Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tet Fest 2012

Tucked away in New Orleans East is Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, just a stones throw from the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.

Every year this close knit community of Vietnamese people celebrate their New Year by holding Tet Festival on the Church grounds. Tet is an abbreviation for Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning "first day." This is the most important festival of the year, signifying both the beginning of the year and of spring. And the weather cooperated nicely, making it feel like spring with temperatures in the low 70's and clear blue skies.

We visited the festival for the first time and enjoyed both the food and the people watching.

The Vietnamese community in "The East" brought themselves back after Katrina. In the 6+ years since the storm, they have welcomed the Hispanics who helped rebuild the city into their area. It's really very interesting to visit the businesses along Alcee Fortier Boulevard.
There are grocery stores (both Vietnamese and Hispanic), cafes, restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, etc. One of my favorite bakeries is Dong Phuong where they make THE BEST assortment of breads and desserts. And their prices can't be beat.

So if you're looking for a culinary adventure, take a ride out the The East and explore what it has to offer.

On a side note, Andrew Zimmermann from Bizarre Foods visited the east. check this out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rebirth on Bayou Liberty

Almost seven years after it was swamped by Katrina, St. Genevieve Catholic Church on Bayou Liberty has been rebuilt. I pass the church on my daily commute, so I watched in January 2007 as they demolished the old church , built in 1958. I have followed and chronicled her rebirth for the past five years .

On January 15, 2012 St. Genevieve opened to her parishoners. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

This is what she looked like before Katrina

During the groundbreaking in October of 2010, parishioners were asked to place a small amount of dirt from their home into the groundbreaking hole in celebration of their unity.

The doors to the church were donated by Dr. John Breaux and were produced in Honduras. They depict the history of the parish from the time it was a mission until the present new church.

In 1852, a brick chapel was built by Mrs. Anatole Cousin on land she donated.

In 1914, Father Francis Balay renovated the old church and rededicated it

In 1950s another Bayou Liberty Church - St. Linus - was merged with St. Genevieve

In 1958, a new church building was built and dedicated Dec. 28 by Reverend Joseph Rummel.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the church. Immediately following the storm, Mass was celebrated under an oak tree for several weeks and then in the parish hall.

It was such a good feeling to see the old steeple rising toward the heavens again

The original stained glass windows are used in the new church (photo by Slidell Sentry News)

The altar looks out over Bayou Liberty

The old Chapel is shown here after the church was razed

And now the Chapel is once again united with the church

After Katrina, St. Genevieve's pastor is quoted as saying: "The church is not the building, but the people, we are the church."
~ Reverend Roel Lungay

I salute the strength and faith parishioners of St. Genevieve and congratulate them on this long-time coming occasion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Supporters in Congress/Senate

From Propublica here is an interactive list which shows each Congressperson and Senator who are FOR SOPA. The list allows you to link to a page related to the politicians as well as send them an email.

Louisiana's Landrieu, Scalise and Vitter are SOPA supporters.

From the website:

Well-funded interests on either side of SOPA and PIPA are lining up support among members of Congress. This database keeps track of where members of Congress stand. Findings are based on two factors: whether a member is a sponsor of the proposed bills, and each member's voting record on the current bills' precursors and alternatives. Click the links on the left to filter the supporters list.

What is SOPA?

From Gizmodo:

What Is SOPA?

If you hadn't heard of SOPA before, you probably have by now: Some of the internet's most influential sites—Reddit and Wikipedia among them—are going dark to protest the much-maligned anti-piracy bill. But other than being a very bad thing, what is SOPA? And what will it mean for you if it passes?
SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress...

House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith, along with 12 co-sponsors, introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th of last year. Debate on H.R. 3261, as it's formally known, has consisted of one hearing on November 16th and a "mark-up period" on December 15th, which was designed to make the bill more agreeable to both parties. Its counterpart in the Senate is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). Also known by its cuter-but-still-deadly name: PIPA. There will likely be a vote on PIPA next Wednesday; SOPA discussions had been placed on hold but will resume in February of this year.
...that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet...

The beating heart of SOPA is the ability of intellectual property owners (read: movie studios and record labels) to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. If Warner Bros., for example, says that a site in Italy is torrenting a copy of The Dark Knight, the studio could demand that Google remove that site from its search results, that PayPal no longer accept payments to or from that site, that ad services pull all ads and finances from it, and—most dangerously—that the site's ISP prevent people from even going there.
...which would go almost comedically unchecked...

Perhaps the most galling thing about SOPA in its original construction is that it let IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance or judicial sign-off. All it required was a single letter claiming a "good faith belief" that the target site has infringed on its content. Once Google or PayPal or whoever received the quarantine notice, they would have five days to either abide or to challenge the claim in court. Rights holders still have the power to request that kind of blockade, but in the most recent version of the bill the five day window has softened, and companies now would need the court's permission.

The language in SOPA implies that it's aimed squarely at foreign offenders; that's why it focuses on cutting off sources of funding and traffic (generally US-based) rather than directly attacking a targeted site (which is outside of US legal jurisdiction) directly. But that's just part of it. the point of potentially creating an "Internet Blacklist"...

Here's the other thing: Payment processors or content providers like Visa or YouTube don't even need a letter shut off a site's resources. The bill's "vigilante" provision gives broad immunity to any provider who proactively shutters sites it considers to be infringers. Which means the MPAA just needs to publicize one list of infringing sites to get those sites blacklisted from the internet.

Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a "good faith belief" that they're hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission.
...while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily...

SOPA also includes an "anti-circumvention" clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, Wordpress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government "enjoinment." They could and would be shut down.

The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.
...and potentially disappearing your entire digital life...

The party line on SOPA is that it only affects seedy off-shore torrent sites. That's false. As the big legal brains at Bricoleur point out, the potential collateral damage is huge. And it's you. Because while Facebook and Twitter have the financial wherewithal to stave off anti-circumvention shut down notices, the smaller sites you use to store your photos, your videos, and your thoughts may not. If the government decides any part of that site infringes on copyright and proves it in court? Poof. Your digital life is gone, and you can't get it back.
...while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective...

What's saddest about SOPA is that it's pointless on two fronts. In the US, the MPAA, and RIAA already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to request that infringing material be taken down. We've all seen enough "video removed" messages to know that it works just fine.

As for the foreign operators, you might as well be throwing darts at a tse-tse fly. The poster child of overseas torrenting, Pirate Bay, has made it perfectly clear that they're not frightened in the least. And why should they be? Its proprietors have successfully evaded any technological attempt to shut them down so far. Its advertising partners aren't US-based, so they can't be choked out. But more important than Pirate Bay itself is the idea of Pirate Bay, and the hundreds or thousands of sites like it, as populous and resilient as mushrooms in a marsh. Forget the question of should SOPA succeed. It's incredibly unlikely that it could. At least at its stated goals.
...but stands a shockingly good chance of passing...

SOPA is, objectively, an unfeasible trainwreck of a bill, one that willfully misunderstands the nature of the internet and portends huge financial and cultural losses. The White House has come out strongly against it. As have hundreds of venture capitalists and dozens of the men and women who helped build the internet in the first place. In spite of all this, it remains popular in the House of Representatives.

That mark-up period on December 15th, the one that was supposed to transform the bill into something more manageable? Useless. Twenty sanity-fueled amendments were flat-out rejected. And while the bill's most controversial provision—mandatory DNS filtering—was thankfully taken off the table recently, in practice internet providers would almost certainly still use DNS as a tool to shut an accused site down.
...unless we do something about it.

The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we're finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they'll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they've received in the last few months.

So keep calling. Keep emailing. Most of all, keep making it known that the internet was built on the same principles of freedom that this country was. It should be afforded to the same rights.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Karma, LSU

I have had bad experiences with LSU fans for over 20 years now. Granted, the LSU fans I work with are good people, but a majority of the ones I've had to deal with are closed minded, big mouthed and ignorant like this group, filmed on January 8th, 2012 in New Orleans.

I-Pad survives fall from edge of space

Attached to a weather balloon, an Apple iPad was lifted to over 100,000 feet and dropped back down to Earth encased in G-Form Extreme Edge case. It remained on throughout the drop and landed fully functional.

Found at

Book and paper sculptures

During my lunchtime today I landed at this blog and this post about incredible book and paper sculptures being left anonymously at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

I'm showing a few below. The intricate work is mind-blowing!

I have never heard of this art before! Here are some other links to this intricate art:

Jacqueline Rush-Lee

Montreal's Guy Laramee

British artist Su Blackwell


missing this

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hilarity in Houma

Houma police say two alleged car burglars -- one in a wheelchair -- were arrested after they returned to their victim's home to apologize. The Courier reports that 50-year-old William Poindexter and 48-year-old Ernest Mart, both of Houma, were booked with simple burglary and held in lieu of $50,000 bond. A third man is wanted.

Police say they allegedly were taking a car radio from an SUV about 1 a.m. Monday when the owner saw them. They fled -- one pushing another in a wheelchair.

Police say Poindexter allegedly took a bottle of cologne and two cellphone chargers.

They say Poindexter and Mart, who uses a wheelchair, returned later Monday to the woman's house to apologize. Police say her father chased them, and they were later caught by police.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Incredible sight

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Murmuration of Starlings captured by Sophie and Liberty while they were canoeing by the River Shannon

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Whiners are everywhere

Apparently Americans aren't the only ones who suffer from political correctness and wimpiness.

In China this is the year of the Dragon. To commemorate this, China's postal service plans to issue the stamp on the left. The image is meant to invoke another stamp, from back in 1878 — when the Qing Dynasty still ruled.

Some in China do not want the Dragon Stamp, citing "it looks too ferocious" and that it is "roaring and intimidating".
And here's a quote from the NPR story about the stamp:
"'The moment I saw the design of the dragon stamp on newspaper, I was almost scared to death,' wrote Zhang Yihe, on, China's Twitter-like social networking service and microblogging service provider

The Dragon stamp will go on sale this Thursday, just ahead of Chinese New Year on January 23rd.

The stamp on the right represents last year - the Year of the Rabbit. Perhaps the complainers want the Dragon to look as sweet and cuddly as the wabbit.

Monday, January 02, 2012