Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Some thoughts after the Hawaii missle scare

A few days ago someone accidentally sent a real alert about a missile strike heading towards Hawaii. The latest thing I read about this incident was that there was a menu of items to select from. Some of those items on the menu used plain English, some used government acronyms.

It should be realized that if there is a way to screw something up, someone will find a way of doing it. This is not the first time something like this has happened. Apparently someone got confused and selected the wrong item.

Years ago, the government system for warning against missile attacks was tested every Saturday morning. A message would be sent out on AP and UPI news teletypes. Radio stations would check the message, which consisted of two words, with the list of test phrases. If they matched, the system was presumed to be working.

Radio stations have, or used to have, a red envelope. If a message came down and it was not the test time, or if the message did not match the test list, someone at the radio station was to open the red envelope. Inside the red envelope was a list of words. If the message on the teletype matched the words in the red envelope then the message was authenticated as a real alert and the system was to be activated.

One Saturday morning in 1971 someone at the control center "pushed the wrong button," sending the real message. No one acted on the alert, figuring that someone must have pushed the wrong button as it came at the same time as the weekly test. Now if someone at a small mom and pop radio station in Kentucky knew the test happened at the same time every Saturday morning, don't you think that the Kremlin knew the test happened at the same time every Saturday morning? There was a reason the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning.

In 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (the "World Series" quake) struck the San Francisco area.

Many people felt that it showed the weakness of the old Emergency Broadcast System. There was a limited number of people who could activate the EBS system and no one activated it after the earthquake. Because of that a new system was designed. This new system, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) was designed to overcome those weaknesses. Many more people were now in a position to activate the system. The new system would automatically take control of "downstream" broadcasters rather than rely on someone knowing what they were doing at those stations. (A few years ago, someone activated a test of the system but forgot to release it for several hours, meaning all radio stations in the chain were stuck relaying the primary station's audio that entire time.)

So radio stations had to spend several thousand dollars on the new EAS system because we did not want another earthquake to occur without the system being activated.

There was an earthquake in the Seattle area in 2001. While it was not as big as the Loma Prieta earthquake, it was still a big one. I had been through several earthquakes before. Usually they just come, shake things up for 5-10 seconds, then go away. This one shook for at least 45 seconds.

By this time the new EAS system was in place. It was not activated. The system that was designed because the old system was considered a failure because it was not activated after an earthquake was not activated after an earthquake. Why not? It was felt that since it was an earthquake, and everyone knew it was an earthquake, then why activate it to tell everyone there was an earthquake?

"Hi. I'm from the government and I am here to help."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Flu Season

I belong to a closed group facebook page with 659,000 other nurses. They are massively reporting that nationwide hospitals are over-capacity, patients are being housed in hallways and surgical units, and some hospitals have resorted to putting up tents in the parking lots. Many ER's are on divert status, with no where to divert. Hospital staff are dropping like flies. Nurses who have been practicing 30-40 years are reporting that this is the worst flu season they've ever seen.

I don't know why this isn't on the news. Perhaps they're trying to prevent a panic. So heads up my friends: if you have the flu, stay home. Hell, if you don't have the flu, stay home! There are two very nasty strains going around. This year's flu shot missed the mark (again).

Remember that the flu is a virus, and antibiotics won't help. Crawl under a bunch of warm soft blankets, keep hydrated, and use tylenol for the pain. Don't go anywhere near a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office if you can help it. If you have underlying health issues, be aware that many ER's are so overwhelmed they are taking STEMI (heart attack) patients only. Other ER's have a wait time of 10-12 hours in the big cities, less in rural areas.

Stay well!

Haiti IS a Shithole

So, while the media is having an apoplectic fit over the "Haiti is a shithole" comment *allegedly* said by President Trump, I'm thinking two things:

1. Look at what his other hand is doing, and
2. Haiti? Did he just lob a grenade into the Clinton swamp? I think he did!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

It's Time For....Froglegs!

His "interview" with Sheila Jackson Lee had me howling. I love this guy.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Streep the defender

Meryl Streep is looking out for the best interests of women. She has harsh words for Melania and Ivanka Trump for their silence about sexual harassment. Yes, Meryl Streep certainly stands up for the protection of women everywhere.

If fact she just accused serial sexual-harasser Dustin Hoffman of overstepping his bounds by slapping her in a scene of the movie Kramer vs. Kramer. You know, that film from 1979. Over thirty-eight years ago.

Her condemnation of convicted child rapist Roman Polanski was inspiring. From the day she first went to Hollywood, Streep refused to have anything to do with Harvey Weinstein. Streep also led the outcry against Hillary Clinton and her part silencing Bill's victims.

It is great to see Streep take such a brave, non-political stand against the Trumps.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Random thoughts from Springfield

The Simpsons is a funny show. Sometimes it even makes you laugh  

I have not seen the show in years. I found that it turned into a “See what famous celebrity we have as a guest voice this week” parade. Not only is this boring -- interesting storylines tend to go by the wayside, but there is a technical issue when you are dealing with movie and TV stars. Voices record differently when someone is on a boom mic or lavaliere mic as opposed to working close to a studio mic as would be used to record a show such as The Simpsons. To illustrate that point, watch some of the following video. It is from an interview of Peter Thomas. You may not know the name, but you probably know the voice. I am sure you will recognize the voice in the sample from NOVA. After that sample, listen to his voice during the interview.

For narrating, Mr. Thomas works closely with a studio microphone. In the interview he is using a lavaliere microphone. He almost sounds like two different people with the two different types of microphones. If you have a movie or TV star voicing a cartoon, that star’s voice will be almost as unrecognizable compared to how you normally hear him. So how can having a famous star be a guest on The Simpsons be effective if no one knows who it is without it being pointed out? If they were there as an actor doing a role that would be one thing, but since the main point of their being on The Simpsons is that they are a famous star being featured then the fact that no one recognizes them is significant.

I have been thinking about The Simpsons after the recent news that people complained about the portrayal of Apu and how derogatory it is to Hindu people.  Imagine, the show that brought us Homer Simpson actually portraying someone in a derogatory fashion. Oh, the horror!

I had a memory from years ago when I travelled a lot on business. In this memory I checked into a motel one Sunday evening. I turned on the TV and The Simpsons was in the middle of that week’s episode.

I did not see how the episode began, but when I tuned in Homer was going out of his way to insult everyone of faith in the show. He was derogatory towards Hinduism with Apu. He made fun of Crusty the Clown for his Judaism. Reverend Lovejoy and his Christianity were not spared. Later, Homer took a nap on his sofa while smoking a cigar. He fell asleep, setting the sofa – and consequently the house – on fire.

The Springfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire. Members of the fire department included Apu, Crusty the Clown, and Reverend Lovejoy. When the fire jumped from Homer’s house to Ned Flanders’s house next door (Ned also being a devout Christian), Homer was thrilled – but a sudden rain cloud appeared above the Flanders’s house to extinguish the flame there. After the fire in the Simpson home was out, it was pointed out to Homer that people of different faiths came to his aid – even after the way he had treated them.

I thought that was a very good episode of The Simpsons . It was not their usual type of storyline. I wanted to see the entire episode. 

A few years later I saw an episode with Lisa as the central character. In this episode Lisa became a vegetarian. The special guests were Paul and Linda McCartney.

I read a magazine article about twenty-five years ago that made an interesting observation: any episode where Lisa is the central character usually is not very good. This episode was a prime illustration of that point. It was not very funny (except it did have my favorite line from any Simpson's – Apu was showing Lisa the way up to his private garden on the roof of the Qwik-E-Mart. The stairs were behind a secret door behind a fake display of non-alcoholic beer. Lisa asked, “What if someone wants a non-alcoholic beer?” Apu replied, “The subject has never come up.”)

In the late ‘90’s, a Seattle TV station showed The Simpsons twice every weekday evening, once at 6:30 and again at 7:30. I regularly watched those broadcasts. I noticed that Lisa’s vegetarian episode would show at 6:30 and a month later it would show at 7:30. A month after that it would be back on at 6:30, rinse and repeat.

Homer’s religious episode? It was nowhere to be seen. I honestly thought I might have dreamt that episode. It was an unusual episode for The Simpsons. I had seen the Lisa episode many times but not that particular Homer episode. Finally after a couple of years I finally saw it. It was real. I had not dreamt it. 

I guess the powers that be figured we could be lectured over and over about vegetarianism, but not about the beauties of faith, religion, and selflessness.

And Lo! Before us!

Oh, thank heaven. After the terrible news that Orin Hatch will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term, a savior has come to ease our burden. Mitt Romney will consider accepting an anointment – I mean will consider running for Hatch’s seat in the Senate.

Already Romney’s Twitter feed shows him to be in Utah rather than Massachusetts. This is a good move. We need another Democratic Senator to oppose President Trump, even if that Senator is technically a Republican.

How can the country survive with a President who ran for the office pledging certain courses of action – and actually working to fulfil those pledges? What is he thinking? The peons might actually expect honesty from the elites if this is allowed to stand.

We need a Senator who runs as a Republican, then completely forgets every promise he made as a candidate and serves as a Democrat. We need a Senator who believes that when the Democrats are in the majority things need to be done the way Democrats want because they are in the majority, but when the GOP is in the majority things need to be done the way Democrats want because that is the fair thing to do.

And who would better serve the people of Utah as a Senator than the former governor of a liberal north-eastern state?

Romney needs to run. After all, you can’t have enough RINO’s working at Uni-Party headquarters.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year Comrades

Matt and I are messing around with the blog layout and trying to clean things up a bit.  We have deleted some long dead links and added some new shiny ones.  Much has been done arbitrarily but we will be emailing most of you for consensus on some other changes.  Sorry to jump in with both feet without warning you first.  Our new year's resolution is: Action over procrastination.

If we have removed something you can't live without, please let us know and we will endeavor to return it.

Meanwhile please feel free to be offended by the hilarious Billy Connolly who lets us know, in no uncertain measure, his views on beigeism.  And for the sensitive souls amongst us please know that Billy's language is far from beige.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

'Tis The Time...

...for the Christmas music.  Now that Hanukkah is over, let's go full Christmas! Wishing us all a blessed Christmas and a sublime, interesting, and fulfilling new year ahead.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sweet Jane

I have been listening to an interesting series of BBC Radio 2 podcasts called Celluloid Jukebox.  In the series I am currently enjoying, the host details a history of 60 years of pop music in the movies.

I had quite forgotten how beautiful Margo Timmins voice is until the host played the Cowboy Junkies version of Sweet Jane which was featured on the soundtrack of Tarantino's Natural Born Killers.

And for you purists, here's a Lou Reed live version: