Monday, September 27, 2004


Well, we're getting pretty good at these damned things. The sun is out and boiling down on Orlando in its usual fashion and you'd never know that yesterday we were looking at the sky as if it were a malevolent beast bent on destroying us all.

No damage here. Not much tree mess. I guess all of the crap that was vulerable has already been stripped from the canopy. The usual aluminum, twisted and piled up by the roadside, makes the Land of Mickey look like the sad ending to Another Roadside Attraction. Of course, the beach has taken another beating, and I undertand that the lakefront up in Sanford is a mess. But that's not too surprising.

We did get some damange at the JAC, but not exactly from the storm. Actually, it's one of those stories that could only happen in the confines of a luckless bureaucracy. We've been whining for a big backup generator for our building and the state bean counters finally relented and gave us one. Naturally, since this was a govrnment job, they waited to ship the thing until the day of the storm. Did that stop them? You kidding? Well, the county shows up with a crew of electricians in the middle of the first bands of Jeanne to hook it up. Well, some drunk careening up Central Blvd. chose that time to plow into the pole out front and ALL of the lights went down... emergency lighting, computers, backup this and that... everything. So we had to do a bugout with 85 juvenile miscreants. A transfer in the middle of the storm to the county jail. There are several of these little rascals that really don't need to see the light of day. Great fun.

So now things are back to normal. The JAC is secured again. Our crack crew of midnight screeners have had time to catch up on the backlog of budding looters and other boneheads who thought the cops wouldn't notice them rummaging through flattened trailers. Duh.

Heck, I never even lost power here at my little hideyhole here in town.

Which brings me to the new boat. Did I tell you that I got a new boat? Well, since the old boat has a hole the size of a Buick in the bottom, I had been shopping for a new home. Otherwise I'd be sleeping in my car. ICK. Anyhow, I fell onto a Irwin 27 up in Connecticut. Much smaller than the old Alden 46 that I've lived on for years but new and pretty and rigged for single handed sailing... in other words, just the ticket for a guy whos daughter is now an elderly woman of 23 and not able to go sailing off around the world with her old man any more. Sigh. But I'd been thinking about downsizing my marine life for some time and Mom Nature just took things out of my hands. Of course the thing is way up near Boston. I was gonna have it hauled down but the marina that I want to leave it in up in Sanford has had 2 hurricanes worth of flogging and put me on a waiting list. They say it will be at least a month, but if I want to I can just tie it off on the seawall. I'm not excited about that.

Anyhow, since I haven't had a day off for months and months Jeff, my boss, said... Baird, why dontcha just go get the damned thing. That would get you out of my hair for a while. Hmmm. That really sounds like the ticket. Of course, I wouldn't be very happy if another hurricane reared its ugly head and got in the same line as the last four. Still. Doesn't 3 weeks of strolling down the ICW have a nice ring to it?

At any rate, the sun is back out. Bye Jeanne.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

From SWG

Our expert over at Straight White Guy sends this.

Good read. Give it a try.



Here's the picture from GOES for number 4. It is predicted to run right up the spine of the state tonight and tomorrow as a Category 3 or 4 storm. That means winds in above 100. Man, I'm really tired of this crap. The nice thing is that most of us are all stocked up with batteries and bottled water. Unfortunately, a lot of folks have gotten down to the place where they're not emotionally able to give a crap what happens. That's a bad way to feel when a category 4 storm is bearing down on you. It's sort of like being hit by a truck after being run over by three cars.

Well, we'll see. The facility here at Central Blvd. is all locked down and all of my little miscreants are attended to. Our contingency plans are all in place. One good thing has come out of this madness -- the county has bought us a new emergency generator. It was brought over from
Tampa this afternoon and is sitting safe and sound in the back yard. Better late than never, right? Unfortunately, it is being installed too late to help with Jeanne. Wouldn't you know it. They are gonna have to wait until the weather gets better before they can put a crew into the back yard. Jeez.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004


I can't be the only one who is spiraling into despair, existential angst, and a deep abiding depression straight out of the DSM-4 because of the abrupt withholding of Day by Day. It's a drag to be a comics junkie. That was the only one that I ever thought made real geopolitical sense. Well... maybe Pogo. But that was my dad's favorite.

Does anybody know Muir? We should send him a fruit basket or something.

I just wish there was something that I could do to change the ugly fact that there's nothing that can be done.

Well, like Dax is want to say -- Damn... just damn.


Monday, September 20, 2004


My friend the mad librarian Stevie got this first:

CBS Apologizes Over Bush Guard Duty Memos

NEW YORK (AP) - CBS News apologized Monday for a ``mistake in judgment'' in its story questioning President Bush's National Guard service, claiming it was misled by the source of documents that several experts have dismissed as fakes.

The network said it would appoint an independent panel to look at its reporting about the memos. The story has mushroomed into a major media scandal, threatening the reputations of CBS News and chief anchor Dan Rather.

It also became an issue in the presidential campaign. The White House said the affair raises questions about the connections between CBS's source, retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, and Democrat John Kerry's campaign.

Rather joined CBS News President Andrew Heyward in issuing an apology Monday.

``We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry,'' Rather said. ``It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.''

Almost immediately after the story aired Sept. 8, document experts questioned memos purportedly written by Bush's late squadron leader, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, saying they appeared to have been created on a computer and not on the kind of typewriter in use during the 1970s.

CBS strongly defended its story. It wasn't until a week later - after Killian's former secretary said she believed the memos were fake - did the news division admit they were questionable.

Burkett admitted this weekend to CBS that he lied about obtaining the documents from another former National Guard member, the network said. CBS hasn't been able to conclusively tell how he got them, or even definitely tell whether they're fakes or not. But the network has given up trying to defend them.

``Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report,'' Heyward said. ``We should not have used them.''

The Associated Press could not immediately reach Burkett for comment. Rather was set to interview Burkett Monday night on CBS' evening news program.

Heyward told The Associated Press it was not clear what, if any, disciplinary action would be taken against CBS News employees. Besides tainting the network's flagship broadcast, ``60 Minutes,'' the report was a damaging blow to Rather, 72. Some have suggested the scandal, along with the low ratings of the ``CBS Evening News,'' could hasten Rather's retirement.

``Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully,'' Rather said.

Alex Jones, director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, said it appeared to be an honest mistake by CBS, not a willful attempt to deceive. But he said the network was too slow to respond.

``I think that their delaying and obvious resistance to acknowledge the evident realities has kept the story alive a lot longer than it needed to be and was a lot more damaging to CBS than it needed to be,'' he said.

For ``60 Minutes,'' it's the biggest ethical mess since the 1995 incident captured in the movie ``The Insider,'' which depicted the newsmagazine caving to pressure from CBS lawyers and not airing a whistleblowing report from an ex-tobacco executive.

Jones said questions will probably center on the story's producer, Mary Mapes. She's one of the network's top investigators and broke the story of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal photos. Her immediate boss is Josh Howard, recently named executive producer of the ``60 Minutes'' Wednesday edition.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the White House appreciated CBS's expression of regret but that there were still serious questions about Burkett.

``Bill Burkett, who CBS now says is their source, in fact is not an unimpeachable source as was previously claimed,'' McLellan said. ``Bill Burkett is a source who has been discredited and so this raises a lot of questions. There were media reports about Mr. Burkett having senior level contacts with the Kerry campaign.''

The Kerry campaign has said it had nothing to do with the story.

Burkett, a Democrat, sent an e-mail last month to several Texas Democrats, saying he had passed along information to former Georgia senator and Kerry supporter Max Cleland about information that would counter criticism of Kerry's Vietnam War service.

Cleland said Monday that he does ``not have any knowledge'' about documents used to support the ``60 Minutes'' story.

Heyward told The AP he has ``no reason to believe either the Kerry campaign or the Bush campaign was involved in this.''

``A lot of reporting went into this story,'' Heyward said. ``It's not as if one person's account was taken at face value.''

The call for an independent review was reminiscent of CNN's ``Tailwind'' scandal in 1998. The cable network retracted a story that the U.S. military had used nerve gas in Laos during the Vietnam war.

CNN appointed independent panels to look into the ``Tailwind'' story and the missed election calls of 2000. Both panels helped to restore trust in the network and resulted in real changes to the networks' operation, said Tom Johnson, CNN's chief executive at the time.

``As with all professions, we screw up at time,'' Johnson said. ``We need to admit it when we do.''

The so-called Killian documents indicated he was being pressured to ``sugarcoat'' the performance ratings of a young Bush, then the son of a former Texas congressman, and that Bush failed to follow orders to take a physical. Killian died in 1984.

Heyward said he did not think CBS' story was the result of any bias against Bush. The National Guard service story was ``a legitimate area of inquiry'' that several news organizations were pursuing, he said.

``The story of how this happened is going to be a much more interesting story than the veracity of these documents,'' Jones said, ``and I hope CBS will tell it.''

09/20/04 18:26

© Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


This is a day to be marked with a white stone. I found a boat to replace the RD 1 that died a horrible death in hurricane Frances. Actually, this is a winner for me because there were things about the other one that needed attending to and I really don't have a lot of time right now.

Anyhow, I was talking about maybe looking for a Piver Tri but the ones that I saw in the ads were either junk or way way out of my range so I've been kind of half heartedly looking in the Boat Trader and Ebay and I saw a 27 foot Irwin that sounded good and the price was right so I bid on it. When I was outbid on it I wasn't too surprised but I WAS surprised when they emailed me back yesterday and said that the winner of the auction had bolted and did I want to take the boat. Heck, I felt like a lottery winner. I've always said that I'd rather be lucky than smart and it's true.

It's as if the girl really wanted to be moved to Florida and heard my name mentioned. How could I turn it down.

The adventure part is going after her. She's in Brookline MA, which is a suburb of Boston. Now I'm shopping for another GPS. The other one is somewhere on the bottom of the turning basin over at Nelson's Marine in Titusville. They hauled the old boat out of the pit last week and I absolutely weeped to see the giant hole that the short piling of the liveaboard dock beat into the bottom.

And look: It's as if the old lady took the time out from dying and being buried to go out and find me a new girl. Shit. I may start weeping again. WTF.

OK... Boston. I have to get a couple of weeks off from the salt mine. I've got to go pick up my girl.


Friday, September 17, 2004


I don't know where this story goes from here. To me it seems that CBS is just gonna tell all of us PJ bloggers to piss off. No doubt the notion that the only folks that CBS has to satisfy is the small group of partisan believers that constitute their demographic is sound. That's a shame because the organization itself has a long tradition to uphold.... out with a whimper, eh guys?

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent summary of the whole sorry mess. It sure is nice to see that they agree with me. Chuckle.


Thursday, September 16, 2004


I once got in a "discussion" with a friend of mine about The Wizard of Oz and the Pythagorean theorem. Yes, it's true... I'll freely admit to having no life of my own. Anyhow, when the Scarecrow gets his brain from Oz he immediately spouts "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side."

Well... I suppose that it sounds good, but it simply is not right. Sorry. Anyhow, my friend doubted me because we had both heard the scarecrow say that famous line again on a rebroadcast of the classic film on TV one Christmas when I bubbled up with the comment that Oz must not be much of a wizard if that was as good a gift as he could give... a lame brain. (Johnson once said that he who would make a pun would steal a purse.)

The argument meandered around us for several months and I finally went and rented the damned movie so that we could stop it over and over and replay the incriminating bits so that we could carefully parse what was actually said. In other words, modern technology made it possible for us to go to the original data and get the proof from the original source.

I know that it was silly, but there is no good reason why, if the guys at CBS and Rather want to assert that they don't need to bring out their proofs about the Rathergate forgeries, that they don't release their original research instruments to independent investigators to settle once and for all that they aren't at best dupes of MoveOn.Org or at worst criminals and worthy of banishment from Oz.

These guys have for so long worked on the assumption that they could say and do anything they wanted to without any consequences. The classical sin of hubris comes to mind. Rather wants for us to trust him, and we have... or at least a lot of us have... for a long time. Now he is banking on us being morons and jerks who will forget this little gaff soon and all they have to do is stonewall the story and it will go away. I'll suggest that maybe Rather should go away.

Our buddies at NR via Instapundit have put it much better than I could.

It has been easy for years for Oz to pass off bad geometry habits in that movie because the average person doesn't really have a close ear for the facts. We just assume that because it sounds official it must be right and it comes as a surprise to discover that the Great and Powerful Oz is just a dopey little false wizard hiding behind a curtain. Same with the old mass media news mongers. They just can't stand up to the scrutiny of a medium like the internet where it is easily possible to put the smallest detail in the spotlight. And the result is that the guys at CBS look like bumbling idiots, Watergater Plumbers, or maybe sleeper agents from the RNC who have snuck into the Donks' version of the Watergate to make them look bad.

Like Lileks says, it's time that old format newspapers recognize the fact that they are going to have to become local news vendors if they intend to survive in this new world. They simply can't cheat and get away with it any more. We will rub their noses in it if they do. Shame on you, CBS. When you are exposed as a fraud and a bad and poorly constructed fraud at that, you will cease to have any meaning in a modern information marketplace.


Sunday, September 12, 2004


Here's the real time loop from the GOES satellite of Ivan. Neat. It takes a minute to load, but it's worth it.


Friday, September 10, 2004


Well, here comes storm number 3. This foolishness can stop any time it wants to. I'm just about hurricaned out. Actually, I don't have any major complaints. The insurance good-hand guys are getting a workout, but I don't feel sorry for them. They have been taking my money for years and I'm kind of secretly pleased to see the bastards pony up some of the cash for a change. Scroom.

I'm seeing signs of storm fatigue everywhere though. The people I work with are a good example. They're mostly just kids, and they never have had to reach down and find more. You know... more. Sometimes you just have to go get more of what ever it is that keeps you shooting into the gap. Sometimes you look outside the hole you've dug for yourself and just see another whole damned division of whatever monsters are out there trying to take you down and they're out there trying to line you up RIGHT NOW and it doesn't matter if you're tired or whipped or scared shitless... you just have to reach down for "more" and if you can't find it you have to look a little deeper until you do. It's either that or die in a hole and never see your mama again.

Several of these kids have said that they're packing up their golden retriever and their laptop computer and heading for Atlanta. Well, go ahead. I'm stuck here and so is my boss, both of us old guys... along with a group of hard cases in Unit 214 at Orlando Intake and we'll be covering the damned JAC and Detention, and Court, and all the rest of the crap that absolutely HAS to be covered because there are deputies out there in the middle of the shit storm that we are all in and they are peeking up over the edge of the hole and they're doing the job. Our alternative is to give up and let Orlando look like Granada where the storm knocked down the local jails and the inmates took over the whole town. What they call a breakdown of civil authority. Just think... Latin Kings and Crips prowling the streets of Pine Hills and not a cop in sight. Oooooweee. Is that gunfire I hear in the distance? The only thing keeping the trash from washing up into the lilly white suburbs is all those soldiers cruising around at the height of the storm and you can bet your ass that they're serving and protecting with a vengeance.

Beside, I'm not sure that you can run away from a hurricane. Have you seen the high resolution pictures that NOAA is sending back from space? Frances was the size of Texas for Christ's sake! And Ivan is about the same size and is actually twice as strong as Frances was. Can you run away from something like that? Nope.

So... get out your rapidly diminishing supply of batteries and refill the water jugs, and just throw away all that spoiling crap in the refrigerator and get used to eating the MREs (that's my solution to the hungry Bob problem... the Army surplus place sells boxes of MREs, 20 packs, the same shit that I used to live on in the good old days. Mmmmm... ham and lima beans... yum... beanie weenies... not my favorite but filling... water purification tablets if you're out in the bush and don't have clean water out of a pipe. Hell, I gained weight in combat. I only wish I could find some C4 to use as fuel.

What this will do is toughen us up. That old joke from Neitzsche really is true... that which does not kill us will make us stronger. So bring Ivan on. I kick the bastards ass.


Sunday, September 05, 2004


I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but... look down in the lower right hand of this picture. That guy's name is IVAN and he is the next hurricane in the pipeline behind Frances. This is just wearing us out.

Frances is taking its sweet time strolling across the state, and the poor bastards on the south east coast have taken a brutal beating. Unfortunately, it's not over yet. Up here in Orlando, the wind is holding at around 40 knots sustained and 65 in gusts. Not too bad. I went out and looked around this morning. Not too much damage. I've still got electricity, although I seem to have an interrupt about every fifteen minutes and that makes posting anything an adventure. Not too much in the way of trash on the roads. Absolutely no body is out driving around.

I went and checked the JAC and there was no damage there. Our little system of shipping all the felonies to the county jail has worked out. Hey, a plan that actually worked. Don't tell Tallahassee, they'll expect such miracles all the time.

I haven't heard from Stevie since last night. A alert went out shortly after I disconnected with her warning of twisters going up Wolf Branch Rd. in Lake Co. Right up at her house! I'm counting on the fact that bad news travels fast and I haven't heard anything bad so far.

I can't reach anybody in Titusville so I have no idea how the boat is doing. The wind is still blowing over there. Same thing with the plane in Leesburg. I find that I'm amazingly attached to these toys of mine. Maybe I'm getting possessive in my dotage. I don't know.

It's working on 2 PM now and the wind is holding at around 35-40 knots with gusts up to 65. Not too bad. I'm just real glad that I don't live down near Okeechobee. Those guys have had it bad for the last 24 hours. Damn.

And to think that we might have to go through all this again in a week or so when Ivan gets here. Yikes!


Saturday, September 04, 2004


Ok... it's Saturday, showdown time... and so far the storm is something that is almost entirely on Channel 6. All the scarey stuff is over on the coast and as far as I care it can stay over there.

I've had one band of wind and water blow through here. Wind went up to about 40 knots, just enough to make the rain blow sideways. That lasted about ten minutes. Now the sun is back out boiling down. The streets of Orlando are empty. The people have definitely taken this thing to heart. I just did a little cruisearound so that I could go check on the JAC and see if it still had a roof and the only people I saw were cops, prowling around looking for someone to prove their courage with. No takers. No customers at the worksite. That's a good thing. I was afraid we'd have another deal like we had during Charlie with a herd of kids huddled in the lockdown area with one generator trying to quit all night. No fun.

I called Titusville and things are breezy at the marina but no horror shows yet. Touch wood. I tried to call the Remaining Relative (my great-uncle, who is graciously allowing me a little tie down space for the Velocity on his pad at Leesburg International (ha)) but he is out of pocket. Probably riding around his watermelon fields looking for perverts cutting holes in his best Sugarbabies to make unnatural deposits during the violent fluctuations in the barometric pressure (you know how these Sumter County perverts are... you've read Cormac McCarthy).

So I guess I'll go back and get comfortable and watch Frances on TV. I'm not complaining.


Hmmm. The lights just winked off and then came back on. Love those UPSs. I hope that damned Frances didn't hear me making light of this degraded Category 4 tempest.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Just look at this damned thing!


Well, here we go again. This time it's Francis. The weather gnomes are predicting landfall this weekend... Saturday. I was eating lunch yesterday and the lady who owns the place (Lam's Gardens - great buffet- heaven for old single fat guys like me) wanted to know if this was typical summer weather for Florida. She and her husband came here from Viet Nam a couple of decades ago to do the traditional "escape to the promised land". She said that her husband liked Florida because the weather here is so much like their home country, but she said she does not like all these storms we have here.

That got me thinking. What are the chances of two storms so close together? I got out the big almanac and looked at the dates on historical storms. I think the closest was in 1950 when Hurricane Easy came in on September 4 and Hurricane King on October 17. Back then is the dark ages for most people. Pre-TV, pre-air conditioning, pre-dual incomes, pre-heart catheterizations, pre-OxyContin. I can remember my stepfather having a big ad campaign bragging about how his drug store (he was the one who brought Walgreens to Orlando) had "ice cold air" and folks could shop in comfort. He even had a lounge area where his customers could sit down and relax while they waited for their prescriptions to be filled. Whoopie!

The biggest difference of course is population density. The increase rate in Central Florida is seven factorial. The population doubles every seven years. That means that the number of people has doubled about seven or eight times since those storms came through here. Back in 1950 Orlando had one TV station, channel 6 ,WDBO, and they bragged of having a two man one woman news crew and went off the air at midnight. Black and white. The next closest TV market was Jacksonville. I can recall my folks getting a huge array of metal put on the roof of the house some time in the 50s so that we could pick up Jax. Mama wanted a choice of viewing. Ever the moderns. He he.

Well, anyhow, here comes Francis. I moved the plane to Leesburg yesterday but I don't know if it will do any good. I'm just screwed about the boat. It's sitting at Nelson's Marine in Titusville, right in the path of the damned storm, but it is tied down and cross tied with long lines to allow for a serious storm surge so we'll see.

I'll be camping here in the Orlando office (again) and playing babysitter to the JAC. Fortunately, they have learned their lesson about getting the kids out of the facility early. The ARF is cleared out already and the secure (as in dangerous) kidlets are being taken to the 33rd Street jail (that's the Orange County jail). We'll keep processing the critters until ordered to do otherwise.

Want to get a hoot? The JAM unit, that's the sheriff's intensive supervision unit, the guys who ride herd on all the real serious bad boys, gang members and such, has scheduled a major sweep this weekend so that all the scarey neer-do-wells in town will be in jail and miss out on any possible looting. Street talk is that a bunch of the Latin Kings and Outlaw Crips are taking a ride up to Atlanta for their own safety. Heck... there's a bright side to this stormy weather. Maybe they'll stay.