~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ice Storm 2009

We were without power for 48 hours, and were lucky/well prepared so that it was a relatively minor inconvenience. My heart goes out to those who are still without power, and even more sorrow goes out to the families who lost loved one in the storm.

I've read on several blogs this week wondering why Kentucky hasn't been thrown in President Obama's face as his Katrina, or why his weak response hasn't been demonized in the press the way Bush's response to New Orleans was. And while I can understand the frustration over the all too obvious double standards of the MSM, these bloggers seem misguided to me. Jeff Taylor at Reason, however, hits all the right notes:

The reality is that even after the emergency management reforms allegedly implemented after Hurricane Katrina, help from far-off Washington still does little in times of fast-moving crisis. This view may be heresy in the age of federal bailouts, but it is still true.

To put the ice storm response in perspective, remember that it was not until the Clinton administration that the federal government was even expected to deal with winter storms. It took Clinton's shrewd Arkansas crowd to identify the political potential of turning states and localities into federal dependents via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and related federal disaster assets. Soon enough state and local officials were petitioning Washington for any and all weather-related expenses. The result has been millions of dollars flowing out of Washington.


Natural disasters arbitrarily bring death and destruction. They act beyond the control of mortal man and his institutions, no matter how grand and well-intentioned those institutions may be. Furthermore, the iron law of all disasters is that it is nearly impossible to get aid quickly to people in need. Two corollaries flow from this reality. One, that it is always better to evacuate potential victims than to attempt to rescue certain victims. This, of course, is precisely what did not happen in New Orleans or in the path of the ice storm. Two, given that outside help will be unreliable at best, local ad hoc relief efforts are almost always more effective.

Enter David Strange, the enterprising figure the Associated Press calls the "generator man." Strange drove the hills and hollows of backwoods Kentucky delivering and setting up generators to those without power—at a $50 to $100 mark-up over retail. Willing customers included a dialysis patient and a powerless 80-year-old woman dependent on an oxygen system. They called him a "godsend," although Strange prefers "jack of all trades" or even "hustler." To Adam Smith, he would be recognizable as an agent of the invisible hand.

FEMA is by it's own nature slow and cumbersome, local response is always faster and more effective, and private citizens can be the best help of all. Read the whole thing.

Also, it helps immensely to plan ahead for these emergencies at the individual level. Not enough Americans think about these matters in the age of flatscreens and Bu-Ray and Wii consoles and Iphones. The prepared family incurs the least hardship, and the best comprehensive disaster planning guide I've found is this five part diary at Daily Kos. It's carefully organized according to the logic that only comes after years of serious thought. I highly recommend it. (And yes, I'm linking Kos. It's that important.)

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama: Change means outspending Bush

President Bush set a number of records in deficit spending over the last eight years: No Child Left Behind; 15 billion for AIDS relief in Africa; the first President in history to federally fund embryonic stem cell research; and the single biggest entitlement program in American history, the Medicare Prescription Bill.

Last night in Williamsburg President Obama said,

"But come on, we're not — we are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin.

We can't embrace the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face [Damn that parsimonious Bush and his stingy Republican ways!- ed]; that ignores critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil [Historical note: Obama is the second president to publicly call our dependence on cheap oil energy an "addiction",] or the soaring cost of health care, or falling schools and crumbling bridges and roads and levees."

What's Glenn's running joke? They told me that if I voted for McCain I'd get a third Bush term. And they were right!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Booooooo! bAD form!

The first in a new Kadnine Blog Series in which I highlight truly awful advertising gimmicks.

So, I'm working late and feeling peckish. I need a snack to tide me over till dinner so I can concentrate on the tasks thrown up before me on my computer screen. I don't want to be there after hours, but hey! Duty calls. I buy a Snickers bar from the vending machine and settle back in at my desk. On the front it reads, "SNICKERS" in the usual size and font. On the back side, it reads, "NOUGATOCITY" in the same font. Inside the wrapper is the "definition":

"Nougatocity /nu-gat-a-si-tE/ (noun). A heightened yet fleeting state of accomplishment that makes you realize how unbelievably unmotivated you normally are."

I imagine the ad execs at Mars, INC just sitting around the ol' brainstorming table asking themselves "who is our core customer base?"

And all they could come up with was self-loathing slackers with low self-esteem and no impulse control? And this was given the go ahead? Really?

Why not just go with, "SNICKERS: It Satisfies Yer never gonna lose the weight, so why bother trying?" Or, "Try our oblong lozenge of shame! Now with even more nougaty condescension!"

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The upside to our downturning economy

It's pretty thin gruel, but this anti-anti-smoker will take whatever he can get:

Economic fears snuff out smoking bans

In this economy, lawmakers are more willing to let people smoke 'em if they got 'em.

As recently as last year, many states and major cities seemed ready to adopt complete indoor smoking bans. But the movement to kick all smokers outdoors has stalled as the recession worsens and lawmakers fear hurting business at bars, restaurants and casinos.

"This economy, it creates a little more sympathy for the business person. So when we say this is going to put us out of business, believe me, they're listening," said Mike Moser, executive director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association.

Twenty-three states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have indoor smoking bans covering bars and restaurants. No one else has adopted a ban in the early weeks of this year's legislative sessions.

In Colorado, lawmakers are considering easing the rules after they banned smoking in most bars, restaurants and casinos.

New Jersey put off a smoking ban for Atlantic City casinos after five of 11 casinos warned they could file for bankruptcy by year's end. In Virginia, a proposed statewide ban stalled this year after lawmakers expressed concern about the economy.

Moser's group opposes an indoor smoking ban that has been offered in Wyoming. After businesses raised objections, state lawmakers last month exempted bars from the legislation.

In cities that have banned smoking in bars, "it's just killing them," said Mike Reid, owner of a wine bar in Casper. Reid voluntarily banned smoking in his bar, but opposes the forced ban as president of the liquor association.

"When someone builds a business with a clientele that smokes, they should be able to go in there and smoke," Reid said.

(Via: The Anchoress)

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