Monday, September 15

divine retribution

Okay, I'm confused.

Everybody Knows (™ Fox "News") that Hurricane Katrina was divine retribution for a 2005 gay pride parade in New Orleans. And that Hurricane Gustav was divine retribution for the same parade (Southern Decadence) in 2008.

So what is Hurricane Ike divine retribution for -- Sarah Palin's nomination? Dubya's Presidency (since the target this time was Dubya's Oil Buddies)?

I'm just looking for the correct someone/something to blame.

Saturday, September 13

liveblogging Ike

Some people do a lot of liveblogging, but not me. Detailing events as they're unfolding is useful only in rare circumstances. Today I'll make an exception, as Hurricane Ike makes his way from Houston to Dallas.

Yesterday, the storm track appeared to veer east of Dallas, so I'm not expecting much more than heavy rain and wind, from noon to midnight. My preparations are really very minimal.

I scouted the yard for objects that could become airborne and moved them inside. Traffic moved smoothly on the freeways, with only a few areas of mild congestion. I tested Channel 8-2 (Digital TV) which has morfed into a live feed from KHOU-TV (Houston channel 11); they're showing the heavy surf at Galveston, saying it's the worst storm to hit Texas in 50 years; we'll see. Some comparisons with Hurricane Alicia (1983) which is ten years before I landed. Paid $7 cash for a car wash and notice NO LINES - surprise, surprise. Brought the car home, parked it in the garage.

I have a standing meeting on the second Saturday from 9 to noon - it was cancelled via email. The annual three-day Southwest Swap Meet is still showing "rain or shine" so if I go at all, it'll be Sunday.

Last minute: charged the battery for the digital camera, co-located some stuff on the kitchen table. Charged the battery to the laptop and DVD player, in case I want to watch a movie with the pets. Mentally made "compute plans" for any power failure: shut down the PCs but leave the router up (UPS) as long as possible - my Nokia 770 and PowerBook are battery powered.

06:16: Cloudy, 24C. Wind NE 4 m/s (9 mph).
Still dark, sunrise due at 07:10.
I expect to lose communication with the DirecTV satellite for much of the day. As long as it doesn't impact the 22:30 season premiere of Saturday Night Live, I'll be okay. No need to stock up as I have enough canned soups, etc to last until Thanksgiving.

06:46: Cloudy, 25C. Wind NE 5 m/s (11 mph).
Remembered to bring cellphone in from the car, where it lives most of its life. Fed, watered, medicated the pets (each gets one pill/morning). Checked channel 8-2 and they're talking generalities about the damage in Galveston - won't know more until after sunrise, at the earliest.

brief check of the latest National Weather Service info:

07:01: Cloudy, 25C. Wind NE 5 m/s (11 mph).
Noticed email from Mary-Bob regarding Monday lunch plans. No word on my Sunday afternoon event (distance: 11.81 miles Time: 21 mins), so will plan to attend per plan. Printed the map now in case power, Internet outage prevents that later. Think I'll take a nap, as the first bands of wind/rain are several hours away.

08:10: Cloudy, 26C. Wind NE 4 m/s (9 mph).
So much for my nap - the old man next door decided he needs to cut his grass so .. out comes the riding lawnmower. Radar shows rain bands have arrived in the south part of Dallas county. KHOU-Houston reports the storm has increased speed to 18 miles/hour - will convert that to meters/second (m/s) later. I remembered to install my rain gauge (capacity 4 inches) earlier this morning, but may need to empty it if we get heavy rain.

10:00: Rain, 26C. Wind NE 6 m/s (13 mph).
No rain here yet, but the Addison airport (nearest weather to me) is reporting some rain. I just listened to the Houston mayor Bill White's press conference where he made two requests: 1- stay off the roads and 2- boil tap water as a precaution (one of their pumping stations is down, I think). When he finished making his initial comments, he auto-switched to Mexican, although didn't know how to say "truck", or "boil" in Spanish. They're already predicting it may be two weeks (eek!) before power is restored to parts of the coast.

13:24: Rain, 25C. Wind N 9 m/s (20 mph).
Still no heavy rain/winds, although .. it may be "just the other side of the freeway" if the radar is to be believed. Wind has shifted to the north as expected since I'm on the clean edge of the storm. It's drifting closer to Dallas than earlier models indicated .. the eye may pass 50 miles east of me. We're under a TROPICAL STORM WIND WARNING, per the National Weather Service. Checked rain gauge - less than 1/10 inch so far, currently rain/wind but not severe. Noteworthy: normal (snail) mail delivery.

15:10: Rain, 26C. Wind N 12 m/s (27 mph).
Imperceptible change. Weather bug says winds up to 12 meters/second. Turns out the conversion to miles/hour is 2.2369363, so .. 12 m/s = 27 mph wind. Zzzzz. I entertained myself by updating the prior wind speeds on this blog.

19:00: Rain, 25C. Wind NW 10 m/s (22 mph).
Another wind shift, now from the northwest. Finally starting to see some moderate rainfall. The eye of the storm appears heading for Texarkana.

23:59: Mostly Cloudy, 23C. Wind WNW 3 m/s (7 mph).
Final entry. Rain gauge total 1.2 inches. No power outages, no storm damage. And, oh yes .. the new-season premiere of Saturday Night Live was Da Bomb.

Friday, September 12

and now, we wait

I haven't seen the Dallas population this nervous in awhile .. not since last winter when there was a prediction of two (2) inches of snow.

Traffic seemed lighter than usual when I dropped a friend at DFW this morning, although TXDOT's freeway message signs are flashing "AVOID TRAVEL TO HOUSTON AND BEAUMONT / TEXAS HURRICANE WARNING". The grocery store parking lots aren't full, although we should be getting some of the wind and rain by this time tomorrow, unless The Weather Gal changes her mind as to Hurricane Ike's projected path.

So far, I've learned two new TXDOT terms due to Ike: evaculane (road shoulders wide and smooth enough to be used as a travel lane during times of significant traffic congestion) and contraflow (opening all lanes for outbound traffic).

Unrelated deep thought: what do you call a person from Zimbabwe? A Zimbabwiccan?

Wednesday, September 10

Republicans using tactics #5, #8 and #10 today

Republican Campaign Tactics:
  1. Never, EVER take responsibility.
  2. Always blame the Democrats - for everything.
  3. Lie, then lie some more. Everybody Knows™ that if you repeat something 3 times, it becomes True! You may even start believing the lies yourself.
  4. Learn how to speak out of both sides of your mouth, without flinching. Develop a negative twist to everything your opponent does, even if it's just walking across the street.
  5. Trivialize everything your opponent says. Take a seemingly-insignificant phrase out of context (such as "lipstick on a pig"), and tell your audience that was the primary message. Say it with a sneer, if possible.
  6. If you're an elected Republic, learn how to obfuscate and delay - those are GOP SOP (2007-8 Republic senators have filibustered more bills than any Congress in history)
  7. Never forget that most voters do not follow politics, so pander to them, always. You are there to get their vote, not educate them.
  8. Distract the voters! When they ask about the economy, or the war, or health care, ask them why they're not wearing an American flag lapel pin, or why they hate America.
  9. Never admit you're wrong; that is a sign of weakness.
  10. Feign outrage - often.

As I explained to LWB:
One thing you have to understand about Republicans in general : they are simple people. They want easy, simple answers to life's problems and get confused whenever the answer is even mildly complex. If you try to argue with them, they'll become frustrated and angry, because they've already concluded that the simplest answer is the most logical.

I've found it easier to talk to them if I pretend i'm talking to an 8-year old, and explain things in very simple ways. Many of them made it through school either because their rich parents asked paid for favors, or the problem with education in general -- where there's significant pressure to pass students because it's just easier than dealing with them another year.

Have you noticed how few Texans can read/write without making frequent spelling and grammar errors? Their priorities are all wrong; they put more emphasis on the weekly football game, or how the cheerleader's hair looks, than education. There are exceptions, of course; those are called "Democrats".

It would be funny if it weren't so serious. Republicans vote like they're selecting a next-door neighbor. Democrats vote like they're selecting someone for a JOB - as US President, in this case.

Originally posted on 8 July 2008

Wednesday, September 3

The Stupid Vortex

It seriously offends me that the average American voter makes choices based not on job qualifications, but on who would make a better next-door neighbor.

They* just admitted that "This election is not about issues." Out loud. They actually said that. And few people blinked.
* McCain campaign manager Rick Davis

I still think mandatory voter education classes Just Have To happen, if we're to ever dig ourselves out of The Stupid Vortex. Without a minimum passing score, the person doesn't get to vote. Naturally, I'll be the one to design the test.

The framing that the GOP is trying to achieve now regarding their party's message is quite unbelievable, and will undoubtedly be soaked up by a measurable percentage of the voter pool. That is more than sad; it is criminal.

For the rest of us whose brain cells have yet to be compromised, may I suggest an immediate re-read of George Lakoff's splendid book, Don't Think of an Elephant! .. or watch any of the classic propaganda films (The Birth of a Nation; any highlight reel of a Republic Party convention; Triumph of the Will; etc.).

Monday, September 1

He who controls the past, controls the future.

In 2006, a questionnaire was sent to all candidates for the gubernatorial race in Alaska. Although many of Sarah Palin's answers brand her a typical Republican, her answer to number 11:
Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
made me Laugh Out Loud. Sarah Palin answered:
"Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."
While I'm sure the small-brained ones (Republic Party) will clasp their hands and offer praise (ignoring Palin's incorrect punctuation, and threat of violence), those of us who studied American History in a classroom (i.e. not home-schooled) know that "Under God" was added as a knee-jerk reaction to the Commie Witch Hunts of the early 1950s, and became law on Flag Day 1954. Shocking reality: that's long after the last Founding Father was Dead And Buried. Somehow America did just fine without the religious phrase for nearly 180 years.

Future home-schooled generations will never know this; their parents will shirley keep them ignert [sic, sic]. Palin's bio on Wikipedia ("the Unquestioned Fount of All Knowledge") doesn't mention anything prior to high school, so I don't know if she attended public schools or was edjicated by her parunts .. out behind the barn.

Conclusion: The novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] (prophetically written in 1949) is rapidly becoming less Fiction every day. Edward R. Murrow - who surely read the book - must be rolling in his grave.

Unrelated: I read that 17 year-old Bristol Palin is pregnant. I'm left to wonder why "abstinence only" didn't work for the Palins? Sounds like parental failure to me. Then again, Bristol's repeating the mistake her own parents made (the Palin's oldest son was born 7 months after her parents "eloped").