.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Another weather drama is in full swing. A hurricane this time named -- to LeftLeaningLady's great consternation -- "Ike."

A week ago, Lady was cussing Ike and wondering why it had to be given that name. She associated it with Ike Turner, the late husband of the hugely vivid and energetic singer, Tina Turner. I was amused because that person didn't occur to me at all, and I realized it was due to the gap in our ages. I think of the name "Ike" purely in connection with General and President Eisenhower, and, after asking around, Lady confirmed that it was indeed a generational thing, with everybody over the age of about 50 associating it with the general and everybody else with Turner. I held off on commenting to her though I couldn't help lamenting that to a great majority of the American population a confirmed wife-beater is therefore more famous than one of the biggest leaders in the WW2 victory over the German Nazis, even though as President that Ike failed miserably when it came to seeing the absolute rightness of Civil Rights.

Meanwhile today our weather "Ike" is, from my removed point of view, in a classic position. It is sitting smack in the middle of that great hurricane stewpot, the Gulf of Mexico, leisurely taking advantage of that body's warm waters and a shortage of wind shear to strengthen, before it completes its final leg to hitting land, which is forecast to happen in two more days, somewhere on the Texas southeastern coast, at a spot called Freeport, which Steve Bates says is the worse possible place where his town, Houston, is concerned.

If I was Steve Bates, I would be intensely excited right now, and it is easy to tell from his posts that in fact, for him "intensely" is almost an understatement. But I'm not sure I would be excited for the same reasons. Steve's concerns are clearly focused entirely on the personal and human aspects, where his loved ones and his Texas neighbors are concerned. Those aspects would occur to me, but, because storm calamities are so totally lacking not only from my personal experience but also even from my racial memory going back many thousands of years, I would take the probabilities of disasters to be too low to merit real anxiety. That is strange, because anxiety is practically my middle name. Instead my wife, as usual, would not be worried about a thing, while I wouldn't be able to resist indulging in the sensation of being in a real life drama that would last for days and in which the unfolding of the action would far overshadow any eventual outcome.

This blase attitude is surely influenced because twice early in adult life, on Okinawa, I was in the path of strong Asian hurricanes -- typhoons -- that passed directly overhead. But both times I was clever enough to be under the protection of strong concrete buildings, of a type that Steve and family are contemplating, should their decision be that that would be less stressful than their apartment. The first time I was in a U.S. Air Force barracks and the second in an Okinawan hotel. Therefore, though it wasn't pleasant to be shut up so completely behind concrete and steel shutters for several days straight, I still had the luxury of being able to view such events mainly as entertainments.

When it comes to calamities suffered elsewhere, it's mostly a matter of tradeoffs anyway, it seems to me. I rationalize that there are plenty of places to go where, for decades at a time, hurricanes are just largely hearsay, as they are where I am at present, even though that does mean suffering my kind of spiritual deprivation. I haven't glimpsed or heard or smelled an ocean of any sort for more than 30 years, as much as I love being on beaches and watching waves roll in. And just as I am quite happy that I don't live in Africa, I'm also glad that, long before I was born, my mother and father found good reasons to get out of their hometown, too, New Orleans, while the getting was good, though I'm sure that that city's totally illogical placement in a spot several feet below sea level was at the very bottom of their list of concerns.

But people still find plenty of good reasons to live in places close to and -- preferably, right next to the seas, even though there they can expect to be subject to extreme weather almost yearly -- or to the ravages of the overall rising of the water, as is happening now because of climate change.

Even in events such as droughts or late freezes in the spring that did directly damage my interests, I still have never seen the weather as being anything other than benign and also absolutely essential, and eventually it always responds to hopes for the best, which is much more than I can ever say for purely human affairs.

So, after doing whatever it is going to do in Texas and maybe also in the ancestral lands of Louisiana, Hurricane Ike is forecast, a week or more from now, to visit us here, too. This is because, after, as a tropical depression, Ike gets as far north as Oklahoma, the prevailing west to east winds will take charge and make Ike take a sharp turn and head right this way, though only in the form of welcome remnants with little to no wind. That's why the inland parts of Virginia see much more of the Texas and Lousiana visitors than happens with the seemingly much closer storms that come up along the Atlantic coast. They always get blown back out to sea or fade to inconsequential in places like New England and Canada.


Blogger LeftLeaningLady said...

I have great respect for General Eisenhower, I just don't think of him as an "Ike"

Sadly, this blasted storm has flooded half my county and the sun has been shining all week. He is a monster and seems to be taking up the entire Gulf.

Thank goodness we finally passed an ordinance that if the double red flags are flying anyone caught in the water may be thrown in jail. Maybe THAT will keep people on shore.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Already, in your county?

I hadn't focused enough on the size of Ike, though I knew that it is huge. But this morning I read that it was taking up 40 percent of the Gulf, and I'm feeling a lot of misgivings as it steadily gets ready to hit Steve Bates' area. In a certain sense it seems to me that the Texas authorities have already told the population that a certain number of them are going to die. I don't remember ever hearing such before. And all those refineries and chemical plants right in the storm's path!!

Meanwhile I hope that nothing gets any worse for you and those around you.

9:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home