Sunday, 4 November 2012

The "little" March

That Million-Muppet-March?  Remember that one?  It actually happened yesterday in DC, although no one in the region knew anything much about it.  All commentary in the local news died out around a week ago.  I was intending to attend and forgot about it.

Today....some news folks woke up....remembered the event was supposed to happen, and discovered that no one much was commenting.  Not CNN.  Not CBS.  Not ABC.  Not even Fox News.

I went looking this morning for commentary about who showed up.  Eventually, I found two or three folks who commented via the internet that they were actually there.  In their was a couple hundred folks who showed up and did some kind of march through DC.  It sounded like that the cops didn't even escort them because there weren't enough people to get excited about.

Bad weather?  No.  It was actually a pretty good day for November.  Not cold or rainy.

What happened?  To be honest....I don't think that many people care much for the Muppets in the end.  If Congress cuts their budget by fifty percent....I doubt that it'll draw any significant anger from the nation itself.  That might say something in the change of attitude around America.

Rescue Yourself

There are folks in Staten Island, plus along the shoreline of New York and New Jersey....who are mad, hurt and angry.  They expected someone to come.  They got some political folks to come down for photo chances, and the electrical crews have been out doing some work.  But it's just not the rescue they expected.

Here's the historical backdrop against rescue in America.  Up until June of 1889....if you suffered from a hurricane or one came to rescue or help you, period.  As the Jamestown flood occurred in Pennsylvania.....things changed.

As the word got out, over the next week or two....hundreds of wagons fanned out and headed toward Jamestown.  These volunteers....not the US government....bought blankets and food.  Churches had swung into action and committed their entire congregation to a massive effort.  Local clubs in the region dedicated themselves for the next month or two....bringing in food and helping the locals who did survive the flood.

To some extent, it wasn't until the spring flood of 1927 along the Mississippi River....that government rescue started to occur....under Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover.  The newspapers carried big columns of the efforts involved.  Camps were set up, with tent-cities and mobile kitchens were set up to help those displaced by the floods.  There wasn't any FEMA or emergency centers existing within the federal government....whatever Hoover arranged....was just a spur of the moment thought on how to handle the mess with a engineer in charge of rescue.

As you get into the 1960s and 1970s....with hurricane activity now a regular thing in Florida....the US government finally begins to organize, plan and is able to execute some simple operations.

You have a hurricane....the locals keep you going for three or four days, then the fed help shows up.  The National Guard did their part.  Drinking water was handed out.  Ice was made available.  The government would get AT&T to set up a phone bank.  Food got passed out.  Folks got used to a standardized response in Florida.  They knew what to expect.

As Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans....a bunch of folks wake up, and had never thought about how they'd survive.  They figured that the FEMA folks would be there on day one.  As the days passed was obvious that public had one imaginary belief guiding them....allowing the media to film their dismay, and the US government looked like idiots.  A massive active duty Army force got called into the mess, and created a one-of-a-kind rescue.  But the deal was wouldn't stay in New Orleans had to evacuate and leave the city, which was what you were told to do forty-eight hours before the storm.

In the aftermath of Katrina expectations....FEMA bought thousands of mobile homes and RV trailers.  The RV trailers would be later examined and found with toxic gases....which wound up in court.  The mobile homes?  Some were positioned, but a large segment ended up in Arkansas later and never used at all.

So we come to Staten Island.  I watched interview after interview yesterday.  No gas purchases...gas only on even days or odd days.  No electrical power....maybe for days....for two or three weeks.  Homes destroyed and an expectation that FEMA would take care of you.

I'm thinking that FEMA is preparing a house trailer purchase in the northeast....probably three thousand of them....which they will position in some open field near Staten Island, and rent it from some politically high-up individual at a rate of $150k a month.

FEMA to the rescue?  If you live on Staten'd best stand and evaluate your property.  If there's not much to go back into....then you'd best plan on some idea of moving in with relatives or friends for the winter, or relocating to another state.  Putting an RV trailer on your property?  It'll be ok for thirty days but by will admit it's a defeat for you and the family and you can't survive long-term in a RV trailer.

The Florida folks have become geniuses at hurricanes.  They know what damage will occur....where the emergency water will be distributed ...where to find construction materials....and how to contract repairs with contractors.  They've practiced this over and over.  Church organizations from Bama, Georgia and from across the unaffected areas of Florida come in, and do what you'd expect.  No one is really expecting much from the Federal government in Florida....mostly because they know things just don't work that way.

I'm guessing New Jersey folks will eventually wise-up and know the value of FEMA.  Either you get up on your own feet and work on your own situation.....or you pack up and leave the state.  Don't expect miracles out of a US government operation.  Rescue yourself.

My Local Neighborhood

Yesterday morning....I had to do grocery shopping.  I typically walk from my apartment....down the street, up to the gas station....cross the street....and walk into my local grocery.  It's a eight-minute walk.

On the way back....I'm walking by the front of the gas station and notice this SUV parking and fueling-up.  It's a couple by the pumps.  New Jersey plates on the SUV.

Then I kinda notice the gas cans.  There's at least twelve gas containers already in the back of the SUV, and at least four still on the ground.  All are those six-gallon plastic containers.

There's two kids in the back seat of the SUV looking down at the parents filling up the cans.  The cans are simply sitting in the rear.  The kids have already noticed that 'gas' smell inside the vehicle and complaining.  Mom says....don't worry....we will be finished in a minute.

You can imagine this trip from Arlington back up to New Jersey....a kid sitting in the back of the SUV....with sixteen cans of gas right behind your seat, and fumes throughout the whole interior.  All because of the lack of gas up in New Jersey right now.

I'm guessing the folks left and stayed with friends down in Arlington for a couple of days....avoiding the lack of electricity and terrible conditions.

The thing's a good four hour drive up the a SUV....with gas fumes in abundance.  There's probably some health reason that makes this stupid, but it's best not to bring this up.

The Lack of News

Up through the early 1800s....if you were were likely to get a 'fresh' newspaper about once a week.  If you lived in the Boston or Philly consisted of a couple of pages.  Generally, the news consisted of relatives coming to visit so-and-so, a boat arriving at the dock, and rumors of a early snowfall in November.  If you hung around the local saloon or roadhouse....some guy might stop in and admit he had been traveling for two weeks and passed through two states.  These were your only news avenues, and you were mostly satisfied with that.

By the late 1800s....if you lived in any significant town of Ohio or in San Francisco ...there were almost daily newspapers, which got large tracts of updates via the local telegraph.  Speeches of your local senator were likely laid out in complete wording.  And if you hung around the local saloon or pub....some guy would show up and admit he's been on the road and tells you an hour or two of gossip of things he's heard.

In the late 1920s....newspapers have all gone to seven days a week.  Sports sections now show up in the paper and tell you about the greatest Yankees team that ever played.  Radio is blasting away and news is coming to you from 100 miles away.  Some magazines are now printed weekly with long detailed analysis about two dozen stories happening around the nation....which you read during your six-minute sessions in the bathroom.  From down at the local pub or bar....some guy admits that he's been driving for two days and passed through two states.  He's got lots of valuable stories and gossip.

In the 1960s....three networks have appeared and dump nightly news into your living room, with video.  They take you to the ends of the Earth, and explain difficult scientific situations with ease.  Experts now appear nightly and detail vast opinions.  Newspapers are doing investigative analysis and detailing scandal and political stumbles.  From down at the local bar....some guy admits that he was in Vegas last week, and saw the cops personally arrest six people for jay-walking.

In 2004....the three networks now have to share news with cable TV news networks (at least four), and those Public Broadcasting folks have suddenly gotten interest in news....lessening their dramatic poetry readings, opera music, and scene-by-scene analysis of Hamlet.  Folks have re-discovered AM radio, which is now populated by this guy named Rush who seems to know a bit about political news, and this Paul Harvey guy who seems to be able to tell an hour or two of news in 8 minutes.  There's some show on CBS called Sixty Minutes which amazes you in the depth of research and story-telling they can a mere hour.  From down at the local bump into some guy who was in Mexico two weeks ago, and he's got some 'weed' stuff that he'd like to sell you.

In 2012.....there are around sixteen channels now which broadcasts sports news, political news, economic news, and international news around the nation....twenty-four hours a days a week.  NewsWeak and Time magazines are dying off because no one really cares to read their analysis anymore.  Newspapers?  Some papers are talking about going back to five-to-six publications a week, and dumping half the content to survive.  Some folks are terribly upset about AM radio talk shows, which now seem to be discussing eight minutes of news over three hours.  Internet now delivers news which apparently the sixteen channels won't touch or aren't capable of touching. Some British newspaper is actually telling stuff about your government....that you won't hear in the local TV news.  From down at the local bump into some guy who watches the History Channel and blabbers continually about aliens, gold prospecting in Alaska, UFOs, the JFK conspiracy, Bigfoot, and cattle mutilations 

The truth is....we probably haven't advanced much since the early 1800s, but it's best not to admit that to any news guy.