8-2-2006 When hysteria pervades meterorology

"The Democratic Party seems to show an aversion to political competition. Greens want the ballot in the hands of the voters, not the Democratic Party machine. Their lawyers will now look for any technicality to subvert the will of our signators."--Carl Romanelli, Green Party Senatorial hopeful

ďIíd like to hear Bob Casey publicly pledge that the Democratic lawyers will not try to bully the Greens off of the ballot. A true leader is confident enough let the policy speak for itself. A true patriotism is such that the ideas of viable candidates.Ē--Carl Romanelli

ItĎs ultimately hilarious and totally lame that the folks on the left side of the political aisle are crying foul now that Carl Romanelli has qualified to be on the ballot in this state. Sure, the right-siders want Carl on the ballot only because they hope to siphon ballots from Bob Casey, but, so what? Itís politics, man.

It didnít seem to rankle anyone from the left when Ross Perot captured 19% of the presidential vote a while back and it directly resulted in the election of a shameless huckster and humpster from one of those southern states yet to discover asphalt. When the Democrats are sure to benefit, third party candidates are just nifty. Oh, but when the Democrats are anticipating votes being siphoned from them, well, then third party candidates (that have to jump through hoops of real burning fire just to get on the ballot) are not near as nifty anymore. Can you say hypocrisy?

And which party was it that denied the military vote in Florida in 2000 by fighting to have their absentee ballots thrown out? Is it all-inclusive to ďsupportĒ the military in one baited breath and then deny them their right to vote in the very next? Can you say pathetic?

You know the drill by now. When Democrats lose an election, it was somehow stolen from them. They never lose fair-and-square. Their candidate ducks the issues and ducks the proposed candidate debates, but his opponent has a bag of dirty tricks. Sounds eerily familiar. And lame-assed.

So, after this whiney dust-up, Iím thinking the Santorum/Casey race is a question of voting for lame or lamer.

Or Carl.

GettinĎ better

LetĎs cover this. Every time some brave soul gets on the blower to discuss geopolitics and suchlike with Chia Kev, aka Kevin Lynn, at WILK, he always shouts them down with this question as it pertains to threats from abroad (paraphrasing): Which is the bigger threat? Iraq? Iran? Or North Korea?

His point is that North Korea is the bigger threat because it has nuclear weapons at itís disposal, while both Iran and Iraq do not. And in his denuded mind, this is his checkmate, and needless insults directed at the caller are about to commence. Droolers all!

Not so fast there, Chia.

Iraq is no longer a threat simply because we rolled the M1/A2s on in there and eliminated it from the laundry list of potential enemies possessing nasty, but smallish bits of Weapons of Mass Destruction, or launching pads for jihadists and associated crazies and suchlike. But, long before Iraq was scratched off of the list, intelligence agencies the world over perceived it to be a legitimate WMD threat. The same could once be said of Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan, but George (Boo! Hiss!) Bushís War on Terror has systematically reduced the number of countries that were openly hostile to western governments, as well as springboards from which terror attacks could be easily launched. Iraq is not a threat because we made it that way.

Yup, Korea has a couple of nukes, and they also have a collection of model rockets. And as evidenced by their recent ICBM test that crashed and burned just as it began, they lack the necessary delivery systems to deliver a nuke to our soil. The argument can then be made that they can threaten us by exporting their nuclear know-how, but that argument likewise applies to Iran. Nice try, Chia.

In actuality, North Koreaís missiles are absolutely no threat to mainland America if one considers the Mutually Assured Destruction policy as it would manifest itself after a rogue country fired a rogue nuke in our general direction. If North Korea were to significantly improve itís flailing delivery systems and send one hurtling towards, say, San Diego, NORAD would immediately raise the LERTCON to DEFCON 1, and North Korean civil defense shelters would be filling to capacity within minutes. The point is, if North Korea wants to play nuclear war at some point, the game would be over before it even started. And if thatís Chia Kevís big, bad threatÖIíll take it hands down.

No, Chia, the biggest threat to this nation is indisputably, undeniably Iran. This is the country that has already conducted freighter-borne missile tests. And while Kevin drones on stupidly and incessantly about protecting our ports from an inbound containerized nuke, Iran has been testing the possibility of attacking these states of ours with a crude nuke and a crude missile. And their intention is not to destroy a few American cities. That would be preferable to their desired goal. What they envision doing is destroying our vast but fragile economic, telecommunications and energy infrastructure by way of an airborne Electro Magnetic Pulse or multiple EMP pulses.

We cannot be beaten militarily, so, our economy has to be attacked. The attack on the Twin Towers was less about symbolism than is was a direct attack on our economic might. And the EMP attack could easily succeed if Iran chose to launch it. We canít shadow, interdict or board every ship on the high seas, and Iran knows as much.

So, whoís the bigger threat? A country that could possibly launch a lone, completely traceable nuke at us, or a country that means to launch one or more that could not be traced back to anywhere or anyone?

Care to take another stab at this one, Chia? You canít hang up on me on the internet.

Yeah, thatís what I thought.

Beautifying Thompson Street

IĎve made mention of this before, but letís do it all over again.

When the meteorologists predict a crushing snow storm and then the television camera crews descend upon the bread or milk aisle at the nearby supermarket, I am embarrassed for everyone involved. Iím embarrassed for the interviewers. And Iím equally embarrassed for the interviewees. With heavy snow on itís way, these people tend to carry on as if North Korea had finally perfected itís crude ICBMs and declared an all-out war upon all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. It's laughable and it gets ratings. I suppose. And if Wifey dares to tell me we too need some bread, I get seriously annoyed only because I donít want to be seen as panic shopping over a couple of inches of freaking crunchy water. You see, hysterical I ainít.

So, I endeavored to watch the 6 pm newscasts on both WNEP and WBRE last night only to be completely embarrassed all over again. I realize that prolonged, excessive heat can have devastating effects upon the very oldest among us, but cut me a huge break already. Since when does the thermometer hitting 96 degrees signal a coming calamity? How does what used to be a completely normal hot summer day get twisted and tugged into being a possible catastrophe of biblical proportions?

ďThis is certainly a dangerous situation.Ē--Josh Hodell, WBRE meteorologist and alarmist

Um, I have a question. How is it that we survived these hot summer days back in the day before climate-controlled buildings, climate-controlled cars and climate-controlled houses turned us into the worldís largest collection of pussies? NeverÖduring either my gangly sprat days, my teen years or the entirety of my adult (?) life did I ever allow the predicted temperatures to dissuade me from doing anything I wanted to do. Not even once.

Kayak Dude: Mark, you wanna paddle a quick 30 miles on the Susquehanna? We could put in at the boat launch in Tunkhannock, paddle down to Nesbitt Park and be home in time for supper?

Blog Dork: Dude, you know I would, but Josh Hodell says itís gonna be really hot outside. Iím taking my family to the emergency cooling center and Iíll spend my day with a bag of ice on my head while cursing George Bush for destroying the entire worldís environment in far, far less time than it takes to pollute a local river. Iím frightened, dude. Iím really scared this time.

Truth be told, when RiverFest 2003 was cancelled due to very high water conditions, we made that trip. We paddled those 30 miles in near record time while the thermometer topped out at 90-plus degrees and the clear skies above provided oodles upon oodles of direct sunlight that was reflected right back at us a second time by the riverís waters. I wore a tank top, wore no sun shade at all and got some minor Sun poisoning on my shoulders. And as far as the diet was concerned, during those 30 miles I drank 2 small bottles of your original Gatorade and ate 2 Nutri-Grain bars. Strawberry, I believe. And once I returned home and chilled for a spell, I enjoyed myself quite the relaxing bicycle ride. But, according to Josh and the rest of the hysterical-sounding ninnies, I should be dead as a result of my actions that day. Or something thereabouts.

Yesterday, I worked outside all day long, and most of my time was spent in direct sunlight. And yet, Iím still here to bore you about it. And dig this, I worked really hard and expended tons of energy while eating only 2 peanut butter sandwiches and drinking a measly 2-liter of water. Well, measly by the television alarmistsí oft-heightened standards. And if thatís not crazy enough, my day started with a 4-mile bicycle commute to work, and ended with a 4-mile commute by bicycle back home again. I sweat some more of my skinny white ass off virtually all day long, but somehow, I survived. Try Kryptonite, why donít you?

And when I finally reached for the remote and then bounced back and forth between WNEP and WBRE, I was treated to stories about cooling centers, firefighters delivering bottled water to high rise buildings, soup kitchens opening early to help provide shelter to the homeless, the effects of the high heat on the homeless and how to best sanitize crowded public pools in the event that the hordes of marauding diaper-clad babies let loose with some urine in it. Like they didnít right?

The homeless need protection from the heat? Thatís patently absurd when you consider how very many of us were toiling away outside yesterday. How much energy do the homeless expend in pursuit of spare change and half-smoked cigarettes on the cityís sidewalks? The homeless? Youíre all losing your minds.

Check out Joshís bullet point tips for staying alive:

--Take it easy.

--Drink plenty of water.

--Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

--Avoid alcohol.

Avoid alcohol? Are you drunk? I got me one of those ďcooling centersí and it is stocked full of alcohol. Avoid alcohol? Freakiní trainee! When itís really hot, thatís when we can drink the most without getting ourselves arrested. It exits through the pores faster than it can be poured down the hatch. Why do they tell unsuspecting people silly stuff like that? Itís, like, 100 degrees outside, so life as we knew it has to come to a screeching halt? Drink up, girlie men. Jeez!

And whatís with this ďfeels likeĒ gibberish? Itís going to top out at 97 degrees, but Josh says itís going to ďfeel likeĒ 113 degrees after humidity is factored into it. So? So what? Should I quit my job, fill the bathtub with a liquid nitrogen-like knock off and take the plunge?

Apparently, or at least, from what I could gather, excessive heat poaches the testicles of what otherwise would be considered to be men until they turn into little girls and run for the relative safety (?) of the nearest cooling centers. Dispense with the drinking of gallons upon gallons of super-cooled water and dump some ice down the shorts already. Holy fug!

And the utilities are a lot of help. Not! They advise us to conserve energy from 3 pm to 7 pm. Excuse me, but wouldnít that be the day part where the temperatures would be at their absolute highest? So, on one hand, weíre being told weíre all going to die if we donít cool off, but the utilities warn us not to cool off too much. And what if we do cool off too much? So what? We all fire up 4 or 5 air conditioners, the entire electric grid fails, rolling blackouts immediately resultÖand itís 1967 all over again. And near as I can tell, we all survived the Summer of 1967 with relative ease.

Regardless of what the newfangled ďHeat IndexĒ has in store for today, Iím gonna enjoy me an oldfangled bikeabout. Itís a hot Summer day, and I means to enjoy it. Besides, it wonít be very long before the dangerously cold temperatures and falling crunchy water puts all of our lives in great, great peril. So say some.

Whatever. This is what happens when hysteria pervades meteorology.

We come off sounding like a bunch of spoiled pussies.

Sez me.

August 1, 1981.

MTV begins operations at high noon right in the middle of Peaceís 2nd birthday party. Boy, what a party that one was.


R.I.P. Joe