Reality

Yes, this is exactly my sense of things. I’ve always had an intuitive understanding that the world works in a very dark and different way from the official version, and I’m afraid I get very impatient with people who don’t see it. Jay Ackroyd over at Atrios’s place:

At a conference I was at this week, Daniel Ellsberg recounted a time in 1969 when he explained to Henry Kissinger what would happen after he was given the dozen or so clearances above Top Secret (the existence of which is also classified, of course). What happens first is you feel like a fool. You’ve published books that you now discover were filled with stuff that was wrong. You have believed you understood how things worked for your entire professional life, but you now find out you were completely wrong, that the real world is entirely different from what you have been told. The books you’ve written, the lectures you’ve given are based on a false understanding of the world.

But this stage only lasts a few weeks. After you have been reading this material hitherto unavailable to you for a while, you begin to see everybody else as fools. Only with people with these top level clearances know the truth. People whom you previously regarded as experts become ignoramuses, doubly so because they don’t realize that they actually know nothing.

And so your conversations with them become telling them what you want them to think.

I’m thinking specifically of the famous story from Robert Reich where, shortly after Bill Clinton’s inauguration, he’s furious when he’s told he can’t implement his economic policies “because of the bond market.”

There’s a whole other reality out there, and not only do we not make the rules, we don’t even know what they are.

Fixing A Hole

There aren’t a lot of notions stores anymore – you know, for the kind of little odds and ends you could only find at the five and dime. Since there aren’t any of those stores anymore, I had to go to Kmart this morning to pick up some hand sewing needles and thread. I have a pile of socks and mittens that need mending, and I can’t find my sewing stuff. (Common ADD insanity – we have several copies of everything because we can never find it when we need it. Ask me how many Phillips head screwdrivers I own!)

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a pleasant evening at home, watching movies and mending. I find it very satisfying to restore things to their original function.

I like fixing things in general. Since I was a kid, I liked taking things apart to see how they work.

I remember a story from Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled,” in which his most annoying psychiatric patient was the last client of the day, right before a massive blizzard was supposed to hit.

A few minutes after she left the session, she returned to say that her brake pedal was stuck and she couldn’t move her car. Peck was really anxious at the thought of this woman being stuck at his house, and although until then he’d always described himself as someone with no mechanical aptitude, he decided he was going to fix her car.

He said he got down on the ground, stuck his head under the dash and took a long, careful look at the brake pedal assembly. He then started to move the various pieces – and finally got the pedal unstuck. The patient went on her way, and Peck breathed a sigh of relief.

Peck said the lesson he learned is that when people say they “can’t” do something, or that they don’t have a talent for it, what they’re really saying is, they’re unwilling to devote the time and attention to learn.

This applies to kids who “don’t know how” to do the dishes well, husbands who “aren’t good with talking to the kids, honey why don’t you do it?”, people like me who say they’re “not good at math, will someone else tell me what’s my portion of the check?”

Yes, we all have gifts and special aptitudes. But sometimes the most rewarding lessons are the ones we have to work harder to master. I’ve gotten a lot better at doing the math, and I’m proud of myself for it.

Tsunami Alert

Tsunami update:

About one hour ago, Reuters reported that a bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said: “Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.” The warning also noted: “All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face.”

Live stream from Hawaii here.

The news agency reported:

Geophysicist Victor Sardina said the Hawaii-based center was urging all countries included the warning to take the threat very seriously. “Everybody is under a warning because the wave, we know, is on its way. Everybody is at risk now,” he said in a telephone interview. […]

The center estimates the first tsunami, which is a series of several waves in succession, will hit Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. Hawaii time (4:19 p.m. EST). Sardina said the Hawaiian islands could expect waves of six feet (two meters) in some places. Other estimates have been higher but he could not confirm those were likely.

Sardina said the center was looking at Hilo Bay on Hawaii Island as a worst-case scenario right now.

The center’s latest alert also said that certain areas were unlikely to be affected, noting:

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA… WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

Practically Speaking

I just finished reading “The Incendiary,” a devastating novel by Chris Cleave, a columnist for the Guardian. It said in the book that they’d made a movie of it, and so I looked it up.

In the book, the lead character finds out that the government knew about a massive London terror bombing two hours before it happened – LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose), as some of us would call it.

In the movie, the lead character finds the son of the Islamic bomber. See the difference? That first movie couldn’t have gotten made, so they made the second one instead. And since only the people who read (a small percentage of the population no one pays any attention to, anyway) were exposed to the original story, no real harm done!

Killer Quake

UPDATE for my Hawaii readers: Hawaii is expected to get hit by the tsunami around 4pm est and they are predicting the first wave to be about 6 meters.

Horrible. I’m trying to remember if there ever was an 8.8 in living memory. This is about 700 times stronger than the Haitian quake:

A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, said President Michele Bacelete.

Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.

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A meteorologist monitors the tsunami situation from his computer in Taiwan’s central weather bureau after a 8.8-magnitude quake struck Chile on Feb. 27
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“It has been a devastating earthquake,” Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.

Ms. Bachelet said the death toll was at 78 and rising, but officials had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile.

“We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks,” Ms. Bachelet said from an emergency response center. She urged Chileans not to panic.

“Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We’re doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately,” she said.

In the 2 ½ hours following the 90-second quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, five of them measuring 6.0 or above.

Please Help

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They’re not doing so well these days. If you can afford to help, please throw them a few bucks.

Boulder to Birmingham

I’ve come to listen for the sound of the trucks
As they move down on old 95.

Since I can see I-95 from my kitchen window, I think of this song every day. Here’s Emmy Lou with the lament she wrote after Gram Parsons’ death:

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