Hereís a few things that have been on my mind lately.

John Mark Karr, the self-confessed killer of JonBenet Ramsey. Turns out the DNA on the little girlís clothing doesnít match Karrís. The outcome of all this is undecided, but my vote is lock the crazy man away for the rest of his life. If he could pull a stunt like this, what else is he capable of? Pull the plug on him, now.

I am very glad that a little Iraqi girl is able to hear again after receiving surgery in Miami this month. Honestly, truly. The media blitz and the subsequent warm fuzzy feelings is what gets me. Probably tens of thousands of U.S. kids could use some expensive medical treatments they either canít get or are being shuffled around from one charity hospital to the next. Probably some have illnesses that are life-threatening. Who do they turn to for help? Will the U.S. Army come to their aid? Will the International Kids Fund raise money for their treatment?

Call me a crusty old curmudgeon, a heartless cad, whatever you want. Itís not the treatment she received that I object to, itís the treatment that thousands and thousands of others donít receive in the same circumstances. It stinks.

Is it odd to you that gas prices start going down in advance of fall elections? That a year out from the presidential election and the powers-that-wish-they-will-continue-to-be are starting to feel a little harried that we see a little relief from $3 a gallon gas? Does anyone really believe itís just markets that drive gas prices? Really?

President Bush Ė whom only one third of Americans think is doing a good job Ė says the war in Iraq is the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century." Thatís six years into the 21st century, you understand.

"Despite their differences, these groups form the outline of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology," he said. "And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.

Anyone who believes George W. Bush actually understands the words in, much less wrote, that speech, get in touch with me. I got some land to sell ya.

While I have no great love or respect for Ray Nagin, when the New Orleans mayor caught a lot of flak for remarking that New York City hasnít restored the site of the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago, I have to say he was dead-on right. Perhaps his remarks were a little tacky, but sometimes being tacky is the best tactic. The scope of the disaster in the Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita areas makes the Sept. 11 site pale in comparison. Iím not talking about human life lost, Iím talking about sheer geography, sheer land miles, sheer destruction. Yet Louisiana continues to be criticized, people canít understand why things arenít moving faster. Sheesh. Please.

The bounty on nutria rat tails has gone up a buck to $5. If you know anybody needs to earn some extra cash and help protect our wetlandsÖ

From the "truth is stranger than fiction" department: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, proud parents that they are, have had their daughter Suriís first Ė uhm, letís sayÖer, poopie, cast in bronze. Made, of course, by the same artist who created a life-size nude sculpture of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug.

Now, I have at the house my fatherís first pair of baby shoes cast in bronze. But Iíll tell you this much, friends and neighbors, Iím grateful thatís all I have. Celebrities can be reallyÖodd. Is that a nice enough word?

Disney is working for the government now. Particularly, Homeland Security, I would guess. I heard from someone who just got back from Disneyworld that you donít get tickets anymore, they take your thumbprint and you then just press your thumb to a scanner to get on a ride or something.

This obsession with thumbprints is getting weird. You know of course how paranoid I am, which is why until I commit some sort of crime and am booked by law officers I refuse to give up my thumbprint to anyone. Disney does not need my thumbprint any more than the bank needs my thumbprint or the doctorís office needs to know if I wear a bike helmet and own a handgun. Please.

Weíve heard a lot over the last few weeks of valuable information from LSU experts and FEMA regarding flood elevations and potential flooding hazards in upcoming storm incidents. The St. Mary Parish Council has formed a levee advisory board, and every government official in the area is looking for money to raise our levees against the threat of another storm surge.

Many people, including me, are wary of the levee-raising philosophy. As a temporary measure, and a carefully thought out one, it might be acceptable. But we all need to recall that we are completely bordered to the north by the 25-foot tall Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee. Franklin, for instance, is nearly circled by levees east, west and south of this. Meaning that an intruding storm surge that tops the lower levees would be trapped inside a bowl of levees until it drains out from the Baldwin, Franklin and Hanson canals. It canít do that until the inland bays recede first. So 15 feet of water would take a while to drain out.

Did you know that in Louisiana private companies are stripping Ė and thereby killing Ė young cypress trees of their bark to sell as mulch in garden centers? A mile of marsh will subdue a lot of storm surge, but a mile of cypress trees will subdue a lot more storm surge.

I wish weíd pay more attention to marsh, cypress stands and barrier islands than we do levees. We in Louisiana have to stop thinking we know how to do things better than nature. Levees are okay temporarily until the coastline buffer zone is rebuilt, but even then, temporarily, weíd better pray we donít get hit by a big one.