Monday, August 31, 2009

Tales of Teddy and AOTW

One of my small little regrets is that I was unable to give Teddy Kennedy the "honor" of Asshat of the Week before his death. Because if there was somebody that was sure to win it at some point, it was him. As it is, if I ever find a reason, it will be both posthumously and in extremely poor taste that I shall have my way with him.

Now I'm not going to rehash all the old stories (or let the dead be pissed on), but with someone who got at least 10% of the obsessive coverage Michael Jackson is still damned getting (no Kennedy news this morning, but we got our morning Michael), a little more has to be said. And yes I saved it for the AOTW post.

Such is the case whenever you become a parody figure. And there's not the space here to list them all. So take, for example, Mayor Quimby, the horny, greasy, Kennedy-sounding mayor of Springfield from the TV show The Simpsons. Or for that matter, the gallons of various parodies over the decades that Rush Limbaugh declined to play (despite my desire to hear them one last time for the smile they brought. Or even my own little parody that my daughter found funny (really an incoherent babble). The senator from the People's Republic of Taxachusettes was always good for a laugh.

The fact is that even political opponents have lost something: A unique character that will probably be replaced by someone equally liberal but obscenely boring (like John Kerry, for example).

And on that note, here's a couple of Kennedy stories I saw that were interesting:

When Ted Kennedy Spoke
- This is a look back to the first time Senator Kennedy spoke in the Senate, when the deaths of his brothers and the incident in Chappaquiddick were still recent memories.

Media Today Would Demand Chappaquiddick Answers
- A focus of anger for many who opposed Kennedy, This looks at the reaction at the time compared to what would have happened if it had happened in the 24/7 news era. It's definitely an example of how the culture has changed.

And now, rest in peace Teddy (I'll come back for you later, maybe). For now, I have an asshat to crown:

Smokey Bear is Asshat of the Week!

Why the venerable spokesbear? Especially since his primary message is, "Only you can prevent forest fires wildfires."

(note the magic message change in the above quote)

Probably because he's the political response to a conservation problem.

As with many things, Smokey was born out of World War II propaganda; in this case, his role was to help prevent fires that would otherwise pull manpower away from the war effort (replacing posters of Hitler and Tojo, as well as the cast from the soulless anti-hunting rant, Bambi). However, he is the most visible symbol of the triumph of politics and politicians over working with the nature of the forests themselves.

The politics are simple. Forest fires destroy a lot of territory that attracts tourists and granola-munching voters. And wildfires (our current scare word) are destructive enough to burn not only the forest floor, but burn the crowns of the old trees and sterilize portions of the forest. So we have to fight them so property isn't destroyed. Meanwhile, other asshats with their half-assed idea of "pristine" in mind, want to keep people (except for the granola-munchers) out of the forest. And they REALLY don't want big evil loggers to come through with heave machinery and rip up swathes of forest.

One problem: Fire is how nature clears out the clutter of a forest. So if you try to stop every fire AND you don't let people clean a lot of it out AND you build a shitload of houses in dry areas (California, most prominently), Mother Nature is going to eventually kick your ass and burn the area anyway.

Now I don't wish to completely make light of the situation in California, with both the property loss and, more importantly, the loss of two firefighters. But the fact that we continually underestimate the power of our planet to do whatever it wants is the reason these things continue to happen. That we believe we can apply our resources and do much more than affect the local environment is hubris. And that we fail to learn from our mistakes (or buy enough insurance) is sickeningly standard operating procedure, both in Washington and all across the natural destruction-ravaged country.

Finally, to clarify, starting fires in the forest is a bad thing. But when we forget to balance the needs of nature to do what it does with our own desires, we're asking for bad shit to happen. And Smokey, as you are the symbol of that effort (and forced to reword), you're a bear with an asshat (until you kick my ass, being a bear and all).

11 comments:

rockync said...

Patrick - I think you should have included in your AOTW all the arrogant, self-centered Californians who insist on building their homes on those hillsides even though they have been repeatedly warned about the dangers of natural fires in those areas or perhaps the state and county officials that allow those areas to be built up at the behest and subsequent payoff from greedy developers who could give a shit less what they destroy.
I have a boatload of sympathy for the families of those two firefighters - for the idiots who HAD to build there; a pox upon their sorry asses!

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dmarks said...

Looks like Tom is spamming. I've seen this bit of mindless bush-bashing at least one other blog.

And then there is the silly claim that "Liberalism are in perfect harmony with our Christianity"

Liberalism has nothing to do with "the hungry, shelter the poor and clothe the naked.", and everything to do with enriching and empowering the rulers. It is truly the greedy ideology.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I'm gonna ignore D for the nonce because I really liked what Tom had to say, but I didn't want to comment about Teddy anyway.

The whole thing with fires is a big deal, and I think that people who start fires (and don't put them out) should be punished severely.

That being said, there's two points to consider:

1. Everywhere you live, you have a potential disaster to deal with. It's pick your poison. If you live in CA, you have a smorgasbord: earthquakes, mudslides, Santa Anas and fires. If you live in SD, you can get like 15 feet of snow (or whatever). If you live in Wilmington, you have a cosmic bullseye on you that says ALL HURRICANES HERE. If you live in Kansas, well, welcome to Oz, and if you live anywhere near the rest of the middle of the country, keep a boat, cause you're in the flood zone.

People need to consider the risks and benefits of where they live. If you live in a fire zone, I would imagine that, just like hurricane insurance and flood insurance, you pay a fortune in fire insurance. You don't go into it blind. That doesn't mean I would like to see people die or their homes destroyed, just that they didn't go into it blind. I'm sorry for them and I'd like to help if I can, but it's part of the risk you take to live where you live.

2. More important than this is the concept of controlled burns. You're absolutely right that a fire is a vital part of the cycle in forests and many seeds don't germinate until they've been scorched. It's all part of the renewal. Previously, the thought was to keep everything as untouched as possible, but rangers and forestry people know now that the best way to keep the system healthy is by burning (or allowing a burn in) portions of it every year or so. By carefully monitoring and rotating through, it not only keeps the overall system healthy, but actually prevents uncontrolled/uncontrollable burns by (artifically) created natural firebreaks.

In CA, the cards are stacked against these kinds of things what with the winds and so on, but it's important to recognize that conservation efforts can and do a lot of prevention by utilizing the very thing that's so destructive. By working with nature's system and cycle, not against it, it's possible to be both natural and created at the same time.

I think Smokey rocks, personally.

dmarks said...

Not the least of California's disaster is the state government, when it votes for unnecessary, punitive, and very destructive tax increases.

But.... good points on the fire, all around.

TRUTH 101 said...

And all who built in fire zones will expect a government bailout.

I'm still slighted at your ignoring me for AOTW, but I agree Smokey is a good and appropriate choice.

Patrick M said...

Rocky: I try not to kick people when they're down, even when it's through their own insanity in living in a state that lacks the ability to survive without massive irrigation.

Tommy the Spam: Since Dmarks indicates you are a spammer, and since you want to take the funeral as a reason to tear into Bush, I'll treat you as I do all spammers.

Dmarks: Thanks for semi-policing my blog while I'm chasing kids. Your point does deserve a future post though.

Although if people had the sense to cut and run due to the taxes, we'd have fewer problems in Cali.

101: Wait your turn. I'll get you asshatted eventually. I just have to have a slow news week. But no bailouts!

Saty: Usually I take it in order, but i saved you for last because I knew you'd need the most comments.

First, it's best to ignore spammers, agree or disagree. And now to the important stuff:

1. I live in a relatively safe place. A little risk of tornadoes, an occasional blizzard or ice storm, and flooding is minimal, as I'm on high ground (all rivers flow from this area). Even the remnants of hurricanes can get us (try Googling "Hurricane Ike Dayton Ohio"). California specifically is a disaster area, yet a lot of people live there despite the myriad problems (like wildfires every year (you don't get direct hurricane hits that often). It's insane.

2. No argument here. I've seen similar effects on clear cut areas in southern Ohio. A bare hillside becomes a tangle of brush in a couple of years, and a decent stand of woods in 15 years. And take the devastation of Mount St Helens. Nature repaired most of the damage in a little over 20 years. A little fire is a good thing.

California, however, is barely able to support 1/10 of its population without massive public works projects. Add to that the greatest concentration of kookburger agendas (including not clearing all that flammable brush) and you're bound to have a lot of shit burn. Thus the legacy of Smokey.

Smokey is an emblem of not burning, thus he's the asshat.

Toad734 said...

So now you agree that when you put tons of CO2 in the air eventually the planet will start wiping out some of our cities that are producing that CO2??

Don't look now but you came awfully close to "pissing on the dead".

dmarks said...

Toad: There's no cause and effect between pollution and any of LA's problems. Except for smog, and no-one named it.

But actual scientific cause and effect is often forgotten in "man-made global warming" junk science.

Patrick: Ever notice that when these social programs face budget shortfalls, those who run the (including leftists) insist on cutting services to the needy first, and the last thing they will let be cut is extravagant overpay of government officials?

It shows where the priorities lie, and how "we are doing it to help the poor" is too often a very effective cover for a scam to get rich.

Patrick M said...

Toad: If you're talking HelL-A,that's a local problem. And where the environment is pushed locally, it will eventually start killing. It's one reason I live where the chances of nature killing me are pretty low.

And you're one of those that have no authority to talk about pissing on the dead, having been deleted for doing so in the past (which led to harsh enforcement of that rule).

Dmarks: Have to disagree here. For government, it's not about money. It's about power. Money in that sense is only a conduit to that power. So if you can cut a program and blame the the other party, it's a win-win.

dmarks said...

I think I agree. You said it better. But they are pretty good at figuring out ways to transform taxpayer dollars into personal riches along the way.

"Ask not what you can do for your country, but ask what your country can do for you" played out by reverse JFK's at the top levels of government.