04 February 2010

Observations from Oz

Agreeable People

I have a brief and exceedingly pleasant correspondence with a very capable lawyer whom I’ve recently met, and who I’ve come to respect enormously. She was a law clerk for a federal judge who I knew many years ago who was just the most upstanding jurist I’ve known. (Being a law clerk for a federal judge is a big thing, and requires great credentials.) She has been reading your ink-stained scribe and talked about disagreeing with some of what I say. And I say, WONDERFUL. How rare it is that we can have genuine disagreeing thought exchanges which are respectful and cordial and which result in the participants learning from one another and evaluating their own beliefs and fact base in light of the discussions. What passes for discussions on Fox News and so forth is, “Obviously, [Proposition X].” “Well, obviously, you’re a moron, any idiot knows [Proposition Anti-X], but you liberals/conservatives with your hidden agendas . . .”

A Test for Agreeably Disagreeing

I ran across a blog of Jerry Wilson, http://wilstar.com/OverCoffee/blog/, where one post was entitled “The illogical abyss of Christianity.” It’s good writing in the first person, thoughtful and persuasive. (Not real funny, but let’s leave the deft satire to moi, OK?) He likens resistance to the science of evolution, for example, with a belief in the Flat Earth.

Well, why do I, who at least professes to be a Christian, tout such writing? Because it is thoughtful. And if Christians cannot think and analyze, our beliefs must be poor indeed. I conclude from the totality of the New Testament that Jesus wasn’t some intellectual wallflower, and neither should we be.

Wah, Mommy, He Called Me an Asshole!

The news had a video today of an interview by a local TV station somewhere of actor Mel Gibson. Recall that Mel Gibson has been something of a drunk and roue, and when he’s in his cups, he is a loudmouth and when he’s sober, he is rather clumsily sarcastic. So let’s take it as a working assumption that Mel Gibson at least acted like an asshole on some past occasions. The most prominent example is when he was popped for dui and abused the police with a tirade about the Jews and other general idiocy.

In the recent interview, the reporter was asking him about these past incidents with what those reporting the reporter termed "perfectly legitimate questions." They were pointed questions, to be sure, but if you translate them to what was really being asked, they were:

“Have you moved on from being an asshole?

And, “Will the public accept that you’ve moved on from being an asshole?”

Mel Gibson gave a mildly sarcastic (and not too cogent) reply and immediately after the interview ended, he turned back to the camera and commented, “Asshole.”

The undergarments of the press are all in a bunch because one of the brethren has been verbally assaulted. Oh, me, oh, my.

And yet - The reporter was acting like an asshole. So was Mel. Who cares?

State of Emergency

There is a gigantic, enormous, immense, monstrous, planetary, titanic, prodigious snowstorm coming, oh, the humanity. I’ve been around Our Towne today just a bit [slow speed owing to an orthopedic gotcha] and heard such expressions of concern! Oh, movie night at the church is cancelled tomorrow night! And today as I met a friend for lunch, the folks at the next table announced in horror that “they are already talking about a state of emergency!”

Sigh. It is snow. Snow. Just snow. If the forecast is correct, it will inhibit travel, and may interrupt electricity. But let’s get some perspective people. And a “state of emergency”? The declaration of a state of emergency is seldom necessary and it doesn’t depend on traditional notions of disaster. The principal practical effect is that it suspends rules relating to work, so that necessary people will work overtime. At its extreme, it creates a very short heirarchy where the Governor can assume control of government functions as necessary. (The one thing that he cannot do is seize firearms. This is West Virginia.) That has only happened once that I recall, in the 1985 floods. The floods in the eastern mountain counties in 1985 wiped out most of the response assets, i.e., everybody’s vehicles with flashing lights and radios who would have handled the problem, all of the utilities and nearly all of the transportation system. The local response died in hours, and the state office of emergency services response was fouled up. Governor Moore, who was controversial but certainly not a shy guy (he was a friend of my dad) called out all of the National Guard, went to Parsons, took personal control, and drove the entire effort like a wagon boss.

But for a snowstorm? Some years ago, I was deputy director and then director of emergency services for Marion County for around 10 years. During that time, we never “declared a state of emergency,” although we dealt with unusual incidents every few months. There was a large snowstorm that dumped around 3 feet of heavy snow in a day or day and a half. Then the temperature went to about negative 20 or 25. Those are real extreme conditions for West Virginia. We sat in the Communications Center, the director and I, and talked briefly about the state of emergency thing. But we quickly concluded that there was no reason. The power company had lots of assistance from other regions, the fire departments were staffed in house (even volunteer departments) and doing public service calls to help people to shelter, and everything was working fine. And so, the only notable thing was that the occasional friendly bulletins that we faxed to news outlets were picked up by the wire services because, I guess, they were a bit quirky and homespun. In addition to advice like don’t use gas stoves for heat (they are unvented), we would remind people to check on their neighbors, particularly old folks, and that “this too shall pass.”

When you have an emergency, fine, treat it as such and if you are smart, you will have trained or prepared for what you need to do. But don’t go finding crises where they aren’t - - it’s just too nerve-wracking.

I Need an Outlet

I am not a gadget geek. I am not. I need every charger, battery and wire I carry. Oh, I do believe in the concept of redundancy, and it’ll be a cold day in hell when I’m out of charged cell batteries or a way to keep the Kindle going. But laptops are a problem. I haven’t tried the tiny ones that don’t have a fan, but Old Nellie here is good for an hour or two on battery. Restaurants, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and similar establishments would serve me better if they had more outlets.

The Grammys

I do not care what Britney wore to the Grammys, or who was shocked by it.

Shifting the Flag

Today, I shifted the flag to the New Incarnation of No. 3 Equity Court, which is at 1414 Country Club Road, Fairmont, West Virginia. For those of you who need to retarget your ballistic missiles, that's latitude North 39.472965, Longitude West 80.174327, elevation 329.18 meters.

Pippa passes.



Rosary said...

Roger, Roger, declaring "states of emergency" has much less to do with true emergency in all with the monies that will come flowing in afterward.

Anonymous said...

"The Grammys

I do not care what Britney wore to the Grammys, or who was shocked by it."


Anonymous said...

PS when I have to dig for five hours to get my dogs a place to pee, it a f****** emergency!