Somebody needs to do some more research into the effect of TV news hype on the course of storms. The storm-repellent effect of excessive coverage seems especially strong here in the media center of the world.
If hot air isn't enough protection for you, here's more on how to protect yourself in a hurricane.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @11:30 PM
Thank you for representing us so well in the U.S. Senate. I'm writing to urge you to continue doing that, despite all the rumblings on the Garden State street about how you're being urged to abandon your Senate seat and run for governor of New Jersey. Most of the reports I've read say you're not interested, and I hope that's true because we really can't spare you in the Senate. For one thing, when our national budget is made up of supplemental after supplemental for urgent purposes such as war, we need someone in that august body who can not only orate but do the math. For another, we need someone in there who isn't beholden to anyone, and considering that you funded your own campaign, that'd be you.
Dear Senator Corzine,
The other day I was reading a biography of George Washington when I came across a line he wrote that I now send to you. It was after the American Revolution, but our nation was still a loose alliance, connected only by the Articles of Confederation. Many of the patriots who had led the way in 1776 were back in their home states and embroiled in politics there, leaving the federal level to fend for itself. This is what he wrote to one of them:
"Our political system may be compared to the mechanism of a clock...it answers no good purpose to keep the smaller wheels in order if the greater one which is the support and prime mover of the whole is neglected."
Thanks again for your service to this country, and please keep on keeping on in the Senate.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @12:09 PM
Good morning, Governor. Here's a briefing for your first day on the job as America's first openly gay governor.
Dear Governor McGreevey,
On the job, governor. As in at work. I know you've been through a lot with everything that led up to yesterday's press conference, and from what I hear you may have to devote some time to dealing with legal matters, but hey: you're the one who said you'd remain governor until Nov. 15, right? And as a footsoldier in the New Jersey Democratic Party, I do appreciate that. So keep governing until then, please, just like we elected you to do.
A couple of things to remember at all times:
a) You were honest yesterday. Keep on being honest and you'll be able to spin that to your advantage: the nation's first openly gay governor, the nation's first openly honest governor. See? You have no privacy left now anyhow, so don't waste any more energy trying to hide anything.
b) You are now a national, even international public figure. Before you came out, you were just another New Jersey politician. Now everybody in America knows your face, your name, and that you're gay, even if they know nothing else.
Now that you're out, you might want to reconsider some of your previous positions. For example, do you still believe, as you said time and time again when you were trying to pass for heterosexual, that marriage should be reserved for opposite-sex couples? If so, could you explain why you believe that people like you should be treated as second-class citizens? Wait -- before you answer, keep in mind that you have a new constituency now. From now until Nov. 15, you are the highest-ranking openly gay public official in the nation, and one of the highest-ranking in the world. So seize the day. No, no -- I don't mean putting pals on the payroll. Do your job and represent your new national constituency while you still can. And by the way, it may not technically be nepotism when you put a significant-other-to-whom-you-re-not-legally-married on the state payroll, but it's still wrong. So -- what's your position on same-sex marriage now? Speak right up, and hurry before they turn the TV cameras elsewhere. The rest of your political career, if any, may depend upon your answer.
But not just that, governor. You see, once you're not governor anymore, it may not be so easy for you to have a significant other from another country. You probably wouldn't be able to get him a job, and permission to have that job, by pulling strings where you work. He might not even be able to get permission to live here, so you might have to move to his country, where you might have even more trouble getting permission to work, or even live. That's because we don't have equal marriage rights in this country. Now if things had turned out differently in this scandal -- say, if your wife had found out about the affair and just ended the marriage quietly, then you could have purchased a mail-order bride from a poor country to serve in her stead. (For some reason, the religious right and other homophobes don't see the right to buy a bride as a threat to anybody's marriage.) That domestic partnership thing you came up with didn't do anything to help couples of the same sex but different nationalities, like you and the guy mentioned in all those news stories.
So are you now in favor of equal marriage rights?
Oops -- too late. The Republicans are holding a press conference demanding that you resign immediately so they can run someone for the job Nov. 2. So don't just hold the position, governor. Stay on the job.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @12:04 PM
Today, two open letters to two of my elected representatives. The first, to Gov. James McGreevey, and the second to Sen. Jon Corzine.
Open letters to my elected representatives
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @9:55 AM
New Jersey has a gay governor. But not for much longer. These photos aren't representative of Governor McGreevey's aborted term at the helm of the Garden State. They're just the only ones we took ourselves. If there is any one representative symbol of McGreevey's accomplishments as governor, it's the TV ads about the new improved Motor Vehicle Commission. Thank you, governor, for taking this state from driver's licenses that DIDN'T EVEN HAVE PHOTOS into the 21st Century. Here's our photo tribute:
Out of the closet, out of the statehouse
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @7:14 PM
New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey stunned the state and the nation this afternoon when he announced that (a) he's gay and (b) he's resigning.
'I worked hard to ensure that I was accepted as part of the traditional family of America'
In a related matter, earlier today the California Supreme Court declared more than 4,000 same-sex marriages solemnized earlier this year in San Francisco null and void. The court did not address the issue of whether California's prohibition against such unions, only whether a local official could decide unilaterally whether a state law is valid or should be upheld. The issue of whether California's prohibition against same-sex unions is constitutional is the subject of other legal actions now making their way toward the state Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, I have some questions for the people who think they're defending marriage by insisting that only opposite-sex couples have the right to make such commitments. Do you folks believe the prohibition against same-sex unions protected either of Governor McGreevey's legal marriages? Do you believe you're protecting ANYBODY's marriage? If so, WHOSE???
The prohibition against same-sex marriage and the bigotry against homosexuality forces every gay or lesbian into an impossible choice: lie, or disappear. Because all the conservative Christians, all the gay-bashing teenagers, all the homophobes in the world cannot make homosexuals disappear. They can, as they do now, deny them more than 1,600 rights on the Federal level that are reserved for heterosexuals -- or those who pretend to be heterosexual. Societal pressure can, and does, force people who are not heterosexuals to make commitments and establish households and bring children into the world all on the basis of a lie. Again, whose marriage does that defend?
Jim McGreevey wanted to be accepted by society, so he conformed, lying to himself and everyone else, because lying is what society required of him. Another New-Jersey-born politician, Bayonne native Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chose a different course: he was honest about being gay. And so he is denied the rights that society grants to those who lie.(He could get married in Massachusetts, of course, but he and his spouse would still be denied those 1,600 Federal rights.) If you believe that your marriage, or anybody else's marriage, is protected by those lies, or by society's rewards for those lies, then please explain.
"I worked hard to ensure that I was accepted as part of the traditional family of America," McGreevey explained at his news conference today. "From my early days in school, until the present day, I acknowledged some feelings, a certain sense that separated me from others. But because of my resolve, and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, good things, and all the, quote, right things of typical adolescent and adult behavior."
Today, it may seem to Mr. McGreevey and most everyone else that his political career is over. But it could be just beginning. Mr. McGreevey, thank you for being honest. Now please keep on being honest. If you need any help with that, you might want to call Rep. Frank.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @5:15 PM
Hubba, hubba, Hubble: The Hubble Space Telescope, which appeared to be headed for oblivion, will be rescued after all. NASA Director Sean O'Keefe announced yesterday that a robotic mission will be sent to repair the ailing eye in the sky within 3 years.
Heavenly news of the day
Catch a falling star: There'll be fireworks tonight, way, way up in the sky. Astronomers say this year's Perseid meteor shower could be the most spectacular show in years. Last year, the full moon made the meteors harder to see, but this year the moon will be a mere sliver and is not expected to interfere. Clouds or ambient light from cities and streetlights could make the falling stars less visible, of course.
The best times to watch will be after 9 p.m. tonight, or between 2 a.m. and dawn tomorrow.
Stem cells in space: Despite the Bush administration's restrictions on stem cell research, a group of British stem cells will be rocketing into orbit on a future NASA mission. The controversial cells are expected to thrive there, away from the gravity and politics of earth.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @4:22 PM
Today's post is a reply to the comment made by a person identified only as "casual" in response to yesterday's post, which ended with these questions:
A casual comment about fear
What difference is there, if any, between terror and fear of terror? And if people who cause terror are called terrorists, then what do we call people who cause fear of terror?
Here's Casual's comment:
"Here might be an answer to your ( rhetorical) question:
As you can see, what you are fighting is people who seem to think that the Vietnam war was justified- how are you gonna argue with people like that? Fear mongering is acceptable during times of war, because it's in our best interest. "
Hi, Casual. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
My questions weren't rhetorical: I'm asking sincerely: does the fear caused by terrorism feel any different to the person experiencing it than fear caused by fear of terrorism? I believe both fears feel pretty much the same to the people who are afraid.
Today, some new questions, every bit as sincere: is fear mongering EVER acceptable? Is it ever helpful?
Casual, I'm assuming we don't know each other, which is easy to do since I don't know your name. Since we aren't acquainted, you probably don't know that I am a former volunteer firefighter. When I was being trained to deal with fires and other emergencies, never ONCE did our instructors tell us that generating panic in an emergency would be helpful. On the contrary, they taught us how to deal not only with the public's fears, but with our own. Later, when I was responding to emergencies as a firefighter, I never, ever encountered a situation in which it would have been helpful to frighten everyone -- or even a single person -- on the scene. I don't know any firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician or any other emergency response personnel who ever felt that generating fear was the least bit helpful.
In non-emergencies, I worked with several fire departments on fire prevention programs, advising families to install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, to hold household fire drills, to establish a rendezvous point outside the home. I never, ever advised them to panic. I don't know any fire department anywhere that does.
If you've been reading this blog frequently during the past year, you may have learned that I am a veteran journalist. As a reporter in California, I put together a special newspaper section on earthquake preparedness. I recommended that readers stock up on bottled water, make sure they had flashlights, batteries, and emergency provisions. But I did not tell them, "Hey, there may be an earthquake any minute, but if you get really, really afraid, that'll prevent it."
And if you're a regular visitor here, then you know that I've posted photo after photo of low-flying helicopters and airplanes over Manhattan, and expressed concern about them. So really: I'm not surprised that helicopters and limos and boats are a threat. I'm surprised that the government seems so surprised, nearly 3 years after the 9/11 attacks. Is it just now occurring to them, thanks to the information they got from the secret agent they arrested and outed? Now THAT'S scary.
As a former first-responder, I wish that instead of telling everybody to be afraid, the government would help all of us prepare for whatever emergencies may come our way, whether terror attacks, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, accidents or plagues. We should all know more first aid. We should all learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which can in some cases raise the [clinically] dead). Maybe everybody doesn't need to know how to improvise a Class D fire extinguisher (use dirt), but everybody who works or lives in a high-rise needs to practice getting out in an emergency. OK, we're at war with terror. But if all we do is experience terror, then that war is lost. In World War II, we got busy and we got organized. Every neighborhood had an air-raid warden. Shouldn't our 21st Century neighborhoods prepare for emergencies as well, even if those emergencies aren't likely to require us to black out all our windows? In WWII, people recycled every scrap of useful metal, and grew as much of their own food as possible in Victory Gardens. Why aren't we making that same kind of effort now? One reason we're in this situation is our dependence on foreign oil. So why not conserve petroleum products like they saved aluminum foil 60 years ago? Back then, some things were rationed, to help the war effort. Are we cutting back on anything to fight the war on terror, except funding for first-responders? Yes, we are cutting back on one other thing: taxes for the rich, but not for ordinary working people.
As for this:
what you are fighting is people who seem to think that the Vietnam war was justified
Huh? Is there anybody left who thinks the Vietnam war was justified?
While that war was going on, I was -- not fighting, but arguing with -- people who thought that war was justified. I felt then and I feel now that my work against that war was a service to my country.
Now we're fighting a very different kind of war. For one thing, it's not exactly the war on terror: it's terror's war on us, since the nebulous, nationless terrorists invaded and attacked us first. We've invaded and attacked a couple of nations since then, one of which was connected to those attacks, the other of which wasn't. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are still active in Afghanistan, and Iraq -- just look at the headlines. Terror is still at war with us, and it's time we got serious about our response to it. We need regular evacuation drills in high-rise buildings. We all need to become at least minimally qualified as first responders, because you never know when you'll become one. We need a plan, not a color-coded panic chart.
Thanks again for your comment, Casual. Let's keep talking: that's the only way we'll ever get back to a red, white and blue America, instead of red states and blue states. We're all in this together.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @5:40 PM
Look! What's that over there? It's a motorboat!
Hey, look! It's a helicopter! And over there: a limo!
The most disconcerting thing about today's terror-alert twist is not that the government is announcing that helicopters and/or limos could be used as weapons. It's that they seem so surprised, nearly 3 years after the 9/11 attacks, as if those possibilities were breaking news.
Perhaps that's because someone wants to distract us from the real breaking news:
Remember that big arrest last week of the Al Qaeda operative in Pakistan? Turns out it was a mistake: the guy was one of OUR secret agents. Oops! And then -- oops! -- the Bush administration leaked the agent's name.
Remember the guy who sat next to Laura Bush at the State of the Union address earlier this year, Ahmad Chalabi? Chalabi, an Iraqi who returned from exile along with the U.S. invasion forces, is reported to have been the source of many of those claims about weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi interim government issued a warrant for his arrest today on charges of counterfeiting. He fell out of favor with the U.S. several months ago when suspicion arose that he was a spy for Iran.
Remember Chalabi's nephew, Salem Chalabi, an attorney who was chosen to prosecute the case against Saddam Hussein? A warrant was issued for his arrest today, too, on charges of murder.
Remember the invasion of Iraq, which the current administration insisted would make the world a safer place? So far it hasn't -- au contrere -- but Iraq seems to be getting more dangerous by the minute.
Tomorrow, maybe they'll be warning us that attacks could come on roller skates. Or, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon, whose name became "Marvin K. Mooney" in the book Dr. Seuss wrote about him, let's also be on the lookout for attacks by Bumble Boat, Zumble Zay, Zike Bike, Jumble Jet, old blue shoes, or Ga-Zooms.
Meanwhile, maybe you can answer this question, because I haven't been able to: What difference is there, if any, between terror and fear of terror? And if people who cause terror are called terrorists, then what do we call people who cause fear of terror?
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @5:03 PM
Once upon the waterfront, a seagull perched on the 14th Street Pier:
The Sailing Seagull: a true story
He chose his perch carefully: right next to the faucet the fishermen use to clean their catch. If any of them caught anything -- sea bass, bluefish, eel --he'd get a piece of the action.
There was plenty to watch while he waited for lunch. Helicopters:
and, of course, other seagulls:
But he could see those any time he took to the air. As he waited, his thoughts on fish, his attention turned to the water. He saw sailing sloops:
He looked downright forlorn as the ferries sped by him:
And since the fishing poles nearby didn't seem to be getting even a nibble...
The seagull decided to do some sailing himself:
It was fun for awhile, but eventually, the seagull decided to fly to Manhattan for lunch instead:
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @10:13 PM