Storm Damage

Our good friend Sekanblogger brings us word from Joplin, Missouri, in the wake of the tornado that devastated the town on Sunday.

Yesterday, I took off from my morning job and the wife, younger daughter, her friend and I all went to Joplin and evacuated my two grandkids. Taking two vehicles, we picked up the kid’s clothes and other small personal items. Hopefully this will free up my older daughter and her husband to take care of things without worry.

After reaching Joplin, it took another hour and a half to get to her house. Most roads in were blocked, and the officers there were all from out town, so they could not tell us how or where to get in at. I only saw one person get let through, and that was because she was there to identify her son’s body. She said this so matter-of-fact like that it was shocking.

Kansas Mediocrity has photos of houses and buildings torn apart, trees down, cars buried.

We send our sympathy and support to all the people who suffered this week from the worst that nature can dish out.

Price- Anderson Act

Kmareka readers who believe in small government, deregulation and personal responsibility– who trust the free market to solve all our problems– should look up the Price-Anderson Act. Taxpayers carry almost all the risk of nuclear power plants, corporations get the profits.

In Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Company was responsible for its own liability. Until something happened, and now the government will make up the difference.

Too big to fail takes on another meaning here.

Trusting the industry to set safety standards and give an honest assessment of the risk to the public is also looking dubious. From today’s news

TOKYO – A major international mission to investigate Japan’s flooded, radiation-leaking nuclear complex began Tuesday as new information suggested that nuclear fuel had mostly melted in two more reactors in the early days after the March 11 tsunami.

That would mean that all three of the most troubled reactors at the plant have suffered partial metldowns.

The team of U.N. nuclear experts met with Japanese officials and planned to visit the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in coming days to investigate the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 and assess efforts to stabilize the complex by Tokyo’s self-declared deadline of early next year.

Meanwhile, the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., released a new analysis suggesting that fuel rods in the plant’s Units 2 and 3 mostly melted during the early days of the crisis, which had been suspected but not confirmed.

In addition, some chunks of the fuel appeared to have entered the outer containment chambers, causing some damage.

That suggests that the severity of the accident was greater than officials have acknowledged. TEPCO announced similar findings last week about Unit 1.

The new revelations indicate that earlier official assessments may have been too optimistic, said Goshi Hosono, director of Japan’s nuclear crisis task force.

“We should have made a more cautious damage estimate based on a worse scenario,” he said.

A century from now, there will be places in the vicinity of the plants that will be unfit for habitation. This kind of pollution can only be partially controlled, at great cost. This is the problem Japan is leaving to future generations.

Rapture Date Moved Up

Harold Camping has emerged from hiding to announce a new Rapture date.

OAKLAND, Calif. – California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on October 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Too early to be the October Surprise of the next big election.

I have a word of prophesy. All of you who believe in The Rapture, stay away from the voting booth. The voting booth has cooties. Thus saith The Lord.

It’s a Job, and a Tough One

For years after, I had dreams that I was pushing a cleaning cart down a long exterior walkway– and was way behind on doing the rooms.

I worked as a maid in some motels by the Green Airport in the 70’s. I couldn’t afford a car, and I was living with my parents, and the public transit was nonexistent. So I would commute to work by biking up Occupatuxet Road, now known as Airport Road. We had not invented bike lanes then, so it was an adventure. The work was physically taxing but generally the people were nice. I mean my fellow-workers.

The motel guests were mostly not around. You can sit at home for free. If you rent a motel room you are likely either going out to do something or hanging a ‘Do Not Disturb’ on the door handle. Our busy time, late morning to early afternoon, was vacant room time at the motels.

Thirty years later, this New York Times account of the workplace rings true, and the job has not changed much.

The following matches how we did it in 1974, and not much is different whether upscale or no-tell…

Housekeepers, by the way, usually have no idea who is occupying a particular room or suite. Each morning they are presented with “boards,” or room lists, that indicate whether their assigned rooms are to be fully “flipped” (for a new arriving guest) or cleaned as an occupied room (for a guest staying on for the evening). The guest’s name — never mind what position he or she might occupy in the larger world — is rarely listed on the sheet.

It has been reported that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s defense might be that any encounter was consensual — that, in effect, “she asked for it.” During my time managing, the only thing a housekeeper ever asked me for was to leave early, or have Christmas off (both of which I had to deny — as I said, the housekeeper’s is the hardest job in the hotel).

Some people are alleging that the maid at the Sofitel was part of a conspiracy. Much more likely she had no idea of who was staying in the rooms she cleaned, and was expecting that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was gone, as his room would have been marked for a full cleaning.

Just to mention, also, that my fellow motel maids were not easily categorized. What we had in common was needing a job and having the physical stamina to clean rooms for six hours at minimum wage. Honest work is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no excuse for disrespecting workers.

UPDATE: A New York legislator has proposed mandating panic buttons for maids similar to the medical alert buttons worn by the elderly. Sounds like a good idea.

Thief in the Night

There’s those that will knock you over to get your wallet, and those who con you into throwing away your life’s savings…

The sky turned dark Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t a sign of the world’s impending doom – just passing rain.
Welcome to the No-pacalypse – a disappointing finish to what doomsday believer Robert Fitzpatrick thought would be the End of Days.

“I don’t understand why nothing has happened,” a deflated Fitzpatrick said in Times Square just after 6 p.m. “I did what I had to do. I did what the Bible said.”

“I obviously haven’t understood it properly, because we’re still here,” added Fitzpatrick, 60, surrounded by a phalanx of reporters and skeptical onlookers.

The retired MTA worker from Staten Island bought $140,000 worth of advertising, proclaiming that the end was near. He and followers of California televangelist Harold Camping thought a global earthquake would strike the East Coast just before 6 p.m.

I think Harold Camping is worse than the ordinary mugger. Some time ago I was listening to interviews on NPR with victims Bernie Madoff, the pyramid king. They felt so betrayed, and self-blaming. It’s really nasty to win someone’s trust and do that to them. Fitzpatrick sounds like a vulnerable man who had the bad luck to be cleaned out by a con man.

According to CNN Money Harold Camping has millions– more than enough to restore Robert Fitzpatrick’s life savings and whoever else he has particularly screwed over. He also holds enough FCC broadcasting licenses to make him a media baron. That’s really scary.

We need to re-think this religious tax exemption thing. I’m all for giving tax breaks to charitable and religious organizations that serve the community, but we shouldn’t let every con man who comes along build a tax-free empire. Even Jesus paid taxes. It’s in the Bible.

I truly feel sorry for Robert Fitzpatrick and all the others who gave money to this crook. But then again, Mr. Fitzpatrick looked forward to my imminent torment and death in the Great Tribulation. Even so, he’ll have the benefit of secular programs like Social Security and Medicare. The people who help him will be accountable in a way that failed prophets are not.

Timeline of the Alleged Crime

Daily Beast has a source who has described what happened in the hour after the alledged assault of a hotel maid by Dominique Strauss-Kahn…

The luxury-hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found by a supervisor in a hallway where she hid after escaping from the former International Monetary Fund director’s room. Hotel workers described her as traumatized, having difficulty speaking, and immediately concerned about pressing charges and losing her job, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

She had to tell her story to 4 different people, 2 housecleaning supervisors and 2 from security. It took an hour to call the police. That seems like a long time, but actually is a quick response. Too many organizations delay and cover up. The Sofitel had nothing to gain but bad publicity, and the maid could possibly been persuaded not to press charges if she thought it would get her fired. The staff did the right thing.

If, as alleged, this maid is a loose woman who agreed to sex and then changed her mind, she must also be a talented actress. If she was a plant from DSK’s political enemies she must have been a master manipulator to arrange events so perfectly.

If she is somehow going to profit from this incident it looks like nothing but loss so far. She’s in hiding, unemployed and most likely her daughter is out of school. I hope that the lawyer who is prosecuting her case will help her find safe temporary housing and work. The trial will not be for six months, and she has to live her life.

UPDATE: according to AlterNet, one reason the maid didn’t have to worry about losing her job is that the Sofitel is a union shop. From what I can see, the management took a crime against an employee very seriously and reacted quickly. Institutional cover-up is so common that it’s really exemplary that the staff there called the police in time for them to catch the suspect. I had suspected that the Sofitel had a work culture of respect for their workers, and this backs it up.