Sunday, April 30, 2006

Celebrating One Year

My blog is one year old today.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things

So we took the youth at church to a New Orleans Zephyrs game last night. Marley is still terrified of the Nutria mascot, as she is with all costumed mascots. Since we had a lot of extra tickets, they invited some of the primary aged children to accompany us. One little boy from Kenner, about 8 years old, was obnoxious, hyperactive, and probably much like me at that age. I kept thinking that there couldn't be a drop of testosterone in his blood because his voice was higher pitched than the dental assistant in Little Shop of Horrors. His testicles HAVE NOT descended.

Baseball teams have the habit of playing music now before each batter (some of it, inappropriate, I might add) and have always played music in between halves of innings. Last night was "Christian Night" though most other Christians there would not have counted us among the believers ("You worship Joseph Smith and that Mormon Bible"). I found it very amusing to hear songs like Van Halen's "Jump" on Christian Night, but I digress. The kid that was seated in front of us and possesed of seemingly endless hyperkenetic energy said one of the funniest things I've heard in a long while. It makes Mickelle laugh so hard she gets misty, even today. Now maybe the humor won't translate to the web where you can't hear the high pitched tone and see the youngster's face, but it's worth a shot.

The inning ends, the PA strikes up The Clash's "Rock the Casbah" and it starts to play. He's dancing around to the music, trying to get the rhythm and understand the lyrics. After about the third chorus repetition he sings with the music, in a really really high pitched voice, "Rock the casbah, what the freak is a casbah?" I started laughing so hard that I could barely breathe. Getting over the flu made me have to cough like mad to get air to my fully flexed diaphragm. I was worried Mickelle was going to wet herself (she's 7 months pregnant). I guess it was so funny because of how he said it, and also because I think anyone our age remembers thinking "What the freak is a casbah" when that song came out. I had no idea about geopoliticks in 1983. I just liked the music.

What the freak is a Casbah?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Native Americans and native Americans

So, why not get into a big discussion about the status of American Indians? I have had the flu for the last two weeks, so I haven't really felt like writing much since then. Here goes.....

In writing this, let's hope I can keep from wallowing in cliche (as I'm often prone to do) and put forward clear and precise principles. Here's the situation, as my white male priviliged self sees it:

A. There is considerable debate over what term should be used to correctly refer to persons principally descended from pre-columbian inhabitants of the contiguous United States. I shall herein use the term American Indian which I will explain why later.

B. The American Indian population itself disagrees over what course they should take to better the situations of their members.

C. Most United States citizens are indifferent to the plight of the American Indians and are grossly misinformed about the success that "Indian Casinos" have brought to the various tribes.

D. Many people seek federal recognition of their band or tribe by the federal government. This puts the cards in the hands of the marginalizer, because non American Indians get to decide who qualifies as an American Indian.

E. Conquered peoples either eventually integrate or revolt.

A. Christopher Columbus mistakenly thought he had reached La India when he hoped ashore at Isla San Salvador (possibly modern day Samana Cay of the Bahamas). He called the inhabitants "indios" and the name stuck....across all colonial languages. In the United States, "Indian" corrupted into "Injun" became a pejorative the same way that some people use "Mexican" today. The connotation of Indian went back and forth among people, but as time went by and the American Indians gradually disappeared from the population centers as they died out or were forced onto reservations, it lost some of its insulting punch. So much so that by the beginning to middle of the 19th Century, the culture began a shift toward a sort of quiet reverence for American Indian ways. The idea of the "noble savage" and other images worked their way into the American experience. Books such as The Last of the Mohicans (though not a true representation of American Indian behavior) evoked the laudable morality of American Indians and the idea of the noble savage Indian may have even been a reaction against the moral ambiguity of Indian removals and the accompanying excesses of Manifest Destiny. This noble savage idea continues on to this very day, look only to Lieutenant Worf of the Star Trek shows to see a modern fictional personification of this concept. This reverence is shown nowadays in works such as Dances With Wolves where we are shown a people at peace and at one with their environment, neighbors, etc. In order to historically examine these ideas we must try to seperate our conceptions based off of popular culture from historical fact.

No civilization is perfect. No culture is perfect. American Indians did less environmental damage to the land due to economic factors. Their populations were smaller and disease, malnutrition and warfare kept their populations small enough so that they did not overtax the resources they had....typically. The massive declines of the Mayan Empire can be attributed in part, to overharvesting of the forests and depletion of the soils. Other tribes were so blessed with abundant natural resources, such as the Cherokee, that their populations were capabale of great numbers. Nevertheless, warfare, cannibalism, human sacrifice, slavery, oppression of women, etc. existed in many American Indian cultures. To paint the 500 Nations as all similar in laws, customs, cultures, etc. is to do the same to the 100 nations of Europe. The Aztecs/Nahuatl were so hated by other tribes that these other tribes united voluntarily with the Spaniards in their conquest of Mexico City. Similarly, just as the nations of Europe have struggled to get along since time immemorial, so to did the tribes of the Americas. To be sure, there is much to admire in the practices of many American Indian tribes, but to show them as these perfect noble stewards of land, life, and liberty is simplistic. There had to have been a similar level of intrique in the lodges as their was in the European courts.

Given the vastness of cultures under the broad umbrella of "American Indian" how then do we come to terms with the correct terminology to use to describe them? A 1995 survery by the Census Bureau found that the majority of American Indians polled preferred the term American Indian to Native American.

I am a native American, but I'm not Native American despite my Aunt Connie's assertion that there is a Cherokee somewhere in my fuel supply. I grew up in Cherokee County, Georgia, where the Trail of Tears started near where I grew up. I went to Etowah High School and toured the Etowah Indian Mounds with amazement and wonder as a child. I enjoy Enigma's "Return to Innocence." According to my now departed grandma, I "tan like an Indian." But I don't know what it means to be an American Indian.

Why use the term Native American? What benefit does it bring versus American Indian? We all know that Columbus got it wrong. Throughout the Americas there have been various methods for "eliminating" or "dealing with" the Indian "problem". In the tightly pruddish American Northeast, there was little mingling of the races, rather the British made gifts of poxscab laden blankets. In Latin America, due to the encomienda system, if an encomendero's serfs had more children, then he had more serfs, and the mestizo peoples of Latin America attest to this mixing of European and indigenous blood. By 1822, 25% of the population of Buenos Aires was of African descent, yet today the population of Argentina is almost entirely white. In Argentina, the blacks were granted freedom from slavery if they joined the army, where they were immediately made to fight against indian tribes such as the Patagonia and Araucanians, and put in the front lines as cannon fodder in the border wars with Paraguay and Chile. By using blacks to fight indians, Argentina sought to exterminate both of its minorities. Custer was on a mission of annihilation when he met his end. The "Battle" of Wounded Knee stands as a lasting shame on our ancestors. European peoples sought to annihilate American Indians, to remove them from the culture and the landscape forever. I wonder if the preference for the term American Indian among American Indians is a subconscious reaction against this modern attempt to remove "Indians" from the culture yet again? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but maybe not. American Indian names for sports mascots are appropriate where the name shows a reverence and respect for the entity being portrayed. The Atlanta Braves I believe is a show of respect just as the Boston Celtics is, though in years past, things such a Chief Noc-A-Homa might have been a little too mistrel. As I understand it the Seatlle newspaper refuses to use American Indian mascot names, preferring instead to say The Team from Washington, when reporting sports stories and this makes their articles incomprehensible whenever the Redskins play the Seahawks. I don't know how I would feel about the Washington Redskins were I an American Indian, but I find it odd that some groups agitate to get the Florida State Seminoles to change their mascot name when the very Seminole tribe has given their stamp of approval to the name. I also know that the proposed National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall chooses American Indian over Native American. Perhaps soon, due to the euphemism treadmill even Native American will fall out of favor as Amerindian has. I doubt anyone will ever be able to get the varying tribes and peoples to come to a consensus about how they prefer to refer to themselves. Given the awesome creativeness of some Plains Indians for naming their tribe members, perhaps they can come up with something as creative as Custer's scout White Man Runs Him. See photo

B. Some tribes prefer casinos and vice peddling (tax free liquor and cigarette stores) as ways to bring income to their nations, while others prefer to take the moral high ground. Some rely on government assistance, some refuse it. No matter what choice is made, many American Indians suffer in terrible poverty, addiction, and ignorance (which I define as a lack of education). I would advocate helping these Americans as Americans, just as we would anyone else in need. Historical injustices and half-fixes have been attempted. Perhaps instead of tackling the problem as "American Indians in Need" we should approach it as "Americans in Need." If we are always tacking that "other" onto the program, do we marginalize it from the onset? I don't know how to proceed nor how much really needs to be done. We are in the postmodern world now. American Indians are not going to and do not want to (I imagine) return to their Pre-columbian Stone Age Technology heritage; I would venture that they want to keep their cultural traditions as they integrate into mainstream America. We cannot erase the events of history, meaning that we are not going to hand over the continent to the remaining American Indians and emigrate en masse back to the Old World as the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom advocates. American Indians need to figure out their own singular way of how to integrate into the world without losing that essence that defines them, the same way that I am an American of Welsh/Scotch/Irish descent. It's my ancestry, my tradition, and my heritage, but it's not what defines me. When asked to define what I am, I would have to say "American, Mormon, Southern (By the Grace of God). I feel I can do this without betraying my European heritage which farnkly makes up precious little of how I indentify myself. But then again, I am in the majority and I don't have people constantly pointing out and noticing my otherness. I am no stranger in a strange land. I do remember as an estadounidense in Costa Rica how I was the minority, but still my personal wealth (relative) allowed to function on the high side of the margin. There was an American Indian missionary serving with me named Mark Echohawk. I never met him, but from what I understand he was just as accepted as any other missionary both by the Costa Ricans and the Anglo missionaries (one would hope, among disciples of Christ). This path can only be determined by American Indians for themselves with help, as requested, from their fellow Americans.

C. Indian casinos do not improve the lives of the majority of American Indians. Some will claim only 1% benefit, while some small tribes have all become fabulously wealthy. Casinos benefit the tribes monetarily, but all vice comes at some expense. Also there is serious concern about the commodization of culture and the Disneyfication of the reservation at the hands of multinational companies that come in and develop land. The casino issue is a complicated one for the nation as we are in a phase of the cycle of casinos where we currently approve of them. This cycle comes and goes throughout time and if that cycle comes around again soon, what then becomes of the gaming industry and the tribes that practice it as a result? The casino issue is complicated for me as I am a Mormon who admittedly likes to gamble on occasion. I should be opposed to casinos, and I wouldn't gamble if there were no casinos. Is it better to ban casinos and let gambling become the province of mobsters, or to let the state (or tribe) regulate it? I think the social ills that stem from all large scale gambling outweigh any tax benefits they might bring to their communities. Pawn shops, drug abuse, suicide, alcoholism, and theft to fill pawnshops are the symptoms of gambling sickness. I oppose gambling, but I do gamble from time to time even though I know it goes against my religion. I admit my sin and my possible hypocrisy for condemning it while I occasionally enjoy it.

A larger problem related to casinos is that many Americans think that the casinos have (once again note the terminology) "solved the Indian problem."

D. Federal recognition of a tribe brings aid, status, and all kinds of problems. Defining membership in a tribe permits and/or cuts off access to federal benefits. My problem with 'federal recognition' is that it puts the classification for what and who constitutes an American Indian tribe in the hands of people who are not American Indians. The whole system seems flawed. Granted, people could claim 1/32,000th Madeituptoday tribe membership and seek to organize a reservation in downtown Salt Lake. If granted, they could then open a casino in one of the two states that prohibit all forms of gambling (including bets among friends, private wagers) and thereby undermine local government attempts to keep vice out of their community. But people could also make the same claim and not try to open a casino. The whole notion of the government deciding seems to limit the ability of American Indians to indentify themselves, which is an important part of embracing one's ancestry and heritage.

E. Conquered peoples have two eventual choices: integrate, or revolt. Throughout history conquered peoples have had to eventually choose between accepting the status quo or revolting. Two examples of Western history: Moorish Spain and Norman England.

In Spain the Moors shared different ethnicities, religion, and traditions than their subjects. The Moors were North African and Arabic Muslims. The Spanish were Ibero-Romano-Visigoth Christians. The Spanish never relented in their near 800 struggle called La Reconquista. They refused to assimilate. The Normans invaded Anglo-Saxon England (Angle-land) in 1066. They shared religion and some basic culture, and within 500 years were very integrated, one with the other. The struggles in Kosovo date back to battles that happened 400+ in history. People in Armenia bicker over battles that happened when Julius Caesar was alive. The Ainu in Japan have integrated into Japanese culture, first by force and then by choice. Revolution brings bloodshed, horror, and sometimes liberty. Conquered peoples must ask themselves how strong is their commitment to reversing previous wrongs. How long are their memories of past sins? How much heritage is "enough" to preserve as one culture integrates into another larger one?

There are no calls for the President of France to apologize to Queen Elizabeth for the Battle of Hastings. There are no calls for Queen Elizabeth to apologize to President Chirac for the Battle of Agincourt. The peoples that invaded the Americas, be they Cornish carpenters or Extremaduran pigherders are no longer represented in their posterity. Those men have all vanished, and with them their beliefs and ideologies. One would hope that were a new continent discovered today that the natives would be treated with respect and not invaded. No doubt that things were done horribly horribly wrong in the past, but we are no longer those same people. I am not.

I cannot help but think that if Antarctica had been discovered, uninhabited, at the equator, that our history books would be filled with tales of battles, colonies, revolutions, and all their trappings. The history of mankind is one of war and invasions. Sadly, la historia la escriben los ganadores.

Darlamay: I cannot find but one federally recognized tribe in Louisiana, the Chitimacha. Evidently, the delta region was not heavily populated pre-Columbus and what little there were died from disease and war when the French arrived.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lars Ulrich returning to relevancy?

$100 gas tax rebate checks. Insults to our intelligence. Buying votes. This post has nothing to do with Metallica.

Master of puppets I'm pulling your strings Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams Blinded by me, you can't see a thing Just call my name, 'cause I'll hear you scream Master Master Just call my name, 'cause I'll hear you scream Master Master

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter,10117,18932790-13762,00.html

nevermind that spray painting your free speech on someone's property is illegal...let's not take away their free speech. Mark Ecko's clothing has graffitti on it. Graffitti has a purpose in certain times, but I generally find it childish and overly self-important. Someone went around and spraypainted "Bush" beneath EVERY Stop sign in Uptown New Orleans before we invaded Iraq. While I appreciate that kind of dedication to a cause, it's still infantile. Gang tags are the worst. Someone has gone around spray painting "Baghdad" on destroyed houses in the Lower 9th Ward. I just disagree with the mentality that you can go spraypaint someone's property because you feel you've got something to say.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Playing the race card

"I find that very disappointing," said Lucia Blacksher, general counsel for the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Center. "When people say things like we only want the best people who don't do drugs or commit crimes, there is an implication that many of the people in public housing are in fact criminals who don't work. That simply is not true. It is an unnecessary stereotype and an alarming stereotype to be voiced by the secretary of HUD."

Bullschnit. There is a reason the police told us not to go in the projects to visit church members after 3PM and it certainly wasn't all of the hardworking folks coming home from their jobs. The "auntays" all went to work and the nephews hung around outside all day raising hell and shooting each other all night.

"I'm a little disturbed that even today they want to bring a racial component into the hurricane. This isn't about racism; this is about people suffering," said Jackson, pointing to the large number of Vietnamese fishers along the Gulf Coast whose livelihoods were ruined by the storm. "It's important (to remember) that everybody suffered in this disaster, not just black people. It bothers me tremendously when I see the so-called leadership in the black community, the liberal community, zeroing in (on) how much more difficult it was for African-Americans than it was for white Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans."

Okay, but the Vietnamese aren't the ones bitching about not getting back into public housing. The are minorities yet they lived and worked and generally avoided massive gang violence. The public housing projects were full of crime not because the people in them were black, but because they were uneducated and the government made it too easy for them to get by under the old system. People want to change the rules and suddenly the advocates start screaming about racism.

HANO spokesman Adonis Expose also confirmed Monday that the agency is considering a long-rumored policy change that would require all public housing residents in New Orleans to have a job or be in a job-training program. Hallelujah!

"I think they are getting ready to demolish public housing," said Laura Tuggle, a lawyer with New Orleans Legal Assistance. "One of the hardest parts of redevelopment is having to relocate residents of public housing. That job was done for them."

Well that seems like a callous windfall for the system.

My personal opinion is that young able-bodied people should not depend on the government to subsidize their housing. The elderly might need some help, but for the able-bodied, let the freemarket, no matter how harsh it might be, decide who gets to live somewhere. NGOs can always step in to fill the gaps, but to demand the government subsidize housing so you can live in the French Quarter for $100 a month and not work is ridiculous.

Islam, Proselyting, Millenial Fever, and Why I Don't Think Jesus Is Coming Back Anytime Soon

This article is probably only of interest to my Mormon readers, but all are welcome to read and comment. This post came about as a result of someone on my Costa Rica missionary webpage saying that he thought the situation in Iraq was leading to Armageddon in the very near future. This is most of my response.


Twenty years ago we were mired in the Cold War and few thought they would ever see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the preaching of the Gospel to the Warsaw Pact lands. That is now history.

I am 32 and I grew up 18 miles from Dobbins AFB so the threat of nuclear annihilation was an omnipresent reality to me. I understood the lyrics to 99 Red Balloons very well. Comparing the former Soviet Union situation in 1986 with the potential to preach the Gospel to predominately Muslim nations in the short term, I do honestly believe we're comparing apples to oranges.

The citizens of the Iron Curtain DID NOT want to be under the thumb of communism; they craved and sought expressions of freedom on as large a scale as the state would permit. Muslims on the other hand seem perfectly at home in their misogynistic despotic nations where they seem less inclined follow to secular law than Shariah law. Populism, nationalism, and demogoguery are the norms.

For example, it would appear that most of the secularly educated people fled Iran after the fall of the Shah, and much like Spain after the expulsion of the Jews, the moral climate favoring persecution of opposing views reigns supreme--You cannot easily replace an entire intellectual segment of society in one generation, so there is no large silent majority yearning to topple the ayatollahs and establish a democratic government--they all fled to the USA and call themselves Persians.

I believe Islam is in the throws of the same irrational zeal and fervor that gripped Christianity in its 16th Century. It would take us another 200 years to calm the hysterics of witchcraft and necromancy so readily believed by the masses in the 17th Century. I can see Islam being ready for the Gospel in 200 years, after it comes to terms with its own festering moral equivalency. Even in nations with sort of secular governments like Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt, I can't see the Gospel being preached while Islamic Fundamentalism and Anti-Americanism rage nearby.

In spite of the apparently ever-increasing calamities that drive the headlines every day, I do not believe that Christ will come back anytime in the next little while. We can parse our patriarchal blessings however we want to, but for close to 2000 years now the faithful have been told that the hour was nigh. Too much prophecy has to be fulfilled for Jesus to come back just yet.

With that said, we must prepare ourselves spiritually for that day like it were tomorrow, but I don't think we should long for it. Part of mortality is the struggle to better ourselves, and if Jesus comes back tomorrow, I do not think I am ready for the encounter. I need more time to learn humility, patience, and, apropos-ly, long-suffering, before I can even begin to turn my thoughts to the affairs of the kingdom. Since Katrina the Gulf Coast seems gripped with what I call Millenium Fever. It's like all the churches (including many LDS members) are expecting Christ to come and do a "Calgon take me away" from all their afflictions. We need to overcome them ourselves.

Longing for the Millenium to solve all our problems teaches us nothing and in my opinion is more than a tad morbid. If we want it so bad, let's park the armies of Christendom on the plain at Armageddon and call out our enemies. Maybe Sauron will answer...

Or maybe the struggle at Armageddon is a metaphor for how Christianity will have to learn to love Muslims as we have been commanded to do (Love thy neighbor as thyself). If hell is a metaphor why can't Armageddon be one too?

I doubt there will ever be peace in the Middle East. We need to develop all other energy alternatives such as solar, wind, hybrid, heavy crude and shale oil in order to stop funneling money to these glorified dictatorships. Guess what happens to Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states without cheap money from oil? They can't grow enough food or even purify enough water to support their populations. Given staggering numbers young Saudis that major in Islam in college, they are not using their money to stimulate and grow their economy. We are looking at a major Arabic diaspora in 50-75 years. Maybe we'll be able to preach the Gospel to them when they are forced to emigrate from their lands.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

My Sexy Johnny Cash Smoker Voice

Well I've been sick all week with a cold I most likely got when I went to the doctor's office to get treatment for the gout that had had me incapacitated two weeks ago. Ain't that a bitter pill!

We went to the French Quarter Festival and I felt a little better to get out and stretch my legs and my lungs. Evidently I overdid it, because on the street car ride back home (the Canal line is going again) I began to feel really bad and worn out. When I woke up this morning at 6:00 to get ready to go the branch presidency meeting at church at 7:00AM, I realized that I was in no condition to go out as I had yesterday. Not only were my lungs full of crud, but my voice had dropped a half octave. I now have what I call my sexy smoker voice. I sound like a big bad Johnny Cash. This is the only good part of getting sick as an adult. I can sing (between throat clearings) lower than I normally can, so I've had Johnny Cash on all afternoon. I can hit the low notes in Walk the Line and Folsom Prison.

Yeah, I'm a sexy beast today....vocally.

The Ethics of Desire

This is a really long article, but to truly understand my post, you should read all of it:,,1759109,00.html

[Disclaimer: Even though this post is about sex, per my wife's discomfort at any contemplation of sex involving her, you must still assume that our marriage remains unconsummated and that our children were immaculately conceived]

The stereotypes all come to my mind when I think about this drug's potential. Married men around the world rejoice (I'm pandering). This drug has enormous potential to truly help couples become closer, especially post-menopausal couples. I know there (hypothetically) have been times when I would have given my vericocele for a dose of this for my significant other, but I also realize that the administration of the drug has to be voluntary on the part of the recipient. This is one of three potential problems that I don't think the article answered:

#1 Its potential for misuse by adults who know that if they give this to someone and maybe get them a little drunk to lower inhibitions, the burning desire caused by the drug will allow them to have sex with someone who otherwise might never have done so.

#2 Its potential misuse by children. Imagine a young man figuring out a way to give this to his reluctant girlfriend.

#3 Its potential misuse against enemies. Imagine someone like Karl Rove figuring out a way to administer this to a political rival, say Tom Delay, and then hiring someone to seduce him at a party. Since the drug works on the mind, he might find it much harder, had he his wits about him, to refuse, especially if he was unaware that he was under the influence of a drug.

However, if we strive to prohibit this drug, that will only make it more attractive to illegal distribution and overseas exploitation.

Another thing I thought about is imagine the awkwardness of asking your partner to use the drug. What does that do to your self-esteem? "Please take this drug, so you'll want me." If the desire it caused by a stimulation of the genitalia then does the body (not the soul) care who or how the desire is satisfied. It reminds me of two sets of song lyrics.

Now I'll relate, this little bit
It happens more than I'd like to admit
Late at night, she knocks on my door
She's drunk again and, looking to score
Now I know, I should say no, but
That's kind of hard when she's ready to go
I may be dumb, but I'm not a dweeb
I'm just a sucker with no self esteem


I want you to pharmaceutically want me
I need you to pharmanceutically need me
I'd love you to pharmaceutically love me
I'm begging you to pharmaceutically beg me.

You get the picture....

Saturday, April 22, 2006

French Quarter Festival Is a Hit

Civic Duty Done

I went and cast my vote early this morning as I expected a long line later and since I'm sick with a head cold and can't sleep and since we're going to the French Quarter Festival later. I did not have to wait in line. My precinct largely flooded so there's no one there to vote really. Most of the voters I saw were African-American which makes sense because the other precincts voting at my polling place are predominately African-American (as is/was most of the city). We'll see how well my candidates do.

I apologize for the grainy image, I couldn't really use my flash.


For anyone wondering what our new car looks like. Here is our 2005 Dodge Magnum that we've nicknamed "Higgins." In spite of the gas mileage and the current pump woes we love it. We can only hope that Dodge starts making it in a hybrid so we can trade it in.

It has a 7 year/70,000 warranty. I paid $6k below blue book on it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The LDS Church in New Orleans Post Katrina

Well the First Presidency has shaken things up finally in New Orleans. Here are the changes.

The Ponchartrain Ward, the Chalmette Ward (Slidell, LA Stake), and the Uptown Branch no longer exist.

The Uptown Branch is now the New Orleans 1st Branch and encompasses ALL of Orleans, St. Bernard and the East Bank of Plaquemines Parish. This includes all oil platforms in the Gulf north of Carlisle, LA and West of Pearl River, MS.

The Branch Presidency of the New Orleans 1st Branch is the old branch presidency from the Uptown Branch.
David Van Dam--President
Gove Allen--1st Counselor
Mac Williams--2nd Counselor

Despite the addition of over 200 square miles of territory, the branch received no active Melchezidek Priesthood holders and President Van Dam presides over the great majority of the devastated areas due to Katrina and Rita.

The Ponchartrain Ward and all of the Uptown Branch in Jefferson Parish have now been folded into the Jefferson Ward with Kirk Gomez as Bishop.

Our stake has the following units:
Jefferson Ward
La Place Ward
Luling Branch
NOLA 1st Branch
NOLA 2nd Ward (Spanish)
NOLA 3rd Ward (Singles)
West Bank 1st Branch (All of the west bank)

As we only have seven high councilmen we expect that the First Presidency will decide to take the eight gulf stakes and condense them into seven or even six stakes. Most likely to be disbanded is the Biloxi, MS stake and then the Slidell, LA stake (that's my opinion).

This is all public knowledge and the sustaining votes have already taken place.

Furthermore, the New Orleans 1st Ward building on Academy Drive is in the process of being demolished. The church will retain the property for now. The Chalmette Ward building is demolished and looks like Jerusalem when Titus was done with it.

Chalmette before:

Chalmette after:

NOLA 1st Ward building:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The New Orleans Mayoral Race--One Man's Vote

So, I've got a few ideas/concerns/problems about the New Orleans mayoral race:

First let's examine the major candidates:

#1 Mayor Ray Nagin: Proven Pre-K leadership and especially adroit at busting corruption and graft. He is a good man and a good mayor. That he has taken the fall for many of the problems during Katrina is unjust. Comparisons between him and Giuliani are unjust. Giuliani had an isolated section of his city that was destroyed, Mayor Nagin lost 75% of his city including his own home. No one knows how well they might have responded when faced with such a terrible situation and so little help in a timely manner. His Chocolate City comment was dumb and I think he might have been drunk when he gave that speech (watch the tape to see what I mean). His proposal to bring gambling to Canal Street is ill advised. I like him and if the person I want to vote for does not pass the primary election on Saturday, then Mayor Nagin gets my vote.

#2 Mitch Landrieu: Son of a former mayor, current Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, brother to US Senator Mary Landrieu. He has some interesting ideas about regionalizing the economy by linking Baton Rouge via light rail and also increasing the port traffic. What I can't figure out is exactly what he plans to do that is so different from Mayor Nagin. His grandstanding on TV during the flood to me is indicative of someone with aspirations for the office of governor or even higher. He doesn't have the charisma or timing that his sister has. I do not trust him. He is second in charge to an utterly incompetent governor and as such bears much of the blame for her mistakes Post-K. He is as shuck and jive tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear as they come.

#3 Ron Forman: Director, Manager, and Rejuvenator of the world-class Audubon Zoo and Nature Institutes. He has a proven track record of leadership and class. He jumped parties before the election which makes me think that his loyalties lie with those he thinks can get him elected. He is too nice to be a politician. I have been unimpressed in the debates so far.

#4 Peggy Wilson: Our apartheid candidate. Part of me likes how she says that we don't want welfare queens and drug dealers to come back to the city, but I am stupefied by her plan to make the city tax free yet dependent on the federal government to bail us out and then finance a bond initiative. Isn't that just making the city a gigantic welfare queen? It's cool to criticize those that tax the system, but if you don't have a viable plan for helping them get off of welfare other than "don't come back" then shut up already. The key to stopping welfare is STOPPING welfare by growing jobs and MAKING people work for what they get. She grandstands too much to the racists elements in the city.

#5 Rev. Tom Wilson sees racism wherever he looks. He's as shuck and jive as Landrieu. He is holier-than-thou in a place that cannot afford to waste time on lofty rhetoric. His comment to Nagin, "You let 1,200 people drown, I rebuke you" completely disqualifies him for office.

#6 Virginia Boulet: She is the female version of Ron Forman. I cannot see any differences in their platforms other than she supports restoring the high arts to bolster tourism instead of entertainment. Oh and she wants to waste hundreds of millions of dollars to move UNO from its lakefront campus to near the French Quarter--which might not be a bad idea, but seems impractical at this point.

#7 Rob Couhig: He gets my vote this Saturday. I am voting for him because he has differentiated himself in a few ways
A. Zero tolerance on crime--he plans to institute the same policies that Rudy Giuliani used to turn around New York City from the hellhole it had become in the early 1990s.
B. He realizes that the universities are the largest private employers in the parish and will use city resources to ensure that they have everything they need to maximize their enrollment. Higher education is the key to the healthy job growth that the city needs. Tourism brings low paying jobs, education makes everyone better. The majority of the employees of the Tulane library are no your most refined individuals, but they do their jobs (with annoying attitude sometimes) and they make a decent wage because of Tulane. Were it not for the library these people would NOT be making the kind of money they are.
C. He also plans to revamp the public education system by not tolerating blame games. Parents will be held responsible for the improvement of their children along with the teachers. This was the half the problem here, parents were kids themselves and they could give a damn about school.
D. He also plans to move quickly to condemn, sell, auction or whatever city property and blighted property that is not in use. This is my biggest problem with the recovery right now. Jefferson Parish is taking in over 30 million dollars extra each month in sales tax right now. The city should do WHATEVER it takes to get WalMart and Home Depot to open up in the city on an expedited basis so that these tax dollars are not going into the coffers of already wealthy and solvent Jefferson Parish.

If Couhig does not make it through the primary, then I will vote for Nagin. If neither of them do, I'll have to re-evaluate then.

Seriously, how stupid do you have to be?

I cannot believe that not one, but two people allowed this man into their homes.

Here's the police report of what happened:

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hello from the ATL HJA

Just sitting here people watching...thinking about how many people 6 billion really is. Wishing that I had a couple more hours of layover so I could go see my grandparents. I spent the night in the Phoenix airport last night so I wouldn't have to pay $90 for my hotel room. I actually slept very well because I realized that the Terminal I flew into was a dump that is soon to be demolished. Terminal 4 is very nice and I even found a sofa and slept better on it than I did in my hotel bed. Atlanta is still the best (Paul is probably right).

People watching. I just saw a dad with two of his daughters. I saw hookers on Luckie Street and North Avenue when I went to Georgia Tech that dressed more modestly than these two girls. Where is parental responsibility? That Dad HAS to know what other people are thinking about his daughters when they dress this way!

Tempe, AZ has an excellent public transportation system that got me to the airport for $1.25 in 30 minutes.

I am 50 miles from my grandparents and I can't go see them. That's the worst.

This airport has some many memories for me. I remember that I came back from Costa Rica and my entire extended family was waiting for me.

If I ever get back to Georgia, I'm gonna nail my feet to the ground!

When you're used to White Male Privilege, it sucks when you don't get it

I am a decidedly Anglo-Saxon male human being. I enjoy certain privileges based off of those inherent characteristics of who I am. I have rarely known discrimination in my life. I do not enjoy flying since 9-11 where the playing field is made level against everyone that flies. The privileged white male in me gets mad when they make a fat (there are no fat suicide bombers), white, Mormon, 10th generation American go through extra security checks including a pat down and rub down of my entire body, a complete wanding, rubbing my hands and arms and everything in my carryon bag with gundpowder residue detection cloths, and playing 20 questions with my travel plans. I hate it that I am subjected to this "precautions" which do little more than give us some misguided sense of protection against the Muslim Other that seeks to destroy us. I am not used to discrimination. I am used to being on the privileged end, and when I get the security check from hell (every damned time I fly) somewhere deep down I crave that privilege that I enjoy everywhere else.

That makes me sound prideful, but I don't mean it that way. I cannot control the privilege that I am given by my society. Surely I can be sure to not abuse the privilege by using it to lord over others or take something when it shouldn't be mine. That's the problem with privilege, when it's gone you truly learn to appreciate it. Problem with my privilege is that I did nothing to earn it other than be born. So what I am left to do......not sure.

One thing about the "in"security checkpoints at the airport: when I received my Social Security card in the late 1980's, my last name was incorrectly printed as William instead of Williams. I never noticed this until after I was married. My driver's license still has my name as William and not Williams. In all of the times that I've flown, NO ONE has ever questioned this discrepancy. They'll read me the F***ING Riot Act because I don't remove my shoes* when going through security, but no one ever catches that my name does not match the name on my ticket. This is a case of my white male privilege. If I were an Arab man and my ticket said Abu Kamal and my ticket said Aba Kammal, damned straight I'd be talking to someone in a private area while handcuffed.

* How annoying is it that they make people remove their shoes when going through security? If you're not wearing socks and you have to step on the dirty floor. No one complains that they don't randomly pick people at the gates for a further check anymore....the shoe thing is something that someone thinks is a good idea, but that really does nothing to make us safer. The constantly repeating advice to "keep your bags in your sight at all times" even once you're through security are further scare tactics that we Americans accept as the truth because they goad us into this mythical sense of security that does not exist. When I got to Atlanta this morning, I was not allowed to switch flights to New Orleans, even though there was a half full earlier flight (instead of this four hour layover) because the FAA requires that each passenger accompany each checked bag. Since I had one bag checked, I was unable to switch flights. %^(&)*^&(*(%*(! I watched a poor man with MS in a wheelchair get a 10 minute body inspection just to get on an airplane. Where is the logic? Oops, there's that privilege talking for me again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nosebleeds and tumbleweeds

Have I mentioned that I hate the desert? My nose has already bled twice in 24 hours. It's drier than

1) a 60 year old Mormon's sense of humor (that one stunk)
2) Brittish humor (cliche)
3) School carpet
4) Dustbunnies
5) Utah
6) Those crackers they put in MREs
7) You get the idea

I present in about 3 hours. My paper is on shame and embarassment in a short story by Julio Cortazar called "After Lunch".

Hopefully I don't do what I'm presenting about.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The moral bankruptcy of "Lad Culture"

Oh my gosh, since I've got time to kill at my hotel until I present my paper at a conference tomorrow, and since I decided to avoid the expense of a rental car, I'm just killing time with TV and the Internet in my hotel room. I put it on Spike TV because I know that they show reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I've been bombarded by advertising that has come to be known as "Lad culture" or advertising aimed a young men--a group that apparently only plays video games, drinks alcohol or Mountain Dew, and has unprotected sex leaving them in need of Valtrex (It's about suppression) and Genital Warts therapy. Those borderline risque commercials for AXE deodorant (which promises love in an elevator amongst other things) have reached a new low with a product called AXE Snake Skin. Check out their webpage:

Can mainstream media get any lower than this type of purient appeal to our young men?

Some choice gems of hedonism....

1) Our members achieve a shame-free lifestyle by completing The Daily Scrubbing Ritual (a.k.a. The Shedding of The Shame). This is our most sacred tradition, and consists of showering with Axe Snake Peel; an exfoliated blend with cactus oils and desert minerals. No more feeling embarrassed because you woke up next to the bearded lady, Lizard Girl, or other female carnival workers.

2) The Serpentine Oath " I pledge to scrub away the shame caused by a questionable hookup and not as an excuse to commit acts of debauchery. Cavorting with exotic dancers with wandering eyes, siamese twin orgies, grinding with mother daughter tandems, trolling, the keeping of concubines, and trips to Ti(a)juana [sic].

Complete with secret handshakes and some twisted sense of frat boy humor it makes me weep for people whose only concept of sexual intimacy revolves around the hookup. I find here further evidence of the intrusion of porn/pimp culture into mainstream media. What will we tolerate in twenty years? How can this be healthy for anyone's self-esteem?

I advocate abstinence before marriage even in an extra-moral sense.

Houston YOU have a problem / The desert is not really that beautiful

And it's called George Bush International Airport. Curse the scoundrels that decided to use the Labyrinth as the inspiration for their floorplan. I only had 32 minutes once I deplaned deplaned in Houston before departure of my next flight to Arizona. I was in the E Concourse and I needed to be in the B Concourse, which involved several moving sidewalks, a rinky-dink train ride and several (what felt like) miles of walking. I got off (of) my plane, walked briskly, made a restroom pit stop, walked briskly the rest of the way--save the train ride--and as I approached my gate, I heard my name called, "John Williams." I responded "That's me" to which she said, "LAST CALL." My telling her that I had just gotten to Houston and walked straight to my flight got me no sympathy or narry a nod of understanding from her. This is not the first time that I've narrowly missed my flight in Houston's sprawling and rambling terminal. I grew up with the joyous simplicity of Atlanta's Hartsfield airport. My dad worked on the West Coast for years, and he commuted every week from Atlanta to Los Angeles, so every Friday and Sunday night we made a trip to the airport. Atlanta's airport is huge, but it makes sense. You can reasonably estimate how long it's going to take you to get somewhere. It has an effective subway system. Houston is just a damned mess. If a spider were involved in a terrible car wreck and broke all its limbs and was paralized that's what Houston's airport must look like from the air: an octopleagic arachnid.

I always worry when I fly without Mickelle and Marley by my side because I am such a large man. I take up more than the one seat allows, and if I can't get the armrest to go up on the aisle seat, I am both uncomfortable and worried that I will make the person next to me uncomfortable. Luckily on the first flight I sat next to a girl that recognized me from Tulane. She knew I taught Spanish so she asked for, and received my help on her term paper for her Spanish Literature class. That was nice. The second flight saw me sitting next to a professional baseball player from Mexico named Cruz de Jesus Gamboa--what a fabulous baseball name (he was drafted by the Diamondbacks). He is a 19 year old righthander with a 91 mph fastball and what I can best translate as a "wicked slider." We spoke in Spanish for the entire flight, even after that man in front of us turned around and said "Could you please lower your voices" even though he had put his chair back and was wearing earplugs. At first I got angry inside and thought of mean things I could say or that I could just start talking loud (we hadn't been talking loud, he just didn't like hearing Spanish). However, I am 32 and should do better than that, so I did nothing, but lowered my voice and forgave him his trespass. Cruz is in town to visit his family for the week and since he and I have nothing to do tonight, we mentioned that we might go to a Diamondbacks game if they were in town. They are, so I'm going to see how expensive it would be to go. If public transportation from Tempe isn't too bad, I might go to the ballpark.

I've forgotten, depsite my frequent trips to Utah, just how much I do not like the dry death that is the desert Southwest. I know how people from Utah rave about wide open spaces and what not, but give me pine trees, humidity, yellow pollen, dogwoods, undergrowth, dense forest, katydids humming all night, and that buzzing you always hear outside in the Summer any day over the sterile Sonoran environment. There is more life in my parents' front yard than in all the area I can see from my hotel room.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Snapshot from August / Life in NOLA in April

Since we've been back in New Orleans, we haven't been getting our magazines delivered which means that I've had to get creative to find stuff to read when I'm in my office (the bathroom). I subscribe to Time, National Geographic (since 1985), Rolling Stone (to see how the other half live), The Week (the coolest magazine I know of), and the American Scholar (It's gone seriously downhill since the new editor took over 2 years ago, I no longer recommend it). I miss my subsciptions, but the USPS says that they don't have the personnel to process periodicals in my zipcode--somehow I have received two issues of Rolling Stone though.

I went to the doctor last Friday here at the Student Health Center and was surprised to see that there were tons of magazines on their waiting tables. I never read magazines in the Student Center because why pick up something that people have been coughing on and touching their hands with. I'm not a germaphobe, but that grosses me out when I can see the sputum flying out of someone's mouth onto what their reading.

As I sat there and looked at the magazines, jealous that I wasn't getting mine, I began to read the covers, and suddenly I realized that all of the magazines were from before Katrina. It was like I had walked into August 2005. It was surreal experience that I won't forget anytime soon.

There are other examples of what we're starting to call "Pre-K" things. The janitorial signoff sheet on the back door of the restroom in my building is stuck on 8-26. The businesses with signs out front that have yet to reopen promise upcoming events that were to happen in September.

There are the little conveniences, like the gas stations in Orleans Parish just about all flooded, and while they are back up and running, no one has "pay at the pump" service, which means you have to go inside, give them your card or cash, and then go pump. There are so many people needing gas and so few stations back open, that buying gas in Orleans Parish is always a 15 minute at least affair. There are no fastfood restaurants open in Orleans Parish that have drive-thrus. If I want to go grocery shopping some place other than Whole Foods, I have to go to Metairie. Jefferson Parish is making an absolute KILLING off of sales tax to Orleans residents right now. We try to shop in Orleans as much as we can, but it's not always easy.

I can't tell you how many SERIOUS potholes there are in the city now. While we always had a few on every street, now there are ones that can wreck cars all around. If you're not familiar with a road, it's best to drive slowly. Numerous gas leaks mean that Entergy comes along, digs a hole in the road and then half-ass fills it in leaving it unfinished for months. Every time a bus, or a FEMA truck, or any other heavy machinery drives down the street, it's weight nibbles at the edges of the hole, making it worse. Every car that drives into a pothole further compacts the soil, making it deeper meaning that the next car will fall into it with greater force, further compacting it meaning that next time, you get it.

The criminal element, homeless, drifters, and what not are starting to reappear as well. I see gangsters and drugdealers back in their old neighborhoods now. I bought gas this morning at 9:00 AM and there were a bunch of young men in baggy jeans with no belts, knee length white t-shirts all hanging out and drinking beer in front of the convenience store at 9:30 in the morning. We don't need those kinds of assholes back in this city. I think that if you want to live in New Orleans and you are an able-bodied male under retirement age, you should have to show either proof of employment or independent income. I don't want to go back to the shithole that we were Pre-K.

The city is bankrupt financially and morally. Jehovah agreed to spare Sodom if Abraham could find even one righteous person therein. I know a couple of righteous people, so I'm not too worried this hurricane season (I'm terrified actually). If another one is headed this way, my family will be in our car on our way to Georgia with no fooling around. I hope and pray that my adoptive home will become the great city that people want it to be without the tolerance of complacency, vice, immodesty, laziness, and animosity towards education and success that was ingenerate to its Pre-K psyche.

♪ It's okay, had a bad day, ♪ hands are bruised from handcuffs from getting arrested for soliciting sodomy in a public restroom, all day ♪

Principal in chains:

Man, can you imagine trying to explain this one to your wife, kids, employer, congregation, etc?

I would put this dude on suicide watch.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets made into a book again;_ylt=ArwDZVm9TSSRj18WDEbOo8is0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3NW1oMDRpBHNlYwM3NTc

Much of the text is in French, and it was not uncommon around the time of the French Revolution for books to be covered in human skin.

The practice, known as anthropodermic bibliopegy, was sometimes used in the 18th and 19th centuries when accounts of murder trials were bound in the killer's skin.

Now THAT is cruel and unusual punishment. Not having airconditioning in your jail cell is just desserts.

Throwing caution to the cat 5 hurricane winds

A couple of years ago, I began seeing signs that said "Support the Arts in 2006" and then "James Arey for Mayor." I remember thinking, "Wow that an early start of campaigning" and of all the problems that New Orleans had at the time, the Arts were at the bottom of everyone's list. I figured he was an artist, that he was an eccentric, and based off of his website on the campaign signs, Arey 2006 Fabulous, most likely a gay man that loved the cultural side of New Orleans. Something about "Fabulous" in his campaign name just set off my gaydar. I just couldn't see a straight man using "fabulous" in a campaign.

Check out his webpage:

Now, I do support the arts, and previous to Katrina, I might have even considered voting for him, because some of his ideas aren't half bad, but now in a city with crippling problems and imminent danger from unfinished levees with hurricane season a couple of months away, he is still campaigning on a platform of supporting the arts. Talk about throwing caution to the wind! Of all the things that we need here, supporting the arts is the least of our worries. This time next year, if we escape ruin from another storm and the levees are that much more repaired, okay, bring the focus back on the arts, but he has to know that he hasn't a refrigerated snowball's chance on the sun of getting elected.

Too bad.

The Gospel According to Judas

I find it absolutely amazing that I am writing my dissertation about something that is in the news! Please also remember that I wrote about this in March.

Keep in mind that the Gospe of Judasl is a gnostic attempt to refute orthodoxy.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

They Might Not Be Giants

Atlanta 14, San Francisco 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ryan Langerhans had no trouble with the wet weather.

Langerhans hit a two-run homer and drove in five runs, and the Atlanta Braves took advantage of San Francisco's shaky bullpen for a 14-6 win over the Giants on Friday night.

"You generally think of California being perfect weather," Langerhans said. "It's been pretty wacky this week."

There was plenty wacky about this game.

Jeff Francoeur got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score the go-ahead run in the seventh, when Langerhans added a two-run single. Mike Remlinger (1-0) got two outs in the sixth for the win in a game that started 1 hour, 46 minutes late because of rain.

Tyler Walker (0-1) and Jack Taschner combined to walk five batters as the Braves batted around in their eight-run seventh before recording an out -- and the two threw a total of 30 pitches with 23 balls. Atlanta had just two hits in the inning.

"I've got to say that was one of the worst innings I've ever seen since I put on a uniform," said 70-year-old Giants skipper Felipe Alou, who broke into pro baseball in 1956.

Taschner's ERA ballooned to 135.00: five earned runs in one-third of an inning.

Nigerian Update

So after my last email to them, I got this response.

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your mail.You have just told us you are a,good bye forever.God bless you.

Yours sincerely,
Micheal and Rose.

Trying to see if there was any way that I could get them to continue the game, I sent them an email saying I wasn't a joker and that I felt they needed to send me the photo as proof of identity because they were asking me to risk my own money to help them and I couldn't verify what they had told me. I got this response today.

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your mail and showing your seriousness to help us.We hope you are doing well.Now we have acepted to hold the agreed sign and take the picture to prove our sincerity and identity to you.You know we are in the refugee camp here and we don't have a dime on us,so we have looked for who will take us the picture and we found one.All we need is the money for the picture which is $65,so if you can send us this money we will take the picture and send to you for your confirmation and contact the bank.We awaits your final decision as regards to the picture.May God bless you and keep you safe as we hope to hear from you urgently.

Yours sincerely,
Micheal and Rose

I don't know what to tell them now. I'm not sending them $65. If someone wants to do it, they can, but I don't want to waste any money on these crooks. Therefore, let's see what kind of responses we can all come up with to their request. They are trying to see if I'm for real. We need a legitimate reason why I won't send them the money.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Six Days Running

So, we've been going to the Farmer's Market lately and buying the local fresh produce that's in abundance in our warm climate this time of year. I found this variety of cauliflower that looks like a crumbcake and is naturally sweet. I ate three heads of it last week. I have had gout ever since Saturday night. Evidently cauliflower too is high in purines.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

My life, verbatim, 13 years ago today

From my journal, April 6, 1993:

Wow I never thought that today would get here, but it did. I awoke this morning at four o'clock and took my bags to the front of the MTC (Missionary Training Center). I got my ticket and then I boarded the bus and took the long ride from Provo to the Salt Lake City airport. We took our luggage to the ticketing counter, and my suitcases were within a half a pound of being more than was allowed without extra payment. We met everyone at the ticketing counter, by this I mean the family and friends of the other elders. I was able to call my parents and talk to them and my sister. WWe then got on our airplane which took us to Denver, Colorado. My friend (former) Elder Newell Besendorfer was going to try to meet me there, but I don't think that his schedule would permit it. I had a window seat on the flight, and I was amazed at home many mountains there are in Utah. We landed in Denver and we got on our flight to Houston. My carryon bag was too big to fit in the overhead bin so they checked it. All together my luggage weighed over 200 lbs. We got to Houston and they changed our plane because the captain found a problem on the plane. This made our arrival about 1 hour late in Costa Rica. There was a Catholic lady sitting behind me and I began a conversation with her in Spanish and at the end of the flight Hermana Piippo was able to place a Book of Mormon with her. We were flying down and the clouds outside the airplane were magnificent. I left my ticket on the airplane so we had to wait for the airline to get it. We met President Hendricks and his wife, and they have the best house. I can tell I'm going to like it here. Goodnight! Elder Williams

Latest Nigerian Missive

I am a little confused. I cannot find any information for a Bank of Africa. Is this the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA)? How much is my commission? I should have my passport back next week and I could come to the Ivory Coast for Easter....will this be ok?
Also, just to verify your identity, please send me another photo of yourself holding up a sign that says "Pablo Hecho." I must have this proof of identity of you holding the sign to continue. If you cannot comply with my request then our business is ended. I am concerned about the legality of what we are doing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mobile's Pride and Joy

With crushing offense stats that are matched by only maybe 3 or 4 players ever (Williams, Ruth, Musial, Mays), Henry Aaron, 32 years ago today eclipsed Babe Ruth as the all time home-run champion. Since the top two homerun leaders were both Braves, I tip my hat to them, and wish Mr. Aaron a great day today. May Barry never come close to desecrating your legend.

Zopilote Humor

Nigerian Scam Fun With Documents

So after yall's feedback yesterday, I sent him a simple message saying that I WOULD NOT help him, and this morning I got this email back from him.

Dear Sir,Thanks for your mail today and we hope you are doing well by God's divine grace.We strongly believe you are God sent to us so we cannot go for someone else except you.Now we have attached all the deposit papers the bank here issued to our Late father on the very day he made the deposit for your please go ahead and contact the bank with your account details where you want the money to be transfer into,your phone and fax numbers and telling them you are our Late father's business patner
(MR VINCENT FADIGA) from sierra leone and the beneficiary of this money (US$28.6MILLION) and you want them transfer it into your account.Here is the bank's contact and director,you can call the director yourself at his direct allocated line: BANK NAME: BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A)ABIDJAN COTE D'IVOIRE.TEL: 0022-507-938-717 FAX: 0022-522-422-453Bank E-mail: PERSON: MR IBRAHIM ADAMS.(Diretor international remmitance Department B.O.A)This is his direct allocated line 0022-505-137-611 May God bless and keep you safe as we hope to meet soonest.We awaits to hear the bank answer to you. Yours sincerely,Micheal and Rose Fadiga

The best part are the attached documents:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nigerian Scam -- My Final Response -- Your opinions needed

So, I can tell he's getting pushy and wanting me to act. You can almost see him salivating over the thought of my lottery winnings. I've decided to end it, and I thought I'd send him this scathing email back. What do yall think? Let me know your opinions ASAP.

So I've reached my final decision. The story of the good samaritan is a great one because it shows how some evil men rob and steal from a man and how another shows brotherly kindness. John 3:16 is important because it explains that God loves the world enough to send his Son here to die for ours sins. I too have some favorite Scriptures. One of my favorites is Joshua 24:15, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." I also like Obadiah 1:5, "If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?"

Here's a little advice I should pass along to you, also from the Bible:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

Psalm 62:10 "Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Perhaps the best Scripture of all that describes you, thou wretch, is this:
1 Corinthians 6:10"Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Everyone sins. Some sins are between us and God. Some sins are also crimes that are between man and the law. As your attempts to rob me by deception are illegal, I have, with a glad heart, made the FBI and IC3 aware of your attempts at grifting me. How dare you use the name of God as cover for your thievery; don't you know that God will not be mocked? Your comeuppance will come someday. Repent now of your evil doing and lies. Repent and ask God for foregiveness. Turn yourself in to the authorities, face the consequences of your actions, repay those you have defrauded, and then the tender mercy of the Lord's Atonement will be yours for the taking. If you do not repent, the agony of knowing you could have saved yourself through grace will be a hell of your own creation, ad infinitum.

I have known since the beginning that you were a fraud, as my first message to you was in Portuguese and said, "May the devil amuse himself with you, Son of Infamy!" Since you responded, I decided to see how far you would go in trying to rob me by using God's name and your refugee story for sympathy. It was a pathetic appeal which now stands as a witness against you, filho da infamia!

If you do not repent, a pox upon you and your kin, and may God have mercy on your soul, because I sure as hell won't.

John Williams

P.S. Any fool could see that your "photos" were faked.

Nigerian Scam Update

Dear Sir,Thanks for your mail today that gives us hope and joy to face the future.We hope you are doing well by God's divine grace.We want to say we realy appreciate all your efforts trying to give us a new life but please sir we want you to be serious in your plans because we don't fully understand your mails.You say something else here and you something else there,if you are not ready and willing to help us you better announce it to us for us to know what next to do as we would not want to waste your time in anyway.we have been patient in this refugee camp all this while and this is the time for us to leave.We have suffered enough in this wicked world,so please sir help us if you are willing.Like you asked we do not go outside the refugee camp but if we do it must not be i and Rose going out at thesame time.Also the internet we go to is the one in our reverend mother's place,so we will try to speak to you.We don't understand what you mean by emailing your passport to the ivory coast embassy if you realy want to come and meet with us here,go yourself and handle everything.I am just 20yrs old while Rose is 18yrs old,so for now all we need is to continue our education as soon as the money comes into your account while you go ahead with the investment.Our favorit verse in the bible is John 3 vs 16 and what we love most most is the story of the good samaritan which shows great love. Yes,we will receive any package you sent to us with the address but we don't have our traveling papers so we cannot receive it except with the name of the camp secretary who will receive it for us.we don't know anything about any company supplies here because this is not our country.we will love to send you all the original deposit papers the bank here issued to our Late father on the very day he made the deposit through DHL since it is all in hard copies for you to confirm everything yourself before contacting the bank.All we want from you now is to contact the bank with your account details where you want the money to be transfer into,your phone and fax numbers and tell the bank that you are our Late father's business patner (MR VINCENT FADIGA)and the beneficiary of this money (US$28.6MILLION) and you want them trtansfer it into your account.I and Rose have trusted you and entrusted this money into your care,it's investment in a profitable venture and the continuin of our education in US.We awaites to hear from you.May God bless and keep you safe as we hope to meet soonest. Yours sincerely,Micheal and Rose Fadiga

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tom Glavine Congratulations

The New York Post reports that Tom Glavine and the Mets are hopeful of an exciting season at Shea Stadium because of additions from this offseason. "Looking at this team and looking at some of the teams that I was on in Atlanta, I can't say that there were any teams in Atlanta that were any more talented than this team overall," Glavine said. "There might have been some different areas that were stronger than others, whether it be your starting rotation or your bullpen or your everyday lineup, whatever it is. But the thing that we always had over there was we just expected to win. And it really didn't matter how everybody else evaluated our talent. We in the end just felt like we were going to find a way to win, and that's something that obviously we have to do here."

Congratulations to Mr. Glavine on career win #276! May he win 24 more this year and get the Cy Young at 40!

My latest Nigerian Scam Missive --awaiting response


I would very much like to travel to see you in the Ivory Coast, however I've been told that I would have to wait up to 3 weeks to obtain a visa from the Ivory Coast embassy here in the United States, so it might be some time before I could actually come see you. I wish I could just be there and get this whole situation fixed as soon as possible. I can't imagine what your life must be like each day. Do they provide access to the Internet for you or do you have to pay for it? Are you able to leave the refugee camp? If you call me, would it need to be a collect call?

I have mailed my passport to the Ivory Coast embassy in Washington D.C. so they can place the visa in my passport. They will then have to mail it back to me. Since we have 3 weeks to wait, at least, I'd like to get to know my future business partner better. Do you have any experience in the hotel industry? I need someone who speaks French to work at a hotel I own in Vero Beach, Florida. We have many French-speaking Canadians that come down in the Winter and it would be nice to have a hotel manager that spoke French to better serve my customers. Do you speak any other European languages besides French and English? If you can speak Spanish, I know of good job for you. I could talk to my government about getting you a work visa. How old is your sister? Does she need to finish school? Does she speak English? I could also teach her hotel management. Winning the lottery has changed my life and I want to use my wealth to earn more money so I can change the lives of others.

I am interested in your religion too. Please tell me about your favorite passage from the Bible and how Jesus has made your life better. Do you have a favorite Old Testament prophet? Which story inspires you the most?

If I send you a package of supplies to the address provided....what would make your lives more comfortable in the camp? Is there anything that you need immediately? If I contact a company in Ivory Coast and purchase something from them, can they deliver it to your camp? Is crime a bad problem there? I mean will dirty thieves steal from you for no reason if I send you something? I hate thieves more than anything. People steal towels from my hotels every day and thievery is one thing I can't stand.

Please get back to me with answers to all my questions as soon as possible. I have plans to go to my banker this week and open the account we'll need to do the money transfer. Please send me detailed instructions again of what I need to do. I mistakenly deleted your first email to me.

I hope that God protects you both.

John Williams

FeeBay and Paypal

FEEBAY sucks sometimes. They are a natural monopoly and their heavy-handed practices are just begging for a class-action lawsuit.

I've recently had some fun dealing with them. A dude bought a shirt from me at the beginning of March. For some reason, he paid me twice for it. He contacted me and asked me to refund the money, which I did. I don't use Paypal to invoice my sales, because when someone pays for something via Paypal my "My eBay" screen shows a dollar sign in the payment column letting me know they've paid in full. I rarely login to paypal save to transfer money out. Half of the emails that I receive from Paypal, inexplicably go to my junk mail folder. I don't review every email from Paypal, as a I get dozens a week, and all I care about is payment and which kind of shipping they selected, which I can tell by the final combined price they paid to me which shows up on ebay. Well this guy, two days after I refunded his money, paid me again for the shirt. As I had already shipped the shirt to him, it was marked as paid and shipped and archived. I didn't have any reason for knowing that he had paid again, and he NEVER contacted me about it. I would have obviously refunded his money to him. So about 10 days ago, I get a notice from Paypal saying that they had put a hold on the money. I explained my story and that's when they informed me that he had stupidly paid three times. The money wasn't mine, so I don't mind giving it back, that's the only honest thing to do. I did however take exception to Paypal hitting ME with a $10 settlement fee. What follows is the story of my exchange with Paypal over the fee:

I ask that you reverse this $10 settlement fee from my
>account. I thought that I had refunded him his money. I did
>not realize that he had paid again as I do not use my Paypal account for
>invoicing. I acted in good faith. Please do not penalize me
>with the fee.

Here is their response:
Dear John Williams,
>Thank you for contacting PayPal.
>When PayPal receives a chargeback notice due to a complaint that has
>arisen between a buyer and seller, PayPal is made responsible for not
>only the amount of the transaction but also a chargeback-processing fee.
>When a seller does not meet the requirements of the Seller Protection
>Policy or they have not signed up to be PayPal Preferred, a $10 fee will
>be assessed to their account to cover our cost of processing the
>chargeback. Therefore we are unable to waive it.
>The $10 fee will be waived in those cases where the sellers have
>fulfilled all of the requirements of PayPal's Seller Protection Policy.
>The $10 fee will also be waived for all sellers participating in our
>PayPal Preferred program.
>If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.
>PayPal Chargeback Division
>PayPal, an eBay Company

Here's my response to their response:
And just how did I fail to fulfill the seller protection policy? He paid for the same item three times, he contacted me and asked me to refund him his money after the second payment, which I did. After the refund, he paid a third time, which I didn't notice because the original item always showed a "paid for" logo next it in my "my eBay" screen. If anyone is to blame it's the buyer for paying for something three times. As there was no transaction to "protect" it seems like it would only be fair to waive the $10. You make thousands off of me a year and you won't relent on this one thing that was not my fault. Nice customer service.

Today, I received this response:
Dear John Williams,

Thank you for contacting PayPal with your concern.

As a one-time courtesy, I have submitted a request to have the $10.00
chargeback fee refunded to your PayPal account. Please, allow 72 hours
for the request to be reviewed and the credit to be processed.

Thank you for being part of the PayPal community.

PayPal Chargeback Division
PayPal, an eBay Company

It sucks that I had to practically beg to get them to relent. Nice customer service. They are MBAing themselves into a bad place. LET A COMPETITOR ARISE!

Also I swear the employee names that show up in these emails are just CAPTCHA random names they insert with the automated, cut and paste responses. Real people are not responding to me.


Watching the Sopranos last night, Tony said this to his son AJ [paraphrased], "Your friends will all abandon you, it's family that's always there when it counts."

This got me to thinking about my own friendships in life. Family is kin, and kin is kin. You do anything they need because they are kin; it doesn't matter because kin is kin. That makes sense to me and my Southern mind, and I venture that to most of my readers as well. My wife is not related to me, but we've made an eternal covenant to each other for time and for all eternity. We believe our religion has the priesthood power to marry us for longer than just until death. Mickelle is family and my best friend in the world. I would do anything, even unto death, for her. We cannot use the "I would die for you", Bryan Adams line, for every relationship that we have. I have many good friends, but dying for someone is the ultimate act of love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).”

Barring some horrific scenario that would force a decision akin to Sophie's Choice upon me, here's a list of my bestest friends, and why they are my friends, in no particular order

Tim Boisvert, A Great American: Tim and I get along so well that we are sometimes astonished that we can be so similar and yet so different in our opinions and attitudes. We frequently disagree, and we are okay with that. Tim is the type of man that would do anything for you. He is, to use a cliche, my brother from another mother. Tim is one of the most liberal practicing Mormons I know, which is a really really good thing.

Paul Dunn, A Great American: The Best Man at my wedding, and I at his. We have known each other since Tiffany had songs in the Top Ten. We've been to Europe together, countless Braves games, Georgia Tech, a car wreck, and more movies and concerts than we could ever possibly number. Paul is a gifted writer who needs his own blog. He is so conservative that he makes conservatives bitch about how right-wing he is. He is not however, fanatical, scary, or dogmatic. Paul is a self-made man and should've been a journalist.

Norman Sandridge: Two people could not have been closer, platonically, than Norman and I were in high school. Norman grew up next to a stock car race track in then-rednecky Woodstock, Georgia. He excelled at baseball and school. He taught himself to play the piano via the Beatles catalog and had a passion for the King's Quest computer game series. He is now a professor of Ancient Greek at Howard University. We share a love of the Beatles, the Eagles, CCR, etymology, esoterica, baseball, the Atlanta Braves, the "thumbs-up" sign, and Kevin Costner. Norman is liberal but rational. He and I can talk politics and disagree without animosity, which sadly is a rarity in country these days. One of my greatest regrets in life is that we didn't talk to each other for a few years in the late 90s - early Aughts.

Martin Isaksen: Martin would do anything for anyone, to his own detriment. He should have been a policeman. Seriously, he would be a great and righteous and honest cop. Martin showed me how to have a good time that didn't involve alcohol.

Ryan Stout: A voice of reason to me in troublesome times in my mission. If we had been missionary companions, we woud've worked so hard scriptures would've been written about us. Truly, my best friend from my mission. He's also a lawyer, so if I ever get caught for aquello, he's got my back.

Juan Carlos Avena: He was my "roommate" in college even though he didn't live with me. We hung out so much that we felt like roommates. We were married within months of each other and we lived in the same apartment complex. I would go out of my door and whistle WIIIIIIIIWUUUUUUU and he would come out on the balcony, or vice versa. He can play the guitar very well and has mad Starcraft skills. His wife is a funny caring lady who inspected Tim and my apartment for cleanliness at Roman Gardens. She was a stickler, but we were pigs, so it's all good. Juan Carlos speaks flawless English and Spanish.

Mike Lindsey: He never reads this blog because he doesn't have a computer because his house flooded during Katrina. Mike is my New Orleans bud. We have similar senses of humor and think the same things about religion. Mike is more spiritual than I am, which is good because he knows when I've gone too far in my comments, and calls me on them.

Karie Wright, Karebear, Karesalot, Karie Eliason On This Road That I Must Travel, Karie on My Wayward Son, etc.: She thinks I'm funny, which is always good. She uses our conversations as study breaks, which is fine by me. When we evacuated to Georgia, Marley only had two dolls with her and they didn't have any clothes on. She got her mom to sew some clothes for Marley's dolls. She will be a doctor some day, so I'll be sure to catch some nasty diseases for her to investigate.

Andrew Leonard: We used to work together at Pizza Hut in Provo. He and I share a love for all things nerdy: Star Trek, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Duelmasters (, Battlestar Galactica, and baseball. Andrew's wife Sarah is the best person to invite to a party. She lives to cook for others and makes this cake called "Chocolate Intoxication" that actually tastes amazing (I typically despise all things chocolate-flavored [cake, ice cream, pudding], as I love real chocolate more than anything).

William Johnson: Our ringer at Team Trivia. He was Paul and my professor at Georgia Tech. I took about 6 classes from him. He knows all and sees all (well at least the former). One of the few professors I've ever had that was engaging and personable. When, as undergraduates, Paul and I invited him to participate in our Team Trivia team, he accepted immediately. We then started a string of 1st and 2nd places that lasted for over 2 years. A true Southern Gentleman in every sense of those words.

Mike Wilson: Truly the most intelligent person I have ever known. There is nothing that this man does not understand. He can read and book and then understand it well enough to lecture on it immediately. I'm talking about books like Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philsophicus in one read through. He has great taste in music and literature, is a fellow Borgemian, and his wife is as great as he is. His only flaw is that he lives in Chile and now we can't hang out anymore.

Gary Hanson: Gary is my geriatric yardsale-ing buddy. We take turns teasing each other and having a great time on Saturdays. He has helped me move more furniture than an RC Willey delivery crew in Eagle Mountain. We share a love for the deal, dickering, bargains, and po-boys.

You may notice that I do not list but two women. In all honestly, let me explain. Previous to my marriage to Mickelle I was incapable of truly being friends with any woman I found attractive. This serious character flaw prevented me from having more friends because in trying to be friends with a woman, I would inevitably begin to be attracted to them for more than just their personality, and this would cloud my judgement. I do not mean this in a crass way, as I've only ever bedded my wife, it wasn't that I was only after a good time; I just wanted some romance and love in my life. I would try to just be friends, but deep down in my heart of hearts, if a woman and I got along, my heart always wanted something more. That's why all of the female friends I list are ones that I have known since I found my lovely wife. Now, I can say that there is no ulterior motive in my friendship with women.

I also have a number of friends that I like hanging out with, but that I don't know well enough about or haven't known long enough to count them as bestest yet: Mike Bauer, Brent & Kaycee Bastian, Miguel Rivera.

Some friends I have fallen out of touch regularly with but that still are close to my heart: John Becker, Tony Rossi, Tony Ramos, Francisco Zuleta, John Storm, Tyler Anderson, Ryan Henke, Jon Bob Wesselman, Brian Rusch, Shawn Markshausen, Wesley Brown, Michael Crump, Jeff Barger, Shane Fennigan, Troy Bingham, Kenny Romney, Darren Pittard, Sheldon Kirkham, Morgan Cubete.

Some friends that are no longer with us: Brent Stang, Ray Scofield.

Mentors and friends: Greg Stallings, David Van Dam (I trust his advice more than anyone else's on the planet, save Mickelle).

Nigerian Scam Fun -- They Bought It

Yall aren't gonna believe this. The apparent discrepancies between my first assertion that I was poor and my last boast that I was fabulously wealthy have apparently not been noticed by my would be robbers. Their greed has erased their intuition. I especially like the attached "photos", note how the heads in third one are merely a photoshopped version of the previous two. From the fading of his sister's photo, I'd place it at at least 20 years older than his photo. One wonders how they are able to check their email three times a day in a refugee camp. I doubt these are even the real people. And their address is probably fake too. Should I keep on lying to them or should I run with this? Should I start picking away at their story?

Here's the email and photos:

Dear Sir,
Thanks a lot for your mail today and caring towards i and my younger sister.We are realy happy for your love and kindness for us.We hope you are doing well by God's divine grace.I and Rose wil be very very happy to meet you in person like you have said,we will love you to visit us here in cote d'ivoire were we are in the refugee camp for us to meet face to face and go to the bank together for you to witness the transfer yourself.We are happy that you have achieved great things in life and we know we are safe in your hands too.We know you are God sent to us and we have put everything into your care,the investment of this money in a good business and the continuing of our education as we come over to US.Dear Sir,you know we were rescued by United nations from sierra leone our country and brought to the refugee camp here in cote d'ivoire so we don't have any traveling papers and we don't have any money with us,so for you to send us airline tickets to join you then we will have to go to our high comission's office to get our travelling papers first which we don't know how much it will cost.
Please sir,we are really suffering in the refugee camp here,no good food,no good medical care and no good shelter please we need your help now.we are good christians like we told you.We have atached our pictures for you to know us better and we hope to receive your pictures too.since we are in the refugee camp and we don't have our private number we suggest you give us your number for us to look for a way to call you and speak with you.This is our address here:

26 BP Abidjan 26.
Abidjan,Cote d'ivoire.

We awaits to hear from you for us to give you the bank contacts so you can deal with them directly.Please how about your family kids and wife? May God bless you and keep you safe for us as we hope to meet soonest.Please sir,be writing us through this our yahoo email address.

Yours sincerely,
Micheal and Rose.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Nigerian Scam Fun Continued

Dear Sir,

We are very happy reading your mail today after our church service in the camp and your wilingness to help us.We hope you are doing well by God's divine grace.We know and strongly believe you are God sent to us,we have trusted you with all our heart.we will love to send you all the original deposit papers the bank here issued to our Late father on the very day he made the deposit through DHL since it is al in hard copies for you to confirm everything yourself.please sir all we want from you now is to contact the bank with your account details where you want the money to be transfer into,your phone and fax numbers and tell the bank that you are our Late father's business partner (MR VINCENT FADIGA) and the beneficiary of this money (US$28.6MILLION) and you want them transfer it into your account.I and Rose have trusted you and entrusted this money into your care,it's investment in a profitable venture and the continuin of our education in your country.we are inexperience and ignorant about banking procedures.we will want you to send us your pictures as we wil do thesame in our next mail also your phone number for us to speak with you.We awaites to hear from you.
May God bless and keep you safe as we hope to meet soonest.

Yours sincerely,
Micheal and Rose Fadiga

Anyone have any insights as to what their native language might be? It's not Spanish or Portuguese as my previous insult that started this all was obviously not understood. FYI, I've been forwarding my correspondence with them to the FBI so they know why I'm doing what I'm doing.
And here's my response:

Dear Michael & Rose,
I would like to meet you both in person. I do not understand exactly what needs to be done and I think that meeting would be the best way for each of us to figure out what we need to do. I am willing to pay for you both to fly to the United States so we can discuss this business deal in person. If you will please provide me with your mailing address, I will use DHL to courier two airline tickets to you so we can meet this month. I live in Orlando, Florida near Disneyworld and I own several hotels and golf courses. A few years ago, I won the Powerball lottery and have made good use of my millions in winnings. I am now a businessman (I used to be a hardware store manager) and I am always looking for great ways to make money and also help my fellow man. If we are going to be business partners, I'd like to shake hands on the deal.
If you are unable to get a visa to the United States, is there somewhere else we could meet? I can fly to a third country, but I don't think that Sierra Leone is safe for an American right now. If you cannot travel then I would like to at least speak over the telephone.

Do you need anything right now for your church? Do you have hymnals? What denomination are you? I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
God bless you both,
John Williams

It's fun to invent lives....I guess that's the attraction of acting. Let's see if they pick up on the fact that I said I was poor in my last email to them.