Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Katrina vs. Rita
And the finger pointing begins.

The lead article on the front page of yesterday’s San Jose Mercury slammed the Bush Administration for doing a bang up job in preparation for Rita while lamenting the bungling for Katrina.

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown is telling it like it is Potomac style, laying the blame for a bumbling federal response to the disaster on the bickering between NOLA’s mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.

There might be more than a mustard seed of truth there. It seems like everyone who showed up on the tube claimed to be in charge, and it didn’t help when Dubya snubbed Kitty on one of his photo-op tours.

Okay, New Orleans was the victim of foreman-itis. Given that, how come Mississippi which bore the brunt of the direct destruction of 140 mile per hour winds was left to dangle for days?

There was a hue and cry about it all at the time, so when Rita came along, everybody was READY with a capital R. I have a little emotional stake in that particular outcome as my family lived in Beaumont for years and I spent most of my school years there.

The old home town was hammered good and proper, but loss of life was minimal and not directly attributed to the storm. One family gassed itself to death by running a motor generator without proper ventilation. That’s one way to get out of the gene pool, I guess.

Let’s face it, the Gulf Coast has been hammered. Last year Ivan did a job on Pensacola, and this year Louisiana got a huge dose of disaster while Texas only got a big one.

But, wait! Hurricane season is far from over. There’s still time to blow away Palacios and Corpus Christi.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Another Word Or Two On Katrina

I was driving along fiddling with my radio tuner and picked up NPR’s Higher Ground Hurricane relief show. Robin Williams did a hilarious riff that had me in stitches.

When I got home I went to the NPR
site and lo and behold a bunch of it is there to be played. Norah Jones, Aaron Neville, Marsalises out the kazoo, and many, many others. If you missed it on the tube Saturday as I did, you can still pick up on the tunes. Just have your Real Player up to date and you have entertainment.

As would be said in the Big Easy, N’Awlins, NOLA herself, Laissez les bon temps rouler.

The pictures are of Katrina coming ashore. I received them sans credit, so to whoever took them. Good work and party on!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I found this in my inbox and thought with a little clean-up it would make excellent commentary. Thanks to whoever wrote this.
Hello. My name is Lewis and I suffer from the guilt of 50 billion fing chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe that if you send them on, a poor 6 year old girl in Arkansas with a breast growing out of her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her to a traveling freak show.

Do you honestly believe Bill Gates is going to give you and everyone else to whom you send “his” email a thousand dollars?

How stupid are we?

Ohhhh, looky here! If I scroll down this page and make a wish, I’ll get laid by a model I run into the next day!

What a crock of bull puckey.

Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing a chain letter that was started by Peter in 5 AD and brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower.

Bleep ‘em.

If you’re going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing. I’ve seen all this “send this to your ten closest friends and this poor wretched excuse for a human will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being” forwarded about 90 times.

I don’t fing care.

Show a little intelligence and think what you’re actually contributing by sending out these forwards. Chances are it’s your own unpopularity.

The point being that if you receive a chain letter that threatens to leave you luckless or shagless for the rest of your life, delete it. If it’s funny, send it on.

Don’t piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth who has been tied to a dead elephant’s ass for 27 years and his only salvation is the 5 cents he’ll receive if you forward this email.

Now forward this to every one you know or your underwear will turn carnivorous and consume your genitals.

Have a nice day.

Oh, yeah, and send me 15 bucks.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Political Activism

A few years back . . . well . . . make that decades back, I worked swing shift here in Silicon Valley and lived fairly close to Milpitas. Those were the days I liked to get my teeth into some suds after work so I would stop at a little tavern over on Old Oakland Road on my way home.

It just so happened the guys who had just put the Mercury (in those days the Merc was the morning paper and the News was the afternoon paper.) to bed and also enjoyed a glass or two of beer were there as well.

We talked shop. Me about the thrills of technology and them about the vagaries of the newspaper business in general and Ridder Publishing in particular.

It was a goofy time. Ridder had no reportage from San Francisco which is only 50 freeway miles that away; any article with a San Fran date line had an AP byline. The aviation writer couldn’t even cover the Reno Air Show which was the premiere aviation event in this end of creation at the time. An endorsement of a political candidate, ballot proposition, or an issue before Assembly, Board of Supervisors, or City Council was the kiss of death.

I remembered that little tidbit when I read
OWW’s piece on the National Organization for Women(NOW)’s opposition to John Roberts nomination as Chief Justice. If memory serves correctly they ladies have about the same record as the Mercury-News of yesteryear. Their opposition very nearly guarantees his confirmation by the Senate.

My prayer is that they show up in ’06 and campaign for the Governator. As long as they have all that clout, they should put it to good use.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crank Up The Blame – Roll Out The Dough

The Gulf Coast has been struck by a disaster of unprecedented magnitude. The uncounted dead may well run to the tens of thousands. Most of the nearly 70,000 residents of St. Bernard Parish, which bore the brunt of Katrina, have had their homes destroyed. So far the parish has counted over a hundred dead. The more heavily populated Orleans and Jefferson Parishes haven’t checked in yet on tallies, they’re still trying to rescue people and put down lawlessness.

The finger pointing has begun big time. I live in peaceful San Jose, California. Several friends who are frustrated with rescuers’ response time have come up with impractical scenarios. The shoulds are flying like a flock of crows.

We went through all this on 9/11. We will now spend millions on task forces and committees to tell us what went wrong and who is to blame.

What went wrong was a BIG hurricane came ripping through a metropolitan area that lies below sea level. People who were reluctant to leave their homes often died there.

The storm’s power broke open protective levees, the twenty plus feet of storm surge washed out waste water treatment plants, polluted drinking water, washed out highways, destroyed the telephone system, knocked out power, and flooded chemical plants along the Mississippi.

The end result was unimaginably polluted water up to the rain gutters on some houses, no potable water, no power, no telephones, and no way out. Add 90° heat, high humidity, bands of thugs looting, raping and killing and the resulting chaos is almost unimaginable.

None of the shoulds I’ve heard would have reversed the situation one iota. That hasn’t stopped the liberal press. They didn’t like Bush to begin with – not that I’m a Dubya fan, but he can’t make it rain – so his administration is the target of their wrath.

We live in a litigious society and if someone suffers unjustly, that someone is expected to hail whoever into court and demand satisfaction. Failing that, any other scapegoat will do. I don’t think anyone is going to get far suing a now dead hurricane, so the next best bet is congress will open the treasury and the Katrinistas will be fixed for life.

It’s the American Way.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hindsight Is An Exact Science

The Gulf Coast was hammered big time by Hurricane Katrina, but I’m sure you were aware of that. The levees along the banks of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river failed, allowing New Orleans to be inundated. Even without a 20+ feet storm surge and 140 MPH winds, the flooding alone would wreak havoc on a city situated below sea level.

The current estimate is there are thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless. We won’t really know how bad it is until the flood water is pumped out of the city, but these figures can’t fail to change as more areas become accessible. In all likelihood it will be tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

According to the US Census Bureau figures for 2003, NOLA had 484,674 people living in 215,091 housing units. What wasn’t destroyed outright by wind and water was rendered uninhabitable by power failure, unimaginable chemical and sewage pollution, and undrinkable tap water. All of this in 90° heat with humidity running well in excess of 80%, mind you.

The standing water is being pumped out, but that will take weeks. House to house searches have been instituted to evacuate the living and account for the many dead in their homes. The situation is now ripe for a public health disaster of mammoth proportions, and this is already an unprecedented disaster for America.

There are not many population centers situated in a storm zone, near a large body of water, and sited in area below sea level. New Orleans is the only such place that springs to mind. It was only a matter of time until a big storm hit it, and Katrina did that – In spades.

In keeping with the best of American spirit, the Monday Morning Quarterbacking by the Arm Chair Generals is now at fever pitch. Some one is RESPONSIBLE! Who that someone might be varies from shrill invective to shrill invective, but personally, I think the idiots yelling ought to dial it back. Way back.

One of my hobbies is fiction writing. As such, I’m pretty good at thinking “outside the box.” The only part of this I had a handle on was the post-event degeneration into lawlessness and barbarism. (I’m working on a new near-future sci-fi yarn that features an infrastructure destroying event throughout Central California.) That element was reasonably predictable, however. We saw it in Baghdad a while back and in New York during the second power failure.

I don’t think anyone did or could foresee the level of destruction in Katrina’s wake. The day after the storm passed, Yahoo carried a photo of the US90 causeway showing all the road segments gone from atop the piers. That’s an old bridge which has carried major traffic for decades. It was engineered to be virtually indestructible. So much for engineering calculations.

The hue and cry of the moment is disaster relief. Truth be told, it is running a little slow for my tastes, but there is only so much that can be done and it is being done.

The carping carries on. “Why, oh why weren’t the levees triply redundant?” “Where, oh where is the National Guard.” “Why, oh why doesn’t the military do something?”

I think the levees fall into the same category as the causeway. Previous engineering calculations proclaimed them strong enough. Whether they had stood or not would have made little difference with the storm surge combining with over a foot of rain. The place still would have been underwater.

The National Guard is on the way. They’ll be there when they get there. Ditto USAF, USN, USA, USMC. They’re on their way, but we’re talking lean, mean fighting machine here. A little light on transport to save bucks.

Viewing the disaster as a logistics problem lends a perspective. The highways in the immediate vicinity of the city were for a while incapacitated. Navigation on the Mississippi would be very chancy in daylight and suicidal at night, even if there were enough tonnage available to help lift the watery siege. Air traffic is limited to available helicopters and those flights are chancy due to gunfire coming from lawless elements.

So to those carping and complaining, pissing and moaning, bitching and whining: Tell us how it could have been better. Better yet, what can we do right this instant to get things on track? Show us, if you will.

Friday, September 02, 2005

PITA Symantec Procedures

I received my new Norton Internet Security disk yesterday. It took over three hours to install the damn thing.

First off, I had to remove the NIS 2004 installation. The Windows Uninstall tool doesn’t work. I shut down and uninstalled both of my spyware scanning programs just in case they were causing some interference. The NIS 2004 disk doesn’t have it’s own removal tool, there wasn’t one on the NIS 2005 disk either. All in all, I probably did 10 to 15 restarts; three after I had the new software installed, which came after I found a website where I could download Symantec’s very own uninstaller, the Symantec Removal Utility, SymNRT.exe.

If you need to uninstall their products, start with this and save time. I saved a copy on my C drive for future reference.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Laughing Gas

I picked this little jewel off the yahoo news site a couple of days ago. What with all the grief and nastiness coming from the Gulf Coast I thought a good giggle might be in order.
Brits Driving Austrians Bonkers Over Rude Village Name

LONDON, (AFP) - British tourists have left the residents of one charming Austrian village effing and blinding by constantly stealing the signs for their oddly-named village.

While British visitors are finding it hilarious, the residents of F---ing are failing to see the funny side, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported.

Only one kind of crimimal ever stalks the sleepy 32-house village near Salzburg on the German border -- cheeky British tourists armed with a sense of humour and a screwdriver.

But the local authorities are hitting back and with the signs now set in concrete, police chief Kommandant Schmidtberger is on the lookout.

"We will not stand for the F---ing signs being removed," the officer told the broadsheet. "It may be very amusing for you British, but F---ing is simply F---ing to us. What is this big F---ing joke? It is puerile."

Local guide Andreas Behmueller said it was only the British that had a fixation with F---ing. "The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzburg," he explained. "Every American seems to care only about 'The Sound of Music' (the 1965 film shot around Salzburg). The occasional Japanese wants to see Hitler's birthplace in Braunau. "But for the British, it's all about F---ing."

Guesthouse boss Augustina Lindlbauer described the village's breathtaking lakes, forests and vistas. "Yet still there is this
obsession with F---ing," she said. "Just this morning I had to tell an English lady who stopped by that there were no F---ing postcards."
By the way, my Encarta Globe world atlas doesn’t show this village, but if you ever get there, mail me something. The postmark should be a riot.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?