Archive for May, 2010

Happy “EVERYBODY DRAW MOHAMMED” Day! Long Live Free Speech!

May 20, 2010


“Extreme Circumstances” and Republican Surrender Monkeys — How to Make Nice and Lose a Country

May 17, 2010

Senator Jon Kyl (L) leaves a meeting with Obama Adminstration representatives concerning the Kagan nomination... oh, wait! that's something else.

“’The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances, and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that,’ said Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”—AP article carried on

Will someone please point out to me a Republican with a spine, anywhere in a senior position of responsibility in Congress?

Senator Jon Kyl clearly is not one. Senator Kyl, if intercepting this left-wing hack of an Obama nominee on a clear trajectory to a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court is not “extreme circumstances,” what the hell is?

It’s only the judicial entity you and your colleagues have negligently entrusted with the power to say the United States Constitution is whatever they say it is at a given moment, that’s all. What little public record she has includes hostility to the military and free speech, and a fondness for abortion. Will you be astonished if she is also hostile to the Second Amendment and the other nine articles of the Bill of Rights? If you are, you are as clueless as you are spineless.

Does anyone understand why a Republican “leader” would roll over and play dead on such an issue even before hearings have begun? Is anyone surprised that the Tea party people and other grassroots conservatives and constitutionalists have turned their backs on the Republican Party “leaders?”

These eunuchs will make nice while the Socialist Democrats guide our country into the twilight, as a failed, post-constitutional, pseudo-European socialist state with no history and no future, and a debt to the Chinese that will make us their wholly-owned subsidiary.

Nah, no “extreme circumstances,” there.

Don’t VOLUNTEER to Be a Flood Victim!

May 14, 2010
Flood Waters Kill
There’s more to flood waters than meets the eye.

Charlotte, TN, 5/13/10; Revised, 4/27/11

Here are some reflections on the power and danger of flood waters, put down as the Cumberland sulks back within its banks, and the months-long process of cleaning up Middle Tennessee gets into gear (and revised as flood waters rise almost a year later.)

First, let’s dump that  “Save the Planet” sentimentality, OK? Look at some of the pictures of this flood. Look at pictures of the Iceland Volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. (Eyzeforjutosey!) For some superb pictures, try National Geographic online.

Feeling small and insignificant, yet? Good. Now, tell me how plastic bags and SUVs can destroy this immense, powerful Earth, when all it will take is an unconscious, negligent shrug for this planet to destroy the human race. One seismic twitch, a raised terrestrial eyebrow, an atmospheric sigh, and humanity is — not history, because somebody has to be around to WRITE history — simply and permanently gone.

If you still harbor doubts about how insignificant you are before the forces of nature, review some video of the Tsunamis in Japan. Understand? Good. Let’s move on.

The force that flowing water can exert on objects challenges the most fertile imagination. Like an advancing line of indifferent bulldozers, it pushes aside man’s monuments, or tumbles them ahead like toys,  and moves on downhill.

According to the recording instruments at the Cumberland River in Clarksville, downstream from Ashland City, the depth at the peak of the flood was 57.36 feet, at 9:00 AM, on May 6th. At that depth, the rate of flow past that point was more than 300 thousand cubic feet of waterper second. A cubic foot of water weighs just less than 62.5 pounds. That means 18,750,000 pounds of water passed the gage every second, at peak.

Depth (L) and Flow rate (R) of the Cumberland at Clarksville, downstream from Nashville (NWS

Rainfall, May 1 & 2, 2010 (NWS)

A railroad train, consisting of a typical diesel locomotive and 31 loaded freight cars weighs around nine million pounds. That flow rate was equivalent, then, to the weight of two such trains passing the measurement station every second. No wonder a river can push along the contents of a neighborhood, including houses, cars, trees and topsoil.

Six inches of running water can drag an adult off his feet, and then beat him against immovable objects like tree stumps or guard rails, rendering him helpless. Of course, “six inches” of muddy water can be hiding a six-foot hole in the pavement that the water undermined minutes before you arrived at the flooding.

washed-out pavement, TN Hwy 7, Maury Co., TN

A foot and a half of flood water, moving at six miles an hour, can turn a car into a rudderless, powerless, leaky life raft. A foot and a half of running water looks innocuous enough — especially in the dark — unless you know how strong the tug is on anything in its way.

Or, unless it’s after dark, and you think the water is much shallower than that. You don’t know the truth, until the car starts moving on its own…

Of course, by then, it may be to late. Your car-turned-into-a-boat turns into a coffin.

More people are killed nationwide in flash floods and river floods, on average, than in tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning.  Most of those deaths could have been avoided, if the people thinking of crossing running water had only known how powerful it is.

Twenty-three, flood-related fatalities have been confirmed in Tennessee so far, according to Tennessee’s Emergency Management Agency . Two more bodies have been found in the Nashville area as of May 13, and both are tentatively described as flood victims.

The Harpeth River is a tributary of the Cumberland, and is usually a mild-mannered scenic “stream” that plays host to a lot of leisure-time activities, including fishing, boating and camping. My first chance to see the flooding close-up came two days after the rain had stopped, on Tuesday, May 4th. The bridge was closed to traffic, but no longer under water.

Flooded Harpeth

The treeline in the distance is usually the far bank of the Harpeth, as seen from the Montgomery Bell Bridge, Cheatham County, TN. Not on 5/4/10.

The Harpeth River Campground, adjacent to the Montgomery Bell Bridge, was under ten or twelve feet of water when I visited the still-closed bridge on May 4th, 2010.

It might have looked like an inviting ride in a raft or tube, but, standing on the bridge, feeling the faint vibration of the brisk flow of flood water under the deck, it looked forbidding and ominous to me. I looked over the upstream side at the uprooted, whole trees, building materials and trash pressed against the bridge by the current, and wondered what was just under the muddy water, ready to tear a hole in a boat hull or crush a swimmer.


Along with trees and other hazards, flood waters may contain surprises. A snake crawls toward shore along the Harpeth

Fortunately, nobody in the area of the Harpeth Campground thought a swim or float would be fun, that day. In fact, as I listened to the scanner, the only people willing to risk everything to get on that water were the rescuers.

Ordinary boaters, as well as fire and police rescue squads, fish and game officers and professional water rescue crews were picking people off the roofs of their cars and houses, or anything that would float, and, occasionally, right out of the water. That activity went on every hour of daylight for days, and the crews who did it had to be exhausted by the time it was too dark to continue.

These people put their personal lives and their safety on hold for most of a week to do what they did; I salute them.

For stunning photos of flood rescues from last week,browse the Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean.

Don’t volunteer to be a flood victim, Volunteers. The flood will kill you if it you give half a chance. It doesn’t need any help from you.

For more information on flood safety, I will do something I don’t usually do: defer to a government authority on the subject. If you don’t have time for this, here’s one more chance:

flooding sign

Nature will get you eventually. Don’t volunteer to drown. (National Weather Service Flood Safety Awareness)

A Flood of Inattention

May 10, 2010
Cumberland at Ashland City, TN in better days

Cumberland River near Ashland City, TN, in better days -- August, 2008

Ah, how nature can turn. The gentle, slow-moving Cumberland River and its tributaries have given us lots of comfort and beauty, and not a few catfish.

Last weekend (May 1 and 2, 2010), however, nature turned mean. A vast and unstoppable force, sometimes raging, and other times creeping, the Cumberland and its tributaries surged out of their banks and up miles of roads, in through thousands of front doors, stealing irreplaceable personal and public treasures, and destroying dreams and lives.

Flood water under Cumberland River Bridge

Flood water churns under the Ashland City bridge over the Cumberland, twenty feet higher than normal. 5/5/10

Riverview Restaurant/Campground, Ashland City, TN 5/5/10

There it met the water from the second day of rains flowing downhill, having saturated the surrounding ground to the point where it could absorb no more than a paved parking lot. Inconsequential creeks and streams became roaring whitewater monsters.

Take the most rain ever to fall in Nashville over 48 hours… and double it. At one point along the Cumberland, in better days, a relatively civilized river was a few hundred feet across. By Monday morning, after over a foot of rain, that same stretch of river had swollen to thousands of feet across, and it carried cars, livestock and whole buildings along at an astonishing pace. Structures that weren’t floated off their foundations were crushed under the weight and pressure of millions of tons of running water, pushing debris ahead like battering rams. Every crushed building, uprooted tree and floating car added to the mass that careened downstream, multiplying the flood’s destructive power.

As the flood waters recede – and they continue to recede, a week later — they leave behind mud, building materials, brush, dead things, an evil stench, uncatalogued contaminants and nightmarish memories that will last as long as the survivors.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the system of dams, locks and generating sites along the Cumberland and other rivers in the region, had no experience to guide them in operating the flood gates and locks to best manage the water, because not since the completion of the system in the late ‘60s has so much rain fallen in so short a period. The best they could do for a few days was operate the system to keep the floods from destroying it, adding greatly to the surrounding destruction. That they did.

When I had time to watch national news, which was seldom, I was amazed at how little coverage was given to our situation. My amazement diminished when I thought about it.

I composed a “top-ten list” of reasons the lamestream media ignored this story:

10. Tennessee is a Red state. You could skip 9) through 1) now, and know all you need to know.

9. Al Gore didn’t call a press conference at his Nashville estate to blame the flooding on global warming.

8. People in Tennessee don’t sit around and wait for the gummint to give them a hand. They help themselves, and each other. No government dependency story, here, folks; move along!

7. New Orleans Progressive hack Ray Nagin is not the mayor of Nashville. Karl Dean is. Dean took personal responsibility for his city’s rescue and recovery, and was clearly in charge. No whining, no blame-shifting, just good communication and effective action.

6. People in Middle Tennessee cling to their bibles and guns. Looting makes good video, but it has not become a popular leisure-time activity here, because it is publicly frowned upon, and is likely to be fatal.

5. There is no way to blame it on Karl Rove, Halliburton or Dick Cheney.

4. CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and CNN did not inform the hacks and opportunists in Washington of events in Tennessee, thus depriving them of timely photo opportunities against a backdrop of hapless victims and tireless aid workers. No one watches MSNBC, so coverage there would not have mattered, anyway.

3. There was no way to blame it on Wall Street speculators, Big Oil or Big Tobacco.

2. It’s hard for the race mongers to claim racism, since people of all races got wet, and people of all races were immediately helping each other, without waiting for government permission or coercion.

1. There was no way to blame it on George W. Bush.

It doesn’t matter much to locals to notice the way we were ignored by a crisis-hungry White House and its propaganda engine, but it certainly tells us who our friends are – and aren’t — and how we stand in the eyes of the current establishment.

It’s not hard to imagine. Some primped New York twit from a network morning show in fashionable raingear, trailing a camera crew and makeup artist, walks up to a Bubba dragging soggy, stinking carpet out the front door of his mobile, or searching for his lost goats in the trees, or carrying a dripping family photo album. The twit sticks a microphone in his face, and asks, “So, how do you feel? Don’t you wish Bush and Cheney had done more to prevent this?”

Considering the most reasonable reaction to the kind of stupid question said twits are capable of, maybe it’s just as well. There were enough casualties from the flood waters, without adding any New York twits to the body count. A jury of peers would acquit Bubba in five minutes, but the lawsuits would go on forever.

Stick your microphone where the sun don’t shine, New York twits. We’ll manage without you, somehow.

After all, we’ve managed up to now.