Monday, August 14, 2023

State of Disaster

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The wildfire that destroyed the scenic town of Lahaina on Maui was nothing short of horrific. The death count keeps rising and it's my sad suspicion that what's been reported to date will likely be a fraction of the final tally. 

I've visited Hawaii many times, having family there, and so have strong feelings about what happened - and the likelihood that it didn't have to happen, or at least not with the tragic severity we've seen.

The problem, as illustrated in the "from the vault" posts below, is that Hawaii creates such a laid-back attitude in people that important things fall between the cracks and don't get done. There's always tomorrow and, if it's a beautiful day, well, there will be another tomorrow after that. This creates enormous inefficiency and ineptitude in all government-managed services including, sadly, emergency services. Case in point: some years ago, a study showed that Lahaina was at huge risk from wildfires. But nobody got around to fixing it. The weather was too nice.

On a visit to Oahu some years ago, I was startled one morning when my parents' home started shaking around me - hard. It was a modest earthquake with a magnitude of about six. Not big enough to level structures, but enough to make for a pretty terrifying wake-up call. But when the shaking stopped, there was still a significant worry: would there be a tsunami? And were my family and I on high-enough ground?

A lot depended on the strength of the earthquake (which we still didn't know) and where it was centered (which we also didn't know). Turning on the radio, we searched the dial for any news at all but found none. So we loaded into a car and drove higher into the mountains.

We eventually parked at an altitude that seemed safe-ish and continued to listen for radio updates. But it was a Sunday and there was no live programming at all. Just pre-recorded programs about investing, real estate, and getting right with God. And we never did get a damn update from any officials. We just waited until we thought it was safe to go home - encouraged by someone in the neighborhood who said that they were going to call the cops on us for looking "suspicious." Maybe they thought I'd kidnapped my 80-year-old mother. The bastards.

But my point here (and below) is that while Hawaii is a nice place to visit, you wouldn't want to live there. Liberal politics and an almost inescapable laissez-faire culture have made it unsafe.

From the Vault: 1/15/2018

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The Aloha State of panic.

On Saturday, palm trees swayed in tropical breezes, warm surf washed pristine beaches, and tourists in Hawaii wept, screamed, cowered in fear, and stuffed their children into storm drains because of an "oopsy" alert (delivered to phones, radio stations, and wailing sirens) saying the island paradise was about to be vaporized by incoming nuclear missiles.

We single out "tourists" as being terrified rather than actual citizens of Hawaii, because those who have lived there for longer than a week already know the Aloha State's ill-kept secret: local government officials screw up pretty much everything they touch, so the odds of a false alarm were (as Trump might say) yuge.

We have plenty of personal experience with Hawaii from which to draw this conclusion. The state, which is almost psychedelically beautiful, has several factors working against it. The first is that it's essentially a jungle, with rainwater, vines, lizards, and highly aggressive insect colonies attacking every manmade bit of infrastructure on a non-stop basis.

The second is that all government functions are run by aloha-shirted Democrats and can't-be-fired civil servants, all of whom have a uniquely Hawaiian year-around "Spring fever" which keeps them from really committing to work when the weather is nice. As in, "daily."

While overt public terror is nothing to laugh at, except from the mainland, things could have been a lot worse: imagine what was going through the minds of our military personnel who were wondering if they should quickly launch a counterattack before going out in a Slim Pickens-style blaze of glory.

Theoretically, all of this was caused by one person "pushing the wrong button." Arguably the worst mistake made by a Hawaiian government official since Department of Health official Loretta Fuddy stated that she (and she alone) had looked at Obama's birth certificate and sent him a copy.

Shortly after which, she became the only fatality in a plane crash. Oopsy.

From the Vault: 8/24/2018

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, hawaii, emergency, hurricane, Lane, third world, nothing is easy in Hawaii
A lot of people might get lei'd to rest...

Within the next few hours, we'll know if Hawaii has been devastated by its worst hurricane in decades or if the fates have smiled once again on the islands and steered Hurricane Lane back out to sea.

If disaster is avoided, however, it certainly won't be because of anything the local government and emergency preparedness agencies have done (specifically on the island of Oahu, the home to Honolulu, Waikiki, and Pearl Harbor). To put it delicately, the officials' preparations would feel right at home on a pupu platter...because those plans are pupu from top to bottom.

A quick bit of back story: for many years, Stilton's parents lived on Oahu (a sibling still does), and so we were frequent visitors. The island is unquestionably spectacularly beautiful, but anything government has touched has gone straight to hell. Pretty much nothing works right in Hawaii, in part because the island's culture encourages a lackadaisical attitude toward anything like efficiency, responsibility, and basic competence. When visiting, our day-to-day mantra was "Nothing is easy in Hawaii."

It's among our most socialist states, with almost everyone getting some kind of handout from the government. It has the highest per capita homeless population of any state. Prices for everything are sky-high. Their medical system has been described as that of a "third world country" owing to doctors fleeing the state because of unsustainably small payments from Medicare and Medicaid (a canary in the coal mine that we on the mainland had better pay attention to). And for many years, building standards were so lax (and builders so casually inept) that a significant percentage of homes offer no protection at all in case of emergency conditions. Frankly, Gilligan's Island had a way better model of sustainability.

Which now brings us to Hurricane Lane. Considering hurricanes are pretty much a known threat to Hawaii, you'd think they'd have emergency plans out the wazoo. But no, their plans remain firmly in their wazoos along with the residue of a lot of macaroni salad and Spam.

Residents are being warned to head to shelters for safety, but there are a few little problems with that. For one thing, no bureaucrats have bothered to keep a list of official shelters. In reviewing the shelters they can find, it seems that exactly none of them have been hardened to stand up to even a Category One hurricane (the weakest and most cuddly sized). But having the roof collapse on their heads may be the least of people's problems because many of the shelters are located in flood zones. Apparently, the emergency preparedness folks never considered the likelihood that a hurricane just might be bringing along a buttload of rain.

If people do go to one of these unsafe shelters (and there's only room for about one-fifth of the population), they're being told they'll have to survive in a 3-foot by 3-foot space for up to two weeks, they need to bring their own bedding and anything else important, and - oh yeah! - bring their own food. Because it never dawned on Hawaiian officials that people in shelters might actually need to eat. Although it being Hawaii, there's a fairly good chance that the waves crashing though the shelter doors will bring fresh fish, and coconuts will regularly be exploding through windows at 100 mph. So there are some benefits to living in Paradise.

We're obviously hoping the best for the people of Hawaii, but think this should serve as a graphic (and hopefully not deadly) reminder that there's a great danger in putting too much faith in government bureaucrats to watch after your safety, welfare, and future.

Which is, of course, exactly what those on the Left are shooting for. And if they get their way, we'll all be saying "Aloha" to our very way of life.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Summery Judgement

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I'm back from my travels and once again experiencing being kiln-fired in Texas. Today's actual high is predicted to be 105° with a heat index of "lawyer's section of Hell." And that's hot.

I'm glad to say my family-related trip was a great success and gave me a much-needed emotional boost. Although I got off to a rough start when I flew into Indianapolis, the city of my birth, and then needed to drive a rental car to Mishawaka, Indiana about 150 miles away. I entered the destination into my GPS and set off confidently, enjoying the rolling scenery of the Hoosier state and the abundant corn fields.

A little too abundant.

After about a half hour, it started to strike me as odd that I was still only driving zig-zag patterns on back roads between fields so close I could have brushed my fingertips on cornstalks. I suspected a problem with my GPS but the roads were so small that there was no berm and no place to pull off to play with my phone. And I mean no place - no restaurants, gas stations, or rest areas. So I kept driving for almost five hours before reaching my destination - a Holiday Inn Conference Center in the middle of nowhere.

Only it wasn't "nowhere," of course - it just looked that way because it turned out a hidden setting in Google Maps had helpfully defaulted to "avoid highways" when using GPS and it had done the job flawlessly

AI is not going to even break a sweat destroying me.


• I'm still not following news in any kind of meaningful way, but I've heard enough about Trump's most recent BS indictments to be highly pissed off. Didn't we recently have hearings in Washington that failed to prove there even was any insurrection-type event or planning for same? Meanwhile, Adam "Googly Eyes" Schiff is pushing for Trump's trial(s) to be televised in the name of "transparency." Yeah, Adam, that would be transparent alright. 

• I'm embarking on a much-needed weight-loss program with no enthusiasm whatsoever. To kick things off, I finally stepped on the scale yesterday and the readout said "Hey, one at a time." After which I took a saucy "Before" photo in my skivvies and no, you will never see it here or anywhere else. I look like I should be holding a chain attached to slave girl Carrie Fisher.

I've considered bariatric surgery but it still sounds too extreme and potentially hazardous. And I've heard about "Ozempic" and similar classes of drugs, but don't know anyone who's had firsthand experience with them (plus, they cost a metric assload). So for now, I'm doing it old school: calorie counting and exercise. Wish me luck.

• I see that Joe Biden has now officially passed the "one year of vacation since taking office" mark. That means that he's been on vacation for 40% of his presidency, for which we should be grateful considering the damage he causes the other 60% of the time.

"Jill, what's a four-letter word for woman ending in U-N-T?" "Aunt." " an eraser?"

• Speaking of vacations, it looks like I won't be going to any exotic locations for, oh, the rest of my life. Because I was just starting the process of filing for a passport (my old one expired) and they've got a typical governmental Catch-22. My application (along with my photo and proof of citizenship) has to be filed in person at the post office and this can only be done by appointment.  If you click on the government's link to schedule such an appointment, you will theoretically be shown appointments available for the next four weeks. Only there aren't any. At any post office within 20 miles of here. And as a special touch, the website just gives the message "there are no appointments available at this location in the next four weeks. Please try another location."

In other words, you can't just shrug and schedule an appointment for 6 weeks out, or 12 weeks out, or any OTHER time beyond 4 weeks...but there are also no appointments available anywhere in that 4-week window. Which effectively ends the process with the government saying "screw you and go away." Although obviously, I can't go far away.


Monday, July 24, 2023

The Wind Between My Cheeks

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Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's...oh wait, it is a plane - with me white-knuckling it to my final destination, which hopefully has an airport waiting. 

And actually, I'm not traveling yet, but will be in a few days. So I wanted to warn everyone that I'll probably be absent from this space for a couple of weeks (although I'll try to visit the comments section if and when I can) and let you know you shouldn't worry about it.  Because I'm more than capable of doing all the worrying myself.

Mind you, I don't worry at all about flying. It's CRASHING that I worry about. A lot. True fact: I have never dosed on an airplane, even on a long flight, because I know in my soul that if I let my guard down the jet's wings will fall off. 

But even apart from that, I can now also worry about catching whatever mutant strain of Fauci's covid is currently making the rounds or encountering some of the crazies who have recently been disrupting flights while having psychotic breaks or violent hallucinations. Mind you, I have those same conditions but I at least keep my seatbelt on and my mouth shut.

And truthfully, I've got more anxiety than usual about traveling because I've become a pathological social recluse since losing my wife, Kathy. Social interactions are hard for me now, and I'm embarking on a week of them. Which my therapist considers brave, but she may just be saying that because I'll return home needing another year of PTSD therapy.

Plus, Kathy was always the person who handled details and organization flawlessly when preparing for a trip. On my own, thick fog fills my brain and I find myself struggling to decide whether or not to pack those whatchamacallits...hang's on the tip of my tongue...oh, yeah - clothes. And medications. And 17 different kinds of USB cables. And a white noise machine. And...and... no, I think that's everything I need, right?



"Try That In A Small Town" song - I like it and screw anyone who says it's racist.

• AI Czar Kamala Harris recently clarified this complex and ever-changing technology by explaining that "AI is two letters." I'm so relieved that she's representing mankind at this critical moment.

• I currently need to renew my driver's license in person which is now done only by appointment here in Texas ("Avoiding long lines by not letting you in at all!"). I tried to get an appointment two months before my license will expire and none were available - the best I could do was a week later and 18 miles away. Which I'm assuming I shouldn't drive to without a license, so I'll need to ask someone for a ride. I tried calling the license bureau for help, but their phone message says to use the online service. The online service offers no help but lets you send an email which they'll respond to in 3-5 business days. Currently, it's been over two weeks with no word back. This is unbelievably annoying and would be unthinkable customer abuse if practiced by any business which wanted to avoid bankruptcy. If I ever get far enough in the process to get a new license picture taken, you can bet your *ss that I'll be scowling and, if I get away with it, giving the finger.