Friday, September 30, 2005

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so former Education Secretary, ersatz ethicist and author of The Book of Virtues William Bennett is taking some well-earned crap for a statement he made on his radio program, "Morning in America." Commenting on a recent book that hypothesized a connection between abortion rate and crime rate, Wild Bill had this to say:
But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

He's now, of course, saying that the comment was "mischaracterized."

Yeah, Billy, it sucks being taken out of context like that. I mean, he did go on to say:
That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do,

See? Morally reprehensible.
but your crime rate would go down.


On the plus side, they left out the clip where he added, "And aborting Asian babies would make average SAT scores drop like a stone, so that would be even more reprehensible."

The Ten:

1. The All-American Rejects, "Swing, Swing"
2. Guster, "Medicine"
3. Lenny Kravitz, "Believe In Me"
4. Collective Soul, "The World I Know"
5. Elton John, "But Not For Me"
6. U2, "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of"
7. Nick Wood, "My Island"
8. Poe, "Hey Pretty (Drive-By 2001 Mix)"
9. Ella Fitzgerald, "Mack the Knife"
10. Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"

On naming names

Okay, so when the real problems of the world start to get me down (or everyone else has blogged about them already, and I have nothing to add), I can always count on the "Woman to Woman" column in the AJC for some low-hanging fruit, if only because dear Shaunti Feldhahn has a tendency to be an absolute tool. Like, all of the time. But today, my search for snarkable light reading brings me to their topic du week, "Should women still change their last names when they wed?"

My first reaction: Is this argument actually arguable anymore? Have we not, as a society, progressed to the point where the only answer to that question is, "Er, if they want to"?

My second reaction: Oh, uber-feminist Diane Glass, please don't come across as a tinfoil hat, conspiracy-theorist, tyranny-of-the-misogynistic-majority nutter. It's there, it's an option, but there's room for so much logic.

My third reaction: If I end up agreeing with Shaunti on this, I'm changing my name to Alberta and escaping to Canada to start a new life in Vancouver.

God wasn't listening to my pleas (but then, we knew that). Diane has this to say about name-changing:
A woman who marries in America today has no restrictions in marriage, other than those self-imposed. Changing your last name has been repackaged as a show of commitment to a relationship meant to rationalize kowtowing with sweet notions of femininity and wedded unity. But if you ask most men if they’re willing to change their last name in the interest of wedded unity you’ll likely be met with an astonished laugh and curt “No”. Among men, the idea of taking his wife’s name as his is considered a sign of weakness and submission.

Women’s rights are about having choice and I believe women have every right to ignore history for the sake of keeping peace. But women should acknowledge the real meaning behind this tradition and the message being sent to their offspring: Women’s identities aren’t as important as men’s. Brides may not want to take a stand on their wedding day. But a future without an eye to the past is like going forward blind.

Or, to sum up, women used to be totally subjugated, and taking a man's last name was a method of that subjugation, so taking his name, even if you do so willingly, means that you're all for subjugation. I think the "and are poisoning the cause of feminism for all time" is only kind of implied.

I will admit that there are times when symbols of past subjugation should be avoided, so as to avoid the mere perception of support of said subjugation. Case in point, the rebel flag, a big bone of contention here in the southeast. Rebel flag-wavers complain that they aren't racists, that they're just proud of their history, and that people shouldn't associate the flag with slavery because slavery is, like, so 150 years ago. The response is usually something in the neighborhood of, "So, what does that flag stand for now?" and the answers vary greatly but are universally weak.

But what if a symbol really has lost its original meaning? Or what if it has always had a more prevalent, less offensive meaning? Case in point, the current conservative temper tantrum over the Flight 93. Oh, my freaking God, it's shaped like a crescent. Yup, it sure is. A crescent, like the symbol of Islam. Grab the wife and kids, we're gettin' out of this crazy town.

Setting aside, for the moment, the question of why a symbol of Islam would be so objectionable, it's a crescent, y'all. It's like a circle, but with an arc missing, making it an incomplete circle. It's kind of like a horseshoe, very much like the letter C, precisely like a tasty, flaky French pastry. Does the fact that a tee-niney minority of people can see the devil himself in it make it so objectively evil that it should never, ever, ever be drawn, printed, planted in a field, served on a breakfast table, or used in the kourse of regular konversation?

For the record, Diane, there are plenty of reasons a woman might change her name that have nothing to do with subjugation. My mother did it because, among other reasons, her maiden name is Slovak and thus unspellable and occasionally mispronounced as "bull cock" (of course, she had no idea of what she was getting into with my father's last name). Other women do it because they don't want their kids to have to hyphenate, or because they like the idea of one family unit under the same last name. There are guys out there who are willing to give up their last names, and Los Angeles major Antonio Villaraigosa was Antonio Villar up until he met his wife, Corina Raigosa, and combined their names. And didn't it turn out well?

I'll agree that it's important for a woman to know what's been going on with her gender throughout history, to recognize what women have gone through and what progress they've made. It's important to know where we've come from, so we don't get complacent and end up back there. But you can't give a woman the right to choose for herself, and then complain because you disagree with the choice she made. I have the choice to wear or not wear makeup and high heels, and I choose to do both - live with it. If I choose to take my husband's name as well, you can live with that, too.

But just so you don't think Shaunti went all reasonable on us this week, here's what she had to say:
Like it or not, female name change is our societal convention. While some women need to protect their name recognition for professional reasons, many don’t. And when those women proactively choose to go against convention and not take their husband’s name, they are actually choosing to signal their independence from him … when interdependence is what marriage is about.

University of Virginia professor Dr. Steven Rhoads, author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously, put it to me this way, “Not changing her name does risk sending him a subtle, negative message. It emphasizes independence rather than emphasizing the fact that they’re connected. Men are used to being independent, and taking the same name is a way of emphasizing that times have changed and we are a team. That sense of being bound together, that she wants to be dependent in some way, brings out the best in men.”

For better or for worse, a woman’s name decision will send some sort of message to her husband. The reality is that a society that exalts independence — and produces a significant number of divorces — might benefit from exalting the benefits of true interdependence.

Oh, Shaunti, quit being such a freaking tool. If a man is so damned concerned about interdependence over independence, then he can change his name (or combine them, as with Tony V. above). If I choose to keep my own name, it'll probably have more to do with a best seller on the bookshelves with my maiden name on it than my independence. Maybe I'll hook up with another Slovak guy, and his name will be less pronounceable than mine. Maybe it'll just sound funny with my first name. Or yeah, maybe I'll get to the altar and realize that I like being ACG more than I'd like being ACSomethingelse. But what I know for sure is that I won't be standing at that altar with a guy who's going to take offense and freak out at something as minor as a last name. If your relationship is strong, it's because of communication and cooperation and all of the things that make for a strong relationship, not because of a couple of words and/or a hypen on a marriage license. And if Mr. Feldhahn isn't that secure in his manhood, then maybe I do feel bad for Shaunti.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On insult + injury

Okay, so there are plenty of things that'll take the "relaxing" out of a relaxing weekend, and I'm sure everyone has her own, but I don't know that there's ever been a comprehensive list compiled. I thought I'd start with a few of my own:

- Packing for river floating, then sitting inside all day watching Hurricane Rita's little sisters make angry, red-splotchy faces at you from the Weather Channel.
- Watching someone you dearly love cry, and knowing that there isn't one single goddamned thing you can do to make it even a little bit better.
- Having every intention of leaving responsibly Sunday night, only to spend the evening sitting on the floor of the shower as three - count 'em, three - tornadoes skip merrily over the house (although with three smart women and plenty of booze, this can be entertaining, if not relaxing).
- Driving two and a half hours, in the rain, behind a freaking house on a flatbed, only to get to Talladega, fill up the tank with gas and discover that, whoopsy, your wallet is still back in Northport. Then convincing the gas station to accept a check without ID (and thank you, God, that they did), driving back to Northport, pausing long enough to collect said wallet and take a pee, and then driving all the way back to Atlanta for a total of eight uninterrupted hours in the car.
- Getting up like a good girl for your morning run, only to discover that, in addition to a window that doesn't go up when you tell it, a trunk that doesn't latch when you tell it, an ignition that doesn't turn when you tell it, and a mass airflow sensor that doesn't... sense mass airflow when you tell it, you're the proud new owner of a door that doesn't open when you tell it. Spending the rest of the day climbing in and out of your window like the Dukes of Hazzard until you can save enough money to fix the car or buy one that isn't entirely made out of toilet paper and water. (I'm thinking of maybe silk-screening a French flag on the cloth top and calling my car the "General Malaise.")
- Knowing that the cost of enough bourbon to fill a bathtub would put you way behind on fixing the door.
- For serious, AngryKevin. For serious. For serious.
- For serious.

Friday, September 23, 2005

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so this weekend's big trip is to sprawling, metropolitan Northport, Alabama to visit much-beloved family, pet someone else's puppies, and get the kind of R&R only found in an inner tube on the river with a cooler full of Miller High Life. I invite you to leave suggestions for reading material in the comments below; all material must be available in paperback, found at your average Barnes & Noble, written in or translated into English, and be only so profound/intellectual that I can read it without losing my floating-on-the-river buzz (but hold onto your profound/intellectual suggestions, 'cause I'll be asking for those as soon as the temperature drops below 60). Benj, you know I'm talking to you here.

On to the Ten:

1. The Rolling Stones, "Sympathy for the Devil"
2. The B-52s, "Love Shack"
3. The Strokes, "Last Night"
4. U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
5. Spacehog, "In the Meantime"
6. Howie Day, "Ghost"
7. Queen, "Fat Bottomed Girls"
8. Miles Davis, "My Funny Valentine"
9. Marilyn Horne, "One Mornin' In May"
10. Tears For Fears, "Shout"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

On one last plea - I'm not asking again, y'all

Okay, so we're now up to four teams in our fantasy hockey league, which beats the hell out of three but is still, potentially, several teams short of a rockin' cool hockey season. I'm not the begging type, and online pretend ice hockey isn't worth changing my policy in that respect, but anyone interested in the joy of fantasy hockey can shoot me an e-mail, and I'll set you up with the league name and password and the stuff and the thing. I mean, really, what are you afraid of, a few girls?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On new voices

Okay, so I want to make it clear that when I hire interns, I do it without any regard to national politics. I mean, come on, much as I hate it, my work centers around the freaking fashion industry; there's very little going on in Washington that influences price points or hemlines, and I can say this with authority, because I'm researching for a story about it.

Just know that our current intern, Super Intern, got her job because of a solid resume, good clips, and an absolutely bangin' cover letter (job seekers, take note). It was only after she was hired that I discovered what she does when she's not checking facts and updating contact lists (reprinted with permission):

Give me liberty or death... just give me anything except APATHY
by Elizabeth Thurman
The Chanticleer News Editor

There are few things in this world I love more than a good, fiery debate with another person (or persons, depending on how many people I've managed to recruit for a small-scale version of "Crossfire"). No, I don't always win, but I rarely back down, and I never shut up.

Having said this, there are few things in this world I loathe more than ignorance. Stupidity I can handle. It's not a crime to simply not know any better. But a thick headed, conscious choice not to learn? I have zero tolerance.

This became glaringly obvious to me last Monday night in the midst of my efforts to round up a team of young, opinionated twenty-somethings who were just as intent upon pouring themselves another drink as they were participating in my political forum. Not exactly James Carville, I know, but I take what I can get.
I was just getting into the thick of my personal political stance when a onlooker abruptly interjected, "Elizabeth, I can't believe you would consider voting for someone who looks like Frankenstein."

For once in my life, I was rendered speechless. Not because he didn't see eye-to-eye with me about politics. I respect everyone's right to support Bush or Kerry or whoever. Not because he had beer stains on his shirt. I carry Shout Wipes in my purse for these inevitable mishaps.

I couldn't speak because I instantly realized this country is probably full of people just like him. Some people probably do base their views on something as irrelevant as the shape of a candidate's face. Once I recovered from the shock of my unwelcome enlightenment, I was furious.

In the wake of my fury, I demanded to know his stand on the war in Iraq, his views of the economy, and his own moral background, praying he would reveal a shred of evidence that would anchor his politics to something that resembled credibility. All I got in response was, "I don't care about any of that. I probably won't even vote. I just don't like looking at the guy."

I had to walk away from that argument. I knew that if I didn't, one of two equally undesirable scenarios would ensue. Scenario #1: I would jump on my soapbox and preach the merits of voting and democracy and I would crumble as my "United We Stand" speech fell on deaf ears. Scenario #2: I wold throw a blow and the beer stains on his shirt would be replaced by blood.

To avoid the impending fisticuffs, I retreated to give myself time to cool. This is what I've come up in the week it took me to do so:

Don't be that guy. Be smarter. Be passionate, but don't do it blindly. Sit down by yourself and do some research. Don't let your friends' jokes or your parents' voting records dictate what
you want for yourself or your country.

It makes me physically ill to think of the votes that won't be cast Nov. 2 because people are apathetic and lazy. Sure, we have the right to choose not to vote, and if you make that choice, I hope it's because you truly believe none of the candidates are qualified and not because you just don't care.

I've overheard people say things like, "Regardless of what happens Nov. 2..." or "this country's doomed if so-and-so gets elected." It makes me think: these peopel talk like the fate of our nation is out of our hands - like it's somethign that is just going to
happen to us. Here's a piece of advice to these people. Get up. Get out. Do something about it.

To those who are too lazy to vote on Nov. 2, I don't want to hear the complaints and the insults and the "Yeah, things would be different if Joe Schmo had gotten elected." Yeah, maybe things would be different if yo had gotten off your passive posteriors and gone to the polls.

To those of you who will vote: bless you. Bless you for being American. Bless you for being smart. Bless you for being heard.

To the Frankenstein guy at the party: thank you. Thank you for showing me that I am still affected by ignorance.

And she works for me now.

Even though this column was written before last year's elections, it still kind of struck me when I read it, because so many of those issues are ones that we're dealing with right now. Republicans like to complain about how partisan we Dems are as we continue to criticize Bush in the aftermath of Katrina, but the fact, is, both sides do their share of knee-jerk criticizing. Sure, there are Democrats slamming the Bush administration, DHS and FEMA without actually doing any research to find out who dropped what ball and at what point, but there are just as many Republicans supporting him just as baselessly. There are Dems willing to completely exonerate local government in Louisiana without knowing what really went on, and there are a shocking number of Repubs willing to blame the victims of an act of God just to find some way that their elected officials aren't culpable.

So my advice will echo Elizabeth's: Get up. Get out. Do something about. Don't blame the evil, partisan mainstream media for keeping you ignorant; do some research, look at all sides of the story, and decide for yourself what lines up. No one is going to do it for you, and if your information is coming exclusively from Fox News - or from CNN, for that matter - you will, will, unequivocally, sound like Larry Wayne* standing there in his beer-stained "United We Stand" t-shirt and spouting off uninformed crap. Go out, do the research, reach your own conclusion, and if you come talk to me after that, you've got a discussion. I will respect any opinion that can be backed up with facts, even if I disagree with it. Any idiot just parroting talking points from either side is worthy of all the derision and pie-throwing he gets.

*new and wonderful alternative to "Bubba," also offered by Super Intern, as in, "You can bet that if Larry Wayne backed his pickup into your car, you wouldn't even get his tag number before he spun out of the parking lot." If we were paying this girl, I'd give her a raise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

On physics

Okay,so you really do learn something new every day. Today's lesson is that the trunk of a Volkswagen Cabrio, when packed with clothes bound for victims of Hurricane Katrina and books and games and snack foods bound for Marines in Baghdad, possesses no mystical force field protecting it from the back end of a Chevy Tahoe filled with golf clubs. You'd think it might, but really, no.

Update: Further scientific experiment shows that additional doses of hot fudge sundaes and Jack Daniels and Tab do possess mystical abilities to counteract the emotional stress inflicted by above experiment. Many thanks to Harry for the legal advice and to Doug and Erin Leigh for the comforting shoulders to bitch on. Nazdravie.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On happiness

Okay, so anyone who's ever dealt with depression - and we're talking actual, serious, clinical depression here, not "Gosh, I'm feeling awful down today" or "My boyfriend dumped me and I just want to die" - knows that at some points, happiness seems too much to ask for and contentment would feel just super duper. Sometimes there are entire weeks like that, when everything is coming down on top of you and the work you do seems completely unappreciated and you can run your ass off and still gain three pounds and you're pretty sure the reason you're still single is those three pounds, plus the fact that you haven't gotten more than two hours of sleep a night for a week now and look rather like Kate Winslet after the boat sank, and while you're willing to work for it, even contentment seems kinda hard to find.

And then sometimes, you realize that real contentment isn't necessarily job satisfaction, or beauty, or even romantic love. Sometimes, and I don't mean to get sappy here, but I'm thinking it's going to be unavoidable, sometimes contentment is as simple as:

- driving around town for an hour to find a Thai restaurant that's open on a freaking Saturday afternoon, only to find a prime parking space next to a place that serves pad thai and spicy beef salad that will change your religion.
- eating hot fudge sundaes and watching Cary Grant movies with your best friend in the entire world.
- listening to Dave Brubeck on original vinyl as the DVD fireplace crackles merrily and said friend pours you another Jack Daniels and Tab (no, it's good, for serious).
- 44-7 over Louisiana-Monroe without Thomas Brown, Leonard Pope, Jarvis Jackson or Sean Bailey.

I don't know if it'll be enough to get me through the next week, but if anything can, that's it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

On Friday Random(ish) Ten - Pre-Deadline, Post-All-Nighter, Dead-On-My-Feet Edition

Okay, so I bet you can guess what I was doing last night (and if you guessed that I was asleep at any point, you're not only wrong, but you're pretty stupid for guessing that, since I think I've made it pretty clear what I was doing, or more specifically, what I wasn't doing).

Today's Ten will be almost Random, because it'll be ten random songs guaranteed to keep me from falling asleep at my desk and drooling into my keyboard:

1. Madison Avenue, "Don't Call Me Baby"
2. Shaggy, "Oh Carolina"
3. Fountains of Wayne, "The Girl I Cant Forget"
4. Donna Summer, "Bad Girls"
5. The Chemical Brothers, "Block Rockin' Beats"
6. Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc."
7. U2, "New Year's Day"
8. Caesars, "Jerk It Out"
9. Guster, "Great Escape"
10. Letters to Cleo, "I Want You to Want Me"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On victory for me, and maybe for thee

Okay, so today my fantasy football team, the North Buckhead Missing White Chicks (led by QB Tim Rattay), have been given a break from their regular two-a-days after their glorious triump over the Nut Crunchers (led by QB Peyton Manning). This victory gives them a satisfying 1-0 record to start the season and puts them at the head of the southern division of the Big Ass Football League in point standings.

Alas, while my guys rest, I must turn my attention to my fantasy hockey league. Circumstances beyond our control have led to several teams dropping out, leaving us with only three in the league. Now, we can certainly have a hockey season with three teams, but I always feel that the more really are the merrier in fantasy sports (and a lot of other things). Any of my readers interested in throwing together a team and taking a chance at triumphant hockey victory (or vicious hockey ass-whupping, as the case may be) can take off their helmets and throw down their gloves in the comments section, or shoot me an e-mail. I'll warn you, though: southern girls only look sweet.

On hearing things

Okay, so I'll be the first to admit that I'm not entirely well-versed on the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice; I'm no lawyer, and this is no blawg. Part of my ignorance in that case can be chalked up to the fact that the last time a Supreme Court justice was nominated, I was thirteen, he was Steven Breyer and he was confirmed 87-9. Before that was Ruth Bader Ginsberg, when I was twelve, 96-3, and Clarence Thomas, when I was ten, confirmed 52-48 after a contentious hearing that had me giggling every time someone said "pubic hair." Needless to say, this is one of many aspects of the law that's just a little bit beyond my ken.

My question is this: what exactly is the purpose of the confirmation hearings? I know what they're supposed to do; theoretically, they give the Senate Judiciary Committee a chance to ask questions of the nominee and find out what s/he is really about, and they give the nominee a chance to make his/her case for confirmation.

But then John Roberts sits up in front of the Committee and tells them that, past record notwithstanding, he supports a Constitutional right to privacy, stare decisis with regard to Roe v. Wade, and the protection of our civil liberty. However, in his work under the Reagan administration, he referred to a "so-called right to privacy," and said that Roe "was wrongly decided and should be overruled." He also, in the hearings, argued with Ted Kennedy about his (Roberts's) narrow reading of Title IX, saying that Kennedy "did not accurately represent [Roberts's] opinion."

So what gives? Do we take this to mean that his opinions have not just shifted but completely reversed since the Reagan administration, or do we take this to mean that he's only telling the Judiciary Committee what they want to hear? And if the latter is the case, what makes the hearings more than a formality? And if they are just a formality, what can be done to make them actually significant?

Obviously, most hearings suffer from the same problems; a nominee can say anything he wants, and the hearing aren't binding, so if he says, say, that he respects the role of UN ambassador and wants to give the world a Coke, and then he gets confirmed, he can go on to do any damn thing he wants. But UN ambassador is a temp job. Supreme Court justices are nominated for life.

It seems to me that a person's lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country, a court responsible for interpreting the Constitution and setting the precedent on which future rulings will be based, should rely on something more substantial than, "Yeah, I'm totally into liberty. All about liberty. And the Constitution! For serious, you have no idea." Unfortunately, I don't really know what other options are available, 'cause I'm not a lawyer. I know some of y'all are lawyers. Any ideas?

Friday, September 09, 2005

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so I just want to remind everyone about Georgia football this weekend. In a previous post, I mentioned that I'm going to be donating this season's scalper fund to the Red Cross, and so I'll be watching home games from the air-conditioned glory that is the Georgia Theatre. Doug has said that he's in, and any other Georgia fans, South Cackalacky fans, or fans of good football in general are welcome to join us. Kickoff is at 5:30, and we'll be there shortly beforehand with beer in hand; I'll be the redhead in the Musa Smith #32 jersey, and Doug'll be the guy in the red shirt and the lampshade.

On to the Ten:

1. Jacques Brel, "Les vieux amants"
2. Was (Not Was), "Baby I Need Your Loving"
3. Lisa Loeb, "We Could Still Belong Together"
4. Sarah Brightman, "Scene D'Amour"
5. Coldplay, "Sparks"
6. UB40, "Can't Help Falling In Love"
7. U2, "Walk On"
8. The cast of Avenue Q, "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today"
9. Billie Holiday, "Ain't Misbehavin'"
10. Maroon 5, "Sweetest Goodbye"

A note on No. 8: not the greatest sing-along-with-the-iPod song when coworkers are around. Just trust me on this one.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

On a lighter note

Okay, so I keep seeing this ad for Jif peanut butter, and it pisses me off every single time. It's the ad where a cute little pigtailed girl is having a sleepover with her friend, and she holds up a game and says, "What about Crazy Eights?" And her listless friend just sighs and says, "Nah." Then Pigtails holds up a video and says, "We could watch this Princess Moonfire tape." And Listless Friend says, "Maybe a sleepover was a bad idea."

You ungrateful bitch. You're an eight-year-old at a sleepover; what do you expect, afterhours at the Red Room and then a Chippendale's show? This litle girl is doing her damndest to entertain your thankless ass, and you just keep rolling your eyes and shooting her down while offering no suggestions yourself. Eventually, thank Elvis, Pigtails is able to appease Your Highness with a peanut butter sandwich, but she's a bigger woman than I; from me, you wouldn't get more than, "You can always march your happy self back home, and I can invite someone who wasn't raised in a barn, bitch." It's called etiquette, kid, and being a gracious houseguest. Ask your parents; it's their job to teach you that stuff anyway.

Some things bother me too much.

Note: On the other hand, the new Petsmart ad campaign? The one with the little Dachshund and Bobo, his little stuffed Dachshund best friend, and the one with Great Dane who sits obediently as a toddler seductively eats an ice cream cone? Adorable yet inspired. For seroius.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On horror - and hope

Okay, so an Irish prayer says, "May those who love us, love us; and those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so we'll know them by their limping." As this disaster continues and people begin to show their true colors, it's heartening to see how the goodness in this country ultimately overpowers the badness.

Monday morning, nearly 100 people -- most of them from four Phenix City churches -- organized piles of clothes and supplies they will begin to distribute to evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

"We started calling everybody we know, and all this stuff started showing up," said Terry Shaughnessy, one of the organizers.

The stuff includes used clothes, socks, diapers, pots, pans and other essentials.


Shaughnessy said his group is just ordinary people trying to help.

"There are a lot of people willing to help," he said. "But there is really no organization to get the people who are willing to help together with the people who need help."

- Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer
I guess I'm one of those "closet racists" noticing that it seems to be almost exclusively black people who are doing the looting. [...] I guess we're supposed to ignore the evidence of our eyes and continue repeating the mantra that race has nothing to do with behavior. But what if there really IS a correlation between race and a tendency to amoral, selfish, violent behavior?


I just feel sorry for any white people left in that city. I saw video of some white tourists walking aimlessly, dragging their suitcases behind them, looking for help. [...] What a nightmare...white people abandoned in a lawless city full of black people with no police in sight, and no firearms to protect themselves. You can talk all you want about how awful it is to be a racist, but they are the ones who are finding out firsthand the brutal realities of race in this country."
- Mark J

The big yellow school bus wasn't expected or approved to pass through the stadium's gates. Randy Nathan, who was on the bus, said they were desperate to get out of town.

"If it werent for him right there," he said, "we'd still be in New Orleans underwater. He got the bus for us."

Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson [sic]jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.

"I just took the bus and drove all the way hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus."

The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.

- thanks Sadly, No!
When the wealthy evacuate, they leave behind nice houses, expensive cars, possibly pets that they treat as members of the family, valuable jewelry, family heirlooms, etc. This makes it emotionally difficult for wealthy people to leave. But by definition, the poor do not have this burden: they either rent their homes, or they are in public housing; their cars are practically junk anyway; and they don't have any valuable possessions. This is what it means to be poor. These people could just pick up their few belongings, buy a one-way bus ticket to any city and be poor there. Supposing they even had jobs in NO, it's not like minimum wage jobs are hard to come by.

As Janis Joplin sang, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." The poor are the most free in situations like this; they don't need to worry about coming back and rebuilding. They can just start over from scratch and still be in the same shape they were in before the disaster.
- sdb510

Maureen Griffin wishes she had 1,000 empty apartments for the hurricane victims.

As it is, she has one.

“I actually feel lucky that I have the space to offer,” Griffin said yesterday.

She offered her two-bedroom Beacon Street apartment in Lowell to hurricane victims on Craig's List, an online classified page, on Sunday.


Griffin said she isn't concerned about offering her home to strangers.

“I'm just putting myself in their place,” Griffin said.

- Lowell (MA) Sun
Speaking purely in economic terms, the situation in New Orleans is actually quite positive, long-term. Yes there is the destruction of the port and that's bad, but consider: 80% of the population evacuated. The remaining 20% stayed, either because they didn't have the means to leave, or because they were just foolish; how much of each is a guess.

But in EITHER case, you have to consider that these people were essentially surplus. In other words, the least-functional 20% of the population of New Orleans has been eliminated. That obviously INCREASES the overall functionality of the New Orleans population.


But of course you can NEVER get people to see things this way. It's all Boo hoo hoo look at that baby that Geraldo is holding, let's get the Government to Save That Baby.
- Floyd Alvis Cooper

THE HOMELESS men of St. John's Hospice don't have much. But they are gathering their pennies - literally - to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"They've already filled up two jars with coins, dollar bills, whatever they have," said Matthew Gambino, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services runs the Race Street shelter, which houses about 40 men and feeds hundreds more each day.

The shelter's food service manager, Anthony Willoughby, helped come up with the idea, Gambino said, after the men said they desperately wanted to help in any way they could.

"They know what it's like, going without," said Donna Farrell, director of the archdiocese's Office for Communications.

- thanks Attytood
If you have no means of transportation - maybe it isn't wise to live in a shallow bowl surrounded by water that is targeted by mother natures fury. Personal responsibility and common sense go along way. - kc

Four men from the Kalispell [MT] Fire Department left last weekend to help out in New Orleans.

They are Jeremy Jackson, Dan Wagner, Ken Gerhard and David Telfar, according to Chief Randy Brodehl.

For the next 30 days, they will work up to 16-hour days, seven days a week, he said.


Brodehl said his department will feel the absence of the four firefighters for the next month, but those remaining here are willing to cover for them so they can go.

"The community is bigger than just Flathead County," Brodehl said. Other departments around the county "would have the same response to us if we had a major disaster. It is our country and it is a national emergency."

- Daily Inter Lake
Is it just me, or is something seriously screwed up here?

If news guys can get in and out Ok, why cant at least drinking water and food be delivered? (Yes, even if they DO shoot at the choppers.)

As for the "sleeping on the streets", etc... Big deal. Its warm out, and they oughta be used to the heat by now.

And as for the "people are starting to die": ?? What? How many sick and elderly can their be? For others, WTF? You've had to live outside for a few days, so its literally killing you? What's up w/ that?
- Pessimist

Refugees lined the tables at a Parkview Baptist Church fellowship hall, enjoying a free meal of fried chicken, submarine sandwiches, baked beans, chips, drinks and an array of fruit and cookies.

"We normally have a meal on Wednesday night, and it just sort lent itself to this on this particular evening. ... We bought additional food to accommodate the 60 additional people," said Pastor Todd Evans.


Antoinne Sanson, 22, who suffers from diabetes, grew concerned when he realized he was running low on insulin. Sanson said he didn't have a prescription with him, but he thought that with a receipt and a bottle he might have enough evidence to obtain the drug.

Sanson was one of the refugees who met with a local woman who asked not to be named as she moved about the fellowship hall, trying to console people and taking notes on their needs. She said she believed she could help people get the medicine they need.

"Obviously, they are supposed to get a prescription transferred, but (a local pharmacist) said he doesn't know anyone who would turn them down," she said.

- Decature (AL) Daily News
I'm trying to figure this out-this whole seen(sic) does not make sense to me. A town of 1 million people is down to 100,000 and there is not enough food- especially a tourist town that caters to tourist (read lots of restaruants etc???

The place should be full of food. Seems like some people are spending more time stealing tv's and jewelery when they should be going on planned food runs.
- superiorslots

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, "you can handle being in dirty clothes, but you can't handle being in dirty underwear," said Vicky Brouwer, of Holland, who donated 16 packages of new underwear Monday in sizes children's through adults at a semi-trailer parked at the Holland Alano Club, 201 E. 39th St.

This drive is organized by friends of the father of a Holland airman who a week ago was stationed in Biloxi, Miss. As the base was being evacuated, the airman was among 100 people who volunteered to stay behind and help with the cleanup.

"Watching the news, you feel like not enough is being done to help these people," said Tina Lyttaker, who helped the father of the airman organize this drive. "We wanted to help, and found sponsors who were willing to help us."

J-MAX Transportation, of Zeeland, donated a 45-foot trailer, and Holland Special Delivery, of Spring Lake, donated a tractor and a driver to haul the trailer to International Aid, in Spring Lake, which already has coordinated the distribution of eight truckloads of supplies to Mississippi.

"The team reports being first responders wherever they have gone," IA President Myles Fish wrote in his online newsletter. "On Friday, the team arrived in the small village of Tylertown, Miss., to distribute three truckloads of food donated by Meijer Corp. and two truckloads of hygiene products. One woman, holding her infant daughter, cried as she was handed a supply of baby food."

- Grand Rapids (MI) Press
The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part. - DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff

[Paula] Russell, 45, and her partner, Kirk Woods, 42, will live rent-free in a two-bedroom apartment owned by Nadine and Warren Heaps and furnished by locals. Nadine, president of Ashland's Business Association, and Warren Heaps contacted the couple through a shelter in Baton Rouge, La.


Local organizations are working to find Woods, a security guard, and Russell, a casino worker, new jobs. Heaps said the couple could live rent-free as long as it took for them to get back on their feet.

``Why do we have to give to the Red Cross to help them out? The Constitution says, `We the people.' The sooner people can start over, the sooner people can start feeling safe, the sooner our country will heal,'' she said.

- Boston Herald help those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city... - FEMA director Michael Brown

Some York County residents are hoping to create a database of people willing to take in those who have lost their homes and jobs because of Hurricane Katrina who are willing to relocate to York County.

Jim Greenberg, a local attorney, said he's already been contacted by local people interested in helping in this way.

At this time, they are approaching the idea of relocating people with open minds, Greenberg said.

"All it takes is people who want to help other people in the right spirit, and people who want to help themselves," he said.

- York (PA) Daily Record
Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment? What's the metric for measuring this sort of suffering? What about the small businessman who worked his entire life to build something he's proud of? What about the families who lost loved ones, but had the poor taste to make more money than the poverty line?

Whatever happened to the idea that unity in the face of a calamity is an important value? We're all in it together, I guess, except for the poor who are extra-special.
- Jonah Goldberg

Youngsters sold lemonade to raise money, families offered spare rooms, groups packed donated goods into trucks that volunteers will drive to the Gulf region and government agencies sought to cut red tape as people in the Pikes Peak region found ways to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

About 100 hurricane refugees have been helped by the local branch of the American Red Cross and others have been taken in by family, friends and strangers.


More than 400 people packed the City Auditorium on Tuesday night for a town-hall style meeting to find out what’s been done and what is needed. Dozens signed up to offer their homes, time or money.

“We might not have a lot to give, but we have a lot more than these folks,” said Michelle Ray, who offered to open up her Woodland Park home to evacuees.

- Colorado Springs Gazette
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
- American Red Cross

Our PayPal account is currently showing over $1,600. We've got another GRAND coming in the mail. We've gotten over $1,600 from Western Union.


We spent $300+ on the first load, to the St. Francisville shelter, and over $100 on the first load part B, to Second Harvest Food Bank's truck convoy.

Today, we spent over $1,200 at Wally World [...] today, on non-perishable food, baby food, cereals, baby formula, juices, diapers, baby supplies, first aid supplies, toiletries, Tylenol & Aleve & Advil, feminine needs, dog & cat food, and a few D-cell batteries for flashlights.


We dumped the entire load (except for the pet stuff) at Second Harvest tonight. Met a great guy named Freddy, and his little son, Little Freddy, who were evacuated from New Orleans East. Their apartment complex was under water up to the THIRD FLOOR. They were so kind, and so wonderful, it's amazing how people's true natures shine in situations like this, if I don't sound too condescending or trite there.

- thanks Joanna, aka Anntichrist S. Coulter

Give until it hurts:
American Red Cross
Salvation Army
America's Second Harvest
Convoy of Hope

On government for the people

Okay, so many people were understandably distressed by Kanye West's comments during NBC's fundraiser for victims of hurricane Katrina Friday night. I'll grant you several things: that wasn't the time or place for an unscripted outburst like that; just in terms of content and delivery, West came across more as a crazed paranoiac than anything else; and if you manage to piss off Mike Myers, you've really put your back into it.

And there's another point on which I disagree with Kanye West: I don't think the New Orleans disaster was about race. Yes, the vast majority of those left behind were black, but the crisis was a factor not of race, but of poverty. The most well-off 80 percent, regardless of race, were able to evacuate when the order was given, and the least well-off 20 percent were trapped. Even in light of that, I don't think that the pathetic disaster response was a result of Bush hating the poor, or even not caring about the poor. Because Bush didn't know the poor were there at all.

I'm not trying to make a partisan attack here. I'm not trying to lay blame on or exonerate any party; there's plenty of blame to go around, to liberals and conservatives alike. I'm simply making an observation, and it's this: George W. Bush has spent his entire life insulated from such unpleasantries as the impoverished. He grew up rich in Connecticut, graduated from Yale, ended up in Texas drowning companies and getting bailed out before he could even see insolvency in the distance. I'm sure that he, as the son of a politician, was dragged to the odd homeless shelter or soup kitchen, but in the prettied-up, sanitized, choreographed settings arranged for presidential photo ops. He even managed to find himself in an Air National Guard unit full of other Republican sons of privilege. Real porverty has never snuck within a hundred yards of him.

I sincerely believe that when the poor of New Orleans were drowning and the president was napping or reading in Texas or flying off to San Diego, he thought that New Orleans was all evacuated. The rich made it out in their SUVs, the middle-class trailed in their cars, and... that's it, right? The existence of 110,000 Orleanians too poor to secure their own transport simply didn't register with Bush, because in his experience, people just don't get that poor. That people were starving and dying at the convention center and the Superdome was foreign to him, because all of the people had been evacuated.

Again, I'm not trying to lay blame or to attack Bush's character or even to say that there aren't any Democrats that have been similarly spared the sight of real poverty. Bush does not hate or disdain these people. But for all his "man of the people" routine during the 2004 elections, he has never really known the people. For all his Texas country-boy routine on his ranch vacations, he spends more time with $1,200-a-platers at lavish fundraisers than he does with anyone who really could use those funds.

Elie Wiesel said, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." Beyond indifference is invisibility, and beyond that is nonexistence. The pity is that in his sanitized, insulated world, Bush has been shielded from the people that he, above any other American, has both the power and the authority to help.

We can help them. When no one will look out for us, we can always look out for each other:
American Red Cross
Salvation Army
America's Second Harvest
Convoy of Hope

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

On very, very important things

Okay, so blogging will be light today, and possibly this week, as we've gotten the inevitable call from the New York office to drop everything and start investigating how hurricane Katrina and the resulting chaos have affected business and retail in Alabama and Georgia.

Sweet Christ.

Friday, September 02, 2005

On obeying the meme

Okay, so Pandagon told me to do it, and who am I to deny Amanda? She tells me to go to Music Outfitters, pick the top 100 songs from my graduation year, paste them into this post, bold the ones I like, and strike out the ones I don't. I hear and obey.

The top 100 songs of 1999:

1. Believe, Cher
2. No Scrubs, TLC
3. Angel Of Mine, Monica
4. Heartbreak Hotel, Whitney Houston
5. ...Baby One More Time, Britney Spears
6. Kiss Me, Sixpence None The Richer
7. Genie In A Bottle, Christina Aguilera
8. Every Morning, Sugar Ray
9. Nobody's Supposed To Be Here, Deborah Cox
10. Livin' La Vida Loca, Ricky Martin
11. Where My Girls At?, 702
12. If You Had My Love, Jennifer Lopez
13. Slide, Goo Goo Dolls
14. Have You Ever?, Brandy
15. I Want It That Way, Backstreet Boys
16. I'm Your Angel, R. Kelly and Celine Dion
17. All Star, Smash Mouth
18. Angel, Sarah McLachlan
19. Smooth, Santana Featuring Rob Thomas
20. Unpretty, TLC
21. Bills, Bills, Bills, Destiny's Child
22. Save Tonight, Eagle-Eye Cherry
23. Last Kiss, Pearl Jam
24. Fortunate, Maxwell
25. All I Have To Give, Backstreet Boys
26. Bailamos, Enrique Iglesias
27. What's It Gonna Be?!, Busta Rhymes Featuring Janet
28. What It's Like, Everlast
29. Fly Away, Lenny Kravitz
30. Someday, Sugar Ray
31. Lately, Divine
32. That Don't Impress Me Much, Shania Twain
33. Wild Wild West, Will Smith Featuring Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee
34. Scar Tissue, Red Hot Chili Peppers
35. Heartbreaker, Mariah Carey Featuring Jay-Z
36. I Still Believe, Mariah Carey
37. The Hardest Thing, 98 Degrees
38. Summer Girls, LFO
39. Can I Get A..., Jay-Z Featuring Amil (Of Major Coinz) and Ja
40. Jumper, Third Eye Blind
41. Doo Wop (That Thing), Lauryn Hill
42. Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...), Lou Bega
43. Sweet Lady, Tyrese
44. It's Not Right But It's Okay, Whitney Houston
45. (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You, 'N Sync
46. Lullaby, Shawn Mullins
47. Anywhere, 112 Featuring Lil'Z
48. Tell Me It's Real, K-Ci and JoJo
49. Back 2 Good, Matchbox 20
50. 808, Blaque
51. She's So High, Tal Bachman
52. She's All I Ever Had, Ricky Martin
53. Miami, Will Smith
54. Hands, Jewel
55. Who Dat, JT Money Featuring Sole
56. Please Remember Me, Tim McGraw
57. From This Moment On, Shania Twain
58. Love Like This, Faith Evans
59. You, Jesse Powell
60. Trippin', Total Featuring Missy Elliott
61. If You (Lovin' Me), Silk
62. Ex-Factor, Lauryn Hill
63. Give It To You, Jordan Knight
64. Black Balloon, Goo Goo Dolls
65. Spend My Life With You, Eric Benet Featuring Tamia
66. These Are The Times, Dru Hill
67. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, Mark Chesnutt
68. I Do (Cherish You), 98 Degrees
69. Because Of You, 98 Degrees
70. I Will Remember You (Live), Sarah McLachlan
71. Chante's Got A Man, Chante Moore
72. Happily Ever After, Case
73. My Love Is Your Love, Whitney Houston
74. All Night Long, Faith Evans Featuring Puff Daddy
75. Back That Thang Up, Juvenile Featuring Mannie Fresh and Lil' Wayne
76. Almost Doesn't Count, Brandy
77. Man! I Feel Like A Woman!, Shania Twain
78. Steal My Sunshine, Len
79. I Need To Know, Marc Anthony
80. So Anxious, Ginuwine
81. Faded Pictures, Case and Joe
82. Back At One, Brian McKnight
83. When A Woman's Fed Up, R. Kelly
84. How Forever Feels, Kenny Chesney
85. Amazed, Lonestar
86. Sometimes, Britney Spears
87. Ghetto Cowboy, Mo Thugs Family Featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
88. Out Of My Head, Fastball
89. Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem), Jay-Z
90. Jamboree, Naughty By Nature Featuring Zhane
91. Take Me There, BLACKstreet and Mya Featuring Mase and Blinky Blink
92. Stay The Same, Joey McIntyre
93. Lesson In Leavin', Jo Dee Messina
94. Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
95. Satisfy You, Puff Daddy Featuring R. Kelly
96. Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out), Citizen King
97. Music Of My Heart, 'N Sync and Gloria Estefan
98. Write This Down, George Strait
99. When You Believe, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey
100. God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You, Alabama Featuring 'N Sync

I've never been totally naked in public before, but I'd imagine that this is what it feels like. I refuse to censor myself in cases like this, because that negates the entire purpose of the meme, and... yikes. Okay, yes, I gladly embraced mass-produced pop culture, even if I did so only in the privacy of my car where no one could catch me without my irony shield in place. I'd like to think that I've appropriately matured/bittered since then (the best compliment I ever received on a paper was Mr. Fletcher's "You're too young to be this cynical. A-"), but the fact is, I've got numbers 5-8, 13, 17-19, 27-29, 32, 34, 41, 46, 54, 62, 70, and yes, even 86 on my iPod right now. I'll just go sit in a corner now.

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so I have found the ultimate happiness.

Now, I have never been a particularly maternal person. It was only in the past year that actually decided to have kids after all. What happened in that year? Joslyn happened.

Joslyn, my coworker Holly's adorable little girl, is two feet tall, has light brown hair in a little Dorothy Hamill cut, and is four days shy of one year old. Her only word so far is "Uh-oh," which she finds applicable to all circumstances. Any music at all, be it a commercial jingle or a children's song or a cell phone ringtone, makes her drop it like it's hot. And today, she threw one of those little squishy stress balls to me, and I rolled it back to her, and it hit the bottom of her foot, and she lost her shit. She laughed and laughed like I was Dave Chappelle and she was the drunk chick in the front row. And then she said, "Uh-oh!" and threw the ball back to me, and I rolled it, and it hit her foot, and for whatever reason it was even funnier than the first time.

I am convinced that nothing in my life will ever be as satisfying or fulfilling as making that baby laugh. It's a new and interesting development in my life.

On to the ten:

1. J.S. Bach, "Goldberg Variations: Var. 13"
2. Norah Jones, "The Long Day Is Over"
3. Lenny Kravitz, "Dig In"
4. Franz Schubert (Luciano Pavarotti), "Ave Maria"
5. Mono, "Disney Town"
6. Jem, "They"
7. Kaiser Chiefs, "I Predict A Riot"
8. Eagle Eye Cherry, "Permanent Tears"
9. Oasis, "Fucking In The Bushes"
10. Tears For Fears, "Shout"

I fully intend to do that thing from Pandagon where you review the music from your graduation year, but it's going to take a minute. See, this midget-looking kid just wandered into my office and threw a stress ball at my feet and grinned and said, "Uh-oh..."

On doing more good

Okay, so this post over at Hey, Jenny Slater made me sad and proud and angry, that strange halfway point between wanting to cry and to punch something. To be honest, I didn't even click on all of the links, because I just don't feel like being that angry this morning. Besides, it's all stuff I've heard before, on TV, on the radio, on the Internet: people blaming the victims for wanting to ride out the storm, for being reluctant to leave their homes, for being too damn poor to evacuate. That stuff, I've heard. What was good for me to read was all of the hope that Doug talked about, and I think it's something that we need to keep in mind. There are people doing bad things in New Orleans, and there are people doing bad things in Washington, but there are also people doing good things all over the damn place. We are a country of people that are more good than not-good, and this is our opportunity to show it.

Here's what I'm going to do (or the beginning of it, at least), and I invite both of my readers to join me. Going through the natural comparison of things that I have to things that the people on the Gulf Coast no longer have, I realized exactly how much money I spend on incidentals - things like football tickets, which are precious, certainly, but not crucial. I realized that I might well give $300 to scalpers this season just to watch Georgia play at home, and that's just the regular season.

So here's what I'm going to do: as much as I love Sanford Stadium, I'm not going to see it this season. I'm pledging $50 of scalper money for every home game that I would normally watch from the discomfort of a corrugated aluminum seat, and instead, I'm going to watch that game from the air-conditioned comfort of the Georgia Theatre. And since football is more fun with friends, I hope y'all will join me. Here's our home schedule:

Sept. 3 - Boise State
Sept. 10 - South Carolina
Sept. 17 - Louisiana Monroe
Oct. 22 - Arkansas
Nov. 12 - Auburn
Nov. 19 - Kentucky
And I'll go ahead and pledge $50 each for the SEC championship and the national championship, in which Georgia will undoubtedly play, right? Right?

Throw down in the comments below or shoot me an e-mail at practically_harmless [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com if you'd like to join me at the Georgia Theatre for football and charity. I might even buy the first round of beer. Fans of the opposing team are welcome - yes, even Auburn fans. And even if you can't make it to any of the games, there's no reason not to make a donation anyway. Some things are just more important.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

On doing good

Okay, so don't quote me on this, because I don't remember on which news report I heard it, but I remember being warned not to panic about the interruption in fuel supply because most gas stations keep about ten days' worth of gas on hand. Well, congratulations, Atlanta! You stupid sheeple have managed to go through that in less than twelve hours. Christ in a rowboat.

Feel like doing something to actually help the situation instead of making it worse? Revolutionary idea, I know. Get out your wallet, Melissa:

American Red Cross, 800.HELP.NOW (800.435.7669)
Salvation Army, 800.SAL.ARMY (800.725.2769)
America's Second Harvest, 800.344.8070
Convoy of Hope, 417.823.8998

Send money, not stuff. Lots of money. And prayers, if you're the praying type.