for an electronic music performance system of unparalleled expressivity and sensitivity.

In his workshop, Richard will demonstrate the synthesis and control functions of the Buchla 200e with an emphasis on patch programming for maximum expressivity under Continuum control. The workshop will include a live performance focusing on the Continuum/Buchla 200e system's expressive control capabilities. Time permitting, workshop attendees will also have the opportunity to play the system themselves.


Richard Lainhart is a composer, performer, and filmmaker based in New York. He studied composition and electronic music techniques with Joel Chadabe, a pioneer of electronic music and the designer of the Coordinated Electronic Music System ( and, at one time the largest integrated Moog synthesizer system in the world. From 1987-1990, Lainhart was the Technical Director for Intelligent Music, developers of innovative computer music software like M, Jam Factory, and UpBeat.

His compositions have been performed in the US, England, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Recordings of his music have appeared on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, XI Records, ExOvo and Airglow Music labels and are distributed online via MusicZeit. As an active performer, Lainhart has appeared in public approximately 2000 times. Besides performing his own work, he has worked and performed with John Cage, David Tudor, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Phill Niblock, David Berhman, and Jordan Rudess, among many others. He has composed over 100 electronic and acoustic works, and has been making music for forty years.

Lainhart's animations and short films have been shown in festivals in the US, Canada, Germany, and Korea, and online at ResFest, The New Venue, The Bitscreen, and Streaming Cinema 2.0. His film "A Haiku Setting" won awards in several categories at the 2002 International Festival of Cinema and Technology in Toronto. In 2008, he was awarded a Film & Media grant by the New York State Council on the Arts for "No Other Time", full-length intermedia performance designed for a large reverberant space, combining live analog electronics with four-channel playback, and high-definition computer-animated film projection.

Richard Lainhart

City Skies

Workshop tickets: $15
Performance tickets: $10

Friday, September 26, 2008

City Skies 2008 Electronic Music Event On October 4th, 2008

The second City Skies Electronic Music event of 2008 will occur on Saturday, October 4th, 2008 from noon until midnight at Kavarna in the Oakhurst section of Decatur. Eight sets of fantastic electronic music performers from around the U.S. will grace the stage throughout the day. All styles of electronic music will be represented. Admission is a $10 donation. Come out and enjoy the show.Confirmed performers on Oct. 4 include Broken Symmetry, citizenGreen, Duet for Theremin & Lap Steel, Indigovox, Kurt Michaels (from Illinois), One Cut Kill (from Alabama), Andrew Weathers (the artist formerly known as Pacific Before Tiger from North Carolina), and Sensitive Chaos.

The Good Graces CD Release Party

I'll be performing in The Good Graces for their CD release party on Friday, October 3rd, 2008 at Kavarna in the Oakhurst section of Decatur, GA. We go on at 10pm. Blake Rainey will open the evening at 9pm and The Georgia Fireflies headline at 11pm. Come out and see Kim Ware, John McNicholas, and myself rip it up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another ASCAPlus Award For My Music

For the second year in a row, ASCAP gives Jim Combs a ASCAPLUS popular music award for his recorded and live Sensitive Chaos work (ASCAPLUS awards writers of works not necessarily covered under commercial venue licenses).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bush 41 Train Engine

I was in the middle of Iowa this week, just outside of Boone, at the Farm Progress Show, the largest farm trade show in the US. As we were waiting in a long line of cars to get into the show on Thursday, a train passed by with this engine at the end. As the Democratic Convention was going on, thought this being the train engine across the street from this event was synchronistic.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Different Skies 2008 Starts September 14, 2008

Different Skies 2008 starts in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to a week of total music-making and catching up with friends. More info here.

The Good Graces At The Earl August 26, 2008

I play my third performance with The Good Graces tonight at The Earl in support of The Dutchess and The Duke, and headliner James Jackson Toth. This will be my first performance using both my Kurzweil SP76 and my Roland JD-800. Freak folk, indeed!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Giant Pink Donuts

The family went to Helen, GA this weekend. At the end of the day, they pulled all the tubes down river.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Negative Campaign Goes Prime Time

There has been much discussion of the campaign turning negative this week. First, the McCain campaign releases it's Britney/Paris TV ad (good job lambasting one of your big campaign donor's daughters) and then the McCain camp plays the race card from the bottom of the deck by using the phrase "playing the race card from the bottom of the deck".

Let's be clear. My parents like to forward emails. Many of those emails come from staunch Republicans. The negative campaign started in 2004 after W. was elected to his second term and it has run continuously through present. Literally the day after the November election in 2004, I started getting negative email about Hillary Clinton. My inbox is consistently full of negative emails vindictive toward Democrats in general, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama specifically. Here's one from today:

So as I noted in an earlier blog, the McCain camp is having a hard time going toe-to-toe with Sen. Obama. They've got to do something to start landing punches. I'm sure they've been chomping at the bit to find some half-assed way to inject fear and negativity into the campaign. So it is ironic that Obama's comments of what the Republicans would do to discredit him becomes that launching off point for the Republicans.

From my standpoint, Obama is simply describing my email inbox for the past four years. It's truly a Casablanca moment where McCain's crew is shocked, shocked to find negative campaigning going on.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sen. McCain Is Getting A Bit Testy

I think John McCain is beginning to experience the same Obama affect that afflicted Hillary. Notice the McCain invective leveled at Obama during his European tour, the "press loves him more" pronouncements. Now there's this and this.You've got to give Obama his props for running a flawless media campaign so far that has been impossible to surmount or surpass, by either Hillary or McCain. A fierce political foe. John should run his own campaign. He will lose fighting directly against Obama.

Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain Can't Find The Confounded Bridge

Interesting analysis here on Newsweek's blog of where music artists stand versus the candidates...

Last week, Team McCain posted a montage of media personalities fawning over Democratic nominee Barack Obama on its website and YouTube channel. Called "Obama Love," the fundraising video asked viewers to choose which song--Frank Valli's "My Eyes Adored You" or "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"--served as a more stirring accompaniment for the footage. It immediately amassed 260,000 views and rocketed to the top Unruly Media's presidential campaign viral video chart. And then, as quickly as it appeared, "Obama Love" vanished into the ether. (Or would it be e-ther?)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pixels Of Mass Destruction

A great analysis of the Iran missle photos showing how an additional missle was included and a mis-fired missle was erased can be found here.

This is the second time Photoshop has played a role in overstating the firepower or destruction of a Middle Eastern entity, published in major media around the world. C'mon guys. Don't you inspect these things before you take them as facts? What has happened to the state of photo journalistic integrity?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss At Chastain

Not the greatest cell phone shot in the world, but my view of last night's Robert Plant/Alison Krauss/T-Bone Burnett concert at Chastain. After listening to their Raising Sand CD for all these months, I knew the show would be good, but it far exceeded my expectations.

I have been telling folks today that the show was a kind of history of rock'n'roll from Appalachia to present, with the middle being represented by Led Zepplelin tunes. There were plenty of Alison songs, songs from O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, T-Bone songs, Raising Sand songs, Robert Plant songs, and plenty of Zeppelin.

The band consisted of T-Bone Burnett on guitar, Stuart Duncan on violin, banjo, mandolin, autoharp, and guitar, Dennis Crouch on upright bass, and Jay Bellerose on drums and percussion, with the addition of Buddy Miller on guitar and pedal steel. Alison provided her stellar fiddle playing.

Standouts in my mind: The Battle of Evermore, with Alison singing the high parts and Robert singing the low parts. Alison singing Down In The River To Pray with Robert, Stuart, and Buddy singing the tight harmony vocals. And all the Raising Sand songs: Through The Morning, Through The Night, Trampled Rose, Please Read The Letter, Rich Woman, Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On), Fortune Teller, Nothin', and Your Long Journey. All superb.

Clearly everyone was having fun on stage, and there was a great respect for each other and the music obviously being demonstrated. It was refreshing to watch Robert literally recede into the shadows to sing background harmonies on several songs where Alison was the focus. And Alison folded back into the band when her violin was supporting Robert's songs. Both of them even grabbed the beach ball being batted around the audience when it bounced on stage.

This was a show founded on the idea of perceived opposites actually being close together. Who could have predicted the outcome of mixing a Rock God with a Bluegrass Diva? Robert mentioned how the idea of their collaboration was one of "how will it work" and "what will we play". Alison wore a flowing white dress at the show and Robert wore what looked to be gun-metal grey leather pants and satin shirt. The band dressed in black and white. The electric guitars and the acoustic instruments melded together, the angelic voices intertwined, the understated presentation more powerful than perhaps a Led Zeppelin show.

I missed seeing Zep in my youth and had never seen Alison in person. This show confirmed my convictions that music is based on traditions that have become universal and genetic. What we do is reinterpret those traditions for the present, reinventing the wellspring of our souls. Music has always been my spiritial refuge and the Plant/Krauss show brilliantly showed the audience how the gospel of bluegrass and the fantasy of heavy metal are simply two sides of the same coin.

David Ford's "Go To Hell" Video

Pretty amazing use of looping for alt pop folk rock music.

Thanks to Kim Ware for pointing this out to me.

Ron Paul comments on Obama's "Change"

Friday, July 4, 2008

Moog Groom's Cake

The groom's cake made for my friend Jeff Kunzelman's recent wedding. It matches his wonderfully restored, by Kevin Lightner, Mini Moog. Someone actually tried to play it (see crushed B key).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reach Out And Touch Someone

A new study published by JWT BOOM/ThirdAge states less than one-quarter of US Internet users ages 40 and over use social networking Web sites, while three-quarters of 15-24 year olds use them. How will this affect interaction between the generations?
The JWT BOOM/Third Age figures on social networking usage by those 40 and older generally agree with a study by ExactTarget conducted last month.

Instead of using one large category of older Internet users, ExactTarget divided users who were ages 35 and older into 10-year increments, with 65 and over being the oldest cohort. Although 39% of 35 to 44 year-olds used social networks, use fell sharply with age: Only 13% of 55 to 64 year-olds were social networkers, and only 4% of those ages 65 and older. In comparison, three-quarters of Internet users ages 15 to 24 use social networking sites.
My household is currently struggling with this dicotomy and, like new math versus the math being taught today, is another issue that divides the generations affecting how we parent in this brave new world.

I've been using computers in one form or another for over 30 years. I saw my first computer around 1970 on a Boy Scout field trip to Frito Lay. I'm sure it must of been a room full of IBM System/360s like the photo above. I definitely remember the hard drive, which was one of these, which held a whopping 28 Megabytes:

I got to try my hand a programming these beauties as an undergrad mechanical engineering student at the University of Oklahoma in 1976-1977. This was the punchcard days of programming, and I was cursed out by the Graduate Assistant for causing a massive recursive loop with my resplendent programing skills. I switched to Journalism: Radio, TV, Film my next semester.

When I worked for CBS Records in the early 1980s, my job as Single Records Coordinator required me to pull weekly sales figures out of the headquarters mainframe using the Dallas branch office terminal.

In my late 20s, I managed an Apple dealership in New York City. The Macintosh computer had just been introduced, but we still sold Apple IIe and IIc computers. I was getting my Masters degree at NYU, so was also working on IBM PCs.

School was where I was introduced to online bulletin board systems and was a user of The Well, the Whole Earth 'Lectric Link, started by Stewart Brand and his California Whole Earth Catalog folk. My classmate Stacy Horn start ECHO NYC in the early '90s, the East Coast equivalent to The Well, and I was one of her first topic hosts.

So while systems like MySpace, Facebook, and the plethora of other social networking sites promote themselves as the latest, greatest thing, from my vantage point the reason people use these systems has not changed since those early days of The Well and ECHO. People like to connect with others to share common interests and learn new things. They like to feel apart of something larger.

What has changed is that business forces have monetized that desire for connection. The Well and ECHO were subscription services. MySpace and Facebook, et al, are primarily advertising driven models.

It is this commercialized aspect of the network that is most worrisome to me, even more than the privacy and personal security issues that swirl around in discussions of the internet. In the old days, the biggest threat to a bulletin board was an abusive poster (someone who was a bully in an online discussion). Nowadays, the commercial venture posing as a friend seems far more stealthy and sinister.

Do 15-24 year olds realize this? Or is it just a part of the landscape they grow up with, much like the TV advertising I grew up with?

Ultimately, we humans just want to talk to someone. And like the ELIZA experiments of the 1960's proved, we're easily amused and delighted when we can get that connection through a machine.

I remain hopeful that the internet provides connections between humans. But I remain fearful of the connection between humans and disembodied corporations masquerading as machines.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Candidates and Their Wives

I'm getting lots of emails across the transom regarding the wives of the candidates and how each is or isn't the best/worst thing to happen to America. We don't elect the wives of course, but the role of family is being used as both carrot and stick, comfort and fear in this campaign.

Here are two links that are factual starting points:

Wall Street Journal article on Cindy McCain article on Michelle Obama

Rolling Gallery

Monday, June 30, 2008

Total Cost of Ownership

Is there a Lemon Law for war? Can we get our money back for a war that had far more problems than was sold to us?

The L.A. Times gives us a total of expenditures for the Iraq war to date here.
It is the last war funding bill of the Bush administration -- $162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- bringing to $650 billion the amount Congress has appropriated for the Iraq War in the last five years.
Earlier in the year, the N.Y. Times gave us this view:
At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.

Getting at the true cost of the war is difficult. Expenses like a troop increase were paid from the base defense budget, not war bills.
Had the Bush administration truly represented the total cost of going to war in Iraq (10x - 20x their original publicized estimates), factoring in strains to the U.S. economy due to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the rise in global oil prices, and meltdown in housing market, would the American public have been so supportive five years ago?

Had the Congress done the due diligence to provide the public with a realistic counterpoint to the administration's viewpoint, would Americans be suffering from the loss of value in their paychecks, their homes, their savings?

Given the current approval ratings for both President Bush and Congress falling to the lowest point in the administration's history, I will assume Americans are now expressing what they would have expressed had they been more truthfully and fully informed.

Who ever wins the next presidential election will inherit this lemon of a war. And the costs to pay for all its trips to the shop will continue to come out of our individual, personal pockets for the foreseeable future. I don't think I put that into my family budget. But I'd better start.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out The Backdoor 06/29/08 8:41pm

All The President's Men (and Women)

I read this Op Ed piece by Frank Rich in the New York Times today, and it got me thinking about advisers to the current campaigns and therefore potential cabinet and inner circle choices for the next President. In the same way that Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, and crew were the architects of the past eight years, I would like to surmise what the next four years might hold.

John McCain-

Foreign Policy:
Energy Policy:

Barack Obama-

Foreign Policy:
Energy Policy:

Here are the sources I used to pull together these lists-,0,1290201.story,0,1290201.story,0,2364094.story

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let's Play 'Compare Disasters For Political Gain'

This has been ricocheting around the blogosphere and passed into my inbox via the conservative net...
A couple questions from The National Review:

Where are all of the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and helping the folks affected by the floods? Where is all the media asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn't solved the problem? Asking where the FEMA trucks (and trailers) are? Why isn't the Federal Government relocating Iowa people to free hotels in Chicago? When will Spike Lee say that the Federal Government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines? Where are Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks? Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes and big screen television sets? When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a 'vanilla' Iowa, because that's the way God wants it? Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of cannibalism? Where are the people declaring that George Bush hates white, rural people? How come in 2 weeks, you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again?

So, I did some research to find out. Here's what I found, Iowa first:

Preliminary damage estimates from the June 2008 Midwest flood puts agricultural damage in Iowa alone at $1.0 billion. At least another $1.0 billion in property damage has likely occurred--$762 million of that in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The price tag is sure to grow, as many locations downstream are facing record flood heights this week.

Levee overtopping is possible in at least 28 locations along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the coming days, according to the Army Corp of Engineers. This year's flooding is one of the ten most damaging non-hurricane flood events in the U.S. since 1980, according to the list of billion dollar weather disasters maintained by the National Climatic Data Center.

At least three deaths in Iowa have been attributed to the storms and subsequent flooding, and 12 more people have died in two recent tornadoes.

The damage from this year's flood will not come close to the record $26.7 billion in damage from the catastrophic 1993 flood, though.

And here's New Orleans/Katrina:

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the United States.

The storm surge caused severe damage along the Gulf Coast, devastating the Mississippi cities of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point, and Pascagoula. In Louisiana, the federal flood protection system in New Orleans failed in more than fifty places. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans breached as Hurricane Katrina passed east of the city, subsequently flooding 80% of the city and many areas of neighboring parishes for weeks.

Ninety percent of the residents of southeast Louisiana were evacuated in the most successful evacuation of a major urban area in the nation's history. Despite this, many remained (mainly the elderly and poor).

At least 1,836 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.

The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars) in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

The catastrophic failure of the flood protection in New Orleans prompted immediate review of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has, by congressional mandate, sole responsibility for design and construction of the flood protection and levee systems. There was also widespread criticism of the federal, state and local governments' reaction to the storm, which resulted in an investigation by the U.S. Congress, and the resignation of Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown. Conversely, the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service were widely commended for accurate forecasts and abundant lead time.

So I guess the answer is that floods down the Mississippi are terrible events and deserve to be examined in light of other floods down the Mississippi, and not compared to the devastation that occurred in and around New Orleans at the time of Katrina. These two disasters are incomparible.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What I Woke Up Singing June 25, 2008


This is way cool.

The True Cost Of Going Green(er)

The above chart is a visual representation of the spreadsheet analysis I've been doing to figure out if I can afford to replace my 1995 Camaro Z28, which is not only gas guzzling me out of house and home, but it's air conditioner died and the $900 cost to repair it is yet another huge, unwanted expense at this time.

To help you read the chart, the Camaro is that little white car (mine is actually silver) in the upper left hand quadrant of the chart. It is in a position that indicates it'll cost me about $10k over the next 10 years to maintain it, and it gets between 15 and 20 miles to the gallon.

The other vehicles in the chart are actual car and motorcycle models, with their position on the chart being their various price points and MPG ratings.

The arrows are kinda positioned to show I don't want to spend more than $22K for a new vehicle and I'd like it to get at least 28 MPG. The green shaded triangle underneath the mess of cars shows the break even line where my investment in the vehicle is compensated by the lowered cost of fuel over a period of 10 years, as compared to just keeping my current car.

So, the upper right quadrant of the chart or the area to the right of the green shaded triangle is the sweet spot, or that place where a vehicle would actually save me money over the long run.

As you can see, there's not alot of there there. A Smart car, a Xebra electric car, and motorcycles are about the only vehicles that would actually save me money while saving the environment.

A Prius, hands down the most fuel efficient car sold by a major car company today, would be a break even proposition for me, at best. It may save the environment and use less gas, but it ultimately costs me no more than if I continued to drive my 8-cylinder muscle car.

Don't you hate it when your best intentions bump up against the bottomline?

I'm finding alot of that recently.

I invested a premium in a geothermal air conditioning and heating unit for my townhome about 10 years ago, with the sales pitch that the total cost of ownership would be less than a normal A/C unit and the impact to the environment would be substantially less than the norm.

In the past month, my neighbors have been comparing their electric bills and mine is definitely NOT contributing to a lower cost of ownership, so I can only hope the ozone layer has been saved by my foresight. Because I'm suffering a bit of owner's remorse over being environmentally conscious.

And then I go and run the numbers on this car thing, and it hits me again. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice and I'm just a fool.

There's no mass transit in Atlanta to speak of, so the other obvious solution to low cost, high MPG is a non-starter.

I'm actually one of those folks who thinks the rise in gas prices is the most positive thing that can be done to motivate governments, companies, communities, and individuals to break out of a deeply cemented mindset that has been around my entire life, and one that I have been fully participating in during the same timeframe.

Cheap fuel drives certain behaviors. Expensive fuel blows that all to pieces.

Now, if those hybrid cars could just come in at under $20K, we'd all be saving money. And I could afford to save the environment again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Keeping Up With The Smears

I am blessed to be in the middle of the political communications war this election season. I kind of think of it as the perfect storm of misinformation and I'm George Clooney as the waves converge. It's not just the Democrat/Republican war to which I've been privy, but also the Hillary/Obama/McCain/Ron Paul slinging.

My family is longtime Republican supporters. I get all the anti-Hillary and anti-Obama chain emails. Like this relatively mild one:

Or this one.

And then, this one.

And I was part of Ron Paul's grassroots organization here in Georgia, so am flooded with anti-neocon/pro-constitutional sentiment (what amounts to a great deal of bashing the current Republican status quo). Which is more in line with my own thinking, but even there, the smears pull for the fences and the most common sense output has typos.

Plus the McCain/Republican media machine has started cranking up, so there's even more 'message' with which to contend.

And I live in probably one of the most liberal neighborhoods in the country, with an email list for the community that is constantly filled with postings for anti-war rallies, Peak Oil summits, alternative religion/medicine/lifestyle solutions, and extensive counterculture views. Oh, and I subscribe to the New York Times.

So you could say I'm either incredibly informed or incredibly mis-informed. Simultaneously.

I rely upon a cadre of tools to try to make sense out of the confluence of smears and jeers in my daily swim through the media.

This from the Obama camp:

There's always

John Stewart and Colbert Report are high on my list. If you don't laugh, you'll cry.

Ron Paul's site is a great resource for the issues.

Ross Perot just launched a new charts site that has some fascinating perspectives.

With all of this perfect storm media, I continue to hope we don't all wind up on the bottom of the ocean, like poor George Clooney.