Thursday, May 21, 2020

How is this even possible?

I don't understand how any of this is possible.

Why is a private person or entity allowed to own a dam?
It's not just my natural lefty tendancy to think of a dam as a public good that should be operated in the public interest, it also seems like an insanely dangerous idea to let one person have control over something that could wipe out thousands of lives and destroy millions of dollars worth of property.

Where I come from, there are four dams, the Pilarcitos, the Upper and Lower Crystal Springs, and the San Andreas. (Funny story, the San Andreas Fault was actually named after the San Andreas Dam after it was discovered that a seismic fault line ran under the ground where they had just built a new earthen dam. Heh heh heh, nothing to worry about, folks. Everything's fine! heh heh heh. . .

Golden Girls Nervous Laugh GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Anyway, the dams in San Mateo County are owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (long story, you can read about it here if you're interested). So every time there's an earthquake (and probably at other times as well), the SFPUC  sends engineers to inspect the dams to ensure their structural iintegrity. Because if the Pilarcitos dam was to give way, billions of gallons of water would flood the city of San Mateo nearly instantaneously killing a whole lot of people.

I assumed that's how it was everywhere. The dams around here all seem to be owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Who in holy Hell thought it was a good idea to leave something this vital to public safety in the hands of some sociopathic millionaire?

The Simpsons: Tapped Out - Road To Riches | CECIL RETURNS WITH NEW ...

I don't know, there's a Mr Burns / Sideshow Cecil joke in there somewhere.

Anyway, this story just gets worse from here:

Feds revoked dam’s license over safety issues. Then Michigan deemed it safe.

MIDLAND — Nine days after federal regulators revoked a license of the Edenville Dam over years of failing to fix “structural instability,” Michigan inspectors ruled it was in “fair” condition and allowed it to continue operating, records show.

Saved Favorite GIF - Saved Favorite OhForFucksSake GIFs

Sighhhhhh. . . Okay, first of all, Federal regulators just let him go for years not making repairs? No one MADE him make repairs? They just kept saying "hey, you know, you really oughta maybe think about not letting your dam get all decrepit and run down. Please?"

Then when they finally had enough, their solution was to revoke his license to operate the dam. So the dam is still there, holding back tons of water and falling further and further into dis-repair, it's just no longer generating electricity. And someone thought "problem solved! No need to worry any more about the dam breaking!" How did they think this was helping? It's like a restaurant is on fire and the answer is to revoke the owner's business license. The fire is still burning. The neighboring businesses are still in danger.

Then, as if this wasn't cement-head stupid enough, the Snyder Administration steps in and says"Nah, you go ahead and keep running your dam, we're sure that, as a private for-profit business you know what is best!"

And in the 19 months since that 2018 inspection, Michigan regulators didn’t  demand any repairs to the dam that failed Tuesday

Oh For GIF - Oh For Fucks GIFs

This is INSANE!

They said the dam was in FAIR condition. There is no FAIR condition for a dam. There is good condition and there is not good enough condition. It's not a used car. You can't look at a dam and say "yeah, she's probably got another couple hundred good miles in her." Someone needs to make these repairs. And since the owner has shown no interest in doing so, the dam needs to be taken away from him by the state or the feds and they can make the repairs and then operate it safely. Or the relevant state or federal agency could make the repairs themselves and bill the owner. If he doesn't pay, you foreclose on the dam. Or jail the son of a bitch. Or both.

Since at least 2004, federal regulators have demanded repairs to the dam, writing its owners “failed for many years to comply with significant license and safety requirements.” 

The Luong Road Ahead: "There are things I've done that nobody knows"

God DAMN IT ~ 2004? This shit has been going on since TWO THOUSAND AND FOUR?!?!
They have "failed to comply with . . .safety requirements?" Do you. . .do you understand what the word "requirements" means? You don't have the option to comply or not comply with fucking REQUIREMENTS! How was this allowed to go on for 16 fucking years? I mean, could Jon Dillinger have just said "I believe I will decline to comply with the requirement that I not rob banks?" Why do we even have laws?

Michigan regulators “had strong concerns the dam did not have enough spillway capacity” in the event of heavy rains and “expressed those concerns,” said Nick Assendelft, a state energy spokesperson.

Oh, they "expressed concerns?" Oh well why didn't you say so? Well that's a horse of a different color! If I had known that they not only had concerns, but had, in fact, expressed those concerns, well I guess there's no need for me to be upset. I mean, it sounds like they did everything they could possibly think of!

Tried Nothing GIF - Tried Nothing Flanders - Discover & Share GIFs

But regulators did not move beyond “continued conversations” about repairs, he said.  Instead, the state was focused on what it called illegal efforts by Boyce to lower water levels the past two years.

God Damn It GIF by Hitman's Bodyguard | Gfycat

Continued Conversations?

About his "illegal efforts to lower water levels?"
Do you not uinderstand what the word "illegal" means? It means arrest the motherfucker and take his fucking dam away before he gets someone killed.

Boyce generates power to sell to Consumers Energy, so regulation of its dam initially fell to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rather than state inspectors.
In court documents, federal regulators wrote Boyce repeatedly failed to improve its capacity to handle big floods, revealing “a pattern of delay and indifference to the potential consequences.” Fixing the dam was necessary “in order to protect life, limb, and property,” lawyers for the FERC wrote in January 2018. 

Yeah, no fucking kidding. So why didn't you do something about it?

I really don't understand why if you or I commit a crime, we get arrested. If a company commits a crime, the government's lawyers have to argue in front of a judge to try to be allowed to introduce some cionsequences which, if there are any, are negotiated with the company like it was some kind of a business deal. You always see these stories about how "Indiscriminate Deathcorp has agreed to pay 10 million dollars for dumping planeloads of flaming napalm onto residential neighborhoods. . ." I would love to commit crimes and then say to the police, "okay, here's what I'm willing to do: I'll ay a small fine and pick up trash on the weekend. Jail time? Ha! You must be joking, I definitely do not agree to that!"

For years, the FERC had told Boyce the dam didn’t meet design standards and could only drain about half of the expected “probable maximum flood” — the amount of water expected in the most severe storm that’s reasonably possible in the region.
Federal regulators told Boyce Hydro it needed to build two spillways to accommodate potential flooding,` and the company agreed.
But over the next 13 years, Boyce missed numerous deadlines to add the spillways, arguing it didn’t have enough money to finish the projects and couldn’t borrow more

Jesus Christ! Have these people never heard of eminent domain? You can't afford to run your dam in a way that doesn't endanger thousands of people? Well here's a check for the fair market value, minus all the fines that should be levied plus interest and penalties. It's our dam now. Oh, and you'll find that fair market value is gonna be quite a bit lower than you might have hoped because this dam is in a disgraceful state of disrepair.

All right, well now they've learned the hard way. Now there's a flood and they are having to come to grips with the failures of their laissez faire approach to public safety. Things are obviously going to be different now.

Federal regulators order Sanford Dam’s owner to investigate after flood
Wait, what?

MIDLAND COUNTY, MI – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered the owner of the Sanford Dam to establish an independent investigation team to determine why floodwaters overflowed the structure.

The company

The company is to establish a team

                                                   to investigate


The agency in charge of regulating the dams
                              wants the owner of the dam

                                         to investigate what went wrong

                                                      with the dam they own.

This is what we're doing? "Hey, Tony Soprano, would you and your guys look into why there's so much corruption in New Jersey? See if you can figure out who's responsible for all this crime and graft, would you?"

In a 2018 filing, regulators characterized dam owner Boyce Hydro as chronically non-compliant with regulatory requests to upgrade the dam. 

They didn't comply with REQUESTS!

Thanks Internet: Here's Another God Damn Supercut Of All The God ...

Why? Why were there requests? Why were there not orders? Why was there not enforcement? Why is no one looking out for us? They just get to do whatever they want and normal people just have to suffer the consequences. When do we take up our torches and pitchforks?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Putting things into perspective

Sometimes when things are tough, when it seems like life is just unfair, when you're living in trying times and you're worried and stressed out, it's nice to have someone with some understanding of history who can help you put things into perspective:

Like this guy:

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on March 18, 2020. (James Brooks / ADN)

Alaska legislator compares pandemic safety measures at Capitol to Nazi treatment of Jews

9 løgner alle jenter bruker for å slippe å ha sex med menn!

When lawmakers return to Juneau on Monday, they will be required to undergo a health screening. Those who pass the screening will be asked to wear a sticker.

Oh, shit! That is totally how the Jews were treated by the Nazis. They were given medical checkups and then those who were healthy were asked if they wouldn't mind maybe wearing a yellow star on their clothing so that people would know it was safe to interact with them. And then I think there was some other stuff, but really it was being screened to make sure they weren't infected with a deadly disease that was the real horror of the Holocaust.

“How about an arm band that won’t fall off like a sticker will?” Rep. Ben Carpenter wrote in a message copied to all 40 members of the Alaska House. “If my sticker falls off, do I get a new one or do I get public shaming too? Are the stickers available as a yellow Star of David?”

Search | Tumblr

Okay, first of all, it was the Nazis who wore armbands. 
Secondly, if you're going in to work when you have the Covid-19 virus, or if you haven't been checked to ensure that you don't have it, then you deserve public shaming. At the least! You're endangering the health and lives of everyone with whom you interact. Why is that such a dificult comcept for some people?

Two Jewish members of the Legislature immediately responded, again copying all members of the House.

“Ben, This is disgusting. Keep your Holocaust jokes to yourself,” wrote Rep. Grier Hopkins, D-Fairbanks.

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, said, “I don’t think a tag that we’re cleared to enter the building is akin to being shipped to a concentration camp. It’s more akin to needing a boarding pass when you get through TSA. This is that.”

Okay, well you may be Jewish, but I think I've got a pretty good handle on what is and isn't akin to the Holocaust! Having someone take my temperature to make sure I'm not sick - That's pretty much like what they did at Auschwitz!

Carpenter received support from fellow Republican Sarah Vance of Homer.
“We should all be concerned about the implications of being labeled as ‘non compliant’ or wearing a badge of ‘compliance,’” she wrote in response to Hopkins.

Exactly! Thank you! She gets it!

It's like when you vote and then they give you that "I voted" sticker. And they expect you to just put that on your lapel. And then if you don't there's zero consequences. Well what if I don't WANT to comply? What if I don't WANT to tell people I voted? It's a slippery slope, people. First they're giving you a sticker that indicates that you've gotten a clean bill of health and ASKING you to wear it, next thing you know, Krystallnacht!

I mean, when I think of the government using their power and authority to try to prevent a good man like Ben Carpenter from getting infected with a deadly contagion. . . oh, it makes me so angry!
And for the government of Alaska, which is supposed to be "of the people by the people FOR THE PEOPLE, to prevent this man from exercising his God-given right to spread a disease to his fellow legislators - - - I mean, the Founding Fathers must be turning over in their graves!

Braveheart GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

By phone, Carpenter said he didn’t intend to “rile somebody."
“I certainly have no ill will toward the Jewish nation and the Jewish people in our country,” he said.

Right, I mean who would think that comparing mild inconveniences to the fucking Holocaust might be upsetting to people from "the Jewish Nation?" Sorry you people are so easily "riled!"

He said he believes public health restrictions in Alaska are far out of proportion to the threat posed by COVID-19. Ten Alaskans have died from the virus, many fewer than the state’s annual death toll from influenza. He agreed that public health guidelines have contributed to that low COVID-19 death toll but said the danger has passed.

Look, the public health guidelines have worked, so the obvious thing to do is stop following them! Does Carpenter have to spell out everything for you dummies? If Carpenter says the danger has passed, that should be good enough for you. I mean who would know better? The CDC? Ha! Ben Carpenter is pretty much the gold standard of expertise when it comes to epidemiology.  I will have you know that Ben Carpenter graduated from. . .  Nisiki High school. . . wait, that can't be it. I mean, surely he went on to college, med school, PhD in virology, right?

(via Wikipedia)
Carpenter graduated from Nikiski High School in 1993. After graduation, he joined the United States Army, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Turkey and Kuwait with the United States Air Force.[1]
Afterward, Carpenter joined the Alaska Army National Guard, in which he was a special staff officer in the commanding general’s office. He later retired from the National Guard. Carpenter grows peonies and was president of the Alaska Peony Market Cooperative.[1]

Peonies! His specialty is peonies?

Van Zyverden Peonies Bowl Of Beauty- Roots (3-Set)-83480 ...

These things?

31 Types of Peonies (All Colors, Bloom Types and Varieties)

Okay, I may have to re-evaluate this whole thing. Maybe Ben Carpenter isn't the expert authority I had been led to believe he was. But even though he's not an actual virologist or immunologist or epidemiologist, I bet he knows a lot about the Nazis.

Alaska lawmaker says Hitler was not white supremacist

Oh Come On Bill Hader GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find ...

“Can you or I — can we even say it is totally out of the realm of possibility that covid-19 patients will be rounded up and taken somewhere?” he said later in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, arguing that officials are overreacting to the virus with limits on people’s liberty. “People want to say Hitler was a white supremacist. No. He was fearful of the Jewish nation, and that drove him into some unfathomable atrocities.”

Well, he does have a point. It is entirely possible that covid-19 patients may be taken somewhere. They could be taken to hospitals! Where they will be forced to endure, um, having ventilators assist with their breathing and , I don't know, probably getting poked with needles or something. And don't get me started on the spartan conditions they will have to withstand. I mean, my God, those beds!

Relaxing Homer Simpson GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sheer torture!

Other than that, though, I think he might be just a teensy bit off-base here. Hitler, it may surprise you to learn, was actually something of a white supremacist. He was what the experts refer to as the "dictionary definition" of the term "white supremacist." He absolutely believed in a hierarchy of races with white people at the top rung. He even believed that within the general category of white epeople their was a racial hierarchy with Nordic people at the top and Slavs on the bottom.

Okay, so I guess Ben Carpenter doesn't really know anything about Nazis either. But on the other hand, he does know a lot about peonies! So I think the people of Alaska should probably follow his lead when it comes to balancing out public health and safety with Freedommmmmmm!!!

Seems only sensible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stupid shithead of the day

I have to imagine that when the Founding Fathers established the House of Representatives, they pictured people in small towns across the 13 states getting together and deciding whom they should send to represent them in the Congress.

"I say we send Doc Johnson, he's an educated man!"
"Well if we're sending someone to make laws, we should send Bill Jones. He's a lawyer."
"I'd like to nominate Parson Brown. He's the most honest man in town!"

"well what about Miss Jackson, the schoolmarm?"

"Miss Jackson? Why she's a woman! Probably has boobies and everything. The schoolmarm! Well now I've heard everything!"

And so on.

But somehow we've gotten to the point where in many, if not most, of our congressional districts, the goal seems to be to find the stupidest nastiest shithead in the area to represent the good folks back home.

Case in point: Michigan's Justin Amash,

Justin Amash, a libertarian, seems unaware that he can ...

who had this astute observation re: scientists and Covid-19:

double take gif | Tumblr

Wait, what?

You think that it would be helpful for virologists or epidemiologists to have some knowledge of how a community feels?

What about that conservative motto:

"Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings 5" Art Prints by ...

I mean, is the communicability or the lethality of a virus affected by how people feel? How they eat, shop, work, etc?
Because I'm pretty sure that however you normally work, shop, conduct your business, the prescription for our current situation is the same. Stay the fuck at home, wear a god damn mask, stay at least 6 feet away from other people. It doesn't matter what your shopping habits were like last year. Things are different now.

Yes, because the way to fight a virus differs from one locality to another. Maybe in Detroit, the way to fight it is to stay home, shut non-essential businesses, wear masks and practice social distancing, but in, say, Lansing, the best way might be to STAY THE FUCK HOME, SHUT NON-ESSENTIAL FUCKING BUSINESSES, WEAR YOUR GODDAMM MASKS AND PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING YOU STUPID FUCKING SHITHEAD!!!

Angry Inside Out GIF by Disney Pixar - Find & Share on GIPHY

Oh my God, that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard!
Why in the Hell would you think that a grocery store owner would have a better understanding of how many people can be safely admitted into a building at once, or how far apart those people need to be spaced? And a line out the door is what you're worried about? And you think that the solution would be to take those people who are standing in line outside, potentially spreading the virus, and herd them all INSIDE THE STORE? This makes sense to you?

Have you even seen what businesses are doing with lines of customers? They're having them stand six feet apart until enough people leave the store that more can be allowed in. This isn't something that should be handled differently based on your particular locale. There is just no logic to the idea that a grocery store owner would have a better idea about virus containment than the governor who is advised by the CDC, the NIH, the WHO, the top scientists at Univerity of Michigan, Michigan State, whatever other university she wants to call up and ask for advice.

Oh, yeah. The most important and useful knowledge is that possessed by reg'lar Joes in their small-town neighborhoods. These fancy eggheads who have spent their entire adult lives studying the factors that are in play in this exact scenario don't know nothin'! Not compared to ol' Frank down at the Stuckey's. Why ol' Frank has lived in this here town purt near longer'n anyone can remember. He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year, but he has the kind of local knowledge you just cain't git from books or colleges or laboratories and such!

This is what we've come to. This is the kind of person who we put into positions of responsibility. There's no coming back. America is doomed.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Felice Brothers

How on Earth did it take until the Year of Our Lord 2020 for the Felice Brothers to be brought to my attention?

This is my new favorite band!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

So this is how it ends.

Years from now, when history teachers are telling their students about the decline and fall of the USA, their students aren't going to believe it.

They're going to have to tell them "You see, the US, like most countries, had a certain segment of the population that were stupid assholes. Now most countries just figure out a way to work around the stupid assholes, but in America they had a really screwed up system that allowed a few smart assholes to end up with all the money. And these smart assholes bought radio stations and TV networks and started think tanks and foundations all to convince the stupid assholes that they were actually the smart people ans that they were the most important and that the actual smart people were all out to get them because they were just evil or whatever, and then they convinced the rest of the country to pretend to take the stupid assholes seriously and to accomodate them in their delusions and basically let the stupidest assholes in the country be in control of every aspect of their society.

And they gave all the stupid assholes guns. Not like hunting rifles or six-shooters, like military-grade assault weaponry. And told them they should be allowed to take those weapons with them wherever they went.

 And that any time anything didn't go exactly the way they wanted it to, all they had to do was show up with those guns, and the rules would be changed to accommodate them."

A City Walked Back Its Face Mask Rule After Store And Restaurant Employees Received Threats
"We now have to weigh the safety of store owners and employees to threats of violence," said the city manager of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

"But wait," the students will say. "Wasn't the facemask rule there to protect people from a deadly disease?"

"Well, yes," the teachers will say. "But the stupid assholes were convinced that having to wear a mask to go shopping was an intolerable infringement on some undefined 'rights' that were more important than people dying from a virus."

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protesters rally outside of the Connecticut State Capitol for the right to return to work.

"which was not a huge leap for these assholes, since they had already declared that their right to bring a machine gun into Chipotle superseded the right of children to not be murdered in large numbers."

Joe the Plumber: ‘Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights’


Shocked Jim Carrey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

"anyway, it wasn't long before not taking common sense precautions during a deadly pandemic not only became a way for stupid assholes to demonstrate their courage strength and grit or whatever, it became something that they felt they needed to force on to other people."

Reopened restaurant tells workers: Don't wear face masks — or don't work

CBS News

Shocked David Bowie GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And at this point, the political party that controlled most of the country had just gotten fully on board with the idea that human lives were worth sacrificing in order to keep the money flowing.

Texas lt. governor on reopening state: 'There are more important things than living'

Chris Christie Says People ‘Are Going To Have To’ Accept More Deaths To Reopen Economy
Josephine Harvey

"Wait. So all this needless illness and death and misery was just so the stupidest assholes could project some kind of tough-guy image? Like they knew they were going to get people killed, maybe even themselves, but that was an acceptable price to pay to be able to look like big strong heroes?"

"Oh yeah. Toxic masculinity was huuuuge in the stupid asshole community. Just take a look at these sample tweets to get an idea of what patheitc, insecure, frightened little babies these men were."

"Yes, this was serious. There was an entire subculture dedicated to shaming men who didn't act appropriately brutish and shaming women for, well, for existing. So all it took was for their president, a man elevated to this position for being not only the stupidest, but the biggest asshole they could find, to dispairage the idea of wearing protective gear for the common sense precautions to become completely taboo for these wanna-be tough guys."

"So they all took their cues from this president? I assume he must have been the epitome of masculine strength ans fortitude. What was he, a former Green Beret? Am intrepid explorer? Champion prizefighter?"

Delusion vs. reality': Trump tweets photo of himself as Rocky ...

"You'd think so, wouldn't you? Actually, he was a pampered millionaire draft-dodger with a string of bankruptcies and failed marriages who spent most of his time complaining about how someone had been 'unfair' to him. Oh, and he looked like this:"

New Data Proves Trump Voters More Likely to Have High BMIs

"And so this is why the US collapsed?"

"well, honestly it wouldn't have mattered, because the stupid assholes had already ensured that nothing would ever be done about global warming, which is why we now have to do everything underwater,

Open Water SCUBA Certification Class | Mac's Sport Inc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Bad Ads -- Domino's Pizza

This is some condescending bullshit.

Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying"because of the Corona Virus Crisis, we're doing a lot more deliveries so we need to hire some drivers. I f you're looking for a job, we're hiring."  That's perfectly fine. No one would bew offended by that. There's no need to sugarcoat that. But don't sit there and look me in the eye with a straight face and pretend that you're performing some kind of a public service. "we're committed to helping YOU put food on YOUR table." No you're not. No you're fucking not. Don't pretend you give a shit about us. Do not - do NOT - dare to act like you're doing people some kind of a favor by hiring them to deliver your "pizza." Like we don't know that having pizzas delivered is the lifeblood of your business? Like we don't know that this is your business model 12 months a year?
You're actually going to sit there and pretend that you're not in the "pizza" business to make money - oh, no, perish the thought! We're just civic-minded people who are committed to putting food on people's tables during this time of crisis! We only want to help!
Jesus Christ, how stupid do you think we are?
Just say you're hiring drivers because you need drivers. We're all fine with that. No one is going to get their nose out of joint because you're making a rational business decision. Because for once, the rational business decision isn't hurting anyone. It might actually even help some folks. But we know damn well that folks getting helped is just a byproduct of your hiring needs. We know why you're hiring drivers and we're fine with that. You don't need to lie to our faces.

P.S. your pizza sucks.