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September 02, 2011


I'd just like to say (as one Doctor to another) that for the art alone - to say nothing of the substantial intellectual and political issues you raise - you are an asset to ObWi, Doctor Science.

Also, if no one beats me, and since I've never done it before:

First ?!

While there would normally be a Friday open thread, I really don't want to knock this down, so I'm going for a Sunday evening one. Nice stuff, doc.

I am not surprised that the damage is not being covered all that well. Some people that lived practically within rock-throwing distance of my house were without power for weeks following Hurricane Charley, which somehow managed to still be Category 1 a couple of hundred miles inland when it hit here.

The worst of it was the large fraction of decades-old laurel oaks that were laying all over each other like jackstraws, preventing entry to or egress from a great many neighborhoods. Sometimes, laying across homes, which were condemned for occupancy for weeks thereafter while they waited for a certified tree removal person to get the trees off the house, then waited for roofing people to repair the damage. The damage was limited in scope, because of Charley's small size, but locally we even had issues with drinking water (because the local sewage transfer station was without power for days and could not pump properly), and the cleanup took months, literally. They were still processing trees and brush in December from a mid-August hurricane.

Up away from flatland, I can well imagine a different set of problems, and have heard about the flash-flooding. I don't envy you the mess and cleanup, but I wish you well in dealing with it.

This is where you find out how adept and responsive your state government is. For us, this is where everyond from Jeb Bush on down to local law and fire rescue (not to mention the veritable armies of public-power employees from other states) well and truly earned their paychecks. Those people worked like dogs to get our streets cleaned up and power turned back on.

I lived in Schenectady, New York for 35 years until 2006. It is near the center of the map above. I googled "Hurricane Irene Schenectady" to see what happened there, and found this video:


The video shocked me. The parking lot of KEM Dry Cleaners, where I dropped off my clothes on the way to work at the GE plant mornings, was under water (so Erie Boulevard, on the way to the "Circle of Death" entrance to GE, must have been under water). I used to walk across the Route 5 Schenectady-Scotia ("Western Gateway") bridge and look down, way down ( about 60 feet) to the Mohawk River below. The video shows the water surface at what looks like 20 feet higher. Collins Park, where we played softball in the GE League, was a lake. At Jumping Jack's (a local burger/fires/ice cream place) across from the park, there are pavilions with bench-tables under them where you can sit when it rains. Only the roofs of the pavilions were above the water. Where I used to sit, or stand in line for a burger, the water would be over my head.

I'm wondering if the GE plant or the excellent Schenectady Library were flooded. A lot of us kept the towers of our "work stations" (unix computers) on the floor under our desks.

my father lives in Ballston Lake, which is halfway between Schenectady and Saratoga Springs. i assumed he was going to be underwater, but he says he got barely any rain at all.

Sounds to me as though the finger-pointing has barely begun.

You got that right.

I'm trying to think what would be the most rational policy to follow here, for the future of the country. It reminds me of Fort Sumter.

What to do, what to do?

1) Deny Eric Cantor's district (as an offset, while adhering to his jagoff confederate principles) all FEMA and other federal money and use the funds for earthquake and hurricane damage in other districts, and then give out his home address to all constiuents in his district ... or

2) Give the entire remaining FEMA budget to Cantor's district to tend to their misfortune, while offsetting (and thus adhering to his confederate jagoff principles) the move by denying the rest of the country all FEMA money for the rest of FY 2011 and maybe cutting Medicaid to the bone in the heaviest armed districts south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Then, give out his home address and the location of his kid's schools, like Michelle Malkin would.

I prefer the second option because of the sheer numbers of pissed-off rednecked Tea Partiers who will forget what's what and who's who and will just be angry, and armed, and hitting the road for Virginia.

I don't know how things are in the Northeast, but here in Northern California a fair number of people have chain saws. Which would be real useful for clearing fallen trees which block streets, except that the vast majority of them are . . . electric. Which is probably a good thing overall, but makes them useless when part of the problem is that power is out.

P.S. I have to say "Candlelight becomes a lot less romantic by the third day" is the finest caption I have seen in a long time. Nice one!

In the Open Thread section: In his column in today's Washington Post, George Will proposes a variety of (pointed) questions for various Republican candidates for President. Good for him.

But he ends with this one:
For all candidates: Raise your hand if you believe string theory explains the origin and nature of the universe.

So let me pose one for him in turn: Do you understand the difference between a theory which explains something, and a theory which reflects what actually happens? As in, epicycles explain planetary motions. But that doesn't mean that it is the last word on how planetary orbits work.

String theory may explain what we see in the universe. That does not mean that it is the last word on such an explanation, nor that it accurately reflects what actually happens.

So, anybody who has a clue what a scientific theory does will raise their hand. Even if most of their viewers will have no clue that such an answer is entirely compatible with whatever theology they prefer. (Given an omnipotent God, there is simply no way to know that the universe was not created at 6:47 PM last Wednesday. Complete with everything in motion, and people with memories of earlier events. That's what "omnipotent" means.)

A la Walker Percy, I suspect George Will likew everyone, has a theory that explains everything in the universe, except for the vacuole of his self-important self.

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