Monday, September 05, 2005


This is what we're all thinking, of course, what Tom Tomorrow says:

If you live in a major American city, you better pray there's never a terrorist attack of this magnitude. Because this is the best these fuckers can do with several day's notice before the disaster hits and 90% of the city having had time to evacuate beforehand. So unless the terrorists are kind enough to give advance notice, you are well and truly fucked.
The fourth anniversary of 9/11 is next Sunday. My vacation starts on the tenth. Why yes, we will be heading for the hills during that time.

Of course it's silly to fixate on one date over any other, so we're quietly restocking our first aid kits and making sure we have "jump kits" ready to go. What's a jump kit? That's the bag you keep right next to your door so in an emergency it's there, all you have to do is grab it on your way out. Since shortly after my encounter with the elderly woman who had broken her ankle last year, I've kept a small kit in the bag I carry with me on my bus commute. Another kit in the back of the car. Another kit at home. I know it may seem over the top, but you know what? I can't predict where I'm going to be when something goes wrong. Might as well be as well-prepared as possible, no matter where I am when something happens. Jim Macdonald knows what he's talking about; check out his list and assemble what you can. The best time to prepare is now.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


See, here, the nihilistic kid makes a point I incoherently stammered about yesterday:

Sniping actually takes a fair amount of skill; some schmuck in a white shirt on a street corner firing a whatever and missing everything is, at best, engaging in an ambush, not sniping. That Washington DC area "sniper" from a couple years ago was equally misnamed.
The main thrust of his post is to note that reports of "insurrection" in New Orleans may be greatly exaggerated. Do read it, my three readers: I command thee.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Battered Nation

There's a certain hollow feeling you get when you're trying to earn someone's approval, a faintly desperate determination to claw your way back into their good graces. It's like this: you can't figure out what you did to make Dad so furious, but you know if you just try hard enough you can ease his temper. You're so certain that if you're really really super good, if you can be on your very best behavior, you can through sheer effort make him happy with you.

So you creep quietly down the hallway and clean up your room. You share your Barbies with your little brother without whining. (If you're really desperate, maybe you even get out your crayons and write a cheerful little "I love you Daddy" card in a last-ditch effort to earn a smile.) You play nicely all evening, and help set the table for dinner, and then you start to wash down a too-hot bite of chili with a swallow of milk and Dad abruptly snarls at you, "Goddamn it, don't be such a pig! Finish chewing before you take a drink."

And that's the moment the bottom drops out of your belly in despair, that moment when you realize that you tried as hard as you could but you couldn't be good enough, and you believe with all your heart that it's your own fault. If only, you think. If only I could be a little bit better, he wouldn't hate me.

From there it's a quick trip to thinking, I hate myself. I am a bad kid. I will never be able to be good enough. And from there it quickly makes sense to say, "Fuck it." If you're bad you get punished; if you're good you get punished anyway. Why bother with the extra effort to be good?

That's the memory that swept through me when I saw this quote:

"The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians."
I don't know what to tell you, but that broke my heart right there. Oh, you poor huddled people. Senators and governors and the director of FEMA himself are ready to blame you, to say that if only you weren't so stupid none of this would have happened. So you line up and clean up and try to convince them you're good enough to be rescued, good enough to live--and when the messages keep coming, maybe you think, "Well, the hell with trying to impress them, then."

Oh, you wonderful people, this is not your fault. Powerful people are having their criminal level of negligence and exposed and questioned, and they want to blame someone else for their ineptitude. But if I have learned anything I have learned this: the name for a person with more power and influence than you, charged with protecting you, who rages and belittles you when you need their help, is abuser. There's no other word for it but abusive, whether they're a dad with a drinking problem or a politician with an accountability problem.

They've diverted the money that was supposed to protect us, and they viciously attack us when we ever-so-meekly dare to point that out. I just wish I knew where the battered nations' shelter could be found, or how to take out a restraining order against them.

What. The. Fuck.

It's been four days since Katrina blew through New Orleans, and there STILL haven't been any food and water drops to PRE-ARRANGED SHELTERS? What the ever-loving FUCK, people? Seriously, okay, obviously you can't just drive in and deliver a tray of sandwiches, but there are news helicopters flying around at the very least. Can we not manage to do some kind of fucking food drop from those helicopters, even if we can't manage to get the government to pull their heads out of their asses long enough to coordinate it? Oh, hey, I see on CNN that they did finally manage to drop a few MRE's today. Jesus.

You know the death toll estimates the governor of Louisiana has given, that deaths may reach into the thousands? Hundreds more are going to die that DIDN'T HAVE TO. Obviously the hurricane, the flooding, the people trapped in their houses--that's one thing. But leaving tens of thousands of people in squalor for a week or so will sure make that death toll skyrocket as the medically fragile perish, as diseases flare up, as violence spreads.

Meanwhile the asshole conservative fringe is already springing into gear to sneer about those darn refugees waiting for a handout from the government, questioning whether the government really ought to provide any aid at all to people who surely must only have stayed because they were stupid. You know, this dude has the final word on that bullshit:

Where do you live, that's so free from natural disasters you can pat yourself on the back for your excellent judgment? The Pacific Northwest? Volcanoes and rain! The Midwest? Tornadoes, blizzards, thunderstorms! The Gulf Coast? Hurricanes! The South/West? Droughts! Major cities? Blackouts! Bangladesh? Typhoons! Malaysia? Tsunami! Japan? Godzilla!

Look, if you get caught in a natural disaster, it's your own damn fault for one primary reason-- having been born somewhere on the surface of this fucking planet. Circumstance is chasing us all down, slowly but surely. There's an expiration date stamped on all of us. Empathy, sympathy, and respect all stem from recognition of this. And there's nothing cheaper, nothing less considerate, nothing more full of witless sound and fury, than sitting in comfort and safety and taunting the drowned, the displaced, the diseased, the lost, and the destitute for not being the Awesome Hurricane Warrior you would have been in their place.
Hey, you know what else, by the way? On behalf of Mr. Thel? The word "sniper" doesn't apply to just anyone firing a weapon. "Sniper" is a very specific term for a very particular situation, and any fool firing like an asshole on an aid helicopter doesn't qualify as a sniper. Jesus.