Monthly Archives: March 2011

Guest Commentator–Mason Baveux


We’re up to our gumboot tops on the job, so we bought Mason a mickey of Palm Breeze to fill in.  Mason?

Thanks again there lad for the ticket to bloggery and the mickey of coffee sweetener will go a long way to takin the chill out of the weather.  You asked me to look over the news and see what comes up, so’s I did.

Libya:  Them NATO lads are doin a no-fly zone sos to keep Moe Cadaffy from killin everyone what isn’t him.  She’s a good idea on the surface, but they’s overlookin the oblivious.  Airplanes cost fer gas and guns and people what to drive’em and change the oil.  That adds up to a bit of change, and change is what Mo Cadaffy don’t want. 

If they’d just off Mo Cadaffy, then the NATO flyboys (and girls) can go home.  Bomb the snot out of his house, then make the ashes bounce again, then once more to make sure.  If Libya can’t get change after that, then to hell with them all.  We’re not invadin, move on.

Japan.  Jeeze that makes me head hurt.  The ground goes shaky, then the Sue-nami comes ashore and washes about 50 thousand folks away.  Then they get a bunch of reactors goin all cattywampus threatening to melt through the planet to come out around Ann Arbor Michigan.  All I know for sure is it ain’t no easy fix and it won’t be done by dinner time, even if media don’t cover it no more.

The Media.  I’ve had me about enough of them pundicks talkin their jaws off about how some politician is or isn’t left or right, or up or down.  Hey, media!  Whyn’t ya try lookin for some facts once in a while, as your opinions don’t mean jack squat.  We got a one-time Cabinet advisor up here cavortin with some 22 year old ‘sex trade worker’ (which is just code for she’s a whore) who’s what wound up ownin’ about 20 percent of some shell-game sellin water filters to First National reservations with Federal funding, all run by this one time advisor who’s gettin rich and getting his handrail shined.  The last time we had somethin’ this tacky was when Mackenzie King would ask someone to lend him five bucks after a Cabinet meeting.  I’s so fed up with the bullhockey that passes for reportin, that I’m about ready to renounce my membership in the Nancy Wilson Fan Club. 

Late Breakin’ News.  Hey, we got a bulletin here and I’s always wanted to say that.  Seems that our esteemed Federal Representatives have decided to dissolve Parliament and toss us off the dock of a Federal Election into a half-frozen lake and it ain’t even the 2-4 Weekend yet. 

Nows, being thrown off the dock is how I learned to swim, but dammit Janet, this time we get thrown off the dock with a chain around our neck and the four cinderblocks we’ve got for party leaders are goin to take us all to the bottom.  It sure looks like we’re not going to be votin for anything, but just votin for the one that doesn’t actually suck as much shiite as the other three. 

I wanta pass a law that all of them, that Browshirt Harper, Iggy the Undead, Jack the Meat Department Manager at Sobey’s and Gilles Doucheppe be legally prohibited from ever being organ donors.  We surely don’t want that kind of genetic material bein out and about.  I’m sort of thinkin of passin the hat at the Center to send all four of them to Japan to go stand on a reactor for an afternoon.  They’d be dumb enough to do it, if we told them it was a campaign contribution.  With any luck, it’d be a one-way ticket. 

We could find some retired hockey players with multiple concussions who’d run our government.  I know a guy named Slappy who runs the Zamboni up Middletown way.  Slappy still wears his hockey helmet from Junior A thirty years ago and for five bucks he’ll eat a stick of butter on a dare, then puke it up.  He couldn’t be any worse than the collection of lint we got runnin things now.

Frig Dave!  What the hell are we gonna do?

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Japan Revisit


Looking back over the past few days’ coverage of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, aside from the jaw-dropping scope of the disaster, one can be struck by an observation:  There has been no breakdown of society, no looting, no massed protests, no bashing down the doors of the police stations.  Despite being in the most singularly difficult situation that can befall an island nation, Japan seems to keep moving along, working itself out of the hole.

We’re reasonably certain there have been episodes of badness occurring:  People under exceptional stress will behave poorly, no matter what, but in this instance, tens of thousands of homes erased, thousands of bodies washing up on shore, whole towns scraped away, the coverage on several media outlets has not shown badness happening.  Why?

The simple reason could be that there is no reporting of looting because there is no looting, rioting and civilian chaos nine days after the disaster changed the entire country of Japan.  By comparison (we can’t do apples to apples here) Haiti fell over in a couple of days and New Orleans imploded in less than 72 hours. 

One could argue that the elemental character of Japan precludes such uncivilized nonsense, but that is such a broad stereotype that it borders on racism.  To say that any nation is all one way or the other is objectionable, but it doesn’t bring us closer to an answer.

We do know that as a country, Japan has regular drills to cope with the spectrum of natural disasters that can hit their islands.  Tsunami evacuation routes are posted on the sidewalks and school children are taken on the drills as a matter of course.  Earthquake-resistant structures are common, as well as training the population how to react in an earthquake.  Those simple, but important, steps go a long way in getting a population to recognize that bad things can happen, easily, in their own neighborhoods.

Perhaps it is Trust.  The majority of people trust the authorities will do the right things, with the needed resources to put things as right as can be put right. 

The other descriptor that comes to mind is:  Dignity.  Are the majority of people self-aware enough to recognize that their personal dignity precludes walking out of a store with an armload of small appliances because there has been a flood?  Looting a store of milk and diapers we can overlook, as it speaks to the imperative of protecting your child, hardwired into any parent, but putting the grab on a big screen TV, no.

There was a scene in the coverage we caught earlier this week.  An older woman was found by the Japanese rescue forces.  They had recovered what seemed to be the body of a family member.  The woman bowed to the rescuers, to acknowledge and thank them for their efforts, then stooped to examine the remains.  It was her family member.  She bowed again to the rescuers then bowed in prayer, as the rescuers joined her in a moments’ prayer over the body. 

Aside from making tears shoot out of my eyes, it says much about the gratitude. compassion, respect and dignity shown and received by a group of three people, in the most difficult possible situation, on the street of a devastated town somewhere in Japan.

Wiser minds than ours will derive lessons from that short, poignant tableau. 

       

  

TSA X-Ray Machines


In some previous posts we’ve taken a few slices off the TSA’s backscatter X-Ray process, highlighting the serious flaws that permeate the entire concept from eyelids to toenails. 

The 247 airport body scanners at 38 airports are the backscatter-show-us-your pubes-nudie-shots machines.  The TSA has finally ‘fessed up that the technology is (or isn’t) putting out more radiation than expected.  What this actually shows, aside from radiating regular citizens with unknown doses of x-rays, is that the TSA is dangerously inept.

The distressing evidence in the USAToday article is that the TSA has a “haphazard oversight and record-keeping in the critical inspection system the agency relies upon…”  Or, to translate from bureaucratese, the TSA has no clue, no idea where to look for a clue and no idea what to do, if they find a clue, as well as what do to when the clue bites them on the ass after it takes a piss on the TSA’s leg.

To quote from the article,  Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said “It is totally unacceptable to be bumbling such critical tasks.  These people are supposed to be protecting us against terrorists.”

Rapiscan, the company that made the machines, said their own engineers who tested the machines, were confused by inspection forms and instructions that led their folks to make mistakes that vastly inflated the radiation emitted by the machines.  This also gives us the warm-and fuzzy feeling that the TSA is hiring people who know what they’re doing and have at least a base-level competence. 

Why are we not surprised? 

Japan


The earthquake and tsunami that rolled over parts of Japan is one of those things that happen on this planet from time to time.  Our first instinct is to help in some kind of way, which is only natural and good.  The problem that always seems to come up is not the why but the harder question:  How.

We’re not trained rescue Search and Rescue technicians, or paramedics who can jump on a flight and start fixing things in Sendai, even if we could get time off, have the money for a ticket and so on.  We are forced to be passive observers, which is frustrating in some ways.  What we can do is help those who can actually help.  This usually means the topical application of money, in the form of donations to charities.

There have been reports of several instant charities popping up to take advantage of the disaster.  Many are using Facebook and Twitter as their way to reach out, while others are sticking with email pleadings.  Some may be well-meaning but inept, while others are outright frauds.  Since we can’t go and help, we make the intellectual linkage that it is good to help the charities that are doing the work, skipping that step of ensuring the organization we’re supporting with our dollars are effective, efficient and real. 

If you want to help Japan, there is one real way:  The International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC.  The Red Cross and Red Crescent are the preeminent providers of disaster relief worldwide and they use your money correctly to help.

As for the other groups that are suddenly going to appear?  If you’ve never heard of them before, odds are people in Japan who need help will never hear of them either.

Give, absolutely, but give wisely.