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Irma hysteria makes landfall; the actual hurricane did too

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The faces you see on television are paid to entertain you and make you feel like they should be trusted. They are reading a script, and most of the time, they don’t know any more than you do.

Hurricane Irma is a terrible force of nature. It could be the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, which means it could be one of the strongest forces of nature Planet Earth has produced. And the media wants you to know two things:

(1) If you live in Florida or the gulf, this monster is probably headed directly at your house; and

(2) Mankind is responsible for this.

Irma’s eye made landfall over the small island of Barbuda, where hurricanes and Atlantic storms are a way of life. In nearby Antigua, residents got a side swipe from Irma.

In Florida, people are freaking out.

They’ve got plenty of reason for concern…this morning’s official storm track has Irma turning north into south Florida early Monday morning.

But the level of hysteria, and the media’s own infotainment treatment of it, along with the smug “we told you so” attitude of those who believe that somehow Earth could be tamed into producing smaller storms…or that Earth wouldn’t produce such large storms if humans did things differently.

Those who firmly believe in the “climate science” numbers supporting anthropomorphic  climate change are so emotionally invested in the numbers that some are rooting for the storm. Others are pretending to be scientists, leading to ridiculous exchanges like the one below.

Ryan Maue is in fact bona fide a hurricane scientist. Kurt Eichenwald is an editor for Vanity Fair and an MSNBC contributor. “I’ll show you the science paper on it” is about as absurd as me (with zero medical training) telling a heart surgeon that he’s doing a mitral valve repair wrong, and I can show him the “science paper” on it that I found with Google.

That is the point here: everyone in the media is suddenly an expert, declaring fact and denouncing fiction, when we need to be respecting nature’s power, not trying to explain why driving a Ford F-150 caused it.

A fake Irma track showing the storm heading for Houston went viral Monday, causing renewed panic in the storm-devastated region. Now people in Jacksonville are emptying stores of bottled water.

Certainly, people should be prepared. But NHC forecasts and probabilities do not support the level of hysteria the media is conveying. Jacksonville has a 6 percent chance of winds 64 mph or more by Monday. It has a 26 percent chance of winds over 34 mph. That’s gusty, but not catastrophic.

Orlando, Miami, and Fort Myers have under 20 percent chance of winds over 64 mph for Monday. These forecasts are updated at least twice a day, and that’s what should guide us, not the hype.

They’ve called Rush Limbaugh a “hurricane truther” or “hurricane denier” because he pointed out on his show that local TV and national media both have a vested interest in making the storms worse than they are, and ensuring maximum concern by local residents.

(1) It’s good for business for local stores when everyone runs to buy water, and other staple items. (In Middle Georgia, if there’s a hint of a snowflake, the stores sell out of milk, bread and toilet paper–I’m serious.)

(2) Anthropomorphic climate change believers get to crow about how they’re right, and everyone else is wrong, and this prediction was made 15 years ago. (Except that they also predicted 20 years ago that most of Florida would be under water by now, and that hasn’t happened.)

Limbaugh said:

Let me just put it this way. The latest National Hurricane Center forecast map, the track, which was released at 11 a.m. puts the Sunday target exactly where I told my buddies on Saturday and Friday night that it was gonna go, while the models all had it turning north up to North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and the Northeastern coast. That was just one data point that I kept looking at that told me where I thought this thing was gonna go.

They call Limbaugh “out of his mind” because of this. Two more observations.

(1) Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. He admits it freely. He is a radio host who speaks his mind, based on his own experience and claims no special expertise.

(2) The people who call him “out of his mind” also have the same level of non-expertise and access to the same data as Rush Limbaugh, yet Rush’s conclusions fit the forecast better than theirs.

Irma is a dangerous storm. The best advice is to go to the NHC website and look at what the NOAA professionals, who do this day-in-day-out for a living, think will happen. Actually read the forecasts. Then prepare based on fact, not hysteria.

Also realize that most people know jack squat about how hurricanes form, and what causes ocean temperatures to be 1.7 degrees higher on a certain spot than “normal.” If you think that it’s very simple to find a “science paper” linking your F-150, or cow flatulence, to deep ocean temperatures, you are woefully gullible.

The faces you see on television are paid to entertain you and make you feel like they should be trusted. They are reading a script, and most of the time, they don’t know any more than you do.

In fact, you may know more than they do.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. William Scherk

    September 6, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Why do you use the phrase “anthropomorphic climate change”?

  2. Steve Berman

    September 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Two reasons:

    1) It’s another way of saying “man-caused,”
    2) The apostles of the global warming church assign divine and human qualities to the earth, that somehow it’s Gaia’s revenge on humans for infesting the planet. I choose to make a distinction between “climate change” as a scientific field of study (which is perfectly valid) and the Captain Planet club that has already decided what they believe.

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President Trump expresses extreme discontent with Russian investigation

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President Trump expresses extreme discontent with Russian investigation

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 election has struck nerves in President Trump off and on for a year. The last couple of days, those nerves have been tweaked to the point that the President is lashing out harder than he ever has before.

Has anything changed? Is this a release of pent up agitation he didn’t want to voice before the midterm elections? Is Mueller getting closer to finding something? At this point, we really have no idea. All we know for sure is the President isn’t happy and even Fox News panelists are starting to scratch their heads.

Is this investigation a farce? Probably. Is it helping the President to lash out on Twitter? Probably not. The only resolution will come when the Mueller investigation wraps up and the President can Tweet his vindication all the way to reelection in 2020.

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Entertainment and Sports

Hat is back: Miles signs 5-year contract to coach Kansas

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Hat is back Miles signs 5-year contract to coach Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Les Miles is headed back to the Big 12 and another massive rebuilding job, this time taking on the downtrodden program at Kansas in a splashy hire aimed at energizing a weary fan base.

The deal was finalized shortly before Miles arrived at the airport in nearby Topeka on Sunday. Miles signed a five-year contract that will pay him $2,775,000 annually with retention bonuses of $775,000 due in November 2020 and $500,000 in November 2022.

“Since the beginning of our search, we focused on identifying and recruiting an experienced head coach with a track record of success on and off the field,” Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “Les Miles is exactly what we need right now.”

Miles was considered the front-runner for the Jayhawks’ job from the moment David Beaty was told he would not be retained two weeks ago. The 65-year-old Miles has a close relationship with Long dating to their days together at Michigan, and Miles had told those around him he wanted back in coaching.

Miles and Long had been in frequent contact over the past two weeks, and it became clear a deal was close when LSU announced Thursday it had agreed to a buyout with its former coach. Miles agreed to a lump sum of $1.5 million of the remaining $6.5 million he was owed under terms of his buyout.

The school has planned an introductory news conference for later Sunday.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the KU football program and I am grateful for Chancellor (Doug) Girod and Jeff Long for the opportunity,” Miles said. “We will bring Jayhawk Football back and we will do it with outstanding coaches, tremendous student-athletes of character and ability and un unrelenting drive for excellence. My family and I cannot wait to be part of the KU family.”

The quirky Miles has been out of coaching since 2016, when he was fired by LSU after a 2-2 start. His support among Tiger fans had waned considerably in a span of just a few years, even though Miles won at least 10 games in seven of his 11 full seasons, twice reached the national title game and beat Ohio State for the 2007 championship. He went 114-34 at LSU.

The most vocal critics argued that Miles had been unable to keep up with the times, sticking to an unexciting and often-stagnant attack during college football’s offensive explosion.

Miles had inherited a winner when he was chosen by LSU to succeed Nick Saban in 2005, but he had proven with Oklahoma State that he could also build a program from scratch.

The Cowboys had just one winning season in 12 years before Miles, their program in similar shape to the Jayhawks. But the longtime college and pro assistant thrived in his first head job, finding some overlooked prospects, developing them and eventually reaching three straight bowl games. He was 28-21 at Oklahoma State.

“I have no doubt that Coach Miles will have an immediate impact on our football program and our university,” Girod said. “Together as Jayhawks, we will rebuild our football program the right way, winning championships and continuing to graduate young men of character.”

The Jayhawks haven’t had a winning season or reached a bowl game since 2008, the year before Mark Mangino was forced to resign under pressure. Turner Gill won five games over two seasons before getting fired, and Charlie Weis managed six wins in two-plus seasons before he was let go.

By that point, the program had become the laughingstock of the Big 12.

The Jayhawks were woefully short on scholarship players, their facilities were decrepit, their fanbase had grown apathetic and the even the administration seemed to have little interest in supporting football. Beaty’s contract lagged far behind his peers financially, and there was little money at his disposal for hiring assistant coaches and other administrators.

Long has promised to rectify those issues, even announcing that a $300 million renovation to aging Memorial Stadium had been put on the backburner while money was invested in the program itself.

The first and most important investment came in the head coach.

Miles would earn $15.125 million by fulfilling his five-year contract. He also can earn a series of incentives: $1 million for reaching the national title game; $350,000 for a playoff semifinal; $100,000 for a New Year’s Six game; $100,000 for making the Big 12 title game; and $75,000 for any other bowl game. Miles also can earn $50,000 each for being the Big 12 and national coach of the year, $15,000 for having a Broyles Award-winning assistant, and up to $50,000 for the team’s GPA.

His contract also includes a one-year, one-time rollover extension that is triggered by winning six games in a season, and benefits such as a country club membership and moving expenses.

The Jayhawks, who lost to sixth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday to leave Beaty with a 6-31 record in three-plus seasons, will finish out their year under their former coach Friday against Texas.

___

More AP college football.

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Entertainment and Sports

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would be terrible if the Coen brothers didn’t make it

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would be terrible if the Coen brothers didnt make it

Directors often get too much credit for making movies great. That’s not the case with the Coen brothers. In their latest release, their presence in the director’s chairs and behind the writing desks took what should have been a mediocre Old West anthology and made it clever enough that most viewers will enjoy it. Others, like me, will hate it despite their presence.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Coen brothers film made for Netflix that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why 91% of critics reviewed it favorably on Rotten Tomatoes. But the thumbs-up/thumbs-down approach by Rotten Tomatoes makes the rating a bit misleading. Many of the “positive” reviews I read were essentially homages to the Coen brothers. There were many complaints about the six-part anthology that were followed by “… but it’s the Coen brothers, so…”

That’s the big plus in the movie. The Coens were able to tell the six stories the way only they could with such attention to detail that I almost watched it a second time even though I hated it. The critic in me detested what the movie tried to do. The fan in me loved how the Coens tried to do it.

Unfortunately, that means the only valid reason to watch it is to see the Coens do their thing. That’s enough of a reason if you’ve already seen all of their other extraordinary works. If you’ve missed any of them, I’d start there before using The Ballad of Buster Scruggs as a filler to get you through until their next masterpiece.

I normally don’t do spoilers. In fact, I make a point to not even spoil important components like mood or tone. Since this is a case where I’m not only going against the grain of other reviewers but I’m also trying to dissuade certain people from seeing it, I’ll go ahead and warn that there are spoilers ahead.

As noted already, this movie doesn’t take itself seriously. There are six completely separate stories tied together by two things: death and the historical Old West. We’ll deal with the death aspect shortly, but one good thing I can say about the movie is that I’ve never seen one capture the beauty of the period like this one. Even on a small screen, the sets are stunning. It’s a shame that such amazing cinematography will have so few see it on the big screen.

Now, let’s deal with death. It’s the overarching theme throughout, and it’s noteworthy that none of the reviews I read seemed to catch onto the specificity of the deaths. In order from first to last, the deaths are whimsical, ironic, undeserved, deserved, and tragic. This is done in a very particular order to keep the audience engaged. It’s an emotional ebb and flow that the Coens have mastered over three decades of filmmaking.

The opening story shares its title with the movie itself. It’s a live-action cartoon with stunning aspects that make the viewer laugh, marvel, and finally scratch his or her head. Buster Scruggs’ death is as quick and unexpected as the death the character dishes out throughout his story.

The second story, Near Algodones, demonstrates the inevitability of death for one who chooses a life of crime. Both times the lead character is captured and set to hang are comical and ironic, as if saying Death won’t be cheated by death. His final scene is the last real laugh we get in the movie.

As is common for the Coen brothers, there’s no attempt to ease in to a drastically changing mood. From beginning to end, Meal Ticket makes us feel melancholy and turns it up near the end of the third story. The only temporary relief is seeing an orange chicken mesmerizing a simple-minded crowd with its ability to do basic math on command, a not-so-subtle allusion to President Trump and his adoring fans.

The star of the anthology is the fourth story, All Gold Canyon, as Tom Waits delivers on multiple connections. He touches nature as both an intruder and its defender. He talks to his goal, “Mr Pocket,” like a friend about to deliver the good news of riches heading his way. The best line of the movie comes out in a dialogue between Waits and the pocket of gold when he says, “I’m old, but you’re older.” All of this combines for a deep connection we’re able to feel with his character. We may like or dislike other characters, but we actually connect with this one. Any of the stories could be fleshed out to be a standalone film, but this one would probably yield the best one.

The fifth story, The Gal Who Got Rattled, is another one that could easily expand. It made me think someone could make an interesting series about life on the Oregon Trail that followed the guides back and forth in their exciting journeys. Instead, we get a glimpse at the trail, another glimpse of irony surrounding an annoying dog that survives both of its masters, and then a fleeting glimpse of real action as Grainger Hines fearlessly takes on a group of Commanche who want his scalp and the young lady he’s protecting.

The Mortal Remains rounds out the movie. It’s the only story that doesn’t end in death, though it’s predicated by death; two of the five characters in this story are bounty hunters with the body of their most recent prey strapped to the top of the carriage they’re riding.

There are different interpretations for this segment of the movie. Some say the self proclaimed “reapers” are taking the souls of the other three passengers to their resting place. This theory lends to the apprehension and dread they demonstrate when they finally get there. Others say they simply fear that death may come to them soon, which is why they hesitate to enter the hotel. I lean towards the first interpretation. The three in the carriage with the bounty hunters/reapers died normally while the body on the roof had to be hunted down, which is why he has to be carried to his final resting place instead of walking there like the other three.

Who knows? The Coens.

The stories in this movie were accumulated over 25 years. It’s very possible that there is a much deeper underlying meaning to all of this that the Coens may or may not ever reveal. It could be personal, like their own private joke about Hollywood; watching Meal Ticket definitely lends itself to the notion that the highest level of art can’t be as popular as a counting chicken. There may be nothing to it at all. The Coens know, and unless they’re changing their style, they aren’t telling us their secrets.

An uncanny number of reviews I read noted a variation of the idea that the whole was less than the sum of the parts.

The bottom line: Lots of people loved this movie for everything the Coen brothers bring to the table. Some, like me, hated it because it’s six stories that individually could have been great but compressing them into one movie didn’t do them justice.

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