Squishy Little Machines

and water-soluble automata


Louisiana, United States
January 12
•An inhabitant of southern Louisiana, aka the northernmost banana republic, since 1994. •Does anybody read the profiles?

Lsujp's Links


We seem to have room even in our very best outlets for news and information about art, science and culture for one and only one expert about anything. 

There's room for one serious documentary film maker, Ken Burns. Famously, in his series "Jazz," he relied on one Greatest Living Jazz Perfo… Read full post »


Last week my son received his final rejection. He applied to four universities for admission in next year’s freshman class, three private schools of moderate-to-high prestige and one public university, the one I teach at. Two of the three private universities rejected him outright, and o… Read full post »

Last night a storm band passed through our city, leaving a path of destruction that was smaller than that left by the late, unlamented Gustav (the hurricane that hit us dead-on in September), but just as destructive. A friend of ours told me, "In twenty-seven years of marriage I've never dove… Read full post »

MARCH 7, 2009 6:56PM

When Banks compete...

If you're like me, and I know I am, you enjoy your weekly dose of NPR's Car Talk while you're driving around doing errands on Saturday morning. Today, though, something I'd never noticed about the program struck me as problematic, or even downright sinister: I'm talking about the fact that one… Read full post »

MARCH 3, 2009 3:14PM

Congress in the Age of Bulworth

This is a response to Saturn Smith's "Government for Grownups" thread. (Forget the guac, where are the chips?)

The two-party system is entirely post-Founder. So are the realities of campaign finance. Last weekend on NPR Bob Edwards interviewed Robert Kaiser on his book “So Much Damn Money: TheRead full post »

Read Pratap Chatterjee's article on the role of military contractors KBR and Blackwater. This is my response to the issues he raises.

If a war can't be fought with citizen soldiers, it is a war of imperialism.

We can… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 11, 2009 1:32PM

Our Dysfunctional States

An expanded version of a recent letter of mine in response to Joan Walsh's column "Party On, GOP."

49 of 50 states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets, admirable in principle but a disaster in the viscerally, hysterically anti-tax climate that Republicans have created nationwide.… Read full post »

JANUARY 11, 2009 8:46PM

Thoughts on Barbie

The following is an expanded version of a posting I just made in response to Tracy Clark-Flory's article about the influence of Barbie(R) (TM) (C)

My amazing 13 year old daughter demanded Barbie when she was about 4. We gave in, and for a while she… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 5, 2008 1:42PM

A moment of grace

This morning, feeling somewhat under-par from an evening of celebration, I found myself in the Memphis airport, waiting to change planes on my way to a meeting in Nashville. My usual method for dealing with the sleep deprivation of airline travel coincides with my usual method for dealing with a slig… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 2, 2008 8:12PM

P.S. to Random Notes

•The first time I've heard 9/11 invoked by anyone was last night in Tiger Stadium, where three or four groups of Army National Guardists who've recently returned from the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters were introduced at half time. So the fact that the bloody shirt of the 9/11 attacks has been… Read full post »

•About two weeks ago, the yard signs advertising different political candidates began to outnumber yard signs put their by the various roofing companies, tree services, etc. who were cleaning up after the last hurricane. Conclusion: folks are moving on with their lives, and it's time for me to d… Read full post »

OCTOBER 27, 2008 11:20AM

Situational Populism

A story on NPR this morning about ballot initiatives got me to thinking about the fact that we still have a loaded gun pointed at the pointed head of our democratic system, namely the electoral college.

Come again? What do ballot initiatives, the purest expression of direct democracy available to Ame… Read full post »

After our long-time Republican congressman resigned abruptly last year
(the job offer from a hedge fund lobbying organization must've been way lucrative for him to put the taxpayers through the expense of a special election), voters placed Don Cazayoux, a Democrat, in the vacant seat for a few months… Read full post »

OCTOBER 18, 2008 10:13PM

A new roof

We were awoken today by hammers on our roof. After four days of desultory activity, the roofers we'd hired to replace our roof post-Hurricane Gustav finally got down to it. We had four or five guys with hammers pounding in the shingles they'd laid over the tar paper that went up… Read full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2008 8:31AM

Since when

--did "Maverick" start to mean "full of shit"?

--did "smart" start to mean "stupid? (Dick Armey, in the heighday of Gingrichy GOP hegemony: "Markets are smart. The government is stupid.”)

--did "mainstream" start to mean "extremist"? (As in, "the mainstream American values " of theocracy, ruthl… Read full post »

OCTOBER 14, 2008 8:00AM

Anne Lamotte on wolves and their kin

This is a response to Anne Lamotte's latest column in Salon. 

Unlike Gov. Palin's stomping ground, in northeastern Louisiana the wild animal of choice to blast away at is any of the various breeds of water snakes found in the oxbows and sink holes up yonder. So the biggest day of… Read full post »

OCTOBER 7, 2008 8:40AM

Comment on Gary Kamiya's latest

Gary Kamiya, in this evening's post on Salon, states

"The colossal failure of the Bush administration has destroyed the right wing's appeal to most Americans. In effect, conservatism has returned to being what it was in the days of Goldwater -- a fringe movement."

I think it might be more accurate to c… Read full post »

"Baton Rouge retailers and Halloween-based businesses are hoping the holiday’s surging popularity will be enough to overcome high gasoline prices and fears of the possible collapse of the nation’s financial system."

So chill, America. We've got your back. $700 Billion bailouts not needed… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 4:31PM

Not my best moment

One of my recent modes of procrastination, now that I’ve seen all the Alex Harvey videos and Doctor Who episodes that YouTube has on offer, is perusing Facebook. I recently joined a Facebook group called “1,000,000 Strong Against Sarah Palin” at the behest of a friend. Sure, I thoug… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 11, 2008 1:41PM

Ahab walks the quarterdeck

My temporary club foot and I pace, Ahab-like, back and forth across the well-worn groove in the quarterdeck of my imagining: the seven-foot span between the door to my department’s photocopier room and the window next to the photocopier. Fantasms of my imaginings, conjured by the contrast betwe… Read full post »

Here I am, battered but unbowed. My house smells like the boy's locker room at a high school, my roof is sporting a nice blue tarp (the state flag of Louisiana!), a tree that was snapped in two but is still precariously together hangs like the Sword of Damocles over my… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 1, 2008 11:20AM

Where was I when the lights went out?

The lights just flickered for the first time. We're about to lose power.

Gustav will hit us with his right shoulder this afternoon. There will be hurricane-force winds for a while, then tropical storm-force winds for the rest of the day.

A friend of mine from college blogged the question… Read full post »

AUGUST 31, 2008 9:13PM

Why Not The Lamest?

This is a response  to the curent Open Call. It's also posted as a comment on Kerry Laurerman's page.

The GOP is the party that can't think in a straight line for very long. They'll come up with a rationale for anything--invading Iraq, privatizing Social Security, whatever--but at some point a… Read full post »

AUGUST 31, 2008 5:00PM

Off the hook for now

I just got a call from the lady coordinating the shelter program at church. I'm off the hook for tonight, since the guy who was going to stay there found a niece to take him in instead. So I get one more night to sleep in my own bed before the… Read full post »

AUGUST 31, 2008 3:01PM

People get ready

The magic eight ball is even hazier than usual as regards Gustav. Will it veer far to the west of New Orleans? Will it come due northwest from the Gulf and breeze right through Baton Rouge? Who knows. The only thing to do is prepare.

I'm spending the night tonight… Read full post »