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This Week in Doom Sept. 16: Florence


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 15, 2018

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

 ― Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5 


Hurricane Florence stormed the East Coast this week inducing dread that roiled millions and left seventeen dead as of Sunday. When they tot up the final losses, what they'll miss are the people who died from stress induced by weather reporting hysteria.

The Weather Channel stands alone. They started weather reporting hysteria as a cynical marketing strategy. They have put their reporters front and right in the middle of the storm. They stand in knee-deep water, windbreakers flapping and report the fact that it is raining to people who can already see that it is wet.

The above pic comes from a video report offered up by TWC's Mike Seidel making the rounds on social media. Seidel appeared to be waging a valiant struggle against the elements, swaying back and forth with mighty effort against the vicissitudes of Florence as he filed his ever-so-essential report. And then… just watch the vid. 

As someone who stared down the barrel of a catastrophic loss on as recently as Wednesday, I find this "hurricane porn" emotionally manipulative. Seidel should resurface as a Starbucks barista, after hurricane survivors throw him a blanket party. 

TWC had an explanation of sorts for Seidel's weather kabuki

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted.”

One might ask why they didn't put Seidel on concrete if the "footing was so soft." Or one might just roll their eyes. Such is TWC's credibility.

TWC's cred was flushed when they started naming winter storms. The hyper marketing of the weather stems from the fact that TWC knows that during extreme weather events, a captive audience is locked in on their channel 24/7.and the more fear they stimulate, the longer they can sell into captive eyeballs. What's next, naming thunderstorms? Droughts? 

Marketing-all-the-time is just part of the total commodification of everything in American life.  It's been said that the only original American art form is advertising. Everything is marketing, and ABC stands for, "always be closing" in a land where the only value is in the rightmost cell of the spreadsheet.

On Monday night, Florence was elevated to a category four.and dialing up an catastrophic threat to the East Coast.  I was staring starkly at the prospect of losing my house and everything in it. The National Weather Service called Florence a “storm of a lifetime.” Hyperbole in storm-related jargon is just part odf the skill set, but seemed apt this week.

Cat 1s have previously blown through Norfolk.  In 2005, Hurricane Isabel uprooted enough trees that we were without power for ten days. During several storms and nor'easters, water reached the front steps. The prospect of a direct hit by a Cat 4 on my home left little to the imagination. I contacted my flood insurance company to learn the steps for filing a claim and what to do in the aftermath, just to be prepared. In 30 years of living here, I had never taken this step.

After checking the evacuation zone maps, I made room reservations near my work located out of evacuation zones. I had previously waited out Isabel there with my daughter, and knew it was flood resistant. My workplace is a seriously hardened facility, with 24-7 security, redundant generators and layers of technology. As I told my wife, she'd have ice, filtered water, wi-fi and cable TV, with a couch to watch it on. Thus elevating the chances for a couple of broken down feebs to weather the storm.

At that we were better off than prisoners in South Carolina, where officials announced that they would not be evacuating inmates at least two prisons inside the evacuation zone. During Katrina, Louisiana's legal slaves were abandoned to the elements for four days.

So, after the intervention of both a high-pressure system and Pat Robertson to bend Florence to the south and west, I drew a deep lungful of relief. Even on Friday, the prospect of serious flooding and tornadoes remained high, but abated as the storm wended west. The governor lifted the mandatory evacuation order, and we returned home on Saturday.

Riding that much cortisol for so long exacts costs: both my neighbor and my wife's friend's brother had heart attacks yesterday. The stress induced by TWC's disaster porn assigns costs not counted in flood casualty statistics. While coincidence is not causation, we do know that stress is a killer.

A report from the local paper tells our story: Braced for disaster, Hampton Roads dodges Florence's destructionThe difference in our prospects from Tuesday to today cannot be overstated. For all this, and for the many good wishes we received, we are grateful. With no thanks to The Weather Channel. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south continue to endure Florence.


Speaking of Hurricanes

Inured to denying facts and devoted to inventing alternatives worlds with the aplomb of a Tolkien, the Lout-In-Chief tweeted this on Wednesday as Florence approached:

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

8:37 AM – Sep 13, 2018

followed by…

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age,  just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

8:49 AM – Sep 13, 2018

Contrast Trump's self-serving asserions with this heartfelt cry of pain.

They died in pain, at home, of kidney failure unable to access the dialysis clinic for weeks.
They died, gasping for hours near the end, when the oxygen tank they needed to breathe gave out.
They died in the dark and the heat of unsanitary ICU units, of burns or gunshot wounds received before the hurricane that they almost certainly would have survived otherwise.
They died, burning up with fever, of leptospirosis from being in touch with flood waters during the effort to save their neighbors.
They died in fear and confusion after being forced to go off their regular medication.
They died of heat stroke.

They died of diseases of antiquity, in a crisis of neglect unworthy the greatest, wealthiest and most powerful nation in human history.

They died. But we lived. And we remember.

–Eleazar David Melendez


Short takes:

Paul Manafort’s flip is a major turning point in the Mueller investigation

The biggest news this week involves a blowhard of a different sort. Paul Manafort strick a deal with the Special Counsel and pled guilty to a number of charges, limiting his financial exposure from legal fees while committing him to cooperate with Mueller's office for all items great and small. Mueller has been seeking Manafort for nearly a year. Now he’s got the deal he wanted and unparalleled access to information that will put away the next set of tools of the Russian Mafia.

READ IT HERE: Paul Manafort's entire plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller


#Flint: County Officials Accused of Faking Children’s Blood Lead Test Results

We are now 1,605 days into the ongoing crisis with the water in Flint, Mich. The residents are being told that their tap water is below the federal threshold for lead contamination.


Two Russian men charged in nerve agent poisoning of former spy in Britain say they were just tourists

Two men accused by Britain of poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter with a nerve agent claim they had traveled to England as tourists and were not Russian military intelligence agents. They were identified by security cameras.


Mysterious Evacuation Of Solar Observatory Overlooking White Sands Smells Like Espionage

The National Solar Observatory was host to some serious woo-woo stuff, as it was evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one is talking. Shrouded in mystery in a state known for secretive military testing and UFOs, the lengthy evacuation has spawned a wealth of speculation. The official story is that the closing is "a security issue." Rumor had it that the Chinese were using the antenna array for spying.


Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer. According to The New York Times, the population has reached 12,800, contrasted with 2,400 in May 2017. On the eve of Florence's landfall it was revealed that the administration had transferred $10 million from FEMA and DHS had transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for detention and removal of migrants.

Your tax dollars at work.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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