Saturday, September 11, 2004


Hurricane Frances cut me off

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to post since Monday morning. The day after the storm passed a tree fell on the lines near me, and I just got a connection to the internet late this morning. I'll try to get something posted soon. The Bush administration has been up to no good—as usual.

Monday, September 06, 2004


Frances has gone to the Gulf

It is early light. I've already taken the dog out, which is one of those chores about which they give no advice when telling you how to prepare for a storm. I would recommend a heavy-duty raincoat, but that's hindsight. The dog and I just get wet, though he's become accustomed to a good toweling-down afterward and seems to expect it.

The wind is only in the 20-30 mph range, and the rain is light but expected to continue for several days more. Nevertheless, we're under a curfew.

I've never seen a hurricane of such girth—there was a point where it affected almost every part of the Florida peninsula. I would think this was a good thing. Had it been more compact, all that energy would have been more concentrated and deadly.

There was one death in the area caused by a tree falling upon a mobile home. Mobile-home dwellers were not under any order to evacuate, though most did.

For me personally, all is well. We did not even lose electricity, much to my surprise. Our houseguests have been wonderfully considerate, and I certainly wouldn't mind their staying here again in similar circumstances.

Now we can follow the track of Hurricane Ivan.


Turkish driver released

The Turkish trucker abducted Saturday was released on Sunday, according to Turkey's foreign minister. The employer, Renay International, announced yesterday that it would withdraw from Iraq.

Related post:
Another Turkish trucker taken hostage

Sunday, September 05, 2004


The most abject of apologies—and this time I mean it

The Economist, bastion of British financial rectitude, has this to say:
1. In the August 14th-20th 2004 edition of The Economist, we published an article (“the Article”) entitled “Temasek, First Singapore, next the world”.

2. We recognise that the Article meant or was understood to mean that:

(a) Mr Lee Hsien Loong had appointed, or was instrumental in appointing, his wife, Mdm Ho Ching to Temasek Holdings Ltd, not on merit, but for corrupt nepotist motives for the advancement of the Lee family’s interests; and

(b) Mr Lee Kuan Yew supported or condoned Mdm Ho’s appointment for like motives.

3. We admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation. We unreservedly apologise to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for the distress and embarrassment caused to them by these allegations. We undertake not to make further allegations to the same or similar effect.

4. We have agreed to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew damages by way of compensation, and to indemnify them for all the costs and expenses incurred by them in connection with this matter.

The implied injustice almost brought me to tears. I may have more on this later.

Things I am learning

Today I learned that the rabbit likes lemongrass. I don't know why I am surprised. A rabbit who will eat a sofa shouldn't mind a little grass.

In the storm

I decided to go out for "provisions" before things really got out of hand. It's safe enough if you drive slowly. The wind isn't high enough to be a danger at low speed, but it could easily blow a semi off the interstate if the driver were so imprudent as to be going over 40. But in town, the real reason for driving slow is the debris. All the streets and roads are completely littered by leaves and twigs, but of a sudden a larger limb looms that calls for some steering.

Almost all stores are closed. I went a few miles one way, then decided to backtrack and headed more into town. There at a major intersection was a convenience store hopping with business. They had two clerks at the registers. They knew they were going to be in for a busy night. Meanwhile, the traffic light at the intersection where the store is located is out.

I can only describe the experience of a low-level hurricane or tropical storm, for those who've never been in one, as a bit like being in a heavy snowstorm. There is a sort of infectious energy that comes from the weather. People are friendlier, saner, more patient, more understanding. There's an ozone high. (Is that where the disparaging remark comes from? "He's in the ozone"—implying that that person's ideas are so beyond the practical that we might as well get back to our jobs of making money, or at least make sure that others do.)

Of course, some people are scared. But even with the fright comes a frisson of delight.


On the edge of the storm

Frances, as a tropical storm, is upon us. We're at the outer edges. The wind is topping out in the 50s and comes in bursts, is not continuous as you've no doubt seen on TV. We've also had very little rain so far, which is fortunate. When the ground gets very wet, the soil (or sand, such as we have here) becomes a slurry, or emulsion, in which the tree roots have nothing to hold onto. But we can see from the radar that heavy rain is on its way.

Amazingly we still have power. Three transformers have blown in the neighborhood, but not ours. A friend only 7 blocks away is in the dark. A tree has gone down in the next block, and the asphalt shingles on the house across the street are beginning to flutter in the breeze and blow away. This is the home of an elderly lady and her daughter, and it is probably the newest roof on the block. Obviously this should not be.

There are four homeless people with us, three men and a lady. They've been here since around 11 this morning. Our attitude this morning was that everyone would sit out the rising winds here, expecting Frances to blow over by evening. Wrong! Frances has only increased in intensity since then. Now we're being told that this may continue into Tuesday. So there are six of us, and a dog and a rabbit. The dog is whining because he's been put in the bathroom to chill, and the rabbit just doesn't care so long as he (she?) is left to hop around unnoticed.

Since it occurred to me that I may have houseguests for some time, I also realized that I'd best start fixing something for us to eat while there's still electricity. Fortunately, there's plenty of pasta in the house, and we should be just fine.

As it begins to grow dark, I'll be breaking out the bourbon soon. If we can't turn this into a party, it's probably not worth doing.


Quote of the Day

I DON'T need this job. Trust me, I've already got the best job in America—chairman of a beer company.
—Pete Coors, Republican candidate for Senator from Colorado

"Administration eroding public's right to know"

Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, wrote an op-ed in the Billings Gazette on Bush administration actions that have restricted the public's right to information. It is one of those "taking the high ground" commentaries that omits an important detail.

I have let the headline stand, so that you may see how incomplete it is. It should have read "Administration eroding public's right to know, and Congress goes along with it."


Another note to the WaPo ombudsman

An appalled reader sent me a copy of an email she sent to Michael Getler after reading here about the Nepalese.
The person who writes for this website ... is doing the kind of work those who get paid to report the news should be doing. The war is turning out to be much the way I predicted. I let my representatives know that I was opposed to the war and now to have to hear the news so distorted that those responsible for this mess can parade around like it was some great success, simply because the media is doing such a cowardly job in speaking up to the American public is despicable!

As an American I expect all citizens to care about the truth--including those who report it.

I love that last paragraph!


Another Turkish trucker taken hostage

According to al-Arabiyah via Reuters, yesterday
... an Islamist group kidnapped a Turkish driver and threatened to kill him unless his employer stops working with U.S. forces in Iraq.

The Dubai-based channel showed images from a videotape it had received featuring a grey-bearded man sitting in front of a banner stating "the Islamic Resistance Movement, Nu'man Brigades." The channel gave no more details.

As Newsweek noted almost three weeks ago, only 4% of Jordanian independent truckers are now operating. And a month ago 11%-18% of all Turkish truckers had ceased operations in Iraq. This latest kidnapping will almost certainly result in more withdrawals of Turkish trucking firms.

The population of Baghdad is dependent upon these overland deliveries for practically everything. The situation calls to mind the 10-month Berlin airlift of 1949, in which the U.S. kept the city of Berlin alive by air when the Soviet Union forbade overland passage through East Germany. I have to wonder when the "Baghdad airlift" will begin—if it hasn't already.

Related posts:
Will kidnappings alter the Iraqi employment situation? (updated)
Turkish hostage executed
More Turkish companies vamoosing from Iraq
Where's the ice cream truck?
Iraqi insurgents now extending their targets

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