Dispatches from Boulder the Damned
Friday, November 29, 2013
So, Black Friday is upon us. Another nonevent upon which so much lazy journalism focuses. Mine, for example. It does me no good to see such a blatant tongue bath of large advertisers supplanting even the usual evergreen stories about Thanksgiving, which was yesterday, and all the traditional tripe.
One thing not seen this year in Boulder's paper was the normally gaseous bit about how a restaurant served the Homeless and the Transient population. Those things usually feature the staff 'volunteering' to help on a holiday, and the restaurant gets tons of free, often front page, coverage and writes the whole thing off. This means that only the owner benefits. The Homeless?
Well, first note how Boulder's Daily Camera vacillates between using the terms 'Homeless' and 'transients', the latter being a decidedly lower category, at least since the flood in September put so many on the street, if a street remained. Traditionally, the media would talk to a child and the parent, so that the child is stamped 'poor' and 'homeless' for his friends at school and the parent, perhaps unemployable, has to grovel and thank the restaurant overmuch for a meal. This is not helping the homeless, but throwing a saddle across their plight for publicity. If you want to help the homeless, make sure they get some food every day rather than the one for display with dessert and all the 'fixin's,' after which people can go back to ignoring them. Variations on this theme are a staple in the newspaper, but it's been missing at Christmas and at Thanksgiving. Perhaps people still do it but decline to be publicly praised for taking a tax break plus front page coverage. You'd hope.
Brazil is now a sizzling long fuze. It is to host the World Cup this year, and the inbred corruption and incompetence of their society is coming into view. They have built too many soccer stadiums, a result of cronyism nobody can afford in too many cities. Worse, they can't seem to build well at all, and a stadium just collapsed in construction. This scares the beejeebees in World Cup officials and the Olympics both, the latter coming in 2016.
From the AP:
Rio maintains that it's on schedule, although the Olympic Park - the heart of the games west of Rio - is a mud flat where construction has barely begun. A second large Olympic area called Deodoro in the north of Rio is also far behind schedule.
In exclusive reports last week, The Associated Press documented severe pollution in the waters surrounding Rio, where Olympic and Paralympic sailing, canoeing, rowing, triathlon and open-water swimming events will be held.
Nearly 70 percent of Rio's sewage enters the waters untreated, much from hillside favelas, or shantytowns. The average fecal pollution rate around the planned Olympic Park is 78 times the Brazilian government's satisfactory level, and 195 times the level considered safe in the United States.
So what. Isn't this what Greece went through for the 2004 Olympics and isn't it a right of passage for nations to have the Games to demonstrate their arrival to the world? Yes and no. The fact is that the Olympics are to a large degree a scam. Very few make money on them, but a few key players do in every round, who are also the people who strove to obtain the games for their fair city. Social Climbing peer pressure is high in international circles.
Greece could not afford the Games, was always financially shaky, and paying off the numerous white elephant constructions broke the nation when the Recession hit, although it probably would have anyway. Greece couldn't pay its debts and that started the dominoes to fall in banking circles in Europe and then everywhere.
A scary but relevant example might be what France went through building canals in Egypt and in what became Panama. They were unable to afford them, and their markets collapsed with charges of theft and treason and the whole nine yards. That some accused were Jewish made it easier to prosecute, and then came Dreyfus and the whole underworld of French criminal Catholicism in its most vicious form rose to the top and tore the Army apart. And the nation. France is still not rid of the power of its nationally predominant religion.
If something like this happens in Brazil, atop financial burdens on their currently prosperous if corrupt economy, there would be a good chance of revolution to tear down the social structure and olde boy network inherited from the corrupt Portuguese artistocracy that founded it. Brazil is huge, the size of China or the US, and much of it is jungle, although the fires are cutting that back significantly. There is no reason to think Brazil is different than anybody else. There's a good chance of war in South America.
And war that would involve refugees upsetting the whole hemisphere and involving the US.
I don't think Brazil is going to escape without a disaster in either the World Cup or the Olympics, although I'm traditionally wrong in these fears. There is just too much precedent for concern that is actually growing. In the article linked above, read about the sewage problem and imagine that being, somehow, fixed.
The Dakota sunset from the camera of Hank Harris.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Turkeys get an unfair reputation because of their inbred cousins raised in cages for us to eat. There's argument about how not able to survive those morbidly obese pseudo-birds are, but not very able. Also, apparently they rank between quartz and wet cardboard on the IQ meter.
But even the thinner wild turkeys are still big and heavy birds, yet they can fly well and fast, often at 55 mph. It is less well known how beautiful they are in flight, how subtle and gorgeous the feathering, and how good they look in the air as opposed to their spastic, weird walk and waddle on the ground. Till the recent generation of cameras, a lot of that was missing from the public's - by which I mean my - appreciation.
Really, their feathers and comportment in the air is a thing of beauty and leaves an impression distant from the one we have. It makes Ben Franklin's hope the turkey would be our national bird less silly sounding. The way the tail fans out recalls the stealth aircraft of late, but only visually since turkeys need no computer to stay airborne. Full wings and tail create a much different template.
Look, let's just admit it. The weather is totally abnormal compared to the rest of my life, and having 'a' weather system in the midwest produce tornadoes and hail and thunderstorm activity is not the normal of the last sixty five years. It's not just that because we're warmer, the atmosphere and its storms expand to huge size (remember the one last winter that extended from the Rockies to the east of Cape Cod? Eh?) its that these storms themselves are so much more dangerous with higher wind averages. The NFL had to clear football stadiums for some games today, and that's a money loser for them not undertaken lightly and I don't ever recall them being that concerned. The photos sure show the dark grey to black clouds that can scare the hell out of you.
It might be temporary but I think it's a changed climate about to get worse quick. Let's enjoy Hawaii and California and Florida while we can, because in my lifetime (another 40 to 70 years at least...) we might lose what we call the coasts. Everyone will, and places like Bangladesh might become even more deadly to its citizens. Storm surges there could travel many, many miles across the flat deltas.
The cartoon below is old, but I ran across it and repost in appreciation of how the simplest lines create an entire flood of memories, by which I mean the simply drawn pup, smiling (yes, they do), and goofy and unaware how clumsy and silly they look to all but themselves. Dogs jumping, playing, and grunting in their youth are a thing to warm your heart, in memory and in fact.
And now, Obamacare's issues. I'm not seeing the horrors others are. Three percent of the public might possibly be cancelled, but even if the government hadn't decided to allow them to keep their policies, they could near all get better coverage for the payments. Whether Obama lied, or hadn't been told, or it was a mistake not foreseen is an issue for the plantlife: his people should have known and been prepared. The software fiasco is totally beyond me, given their excellence in the campaign and Romney's failure with Orca. Everything that Romney did wrong - didn't test it, didn't push the envelope to achieve worst case scenarios - was seemingly repeated here.
And the states that set up their own systems pulled in a bunch, although still not enough. But it will come together and work. Obama, who has taken a dive in the polls, will be back, because I don't think most people consider him dishonest or stupid. But I'd like to see it start soon. Speaker Skinner and Congressman Milhouse are chumming the waters with Obamacare screwed immigration reform, which even the most schlerotic of their base would have a hard time defending.
But that base isn't looking for reasons, it wants cover stories for their prejudices and racial inclinations.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda is a category 5 horrendoplasty, biggest storm of the year anywhere. It's about to hit the Philippines. This is bigger than Hurricane Carla, biggest to hit US. Steady winds exceeding 190 miles an hour and will hit early Friday among the same islands that took a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month.
A distinguishing feature of super storms is that the eye is small, clearly defined, and are referenced as oversize tornadoes. Like Haiyan. Also, a storm surge of over 20 feet is a given plus all the joys hurricanes generally provide. It will be a murderous storm.
Our flood and rain can be nudge back into perspective now.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
I've become entranced by the skills of pumpkin carvers, although for all I know they could be the result of a 3D printer and orange paint. Either way, it's pretty awesome and makes the klunky eyes and teeth we used to do pretty sad, and far less scary.
But Halloween is less scary. Vampires and zombies are jokes, now. Monsters produced by warped science are, eh, real, but doomed and unloved. Witches are busty bitches hot to trot and far from the selection of skin diseases we used to visualize. Ghosts don't exist. Nobody thinks they do, or most of us think they do. So, whither Halloween?
Each other. The scariest movies are the possession ones, especially when it cannot be told if a demon, which we apparently believe in, or mental illness is the evil afoot. Worrying about kids shot up in schools or walking down a street is more real and scarier than the fictional variants. Domestic violence. It's inarguably there and terrifying.
Things that scare the decaying religious elements - gays, ethnics, Muslims - are right on the edge of being camp. There is the perpetual attempt to prove Obama is gay, Muslim, Ugandan, effeminate. They recently tried, in the persons of Drudge and FoxNews, to show that Obama personally had selected some effeminate-ish new uniforms for the US Marines. This fell apart when the Marines, god bless them, said it was nonsense but they were trying a new look/uniform for their female Marines, and that only because the outfit that provided them previous went out of business. Worse for Fox, the damned 'covers' as the military apparently calls their uniforms, were previously worn and by on double CMO winner to boot. It's this relentless fixation on finding scandal with Obama, preferably sexual and personal, that reveals the motivations and issues held by the conservative, supposedly religious Right.
I've long said that the Tea Party and the entire antagonism against Obama is, primarily, racist but worse. It really is a prolonged temper tantrum by Third Rate White Men from every strata, who know at heart their social status was based upon the benefits of merely being white, and part of the most general in-crowd, in that they knew they could be replaced, and easily.
And it happened. Safe to say nobody thought that in 2013 over half the work force in this nation would be women, nor that Hispanics and blacks would have justifiably elbowed their way into their increasing percentages of the better jobs, or that Asians would be crowding everyone. But there it is. A more level playing field, and those artificially raised by birth aren't doing so well. It's the Confederate Nightmare made real. And to fixate the hatred and the embarrassment, the United States has a black President. So, he's to blame.
But as people have said, Obama wasn't the change, he's the result of the change, and the Tea Party cannot admit it. Women are smarter, better educated, more focused and more ambitious than the basic white guy, and they pair with those who support them: the progressive Democrats, who have children and advance in mind always. Or, so I hope. The Republican Party is primarily old, white, southern, and ill educated.
I find these graphics an enjoyable way to keep things organized. I've gone way off the rails trying to recall any period outside the Mesozoic, which was the Age of Dinosaurs.
Marcia Wallace has died. She is one of the several grads of Mary Tyler Moore's shows that never got the lead in her own show but was as qualified as those who did, like Valerie Harper. She was in Bob Newhart's show set in Chicago during the 1970's and has been the hysterical Edna Krabappel in the Simpsons for decades. She was a major talent, and as I recall she was caring for an ill spouse for a while and attended to important things before career. She was one of those folks you just knew was decent and fun in person as on the tube. The tributes coming in show that.
They're retiring Edna's character, of course, just as they did for the murdered Phil Hartman a decade or more back.
It's the substance to the little characters in The Simpsons that provide the life and duration of the show, although I'm fairly burned out. New fans every day. As a Miss Tina Fey said, the Simpsons is the gold standard of comedy, and I share that view. Comedy is hard, harder to keep funny, incredible to keep funny for what? Three Decades? Amazing. Wallace was a big part of it.
Friday, September 27, 2013
It looks like what changed the administration's bit with Syria was a long festering break out of common interests with secular Iran. Iran, despite its theocratic government, is by all reports a seething mass of pro-West frustration that would respond well to the collapse of bad relations with US. They must be happy today. The Iranian pros referenced the Great Satan as a Great Nation today, which you probably have to be my age to appreciate. This followed by a phone call between Obama and Hassan Rouhani, Iran's President. What Rouhani said was "I want it to be the case that this trip will be a first step, and a beginning for better and constructive relations with countries of the world as well as a first step for a better relationship between the two great nations of Iran and the United States of America." Hello, friend. How this will be treated by the mullahs and idiots who have ruled since the 1979 revolution is not known, but it cannot be good for them.
What this may mean is that Obama, not provoked into punk mode by Syria as Bush sometimes was by Iraq, may have flanked Israel's Likud, Senator McCain, and others who have wanted to bomb Iran for years to prevent a nuclear Iran making a bomb. He may have pulled it off by this first conversation between American and Iranian presidents in more than 30 years. If so, a major credit to Obama.
So. The photo above is in the flats, Loveland in fact, just north of here. Boulder gets all the coverage, but in reality our damage is less than some north and east of us and nothing compared to the mountains, where entire small towns are gone and others so distorted you cannot recognize the land. It is a very different Boulder and Front Range this year.
No secret that the The Flood of 2013 will be with us for years. We've lost all but the most tenuous road connections to towns less than 20 miles into the Rockies, and while mildly annoying to us, it's far more than that to them. We had snow in the mountains today, which is about right, but it's ominous. Should we get a lot of snow or cold weather these guys are cut off, and with any power failure or water source fouling, it's a big deal. We hope for better things.
Today is rainy and cold, but we have good weather in the weekend forecast, and you cannot but smile at the thought hereabouts.
Boulder's County and City governments are doing great work, and nobody has less than great marks for all units dealing with this crisis, a credit to the preparation and foresight of people we are no longer graced with, but who saved a lot of us and a lot of our stuff and a lot of our time. To those who went before, Hail! Thank you, you did damned good work. Of course, there are many still about who've contributed to the well oiled crisis machine, rarely used, that Boulder unleashed. It sometimes seems like I'm the only one in Boulder who is not a trained mountaineer/ranger/medic fully capable of doing open heart surgery on one rescued as they're being lowered down from some 13k foot peak during an ice storm. Boulder's young impress. It's heartening to see difficult things discussed well, honestly and openly, and leading to logical and well done solutions.
These aren't feel good solutions. We have set goals for when the road to Nederland will be ready to go, and it's late October. Even then, bad weather may set in again. Of far more dangerous concern are the cliffs aside the narrow canyon roads. For the last few years it seemed as if rock slides and individual boulders falling on the roads have increased, and this event has to have made that worse. Don't know if the flood actually and proactively forced the things ready to fall to do so during the flood, but it has to be a concern during rehab of the road and in driving this Winter and next Spring. Take a lot of cash and ugly restraints to suppress the natural urges of gravity to pull things down.
The national 'debate' or - as I view it - a continuing temper tantrum by Third Rate White Men in our Congress has produced such empty suits of bloviating nonsense as Ted Cruz, whose non filibuster was self regarding crap and near immediately bitch slapped by the Senate today, which dropped all the anti-Obamacare nonsense the plantlife had hoped to keep in from the House, where the genuine chronic bin cases are located.
It's hard to discern whether they actually think they represent a significant majority or if all this is just posing for the fat fiscal whales that underwrite this abortion of logic and governance.
Here in Boulder the Normally Damned But Now Pitied Because of the Flood, we face a number of big issues: paying for the inundation and repair and the move to municipalize its electric power and leave Xcel Energy with just the gas mains. Everyone has been doing yeoman's work in getting stuff back to normal asap, which has flustered those who've been saying 'imagine the city, which cannot plow its streets of snow, running an electric company! HAhahhhaha...." Well, they only appealed to their reactionary or envious underlings who laughed on cue, often with a restatement of the prairie dog issue, referencing the concern of some that the city was murdering an endangered species for private whims, and finishing with the olde chestnut that "Boulder is 25 square miles surrounded by Reality! Get it? REALITY! Hahahahahah...."
Reality would dictate that those finding such humor mandatory would love to live in Boulder if they could pretend that Market Forces and He-Man capitalism were the reasons and not the long derided foresight of those who wanted to clamp down on the power and taste of developers and the hallowed "Business Community" in the personages of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business entity, both of which have records of near complete failure in predicting what works for and profits Boulder or admitting it later. For example, you never hear about the benefits a long illegal drug trade played in Boulder and, in its need for laundering profit, underwrote a great deal of the high tech and New Age businesses before that. Boulder at its most hypocritical.
The UN got on board today with a report that offered not much new on the cause of Climate Change but supported the supposition that we are responsible for half of it. That blends in with a number of things coming together supporting that claim, and it seems to be under the umbrella of this administration which impresses me. Think for a sec.
If Obama has orchestrated this Iran nuclear deal or the next thing to one, than it affects EVERYTHING in the Islamic world, Israel, and even North Korea, who would find itself nudged even further. And, it would be largely due to an American President with a strong enough image in the world he can shake off provocations and focus on his successful long game approach.
The vote next week on the national debt looks like disaster for the GOP and John Boehner. Evan Cantor has been quiet, indicating he realizes the choices are now so bad for the Republicans that he wants no credit either way. But Congressman Milhouse and Speaker Skinner are festering in their own crapulence because they would never stand up to the, essentially, ridiculous Tea Party of half educated reactionaries in their dotage and those who pander to them. I'm a mostly liberal Democrat, so it's fun to see, but I used to be a Republican and want to see a valid two party system here. That's an issue now.
It's especially an issue in Colorado. If the government shuts down it could affect the funding for rebuild and solace for flood victims. Joe Biden was here last week to say the funding would stay regardless, but it's still unnerving. Or should be. But the GOP is saying if we get Obamacare then we can't have any government at all. That's the current party of Lincoln.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Here's the selection to get an idea of what it's like.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
In good news, the forest fire danger has dropped to Moderate.
In other, worse, news........from the Camera, THIS.
All material on this site copyright Richard L. MacLeod (Dark Cloud) 1968-2013 unless otherwise stated.