Monday, September 01, 2008
Gustav Making Landfall
If surprise storms that might become hurricanes would head up a top ten list of things I won't miss about Houston, Hurricane Season in general would be fairly high on the list. It doesn't rank first because, for the vast majority of storms, you have enough lead time to run away, if necessary.
But being able to run from a dangerous storm doesn't mean that the decision is always straightforward. Over the past few days, I've been a regular visitor to The National Hurricane Center and three good hurricane blogs -- and feeling a little bit like an amateur meteorologist by now. Up until the day I wanted to decide whether to flee, some of the computer models were showing the storm taking a jog towards Houston just before landfall. On top of that, there were big uncertainties about its intensity at landfall and its forward speed. Since I don't trust either of our cars for an evacuation, I ended up renting a car for several days as a precaution, but ended up staying put.
With the storm being much weaker than many feared it would be (and the storm surge smaller), it appears that New Orleans has dodged a bullet, but check back there in a couple of days. Remember: Its levees didn't fail until the day after Katrina made landfall. And while Houston has been spared a direct hit from even a hurricane, the remnants of Gustav are forecast to advance into East Texas and stall, meaning that Houston might flirt with a reprise of the flooding of Tropical Storm Allison.
Three Good Shots in the Arm
About a week after posting on Bush's legacy, I noticed a nice upsurge in traffic that lasted for several days after Diana Hsieh, Billy Beck, and SayUncle each linked. I thank them all for sending their readers my way!
I bet he does want to "fix" the medical sector!
Not too long ago, I said, "If you equate generosity and benevolence with altruism, I would suggest that you check your premises." This weekend, Michael Moore gave a demonstration of this very point:
His latest outrage occurred on MSNBC's August 29 "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and when he commented about the coincidental timing of an unfortunate disaster -- the potential for Hurricane Gustav to make landfall at the beginning of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.No further comment is necessary, and were our culture not in such a sad state, Moore would be in for a monumental task of rehabilitating his public image, not to mention under fire for making any theory or cause he advocates looking very questionable.
"I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven," Moore said, laughing. "To have it planned at the same time – that it would actually be on its way to New Orleans for day one of the Republican Convention, up in the Twin Cities -- at the top of the Mississippi River." [bold added]
The Morbid Calculations of Collectivism
As if not to be outdone in the sleazy task of calculating how Hurricane Gustav might affect the outcome of the upcoming elections, some Republicans are tallying up the advantages the storm offers to the GOP:
(8) [Gustav t]akes the convention from the traditional role of being an orgy of enemy-bashing to one of national service and charity.Setting aside how the nature of altruism can turn any disaster into an disgusting contest for moral prestige, I would note that were the government confined to its proper role of protecting individual rights, this storm would be completely irrelevant as a political issue. Instead, both parties are going to fall over themselves seeing which can pass out more storm loot.
This reminds me that Thomas Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute recently wrote a very good piece about government disaster aid. He ends with the following:
With their own lives and wealth at stake, people will have every incentive to evaluate risks objectively. And if hardy souls still choose to occupy and fortify New Orleans, or build on an earthquake fault, or live in a tornado alley, the risk and reward will be theirs alone. No longer will government make disasters more disastrous by pretending that citizens have a right to defy the forces of nature at others' expense. [bold added]My sentiments exactly!
Left More than Fails to Defend Rights
McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was a brilliant political move because Palin is personally likable enough to make many people give her "pro-life" and pro-creationist views an undeserved pass.
Palin is likable, and how she leads her own life is her business, but the fact that is "pro-life" -- and means it enough to bring a fetus with Down's Syndrome to term -- disqualifies her as a candidate in my eyes. The government has no business forcing someone to make the same decision she did.
Too bad the allegedly pro-choice left has apparently forgotten (if it ever knew) the basis in individual rights for the pro-choice position, not to mention the persuasive power of articulately-defended ideas.
Members of the lefty blogosphere haven't stopped perpetuating the rumor Sarah Palin "faked" her last pregnancy and are now humiliating her daughter Bristol on the blatantly incorrect suspicion she is the real mother of baby Trig.According to this article, the attacks are poorly-founded, based as they are on a photograph that is too old to substantiate the claim. In other words, these bloggers are not only wasting their time looking for a "baby bump" when they could be defending a woman's right to her own person, they are unjustly making that very important application of the principle of individual rights look foolish and petty by association.