Monday, June 30, 2008

Haynesville Shale: Petrohawk Well Producing Big Time

Petrohawk's Elm Grove Plantation No. 63 is located in Bossier Parish and was placed in production Friday. Sunday, the well produced an average rate of about 16.8 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

“That’s a very good well, a very good well,” said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, today. “Most are happy with 2 or 3 million cubic feet a day. … You’ve got to realize those wells cost $7 million … and when you get that much production it makes the economics of those kind of wells work.”

From The Times

Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Cindy Johnston

Cindy Johnston took the oath of office as the new Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Monday afternoon. She will officially become Clerk at midnight.

In the photo Cindy is administered the oath of office by Judge Ford E. Stinson, Jr.

More pictures at The Bossier Independent website.

Jindal Vetoes Pay Raise

Faced with a recall petition and public outrage, the governor today vetoed the pay raise bill.

Complete story here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Huddie Ledbetter: A Shreveport Legend

Lead Belly was born to Wesley and Sallie Ledbetter as Huddie William Ledbetter in a plantation near Mooringsport in Caddo Parish. By 1903, Lead Belly was already a singer and guitarist of some note. He performed for Shreveport audiences in St. Paul's Bottoms, a notorious red-light district. Lead Belly began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport's Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms. (The Bottoms area was officially named Ledbetter Heights several years ago.)
In the statue above, which is on Texas Street in front of the Chamber of Commerce building downtown, Leadbelly is facing The Bottoms, about 4 blocks away.
During one incarceration at Angola prison, Ledbetter met folklorists John and Allen Lomax, visiting southern prisons to collect folksongs for the Library of Congress. The Lomaxes were instrumental in gaining Lead Belly a pardon from Gov. O. K. Allen. Ledbetter formed a professional relationship with Allen Lomax, who brought him to the attention of a wide audience. He toured the country playing songs like Goodnight Irene and Bourgeois Blues.
In 1939 he was back in jail for assault. Upon his release in 1940, Lead Belly returned to a surging New York folk scene, and befriended Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Seeger adopted the 12 string guitar as a result of Lead Belly's infuence.
Ledbetter died in 1949 and is buried at the Shiloh Baptist Church outside of Mooringsport.
Many versions the old ballad 'House of the Rising Sun' have been recorded, one very popular version by The Animals in the 1960's, others by Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd & Joan Baez. In late 1948 Lead Belly recorded a version called "In New Orleans" in the sessions that later became the album Lead Belly's Last Sessions

Yet the very best version I have ever encounted is sung in Japanese by a Japanese artist, Chiaki Naomi. See what you think.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Ethics" Reforms Strip Enforcement

Under the new "ethics" laws passed by the legislature, a couple of changes are taking place. First, the burden of proof has been increased, making it difficult to find anyone guilty of violating ethics laws.
Second, power has been stripped from the Ethics Board, a 'civilian' authority, and given to politically connected administrative law judges.
Central La Politics has posted a news video on this subject.

Bobby Jindal Recall Website Is Up and Running is up and running. The operator of this website will be working with Ryan Fournier, who filed the recall petition, and will have contact information for coordination and a legal copy of the recall petition that will be downloadable.We will keep you updated as we get more information.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Recall Jindal Video from Bossier Independent

Updated Recall Jindal video from The Bossier Independent

Papers Filed for Jindal Recall

According to LaNewsLink, papers were filed with the Secretary of State to recall the governor.

According to the office of the Secretary of State, the papers were filed by Ryan Fournier of Jefferson Parish.
A recall requires signatures from 1/3 of registered voters.
The governor issued a statement saying ""The voters of our state are angry that the legislature more than doubled their own pay and I agree with them. It was excessive and they should reverse it. I'm sure more voters will take extraordinary steps to show their anger over the pay raise before this is all said and done - that's how a democracy works."

Read ABC News article 'Jindal's Hometown Headaches'

Cheapeake Energy donates $100,000 to Cyber Innovation Center

From The Times:
Chesapeake, a major player in the exploration and development of the Haynesville Shale natural gas field, presented the money Thursday to Cyber Innovation Center Executive Director Craig Spohn in Bossier City. CIC came into being after the Air Force named Barksdale AFB as provisional command for the Air Force Cyber Command.
It was Chesapeake's second major donation. A week ago, the company donated $100,000 to the United Way of Northwest Louisiana.
"The fact that Chesapeake, new to the community, immediately understood the importance of the work going on at the CIC speaks to their knowledge of and commitment to our area," Spohn said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

People Turned Away from Haynesville Shale Meeting

Meetings on Haynesville Shale activity and leasing are continuing to draw record crowds in the Shreveport area.

The auditorium at LSU-S was filled to capacity and many were turned away last night in the last seminar on the Haynesville Shale.
The seminar was sponsored by the LSUS Center for Business and Economic Research and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.
Presentations were given on seismic activity, leasing and drilling and production.
Complete article in The Times.

For information on meeting dates and times check out Haynesville Shale Landowners


No point to this except it's really neat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Video: 4th District Congressional Candidates

Just a brief overview of the candidates for the 4th District Congressional Seat and my opinion of the way it is shaping up.
There is a long way to go and anything can happen, but it seems to me that Chris Gorman and Paul Carmouche are probably on track for a general election battle.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Will Robert Adley Face Recall Petition?

Recall websites are going up all over the state in the wake of the legislative pay raise voted in last week.
Speaker of the House Jim Tucker faces a serious recall effort that is being led by Gretna businessman John Roberts, who said that Tucker is 'the leader of the pack'.
Tucker is taking the effort seriously and saying that he will talk to his constituents and explain his stand in forcing the legislation through without debate.
The 'Recall Pay Raise Tucker' website is here.

From the website:
Fifty volunteers each collecting 180 signatures from District 86 voters will put us in position to recall Payraise Tucker. Plus we'll already have contact information from hundreds or even thousands who have submitted their name to this website. We're coming for you Payraise Tucker, we're coming!
If recalling the Speaker doesn't have the legislators falling all over themselves to repeal the payraise we'll move on to the next one and the next one and the next one until it gets done!
There is also a website calling for the recall of Lafayette legislator Mike Michot. There is even one calling for a recall of all of the rascals.
Which brings us to our point: Will Robert Adley, who arrogantly supported this legislation against the will of his constituents, face a recall attempt? Adley's 36th District comprises all of Bienville and Webster Parishes and a good part of Bossier Parish.
Perhaps Mr. Adley believes that he is immune, but that's not what I am hearing. People are really angry over this raise, not just because of the excessive amount, but because of the way it was done and because the timing is terrible. It sends exactly the wrong message at the wrong time.
Anyone out there up for a Recall Adley effort?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Recall Jindal?

People all over the state are furious at the legislature for passing a huge pay raise, and they are angry at the governor for failing to veto it, as he had promised to do when campaigning last fall.

From Jindal Watch

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Air Force Cyberspace Symposium II

Air Force Cyberspace Symposium II started Wednesday at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, commander of Air Force Cyber Command, said "What is the stand up of an Air Cyber Command about? It's an Air Force focus on the Air Force protection and defense of the Air Force's abilities to command and control our forces that we bring to the joint fight."
Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, commander of 8th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic)at Barksdale Air Force Base,is responsible for the Air Force's global computer enterprise network.
"Cyber is absolute critical to everything we do," Elder said. "You can't just be an air or space operator. . .
He said Air Force Cyber Command is designed to protect and defend Air Force networks and provide forces to combat commanders when needed for operational missions.
The generals were also joined by a number of other key Air Force and defense leaders who discussed the emerging and ever-expanding cyber challenges facing the nation. The theme for the symposium was "Equipping the Cyber Warrior to Fight in Cyberspace."
Air Force Cyberspace Symposium II follows on the first such symposium, which was presented in Shreveport in November by Air Force Cyber Command, 8th Air Force and the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.
Complete story in The Times

Monday, June 16, 2008

Adley Tips the Scales: State Senate Passes Pay Raise by One Vote

Just one vote. That's all it took to double salaries for Louisiana lawmakers as the measure cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday. The Senate voted 20-18 to go along with the same version approved by the House on Friday. It now goes to the governor’s desk. Under the bill, the base pay for state legislators rises to $37,500 -- an increase of $20,700 -- and the pay package totals nearly $60,000 per year for rank-and-file lawmakers. Gov. Bobby Jindal has criticized the measure but said he will not veto it. The pay raise will take effect on July 1.

Chesapeake to pay Goodrich $170 Million for Haynesville Shale Rights

Goodrich Petroleum Corporation and Chesapeake Energy Corporation today announced that Chesapeake has agreed to pay Goodrich approximately $178 million for the deep rights to approximately 10,250 net acres of oil and natural gas leasehold comprised in approximately 25,000 net acres in the Bethany-Longstreet field and a 50 percent working interest in approximately 10,500 net acres in the Longwood field.
Chesapeake has also agreed to purchase 7,500 net acres of deep rights in the Bethany-Longstreet field from a third party, bringing the ownership interest in the deep rights in both fields after closing to 50 percent each for Goodrich and Chesapeake. Chesapeake will be the operator of the joint venture for the Haynesville Shale development.
Horizontal development of the Haynesville Shale for the joint venture is expected to commence in the 2008 third quarter with one rig dedicated to the play and a second rig to be added during the 2008 fourth quarter.
Complete information in The Times

Saturday, June 14, 2008

State Official says Haynesville Shale Leasing is like 'Gold Rush'

Marjorie A. McKeithen, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Mineral Resources for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, says that the Haynesville Shale leasing frenzy is like the gold rush.
The State of Louisiana has leased public land in Northwest Louisiana to the tune of $34,000,000 in bonus payments for the current fiscal year.
Twenty-five of the 38 leases were in Caddo, Red River and Bienville parishes. The average bonus was more than $13,400 per acre, while more typical prices in the past for north Louisiana have been about $400 per acre.
"In Caddo Parish, we had a bidding war going," McKeithen noted.
Six leases awarded in Caddo covered 2,167 acres, earning $28.2 million in cash bonuses. Several parcels were leased for $14,500 an acre, but the average was $13,000.
Twelve acres along Grand Bayou about 10 to 15 miles north of Coushatta drew $141,000 in bonus payments. A portion of the acreage inches slightly into Bienville Parish.
In Red River Parish alone, four leases covering 346 acres along Red River brought $5.5 million in bonus payments. The average price for an acre was just under $16,000. One tract earned $17,000 an acre.
Meanwhile, the City of Shreveport hosted its first Haynesville Shale informational meeting, known as Haynesville Shale 101, at the Convention Center, drawing over a thousand people.
The next meeting scheduled by the City will be next Saturday (the 21st) from 6 PM to 8:30 PM at the Convention Center. The City has also posted a new website just to deal with Haynesville Shale issues.
Some info from The Times

Video: Louisiana Legislature Follies of 2008

Bossier Parish Police Jury sues Walton Construction

The Bossier Parish Police Jury has filed suit in District Court against Walton Construction, Bernhard Mechanical Contractors Inc, BCI Inc, SECURTEC Inc & Glass Contractors Inc for breach of contract due to substandard work and products used in the $26,000,000 Bossier Parish Courthouse Addition & Remodel.

The Police Jury alleges:

1. That Walton failed to complete unacceptable & incomplete work on punch lists that were attached to certificates of completion. Alliance, Inc., the architect of record, estimates the value of the incomplete and unacceptable items is $516,310. The suit alleges that 'for all practical purposes, Walton has abandoned the project'.

2. BCI, Inc. was to furnish all courtroom furniture, panel work & woodwork. Construction details, fastening, tolerances and workmanship were to meet AWI standards for premium grade. The suit alleges that the millwork does not meet those standards. Alliance estimates the value at $250,000 to $350,0000.

3. Bernhard was to provide water, sewer, HVAC & other mechanical systems for the project. The suit alleges that the HVAC system was started and operated by Walton and Bernhard prior to the installation of the chemical feed system for the water piping, causing damage to the system. Alliance estimates this at $430,429.

4. SECURETEC was charged with installing security systems. The suit alleges that they failed to meet the plans and specifications of the contract. Among other things, the card system used for entry to the building by employees has never worked.

5. Glass Contractors was contracted to furnish glasswork, windows, storefront and the aluminum curtain wall, entrances and door hardware. The problems listed are water leaks and intrusions at the windows, multiple windows cracking due to improper materials or installation, aluminum in the curtain wall and store front were damaged during installation and door hardware at the main entrance has repeatedly failed to operate properly. The suit says that Glass Contractors have attempted to correct the deficiencies, but some remain.

The suit asks for a declaration of the court of any amounts owed to Walton at completion of the contract. The suit states that the disputes that exist are too numerous to detail in the 23 page petition.

The suit was filed by Patrick Jackson, Parish Attorney assisted by Kenneth Mascagni of Cook, Yancey, King and Galloway and Misty Alexander of Lemle & Kelleher.
When Walton files an answer, we will update.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Louisiana House Votes to Double Pay

The Louisiana House of Representative voted to increase their pay more than double today. The original bill would have called for an increase from $16,000 to $50,000. The house 'compromised' and only voted the raise to $37,500.
The governor has said that he will not veto the bill.
The legislators are also paid (currently) a $143 per diem when they are in session in addition to the base pay.
Note: Rep. Henry Burns, as promised, voted against the bill. I will update this post with a complete list of house votes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Henry Burns Against Pay Raise

I was very pleased to learn today that my State Representative (Henry Burns) will not support the proposed pay raise on Friday.
I emailed the following to Rep. Burns on Tuesday:

Mr Burns,
I hope you will oppose the pay raise bill just sent to the House from the Senate. I was very disappointed to see that Robert Adley supported it. I also noted that Dr Shaw and Sherri Cheek both opposed. It would be obscene to increase the base from $16,000 to $50,000+.
Thank You,

Today I received the following reply:

Thank you for the e-mail. Rep. Burns will not support the proposed pay raise. He feels the same way that you do. Please contact our office again with any future questions or concerns that you may have.
Dodie Horton
Rep.Henry Burns
District 9

I have emailed Mr. Burns (a freshman legislator) on a couple of other occasions and have always received a prompt reply, either from him or Dodie Horton.
Good job, Mr. Burns.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chris Gorman Leads the Republican Field in Poll

The race in the fall for the 4th Congressional District House seat seems to be shaping up as a battle between Chris Gorman and Democrat Paul Carmouche. Anything can happen in the next few months, but it wouldn't surprise me to see these two face off.

From The Dead Pelican
The first poll in Louisiana's Fourth Congressional District is complete and businessman Chris Gorman has emerged as the clear frontrunner. The survey was conducted last week among likely GOP primary voters by respected national survey firm Public Opinion Strategies.
According to sources, Gorman has a two-to-one advantage over the rest of the GOP field. The poll also shows Gorman at better than 50% of the vote among voters who have decided their choice at this point. Gorman's name ID among likely voters is better than 60% across the district which is more than double that of the next closest competitor, sources say.

Haynesville Shale 101: City of Shreveport to Host Meetings

The Times announces that The City of Shreveport will host two meeting on the Haynesville Shale.

The first will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday; the other will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 21. Both will be at the Shreveport Convention Center. Dubbed "Haynesville Shale 101," the city will use the meetings to provide handouts with information to help residents understand the terminology associated with the Haynesville Shale, general issues related to gas drilling, mineral leases, signing bonuses and royalties.
A panel, including city officials and property owners who have dealt with drilling and mineral leases, will talk. A question-and-answer session will follow. Mayor Cedric Glover will be available for one-on-one conversations, according to a city news release.
The Times

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Book Burning in Shreveport

About 30 people gathered for a regional revival Friday night that included a book burning as a statement to reach out to local residents.
"It is allowed for Harry Potter to be taught in our schools, but not the Bible," International House of Prayer pastor James Crawford said during the Shreveport Regional Unity of Faith Revival.
That is one reason pastors from several denominations and races ripped pages from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Those and pages from a pornographic magazine were put into a burn pit and set afire as praises bellowed from the congregation.

"As I tore the pages, I felt a generational curse of immorality and perversion breaking off my family," Adriane Banks said. "I felt it."
The book burning was a statement to reach out to people in Shreveport-Bossier City against sin, Crawford said.
"This is powerful. God looks down and sees humble hearts. That is the reality of what we're doing."
Crawford said recent natural disasters are a wake-up call.

Why did The Times publish this story? Thirty people? The Times puts this on the front page as a 'news story'? Thirty people out of a Shreveport/Bossier population of over 350,000?
What do these people hope to accomplish other than drawing a comparison to the Spanish Conquistadors or the Nazis?
I admit that I'm prejudiced; I love Harry Potter. I bought my grandson all seven of the books and, of course, read them as soon as he got through with them.
The Times also had to include the Hagee-esque remark about 'natural disasters' being a warning. God bless the people of New Orleans who have had to listen to this shit (oops, just slipped out) for the last three years from so-called 'Christians'.

Sort of reminds one of the SPOOF SITE Landover Baptist where they deal with the same subject:

The burning of books is nothing new to True Christians®. We invented the practice over two-thousand years ago as a way to promote our faith in the Lord Jesus. In the early days of Christianity, when new believers in Christ were converted, they were naturally moved by the Holy Spirit to grab as many books as they could and pitch them into a fire. Unlike the sissy "Jesus is Love" fake-Christians (whom both the Lord Jesus and we loathe) we have running around today, the early followers of Christ were never ashamed to burn books.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Two Libertarians explore the idea of Air Force Cyber Command

Not everyone loves the idea of Air Force Cyber Command as much as the State of Louisiana and Bossier City/Parish, who have dropped over $100,000,000 into development of resources to support the command.
Here are a couple of libertarian points of view from Lew Rockwell's website.

by Tom Engelhardt and William Astore

Be depressed. Be very depressed. You thought that cyberspace – a term conjured up long ago by that neuromancer, sci-fi author William Gibson – was the last frontier of freedom. Well, think again. If the U.S. Air Force has anything to say about it, cyber-freedom will, in the not so distant future, be just another word for domination.
Air Force officials, despite a year-long air surge in Iraq, undoubtedly worry that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's "next wars" (two, three, many Afghanistans) won't have much room for air glory. Recently, looking for new realms to bomb, it launched itself into cyberspace. The Air Force has now set up its own Cyber Command, redefined the Internet as just more "air space" fit for "cyber-craft," and launched its own Bush-style preemptive strike on the other military services for budgetary control of the same.
If that's not enough for you, it's now proposing a massive $30 billion cyberspace boondoggle, as retired Air Force Lt. Col. William Astore writes below, that will, theoretically, provide the Air Force with the ability to fry any computer on Earth. And don't think the other services are likely to take this lying down. Expect cyberwar in the Pentagon before this is all over. In the meantime, think of cyberspace, in military terms, as a new realm for nuclear-style strategy, with its own developing version of "first-strike capability," its own future versions of "mutually assured destruction," its own "windows of vulnerability" to be closed (while exploiting those of the enemy), and undoubtedly its own "cyber-gaps."
In fact, it looks like the national-security version of cyberspace may soon be a very, very busy place. Noah Shachtman, who covers the subject like a rug at his Wired Magazine Danger Room blog, recently noted that Comcast, the country's second-largest Internet provider, "has just advertised for an engineer to handle 'reconnaissance' and 'analysis' of 'subscriber intelligence' for the company's 'National Security Operations'" – that is, for the U.S. government. ("Day-to-day tasks, the company says in an online job listing, will include 'deploy[ing], installing] and remov[ing] strategic and tactical data intercept equipment on a nationwide basis to meet Comcast and Government lawful intercept needs.'") Ain't that sweet.
And it shouldn't be too tough a job. As Shachtman also points out, "Since May 2007, all Internet providers have been required to install gear for easy wiretapping under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act."
Sigh. Those who don't learn from history are bound to… get ever more bloated budgets. ~ Tom
Attention Geeks and Hackers: Uncle Sam's Cyber Force Wants You!
By William J. Astore
Recently, while I was on a visit to, my computer screen momentarily went black. A glitch? A power surge? No, it was a pop-up ad for the U.S. Air Force, warning me that an enemy cyber-attack could come at any moment – with dire consequences for my ability to connect to the Internet. It was an Outer Limits moment. Remember that eerie sci-fi show from the early 1960s? The one that began in a blur with the message, "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission…." It felt a little like that.
And speaking of Air Force ads, there's one currently running on TV and on the Internet that starts with a bird's eye view of the Pentagon as a narrator intones, "This building will be attacked three million times today. Who's going to protect it?" Two Army colleagues of mine nearly died on September 11, 2001, when the third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, so I can't say I appreciated the none-too-subtle reminder of that day's carnage. Leaving that aside, it turns out that the ad is referring to cyber-attacks and that the cyber protector it has in mind is a new breed of "air" warrior, part of an entirely new Cyber Command run by the Air Force. Using the latest technology, our cyber elite will "shoot down" enemy hackers and saboteurs, both foreign and domestic, thereby dominating the realm of cyberspace, just as the Air Force is currently seeking to dominate the planet's air space – and then space itself "to the shining stars and beyond."
Part of the Air Force's new "above all" vision of full-spectrum dominance, America's emerging cyber force has control fantasies that would impress George Orwell. Working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies, the Air Force's stated goal is to gain access to, and control over, any and all networked computers, anywhere on Earth, at a proposed cost to you, the American taxpayer, of $30 billion over the first five years.
Here, the Air Force is advancing the now familiar Bush-era idea that the only effective defense is a dominating offense. According to Lani Kass, previously the head of the Air Force's Cyberspace Task Force and now a special assistant to the Air Force Chief of Staff, "If you're defending in cyber [space], you're already too late. Cyber delivers on the original promise of air power. If you don't dominate in cyber, you cannot dominate in other domains."
Such logic is commonplace in today's Air Force (as it has been for Bush administration foreign policy). A threat is identified, our vulnerability to it is trumpeted, and then our response is to spend tens of billions of dollars launching a quest for total domination. Thus, on May 12th of this year, the Air Force Research Laboratory posted an official "request for proposal" seeking contractor bids to begin the push to achieve "dominant cyber offensive engagement." The desired capabilities constitute a disturbing militarization of cyberspace:
"Of interest are any and all techniques to enable user and/or root access to both fixed (PC) or mobile computing platforms. Robust methodologies to enable access to any and all operating systems, patch levels, applications and hardware…. [T]echnology… to maintain an active presence within the adversaries' information infrastructure completely undetected… [A]ny and all techniques to enable stealth and persistence capabilities… [C]apability to stealthily exfiltrate information from any remotely-located open or closed computer information systems…"
Stealthily infiltrating, stealing, and exfiltrating: Sounds like cyber-cat burglars, or perhaps invisible cyber-SEALS, as in that U.S. Navy "empty beach at night" commercial. This is consistent with an Air Force-sponsored concept paper on "network-centric warfare," which posits the deployment of so-called "cyber-craft" in cyberspace to "disable terminals, nodes or the entire network as well as send commands to ‘fry' their hard drives." Somebody clever with acronyms came up with D5, an all-encompassing term that embraces the ability to deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade, and destroy an enemy's computer information systems.
No one, it seems, is the least bit worried that a single-minded pursuit of cyber-"destruction" – analogous to that "crush… kill… destroy" android on the 1960s TV series "Lost in Space" – could create a new arena for that old Cold War nuclear acronym MAD (mutually assured destruction), as America's enemies and rivals seek to D5 our terminals, nodes, and networks.
Here's another less-than-comforting thought: America's new Cyber Force will most likely be widely distributed in basing terms. In fact, the Air Force prefers a "headquarters" spread across several bases here in the U.S., thereby cleverly tapping the political support of more than a few members of Congress.
Finally, if, after all this talk of the need for "information dominance" and the five D's, you still remain skeptical, the Air Force has prepared an online "What Do You Think?" survey and quiz (paid for, again, by you, the taxpayer, of course) to silence naysayers and cyberspace appeasers. It will disabuse you of the notion that the Internet is a somewhat benign realm where cooperation of all sorts, including the international sort, is possible. You'll learn, instead, that we face nothing but ceaseless hostility from cyber-thugs seeking to terrorize all of us everywhere all the time.
Of Ugly Babies, Icebergs, and Air Force Computer Systems
Computers and their various networks are unquestionably vital to our national defense – indeed, to our very way of life – and we do need to be able to protect them from cyber attacks. In addition, striking at an enemy's ability to command and control its forces has always been part of warfare. But spending $6 billion a year for five years on a mini-Manhattan Project to atomize our opponents' computer networks is an escalatory boondoggle of the worst sort.
Leaving aside the striking potential for the abuse of privacy, or the potentially destabilizing responses of rivals to such aggressive online plans, the Air Force's militarization of cyberspace is likely to yield uncertain technical benefits at inflated prices, if my experience working on two big Air Force computer projects counts for anything. Admittedly, that experience is a bit dated, but keep in mind that the wheels of procurement reform at the Department of Defense (DoD) do turn slowly, when they turn at all.
Two decades ago, while I was at the Space Surveillance Center in Cheyenne Mountain, the Air Force awarded a contract to update our computer system. The new system, known as SPADOC 4, was, as one Air Force tester put it, the "ugly baby." Years later, and no prettier, the baby finally came on-line, part of a Cheyenne Mountain upgrade that was hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. One Air Force captain described it in the following way:
"The SPADOC system was… designed very poorly in terms of its human machine interface… [leading to] a lot of work arounds that make learning the system difficult… [Fortunately,] people are adaptable and they can learn to operate a poorly designed machine, like SPADOC, [but the result is] increased training time, increased stress for the operators, increased human errors under stress and unused machine capabilities."
My second experience came a decade ago, when I worked on the Air Force Mission Support System or AFMSS. The idea was to enable pilots to plan their missions using the latest tools of technology, rather than paper charts, rulers, and calculators. A sound idea, but again botched in execution.
The Air Force tried to design a mission planner for every platform and mission, from tankers to bombers. To meet such disparate needs took time, money, and massive computing power, so the Air Force went with Unix-based SPARC platforms, which occupied a small room. The software itself was difficult to learn, even counter-intuitive. While the Air Force struggled, year after year, to get AFMSS to work, competitors came along with PC-based flight planners, which provided 80% of AFMSS's functionality at a fraction of the cost. Naturally, pilots began clamoring for the portable, easy-to-learn PC system.
Fundamentally, the whole DoD procurement cycle had gone wrong – and there lies a lesson for the present cyber-moment. The Pentagon is fairly good at producing decent ships, tanks, and planes (never mind the typical cost overruns, the gold-plating, and so on). After all, an advanced ship or tank, even deployed a few years late, is normally still an effective weapon. But a computer system a few years late? That's a paperweight or a doorstop. That's your basic disaster. Hence the push for the DoD to rely, whenever possible, on COTS, or commercial-off-the-shelf, software and hardware.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying it's only the Pentagon that has trouble designing, acquiring, and fielding new computer systems. Think of it as a problem of large, by-the-book bureaucracies. Just look at the FBI's computer debacle attempting (for years) to install new systems that failed disastrously, or for that matter the ever more imperial Microsoft's struggles with Vista.
Judging by my past experience with large-scale Air Force computer projects, that $30 billion will turn out to be just the tip of the cyber-war procurement iceberg and, while you're at it, call those "five years" of development 10. Shackled to a multi-year procurement cycle of great regulatory rigidity and complexity, the Air Force is likely to struggle but fail to keep up with the far more flexible and creative cyber world, which almost daily sees the fielding of new machines and applications.
Loving Big "Cyber" Brother
Our military is the ultimate centralized, bureaucratic, hierarchical organization. Its tolerance for errors and risky or "deviant" behavior is low. Its culture is designed to foster obedience, loyalty, regularity, and predictability, all usually necessary in handling frantic life-or-death combat situations. It is difficult to imagine a culture more antithetical to the world of computer developers, programmers, and hackers.
So expect a culture clash in militarized cyberspace – and more taxpayers' money wasted – as the Internet and the civilian computing world continue to outpace anything the DoD can muster. If, however, the Air Force should somehow manage to defy the odds and succeed, the future might be even scarier.
After all, do we really want the military to dominate cyberspace? Let's say we answer "yes" because we love our big "Above All" cyber brother. Now, imagine you're Chinese or Indian or Russian. Would you really cede total cyber dominance to the United States without a fight? Not likely. You would simply launch – or intensify – your own cyber war efforts.
Interestingly, a few people have surmised that the Air Force's cyber war plans are so outlandish they must be bluster – a sort of warning shot to competitors not to dare risk a cyber attack on the U.S., because they'd then face cyber obliteration.
Yet it's more likely that the Air Force is quite sincere in promoting its $30 billion "mini-Manhattan" cyber-war project. It has its own private reasons for attempting to expand into a new realm (and so create new budget authority as well). After all, as a service, it's been somewhat marginalized in the War on Terror. Today's Air Force is in a flat spin, its new planes so expensive that relatively few can be purchased, its pilots increasingly diverted to "fly" Predators and Reapers – unmanned aerial vehicles – its top command eager to ward off the threat of future irrelevancy.
But even in cyberspace, irrelevancy may prove the name of the game. Judging by the results of previous U.S. military-run computer projects, future Air Force "cyber-craft" may prove more than a day late and billions of dollars short.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oliver Stone's "W" Big Boost to Shreveport's Movie Industry

It's been a busy year for the Shreveport movie industry.

Josh Brolin appears as George W. Bush in "W.," directed by Oliver Stone. It will be filming through July. The production also has found locations to double for Crawford, Texas; Kennebunkport, Maine, and even Colorado. It will erect White House sets inside StageWorks of Louisiana, a large soundstage in downtown Shreveport.

Val Kilmer and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson are starring in "Microwave Park." Jack Black and Harold Ramis made "Year One." Ice Cube played coach for "The Longshots" (aka "Comeback"). And Samuel L. Jackson returned here for "Soul Men."

The productions have tallied more than 1,500 temporary crew jobs, well more than 14,000 nights in local hotel rooms and 379 production days. So far this year the 14 movies have totalled $185 million in production value.

Overall in 2007, there were 24 productions that accounted for $181.5 million in production budgets and 557 production days.

Judges Walker and Claville Convicted in Federal Court

Caddo Parish District Judges Michael Walker and Vernon Claville were convicted in U S District Court Saturday of taking cash bribes on 24 occasions between May and July of 2007.

The judges and spectators seemed surprised when Walker and Claville were stripped of their personal belongings and remanded to jail.
Walker and Claville were booked into Bossier Parish Maximum Security Facility late Saturday.
"I am somewhat elated that finally we are at a point where I think that justice is back on an even keel in Caddo Parish," said U S Attorney Donald Washinton.

U S Attorney Donald Washington speaks to reporters

The Times