Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Case of the AWOL Blog

It’s missing; Binder’s Blog is AWOL – just when it was picking up viewers. The blog was on a roll.

And then nothing – the sounds of silence.

Plenty of ideas and themes emerged, but most would be dated now.

I’ve been at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in New Orleans since Thursday. I was responsible for events on Saturday and Sunday as the Chair of the Environmental Law Section. Let me pat myself on the back for a job well done. The reins have passed on to Jacqui Hand of Detroit-Mercy Law School and a formidable executive board.

73 environmental and natural resources law professors went on a field trip Saturday to LUMCON, which may sound funny, but it’s the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, located 85 miles southwest of New Orleans in Cocodrie, Louisiana. It is the premier research center for studying the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Nancy Rabalais, LUMCON’s esteemed Executive Director, was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the genius grant, last November for her studies on hypoxia, the Dead Zone in the Gulf.

We learned about the enormous coastal losses in Louisiana and an update on the BP Spill, including a fascinating presentation by Mark Schleifstein, the main environmental reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He covered the BP story, as well as Katrina, from the beginning. 

There’s much more to Louisiana than New Orleans. Just looking at the developments in the coastal area is illuminating.  Looking at homes, and research centers, built up on stilts is not new, but seeing one under construction made of concrete on top of tall cement stilts is new.

Away from the conference with its almost non-stop meetings was some sightseeing with my wife. She is now able to travel since we have an empty nest and she is collecting a retirement pension. She hasn’t been to N’awlins for 23 years, but I’ve been here about 15 times, this being the fourth trip since Katrina.

It’s not what you think. I did not set foot on Bourbon Street – Royal Street, Decatur Street, Poydras Street, Magazine Street, St. Charles Street, and Canal Street, yes, but not Bourbon Street. None of the raw Bourbon Street.

All of the usual haunts, led by the Café Dumont, the ever-expanding National World War II Museum, but not Bourbon Street.

N’awlins, or at least the French Quarter, is back. Tourism has finally reached pre-Katrina levels, albeit not in the dying RiverWalk. The first months of 2013 will be good to the New Orleans economy, with the Sugar Bowl, Super Bowl, and Madri Gras. The hotels will charge rack rate, the restaurants will pack them in, the gift shops will peddle copious amounts of New Orleans trinkets, many double entendre t-shirts, large tips flow to service employees, cabbies won’t sit idle, and Harrah’s Casino may actually make money from the big spenders, and perhaps a few whales.

Congress has poured billions through the Army Corps of Engineers into repairing the levee system and building a new pumping system to protect the Crescent City, but is doing little to reduce, much less restore Louisiana’s critical coastal wetlands losses.

Brad Pitt continues to do more to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward than the government.

Hollywood on the Big Muddy is now the third largest producer of non- porno films in the United States. If Los Angeles drives the porn industry out of both the City and County of Angels, then porn industry could consider moving to New Orleans.

I barely skimmed any papers or seen any TV in the past week, but a few questions arise from the little I’ve seen or heard.

Does President Obama wishes to exhaust his goodwill early by pushing Senator Chuck Hagel to Defense and John Brennan to the CIA? He played smash-mouth on the fiscal cliff and then rubbed the Republicans nose into it.

President Obama, intoxicated by his reelection, seems intent on forcing his will upon the Republicans.

Is President Obama more concerned with pushing gun control through the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy than helping the victims of Tropical Storm Sandy.

How can Senator Hagel, a 12 year Republican Senator, lack support on both sides of the aisle?

Isn’t John Brennan like Tim Geithner a skilled political survivor of the administrative system?

Is Al Gore a capitalistic pig, or just looking for the true green in green?

Did Hockey actually settle?

Are the Clippers now the best team in Los Angeles?

Notre Dame earned its ticket to the BCS Championship game, but Alabama proved the skeptics right.

Alabama is the closest to a professional team masquerading as a college team since Pete Carroll’s great USC teams last decade. Hopefully, Alabama is clean and will not suffer the same fate. How is it that in the SEC, which is surrounded by rumors of recruiting infractions, that not a whisper is raised about Nick Saban? Not a whisper, not a hint, not a suspicion.

I hope Alabama survives the fate of USC, Ohio State and Penn State.

This blog will be irregular for the next few weeks as we get back into the academic groove.

No comments: