Archive for the ‘News and politics’ Category

Another Aftermath…

01/29/2015 Comments off

Entry 01/28/2015 07:47:35 AM – Mentat 863

So the first big snowstorm has hit the area and moved on. While I’m a bit hesitant branding it the “Blizzard of 2015” I can safely say it was a blizzard. While it wasn’t as bad as the Blizzard of 1978 that I can still easily recall, it was certainly worse than most of the snowstorms that we’ve had hit the area since I’ve moved back to the Tundras of New England in 2006. I know I’ll be going out there shortly, but refuse at the moment because I need to eat and then I need to have my coffee before I face any heavy activity that’s coupled with geniality with my neighbors. If I skip out on the coffee, the neighbors could face the Wrath of Michael™… An ugly monster that makes Michael Myers (of Halloween fame) look like Susie Homemaker. But I digress. The purpose of this is both observations and chastisements. To the media, to the Local and State Governments and finally to the Citizens at large. This is based on the observations and experiences I’ve had both as the teenager in 1978 and the middle-aged man that I now am in 2015.

While I know that compassion should be practiced in order to yield positive results, the issues that I’m going to address here require force, passion and strength to initiate the necessary breakings of bad habits in order to transform them to better habits. 

The Media

To Channels 6, 10, and 12… To the local AM & FM radio stations that contributed to this… To the Producers, Managers, Meteorologists and even Directors that control broadcasting of this information to the general public. Doppler weather and all these supposed tools boasted on each of the channels that are easily access to all you — the meteorologists to get pinpoint weather accuracy — should be able to tell you when the storm is going to hit, how hard it’s going to hit, and what areas are going to be impacted the hardest. Yet today, you’re no more nor less accurate since the Blizzard that hit in 1978. You still have an equal amount of misses as you do successful predictions.

There’s a saying, “A meteorologist can be more than 80% wrong, and still keep their jobs…”

With this in mind, this doesn’t mean that for rating’s sake you should be broadcasting up to the minute news on the storm beating the brush like hunters to cause the public to fall into a state of panic. Sure, you’ve been fortunate… So far… that injuries and/or deaths have not occurred by the panic that was caused by the sensationalistic reporting of this storm as “The Blizzard of 2015!” and then continued to beat on that phrase like teenagers to a new slang word from Urban Dictionary (or for you business types like the new catchphrase of new technology).

But, it’s only a matter of time before the panic caused by this sensationalism does in fact injure or kill someone.

The fact is, as I have reached the half-century mark I have seen that the social climate has indeed been more prone to panic now than what I remember of the 70s and 80s. While I would like to find and blame a culprit to this (and know it’s not 9/11 in this case, but it did contribute), the fact is that it’s a scary world and the irresponsible method for reporting the news all for the sake of ratings smacks of harum-scarum. Yellow-Journalism. The kind of sensationalism that creates needless fear, uncertainty and doubt (of FUD as I used to call it in various discussions) and causes people to draw the wrong conclusions at the wrong times.

So you channels and the news teams that run those channels missed the call in 1978 when that blizzard hit. I get it. But at the same time it doesn’t mean that you — the people that bring such news — need to overcompensate each and every year since 1978 by scaring people needlessly and witlessly?

It doesn’t take much for you (the meteorologists, directors or producers), to look out the window, get out on the streets, even drive in traffic to see the panic your news reports of this storm have created. Hell, get an intern to report it back to you.

Taking my daily walk around 4 PM on Monday night, I saw the panic it was creating by the traffic jams, the stops ups, the bottlenecks and the panic-induced anger in drivers rushing to get out of the city (of Providence). The routine horn-blowing that I heard when I was walking Broadway was mildly amusing, but hearing it when I was coming up Federal Street was extremely sad given it was near constant and could see on the streets that emptied onto Broadway that the traffic had completely stopped.

Finally don’t put the blame for your lack of responsibility of reporting to the masses that follow you. Don’t blame them for the panic that was caused. You’re equally responsible for the blame for the panic created with the masses for those news reports, interruptions and “up-to-the-minute” weathercasts that went out from the morning when it was discovered a storm was coming to well after 6 PM when there was about an inch of snow on the ground.

If you don’t think you’re responsible, ponder this. Screaming “fire” in a crowed theater means the person doing that screaming is liable for all damage and/or panic caused by the participants at that theater. When it does end up being proven a death or a number of deaths were caused by your shield clattering about this weather — in the Litigious Society – It’s only a matter of time before someone gets it into their head to sue the channel they were watching. Do we actually have to wait until this happens before you channels (and the teams that run them) learn to cut back and learn sensibility? You might think that you’re protected by the First Amendment and the subsequent laws that were made to cover the media… But in a Mommy Government keep it up and watch how those rights that have protected you whittle down to nothing.

Local & State Government

To the current Governor and announcements made in the early afternoon. I understand that you wanted to feel responsible for the voting public in the coming storm. At the same time, declaring a state of emergency and also putting a travel ban into effect at midnight from early afternoon smacked of the same irresponsibility that the News had about beating the public into a frenzy. Strange, I know that a state of emergency can be called at any time, yet my experience with them up until the 21st century has been that it’s done after the fact and not before. You (and your office) are equally to blame for the panic that I was seeing on the streets.

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part the state government’s answering to the growing panic was good. Though, it could have been better. While my suggestions that I have in my head smack of violating the First Amendment of government interfering with the media, I think something needs to be worked out between the state and the news sources in acting far more responsible for the current good of the public instead of one source causing the fires and the other source trying its best to putting the fires out.

To the Current Mayor of Providence, before you go patting yourself on the back on how well you did, allow me to point out something that continued since your predecessor: Angel Tavares. That is the irresponsible allocation of city resources to the plowing of the streets of the City of Providence. From my house on Piedmont Street in Federal Hill, I heard plows going up the street (on Piedmont) with some regularity well past 10 PM when there was nothing more than a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Having woke up several times through the night, I saw well into the early morning little snowfall or drifting until almost 5 AM when it began picking up. When I was out attempting to shovel exits from my door and the door of the house at 6 Piedmont St (where my mother lives), I could see heavy plows (the size of dump trucks) routinely plowing Atwells Ave.

Sometime before 2:30 PM on Tuesday it appeared that a plow did make an attempt to go up Piedmont Street and stopped at 6 Piedmont causing a road block larger than a hook and ladder could push through; making it impossible to pass if there had been any fire on this street. Or even an ambulance if there were a medical emergency. Sure the fire hydrant that supplied this area of Piedmont street was in fact cleared, thanks largely to the high winds that whipped through the area, but would have been useless because of the wall of snow created by that one attempt would cause a stop and delay of the fire department trying to respond.

While it was nice that the trucks did resume plowing up Piedmont and Adams Street after 7 PM, waking up this morning, the residents saw that not only was the fire hydrant was completely buried but any sander that was plowing the street had the distributor for that sand and salt set too high and ended up sanding the banks of snow against the side of the road and not the road itself!

What a complete mismanagement of resources! As I said this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. I’ve seen this in the years I’ve lived in the Valley and had to trudge up Federal Hill to make sure my mother was doing all right. Plows pushing about the streets when there’s little snow, and then disappear when the real storm starts. Because of this poor activity and mismanagement of resources, I get the distinct impression that the Department of Public Works was told to “look busy” at the beginning of the storm and then told to back off until much later.

This is how you save money? By looking busy when the accumulated snow is low to the ground and then disappear when the real storm hits?!?

Quite the change since I was in elementary school and through junior and senior high school (and after the Blizzard of 1978) when I recall seeing the plows out on the streets when there was more than 4 inches of snow accumulated on the ground regardless of the time. It didn’t matter whether it was 10 PM, 2 AM, 4 AM or any other time of the day and night. When it was a hazard to drive, the Department of Public Works was out plowing — regardless of cars (and parking bans) out on the street.

These employees knew of the hazards and the responsibilities of doing their job. They knew that it was potentially a 24 hours a day on-call job and worked them. They knew that it was also for the safety of the city and the residents coming in and going out of the city. And talking to a couple in recent years, I know that these plow operators smile when they mention how much money they get for being on-call. So it’s not a matter of initiative that they do what they do; it’s a matter of being authorized. So that blame falls on you — and your office — to getting it done correctly. While I might not be a fan of you or your predecessor, I know in the past other mayors have been able to “getting it done”, so it raises the question: What’s your excuse?

You want an attaboy? All right, I’ll give you one… For you, your office and the Department of Public Works for putting Adams Street back on the plowing map. While it seriously needs salting, both my neighbors and I have commented that this year, “was the best we had seen Adams Street in a long time…” Had your predecessor gave that road the same attention during his time in office, my mother wouldn’t have spent the first five months of the 2014 year in the hospital and housebound for the broken hip she had suffered from the 6 inches of snow and ice that were left on Adams Street last year for being neglected from routine city plowing because there happened to be no houses facing onto that street. Don’t worry though, we’re not the sort of people to bring the city to court for this neglect. We prefer to bitch about it when the time’s right. And the time is right.

This attaboy is conditional, of course, because the Department of Public Works is also responsible for the Atwells Avenue Bridge above Route 6 that always is a safety hazard for any pedestrians trying to use it as they make their way to the Supermarket during the winter. It has been done in the past by the offices that answer to you. I remember this from my teenage years and traveling to the Almacs that was at the bottom of that hill.

Because believe me, there’s a hell of lot of pedestrian traffic over that bridge at all times of the year. You, anyone from your office or from the Department of Public Works are invited to stop by the bridge to see the telltale signs of that walking traffic on the bridge as the footprints turn to ice from defrosting and refreezing from November to April.

That attaboy is also conditional in your involvement in motivating the landlords and property owners of the City of Providence for doing what is required of them for the sidewalk areas of the streets where their property is located. As I recall from growing up and living in several cities in this state that the landlord and land owners of any properly within the confines of any city are responsible for keeping their sidewalks — not just their driveways — clear for pedestrian traffic. I recall it being taught to me when I was a teenager that I had to shovel the driveway and sidewalks for my step-father’s house. Because failing to do so entailed fines toward my step-father to the sidewalks abutting ALL his property.

I know the initiative with fines (and prison sentences) work having experienced it first-hand being a tourist to San Francisco and Los Angeles and watching drivers stop the instant my foot hit the crosswalk on the street. This happened regardless of the color of the pedestrian crosswalk signal. Quite impressive given that we have laws here in Rhode Island that state the Pedestrian always has the right of way, and can still be hit by drivers ignoring the crossing pedestrian.

Post Edit: I just came in after assisting my 80+ year old landlord with clearing pathways through the snow for his property and he informed me that he had received a notice from the state that fines can reach upward to $500 for violations for not making a clear path on the sidewalks for pedestrians. This is several years old… Make sure – Your Honor – that you enforce these laws. Issuing such threats are useless unless you follow up on them by issuing fines against all transgressors, not the ones you can easily find. After all, this is the Information Age; if I can find he name and contact information of a landlord for a property in question, so can you.

The Rest (That’s the citizens of the City & State)

No amount of cussing or swearing can be done by me to express the level of disgust I have for my peers and the residents living in this state (and the tri-state area) that I encountered before this storm. The panic shopping, the panic driving to get home before the storm hit, the road rage I was seeing of people as they were stuck in traffic. The complete selfishness and lack of empathy that occurs during the storm. And no amount of being friendly banter or joviality after the storm is going to salve this disgust.

As I’ve said I’m 50 years old. More than 40 years of it has been in the State of Rhode Island. In my lifetime, I have endured 7 hurricanes, more than 12 tropical storms, more than a couple of floods, a couple of tornados (some of them here in the Rhode Island area), and in my lifetime of travel, a typhoon, a waterspout and almost had the pleasure of encountering a tsunami. I have survived these in houses more than a century old, in tents (yes, one of them occurred when I was a teen and camping with the Boy Scouts at Camp Yagoog when I was a pre-teen), when I was driving, leaving work to head home to Woonsocket in a little Datsun B210 that had as much weight and traction as a bicycle on an ice skating rink. And of course more snow storms, ice storms and blizzards than I could shake a stick at. Yes, including the Blizzard of 1978 when I had the pleasure of riding for my life in a bus on icy and slippery roads. Where the bus driver was Christian enough to say, “get on, I’ll get you home” when I never took buses to junior high school because I didn’t live far enough away from the school or my family couldn’t afford the fees along with the school’s tuition (this was Mount St. Charles Academy). So yes, I’ve survived through my fair share of storms.

I’m still alive. I’m still in good health and pretty sane through all these storms.

Yet the amount of panic and rage I was seeing was disgusting. Between people rushing to the markets for Milk, Bread, Eggs, Bottled Water and even Junk Food for the coming storm. To people screaming out the windows at the people in front of them when they weren’t moving fast enough. To people riding their horns thinking this will make those in front of them move faster.

At one point during my daily walk, I was telling the people screaming or yelling out the window of their cars or beeping their horns in rage that the traffic’s blocked all the way up to the on-ramps of the highway they themselves were aiming for. The dirty looks I was getting (for having a wan smile on my face) were amazing.

The thing is, this is New England! The weather here frequently makes local and national news. The calamities that come (and go) through the years is as tumultuous as it has been capricious. It’s the kind of drama remembered by ourselves, our grandparents and the old timers that have told us about what it was like when they were children. New England doesn’t have the sort of calm and lazy weather as San Diego has. As Florida gets when it’s outside of Hurricane Season. We don’t have the sort of calm 4 seasons weather written about in books, seen on our favorite shows on television, or heard about in stories. Sure, these idyllic seasons happen sometimes, but at the same time we New Englanders know about Mother Nature’s tantrums. And year after every year, like clockwork New Englanders panic because they’re like Chicken Little thinking the world is going to end because of some blizzard (in the winter) or hurricane (in the summer) or some flooding (in the spring) is about to strike. Like this is the first time it’s going to happen and proceed to act like Rhode Island is going to slide into the Atlantic with this (or that) storm’s passing.

I can deal with the whinging, the whining, the complaints that come with the threats of city and state stopping weather. This is New England — that’s what we do as well: complain up a storm about the things out of our control. But this panic? Ugh, it’s both tiring and draining. It accomplishes nothing.

Don’t like the weather? Think it’s better elsewhere? Fine. Leave. Find somewhere in the world to settle where you think the weather’s idyllic. Where it’s predictable. Where it’s what you want to look forward to. Because don’t for once think that this is the LAST time this sort of storm is going to happen in your lifetime. It continues to happen and has, long before The Year with No Summer.

You’re going to find where you thought was idyllic has its own issues. I can tell you from experience the mass migration of Midwesterners to the Atlanta area were quite shocked that Atlanta got snow and ice in the winter — worse than the state they left and made worse because the Department of Public Works there was in crappier shape than the area they left. Believe me, I told them when the Midwesterners bitched and moaned about the ice and snow that if they were looking forward winters with no snow and ice when they moved to the area that they should have kept going until they saw palm trees along the highway. Yes, the Ice Storms in the Atlanta pale in comparison to the ice storms we get here in New England. Four of them happened in the 10 years I lived there. Then there’s the heat (and humidity) of the South and Midwest. The mud slides and the forest fires of the west coast. The flooding and hurricanes of the Mid-Atlantic. Nowhere you go in the country is going to be the sort of “nice” you dream about. And best (or worst) of all, you’ll probably end up back here (like I did after a decade in the South), because yep… Something about New England always calls us home. Even if that call means coming home in a pine box.

So suck it up and deal with it.

Because you — the public — are as much to blame about this panic as the news that beat you into the frenzy they did with their sensationalism and ratings grab reporting the “Blizzard of 2015” every 10 minutes. Because of whatever delusions you had going in your head that such weather we just survived through never happens here. Or the delusion that makes you think this won’t ever happen again.

I’ll say this as I wrap up. Because if you’re reading this — you’re still here. You’re still alive. You still have power, and an internet connection, and television. You have heat, running water, and the ability to cook. Hell you still have some working phone in the house to contact others you care about to ensure they’re doing ok and/or heading to them to help them out if they can’t care for themselves. And if any of these comforts and amenities are out — if you’re older than 25 and younger than 80 — you know how to handle yourself through the lack until it’s restored. Because no amount of panic is going to make these things magically come back on. And not amount of rage is going to make people restoring those services move any faster.

So again, suck it up and deal with it.

And with that… I’m off… I need to use the soapbox I was on to help with kindling for the fireplace. Until the next time.


A moment of disillusionment from an old Gaymer

04/06/2013 Comments off

Entry 04/06/2013 07:21:28 AM – Mentat 684

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.” – J. William Fulbright

While yesterday was one of those sort of days where I was up and about more than sitting down and calm, I had an incident that gave me a bit of humor and a lot of pause. During one of those interludes while C was off with friends, I decided to play a bit of Star Trek Online because I needed to grind a bit of Dilithium and it’s a fairly good way of adding a bit of routine (and order) to an otherwise jittery day. Here is a bit of the back story to this to understand where I’m coming from in this.

I had left the Fleet that I had been part of because of a difference of opinion on what can and cannot be talked about and me having a problem with anyone censoring individuals or a group, took exception when one particularly conversation (that wasn’t in the least bit offensive) was being censored by some rather loud detractors. So, I went on the market to find another Fleet that I could dump my excess materials, equipment, monies and what have you… and went in search of other gaymers. The largest of the LGBT fleets that I had come across was Stonewall Fleet, so much so that they had their own chat channel within the game that I could configure and join. I remember doing so (configuring and joining the chat channel and perhaps later on, the fleet) with the intent of getting a feel of the people before. Sort of a try before you buy, as the saying goes.

About a week or two into watching and then later interacting with the chat, I got into my first scuffle with a bunch of the more uptight folk in the group. I made a comment about leaving for Star Wars: The Old Republic to troll the kids there, and they got offensive about it. Sure, I know I worded it wrong and made the mistake of assuming that people would understand my nature given I often snarked folk in the week I had been actively chatting, but they went on the attack saying it’s wrong. After 30 minutes of my explaining why I do what I do (I only troll kids that are being tits. After all, I work on the belief, if you’re going to be a tit, you’re going to be treated as such). Only one of the more aggressive understood why I was the way I was (even if he didn’t condone it), while the rest were remaining on the offensive. Basically doing precisely what I do for the reasons why I do it, and denying their nature in the process.

At that point, I decided I was going to remain a free agent and not join their fleet and waited out for better offers.

I did get that better offer from a good acquaintance in Ireland (no, not you Glenn) who had also left the fleet we had been part of because of differences in play styles with the management there and ended up joining a rather nice bunch of folk from the fleet of LaFamilia (otherwise known as “The Family”). I tagged along because I have a good rapport with the smarmy git and the fact that he generally knows how to pick them even if things fall through at a later time. Though I kept Stonewall Fleet Chat active because I wasn’t sure what the mix was with the Fleet, and admittedly it’s nice to be able to chat, be camp, and generally light with folk that can understand some of the humor I’ve come to appreciate (and am familiar with).

Then comes last night. I was in a fairly good mood, I wanted to grind a bit. The queerfolk where in their usual sort of high spirits mood. There was a bit of camp, and a bit of heckling going on. I sort of made a couple of comments, but paid more attention to the grinding for Dilithium that I was doing. And then it hit me while I was heading towards the Asteroid Mine that there was something happening on Bajor. Some sort of gathering. Several of the folk were making cutesy comments that the “speechifier” was going to be speechifying.

I was mining on the Asteroid, and there it was in it’s full and vomitus glory… The leader of the Stonewall Fleet was prattling on like a politician running for a term in office.

I said something about being a politician’s son and that the last thing that should be going on is any sort of aggrandizing grandstanding in a public chat. That it’s better to get to the point.

The leader of the fleet send a scathing whisper to me accusing me of being disrespectful and that he would mute me if I continued.

For one brief moment, I thought about copying & pasting that comment to the Public chat calling out that I must’ve hit a nerve if this “speechifier” is making threats in private. But then I thought twice about it, knowing full well of doing such a thing would cause instantaneous flaming both from the leader as well as whatever quiet spectators were sitting there watching.

In the meantime, several of the fleet called me a “d-bag” for being so “disrespectful”.

I shot back quickly that I’m not a douchebag, and clarified that I generally am good to get along with except when someone is being a grandstanding blow-hard. I went on further to say that he should get to the point as this is a game, not a platform for a political campaign.

The leader went on to say something about “welcoming diversity to the fleet.”

To which I countered, “except when that opinion is dissenting” and got myself banned from their happy little chat.

Admittedly I didn’t realize that I was banned. It had simply gone quiet and I had assumed that the lot of them had moved whatever long-winded speech that was going on to Ventrilo. But after a brief respite from the game, going to chat with C for a bit before he headed to bed and coming back to finish off the grinding and the Duty Officer Missions that I wanted to queue up, realized that it had been too quiet for that Stonewall Fleet’s chat channel. So when I went to look for the channel information, my access to it had been removed. When I tried to re-join I had been denied.

I laughed in LaFamilia’s fleet chat and told them the story, including the banning. There was a bit of chat, and a bit of explaining, but overall at the time before I headed to bed I found it sardonically funny. So did the members of my fleet (though they were a bit confused about how I pulled of being part of 2 different fleet chats).

This morning though? I’m finding it sad. I mean here we are in the 21st century, and what I saw of the leader of this group and the repercussions of my actions to be antiquated. This is something I would’ve expect in the 80s and not now. After all, diversity as it has been taught to me is to accept the good and the bad of the community. It means that sometimes, we’re going to encounter people of an opinion that is completely counter to our own.

I had learned through my years of wandering the planet that a good leader (not to mention a strong one), will be able to roll not only with those of like mind, but also those of an opinion completely counter to their own. To be able to address the group as well as the hecklers, in a way that can bring them all together. Well, sometimes anyway. There are just some that are impossible to please.

This leader of this group however, isn’t one of those that could be qualified as a good leader. If anything, he’s one of the most common of the “leaders” I’ve seen since my days on IRC.

So as I continue to write this entry, I recalled a lot of the familiar patterns of seeing this in the 23 years of being online. The cliquishness of gay men’s (and sometimes even lesbian) groups. The hair-trigger attitude of dissenting voices to whatever the head of the group encounters them. The banning/removing/ostracizing of whatever dissenting voice that comes up — automatically assuming that dissention is equivalent to “the enemy”. That this was typical of someone that has been bullied and picked on that created a power base of being their own Queen of Hearts in their own little kingdom.

Sitting here now, it raises the question: Have we as the abused (from years of being put down for being gay) become the very thing we hated? The abuser? That in our striving for equality, have we lost our ability to understand the very tolerances we’re demanding from others?

I hope not. Because if we have, this is going to be a very dark day in the future when (and if) we get those equalities we’ve been fighting for, all these years.

Anyway, I’m off for the time being. Time to watch a bit of television, make lunch and have a moment or two of peace. Until the next time.

In the Aftermath of Journalistic Drama Queens

10/31/2012 Comments off

Entry 10/31/2012 10:23:38 AM – Mentat 669

I find my looking back over the last week, with a sort of combination of smugness and disgust. Smugness in the fact that while Hurricane Sandy did it’s damage 300 miles (483 km) south and west of here, I could tell that by the pattern the storm was traveling it wasn’t going to do much of anything other than in the usual southern areas of the state (which is typical when you look back at the history of hurricanes that struck the area). Disgust in the fact that the meteorologists and news reporters for the big three stations (WPRI-12, WJAR-10 and WLNE-6) had sensationalized the news so much that it had caused too many of the locals to panic needlessly. I mean, sure it’s one thing to report the probability and the potentiality of problems that both Tropical Storms and Hurricanes can bring to both the coast as well as the low-lying areas of the state(s). But the way that they were making it, combined with the word Nor’easter (proper as it was) — using it locally did in fact cause an even bigger panic than usual. Hell, it was almost amusing listening to my aunt that had called a couple of days later (and three days before the storm was going to hit land) when she said to me that we’d be getting a blizzard in the process. While that might have been true of the Virginia and DC area, as all hurricanes turn counterclockwise (as it does in the northern hemisphere), this meant that we here in the northern states would be getting the warmer (and even tropical air) of the mid-Atlantic states, and simultaneously the mid-Atlantic would be getting the colder/arctic winds that we’d be getting for this time of year.

Instead, I simply told here that the temperatures were too warm for snow, and the path of the Hurricane (at the time) was continuing its way toward New Jersey as expected and reported by the NOAA.

By about the weekend, I simply gave up listening to the news. Local news continued to make such a big stink of the looming disaster in the making, and simply paid attention to what the NOAA was reporting without the local commentary. My landlord (and manager) made routine calls from around Friday through Sunday asking for status updates and checking to see if the checklist of things that he wanted me to do for the three properties here in my neck of the neighborhood had been taken care of.

Each time he called, I continued to stress to him to stop listening to both the local news (that he had watched from his iPhone) along with the news that he had been watching in the area (he’s currently on vacation in the New York area). I advised him that the news is no longer doing its job of reporting responsibly and is whipping the sheep in the area into a right, frightful panic. If he wanted to know what was going on with the storm, to tune into sights like the NOAA that are simply reporting the storm and trajectory allowing him to interpret what he saw in his own way (from the years of experience of living through such weather). I also told him that each of the projects that he had requested were done, and all that we could do here in the Tundras of New England was to take a typical “wait and see” approach to where the storm’s heading and what’s to be expected if the worst does in fact happen.

The thing is though, by Monday — the weather that I could see for my area (Providence) was nowhere where it should have been for a life and property threatening storm. With the exclusion of the occasional to routine gusts of wind, that this was going to be a simple rainstorm. While the local weather stations and the National Weather Service were reporting continued gusts of wind and rain through to Midnight, I didn’t see much rain and even less wind by 8 PM that evening. And even more amazing was the fact that the power — which is well known for going out in my area during a stiff breeze — didn’t once falter. Not a blink.

Tuesday morning there was still rain and reports showed that we’d continue to see rain (but little wind) over the next two days.

My mother and I headed out to do the bi-weekly laundry, and for a moment when we got to the local laundromat at the butt-crack of dawn thought that the owner wasn’t going to make it in. Turned out we showed up the same time he did, and he let us in turning on the televisions to the local news and weather channel, which was reporting non-stop on the aftermath.

While having morning coffee and between loads heading from the washer and dryer, the caffeine kicked in and I started catching some of the things being said on the television. The first that I caught was listening to some Connecticut Official (not sure if it were a mayor of the governor of the state… I’m guessing it was a Mayor), talking about how if there’s flood waters to “go to the highest portion of the house.”

After I picked up my jaw from the floor where it hit, I thought, “Umm, no. If you see flooding in your area, you get the hell out. If it looks too dangerous, only then do you look for the highest part of your house to escape it.” I couldn’t be sure whether or not the news had edited it for content, or whether the elected official was that stupid to say it…

The second, which got me thinking, was listening to a reporter in New York City talking about the flooding and how the cars had been “strewn” about the road because of the flood waters. For the next three sentences it became apparent that strewn was his word of the day as he used it several more times. He then wrapped it up talking about how the subway system was 180 years old and that they got flooded and how this was the worst storm ever because of that. He went on further to say, ‘this was the worst storm ever.’

Something told me he wasn’t quite right about that and so when I got home I did a little bit of research. First off, the subway system in New York City wasn’t 180 years old, but in fact only a small portion of it is 143 years old. The other is that friends reminded me when I talked with them about it later on that there was worse flooding that occurred with Doria in 1971, Beryl in 1994, and Bertha in 1996 were in fact worse. And let’s face it compared to Hurricane Sandy; Hurricanes Edna, Carol and the Great Hurricane were infinitely worse in the 20th century.

It makes me wonder as I sit here working on this journal entry; has news reporting truly sunk to even lower lows on fact checking and being responsible when reporting the news? I can’t but think that ‘yeah, it has.’ It’s one thing to report the news — particularly when it comes to the dangers that happen with Mother Nature in all her fury. But when the news seems to be a cascade between warning locals of the potentials of reporting the impending problems with a Hurricane, Tropical Storm, Blizzard, and so on… to double barreling it with news stories showing people panicking by making runs to the local hardware chains (like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace, etc.) and selling out Portable Generators and about the usual milk and bread runs (sell-outs) at the local supermarkets, isn’t that the line where responsible news reporting stops, and creating a panic begins?

I seem to remember some time after the Arizona Representative’s (Gabrielle Gifford‘s) shooting something about the how rhetoric was (partly or wholly) responsible for this shooting occurring and how journalists were going to be more responsible about such things in the future to prevent such calamity occurring. While this seems to be true as the only political rhetoric that seemed to be generated at the moment isn’t from the news sources at the moment, but in fact the politicians trying to get into office, I wonder… Is it going to take a death (or serious harm) due to stampede or panic to get News Sources and Reporters to stop with whipping people into a froth because of FUD and/or exaggerated (and often egregious) facts?

I could impart tons of Common Sense to this, but the thing that I’m learning more and more as I get older is that “Common Sense is neither common, nor sensical.” The only thing that I can impart though is, “stay to good judgment and knowing one’s limits”. Well that and keeping a level head the entire time.

Anyway, I’m off for a bit. I have some work that needs to be done. I’ll be back later on to talk about the rest of what’s going on.

[Last Edited: 10/31/2012 02:58:24 PM]

Well that particular project took less time than I thought it would… Two hours less time than I thought. But then again there’s only just so much you can do about painting wires and pipes on a wall without pouring paint onto them to make them a uniform white. Only problem with that approach is that you’ll get paint stalactites off of them (and that’s not what one wants to have happen with a wall that’s going to be used to display artwork). But I digress…

So in the last week while surviving the non-drama of Hurricane Sandy, I made the decision to join NaNoWriMo in the hopes of getting over the long-standing malaise of writer’s block. In the last three days, while I’ve had plenty of time to think of a story that I could possibly write, I haven’t had any bloody idea what I should give a go with. I thought about doing the sequel to Companion but it seems to be a cheat; not because I have parts of it written already, but because it’s something that I really need to do. Not to mention that it seems almost wrong given if I were to do the sequel there’s no point to the original on the site.

I thought about doing Symbiosis. It’s an original. It’s a draft I could re-write the story from scratch without any problem. After all the draft is taken from the perspective of the alien that ends up off-course from Earth, with a sub-set of the story ending up with the human. I could always turn the story around and do the opposite for the site. Still though, I did struggle at the point of getting to the under-ice base and couldn’t for the life of me choose a direction, in spite of the fact that I knew the end result from beginning to end. Yeah, that was definitely part of the writer’s block — at least for that story.

Hell, I could always choose something completely different out of my head. The only thing is… What?

In any case, it starts officially in about 8 hours, and given the choices, I might go with Romance or Science Fiction — my two modus operandi. Hell, I could always do a combination of the two, which I’ve done a couple of times. Better to sleep on it tonight and see what comes to light in the morning.

That’s about it for the time being. I think I’ll watch a couple of shows that I’ve become terribly behind with and then off to take over the universe in the only way I know how. On the bridge of the USS Huntress, as she patrols the various sectors of the United Federation of Planets. Yes, I’m off to play Star Trek Online for a bit before calling it night.

Until the next time.

Entry 02/03/2011 12:21:22 PM – Mentat 597

02/03/2011 Comments off

Ho boy, the fun that I’ve had going here at the homestead the last couple of days have been just too much…

Yes, we received more snow. And while news like CNN and Reuters report record snowfall for the Midwest and Northeast, I have to say that it really wasn’t too bad here at the homestead; at least when it was snow. Seems we received about 4″ (10.1 cm) at the beginning of the week, it wasn’t until the next day that things took a turn to the annoying. Sure, we received about 1″ (2.5 cm) more; it wasn’t until mid/late morning that it had turned to rain taking what we had shoveled off the top of the ice and turned it to slush making for a deadly mix of snow and ice on top of ice.

To add insult to injury, sometime by mid-afternoon when the rain stopped and what melt had gone on both because of the rain, as well as my uncle leaving the gutter heaters on for far longer than he should have, an icicle formed both on the electrical wire and above it; that when the ice snapped off and came crashing down disconnected the power wire from the side of the house to the pole. Calling over to the emergency line of National Grid we were promised a bucket truck in about 4 hours (which turned into another day given that we weren’t the only ones without power in the area), leaving the house to rely on kerosene space heaters for heat and candles for lighting until they were able to successfully reattach the wire from the pole to the house (and ensuring that it wouldn’t snap off like it did if we got more ice).

Heh, not that my cat minded all that much. She had plenty of lap time, while I sat on the couch in the front room reading The Complete Plato and completely blissful about it. If anything she’s been more than content spending time with me, in her bed, or looking out the windows a bit while the snow and rain fell; even if a majority of her time was spent sleeping.

So with the house back to normal, properly heated and the faint smell of kerosene gone from the house, I spent a majority of my morning trying to chop the blocks of ice off the side stairs, side walkway, as well as the front stairs and back door in order to get out of the house without any of us slipping and cracking our heads on the pavement and ice. Sore? You betcha I’m sore. Though not quite as sore as I was at the end of last week when I started the effort to get the glacier that’s the side stairs chopped down and chopped out to the pavement. Still though, I’m rather crestfallen about this rather intimidating block of ice where the run off from the gutters routinely ends up forming on the walkway and driveway. Seems that the melt and freeze going on there is so settled in, it’s near impossible to get off the pavement short of using boiling water/oil and possible a blowtorch (although in my self-amused mind, I was standing there hacking at the ice and imagining the use of a flamer or heavy incinerator to get down to the pavement). Pity we don’t have a blowtorch here to try with. My uncle’s a hobbyist carpenter/wood-worker and not a metal worker; so that’s one tool we don’t have around the house.

Anyway, this is going to be a short journal entry.

It’s February and with it being a short month, I’ve decided like I did last year to go off adventuring for the remainder of the month. Be it in game (Modern Warfare 2 has been hooked in my craw for some months since I’ve bought it, and it’s time I give it my 100% attention instead of dickering around like I have), or book (Plato is about 1,300+ pages, and I have the 2,100+ pages of Aristotle‘s works in the queue as well), or even wandering about the white, wintry and icy world here in the tundras of New England. Taxes are filed, returns have been received and I can take the opportunity to travel. Where I haven’t a clue, not that I care really… Anywhere but here would be grand.

That and it’s the month of Valentine’s Day. A time of year I still loathe.

Until the next time — which should be next month.

Entry 07/01/2009 11:43:22 PM – Mentat 518

07/02/2009 Comments off

     So it took me about a week, but I was
finally able to get the desktop back up to running.  Frankly I have no idea what the hell
happened; came home from work one day last week (Friday morning I think was the
date), and when I logged into the desktop to check to see how
SETI/Einstein@Home was running I noticed that it had taken a longer than usual
time to complete the login process.  Shrugged
it off and saw that the thing was chugging along nicely, decided on rebooting
the desktop before uploading a couple of the Apophysis works that I had
produced the night before.  And that’s
when everything went wrong.

     The reboot would get through the BIOS
screen without a problem, and then when it got the F8 option between booting
into Windows normally or allowing me to boot into safe mode, it would just hang
there at the blinking cursor.  Wouldn’t
allow me to hit F8 to choose the Windows mode and wouldn’t continue into
Windows like it’s supposed to. It just hung there not doing a bloody
thing.  Loaded up the Windows CD and went
into the recovery console checking a couple of the settings there; BootCFG was
fine.  Didn’t change any of the setting
there.  Rebuilding the Master Boot Record
was all right as well.  Even checked to
see if I could create a boot option so that it would go to menu between Windows
Normal and Windows Safe, but all that ended up doing was returning to the
dreaded blinking cursor. 

     Thought that perhaps Windows had become
corrupted, so I booted up the Ubuntu Live CD to see if there was anything wrong
with the information on the hard drive. 
Turned out that I could read all the partitions and drives without so
much as an issue.  This left me wondering
if it was just something with the partition itself, so I tried to run the
partition check within Ubuntu, which it kicked back with flying colors.

     So back to the BIOS menu, I dropped down
to check the drives to see if there was a hard disc problem with the read
heads.  Both drives kicked back with no
problems and were running the way that they were supposed to.  Then I tried to rebuild Windows from scratch,
which went well, but ended up giving me the same blinking cursor when I was
through with it.  Tried to swap out to
Windows 7 RC 1 to see if that would fix the problem.  It didn’t, and in fact what I saw the thing
do was try to load up a different version onto the drive and in spite of the
fact that it was going to take over the system, left the prior system in place
"just in case". 

Just in case is the act and actions I remember all too well when one
used the "upgrade" CD from Windows 3.11 to 95 way back when in the
days.  I didn’t want any of that


     And so in a fit of annoyance, I decided to
blow away the partition and load it up from scratch.  Which seems to be working now without so much
of a problem.  Took me 3 partial and 2
full days to get everything back up to running the way that I want of which I’m
happy with the way things are back to normal again.  Of course, the fun that I had during this was
trying to determine the order I needed to load things in, given that some of
the programs that I have don’t tend to play nicely if loaded up out of order —
but this time though — I didn’t run into too many of the problems that I did
the last load up (particularly with Creative & Logitech’s drivers which
were a complete stubborn bitch because I loaded one set prior to the

     I decided on staying with Windows XP Pro
still as I was tempted to go with 7 RC1 with Ubuntu as a dual boot system, but
then realized that I was in no mood to go through all the break-fix that I had
to go through with Canonical’s product through the last two versions.  (Well that and I hate to say it, but I really
do like my Dolby Surround when listening to music, and I’ll be go to hell if I
was going to go through having to play with those controls all over again if
only to find out that parts of PulseAudio simply weren’t going to behave with
Rhythmbox and Anorak and cause me grief and a half trying to bypass Pulse to
ALSA or OSS.  Further, while I’m tempted
to take a go with 7 RC1, my issues with that is that there might be
possibilities of program incompatibilities cropping up with some of the older
games that I sometimes like playing when I’m completely frustrated and want a
break from the current games that I play. 
Heh, yes, I still play Dark Forces II:
Jedi Knight
and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
if only because I don’t like the lot of simulators and first-person shooters
there are out there.  And then there’s my
truly favorite diversion — Final Fantasy VII
which with the patch that I found a couple of years back can play on Windows
XP.  Sure, it’s huge on the desktop, but
given that I like the fight system that it uses, it’s a great diversion from
the nonsense that I routinely put up with. 

     Ultimately this means that 7 RC 1 and
Ubuntu are going to be held off for a while longer still.  But not for long if this system decides to go
south again.  *crosses fingers* 


     With the system back up and running, and I
have various backups and contingencies in place, the next thing on my agenda is
to work on the mini-inspiration that I received thanks to the happy little
"cult" of fun-loving folk who apparently have quite a sense of humor
about the polls that I put up there. 
Doing a sort of Interview with the Voices in my Head.   I’m not entirely sure how I want to do that
— but I’m sure I’m going to try my hand out at Camp and Comedy in writing that
tidbit of work.  What I am sure is that
it might be somewhat entertaining. 

     Not surprisingly I also need to work on
the next poll…  Just not sure what I want
to do with that one.  *shrugging*  I’m sure I’ll come up with something.  Although given my rather negative attitude
toward recent news and events, there’s a good chance that it’ll have nothing to
do with Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahan or Billy Mays.  *eye roll* 
And yes, this is as close to them being mentioned in my entry given the
amount of media attention it’s been getting… 




     You know what, I changed my mind on not
making mention on at least one of them. 
Michael Jackson…  Everyone has
been making quite the fuss about him since his death last week and frankly, I
find myself at odds with this.  The media
seems to be going overboard about the "King of Pop" dying a tragic
death and everyone from here to Guam has been making all sorts of odes and
dedications to him.  But where was the
media the last decade with him looking like the complete freak of nature
through his obsession with surgical alterations?  Where were they when they were trying to get
him crucified for being an implied pedophile? 
Where was the media when he practically turned into a Howard Hughes
reclusive hiding out in his Neverland Mansion and coming out looking like —
yep, a complete freak with surgical gloves on his hands, a surgical mask on his
face, and being wheeled around as though he were an invalid in a wheelchair
with umbrella to protect him from the rays of the sun? 

     The media was pointing at him and mocking
him, and displaying him like he was Top Billing at the Circus Freak Show;
that’s where.  They were either making
him out to being a complete spectacle to be ridiculed at best and pitied at
worst and when there was no more news to be had from it, they ignored his
eccentricities and his bizarre habits, moving onto the next best piece of dirty
laundry.  Now that he’s dead, they’re
back to making it quite the spectacle. 
Cooing and Boo-hoo’ing that the "King of Pop" is dead and
mourning the loss with such a sense of shallow sincerity that a simple fingernail
scratch against it will prove it to being nothing more than the veneer. 

     Believe me when I say my vitriol is quite
high for this veneer of pomp and circumstance from the "fans".  Out of the woodwork they come, because the
media is being falsely sincere, boo-hoo’ing the loss because it seems to be the
proper thing to do.  Where were these
fans through the years of his regurgitation of albums and work?  Where were these fans when Jackson was being
made a spectacle by the news and media? 
I didn’t see quite the uproar of fans when the media was crucifying
Jackson for the allegations of being a pedophile.  In fact, I seem to recall quite the outbreak
of most fans turned ex-fans wanting him to spend his time in jail when he had
settled out of court some years back. 
Those that didn’t want him to burn for being the pedophile they thought
he had been, quite suddenly went quiet, remained quiet and moved on to new pop
stars and idols as the years passed and the media continued to ridicule

     Now that he’s died — like the media —
the fans that have been silent for years have come out of the woodwork exulting
the loss, and dedicating pieces of work the spectacle of "respecting the
dead".  *eye roll*


     My question that I have is — who the hell
do they think they’re fooling?  Anyone
with an attention span longer than a goldfish remembers too many of them were
there in line taking a swing at Michael Jackson the pedophile, or Michael
Jackson the freak; that this respect for the dead is as disgusting and as
nauseating as the hypocrisy that it was born from.  Save your energy and whatever shred of
dignity you had by simply shutting the hell up. 
This extolling the death of the "King of Pop" is just plain
disgusting in my opinion. 


     To answer the question that anyone might
be forming in some reader’s minds: was I ever a fan of Michael Jackson?  No. 
While I did like one album of his back in the 80s (Thriller was indeed the album), I truly wasn’t
ever a fan of the musician.  I admit that
I had originally bought the album because at the time, I was still very much a
part of the group-mentality and influenced by group thought-forms.  Any appreciation I had for his type of music
died at the end of the 80s when I found rave, and then later electronica/trance
and anything that I listen to that was pop from that period is just a quiet reminder
of the path that I had walked.  After
that, I simply watched the spectacle between his obsession with surgical
alteration and the media’s mockery of it with a sort of morbid fascination as
to how the media and fans crucify their idols and stars when they deviate from
what is considered normal.


     Well, that’s about it for the time
being.  I’m off to finish the system
clean up and perhaps play a game or two before I wander off to get ready for
sleep and for work.  Until the next time.

Categories: News and politics