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      If there is something this blog is about, it’s how to think. There’s an entire category, but it’s most of what I write. Thinking well isn’t about always being right, because you can’t be. It is about having models of the world that are right often enough; and, that when wrong fail with the least […]
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Texas vs NJ: too big to fail?

As some of you may remember, I lived in NJ in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit. This site helped me buy one of the last generators in Central New Jersey, thank you very much. I used that for about a week until the lights came back on and we were able to turn the gas furnace on again.

Here’s a (poorly shot and edited) video that I took of my neighborhood about two days after Sandy when our county was still under a state of emergency and we were advised to not leave the house if we could help it. I lived about 35 miles west of Manhattan as the crow flies. The devastation was worse close to the shore but there were deaths from fallen trees in Princeton, just a few miles away from me. The night Sandy hit, the lights went out at 8pm, just after Brooke logged off of her English class at Stanford. The wind picked up like nothing I’d ever heard before, I thought the roof was going to come off and there were weird, unearthly groaning sounds throughout the night. We had no idea what that was all about. It turned out, it was the sound of trees being uprooted. This video shows just a fraction of what was down within a few blocks of my house:

The reason I bring this up is because the Jersey shore was particularly hard hit. All along the northeast corridor and NYC were scenes of devastation. It was very important to get the shore back online because tourism is big business in NJ.

But the thing about NJ that Sandy exposed is that NJ’s infrastructure is badly out of date. Many power lines were not buried, trees hung over power lines on major thoroughfares for weeks before they could be fixed. It took two weeks before the schools could be open because power couldn’t be restored to my township’s most remote elementary school. There weren’t enough tree removal units. And Christie had called in convoys of utility service units from all over the east coast. I saw them crossing in front of me two days before Sandy hit going down Rt 206 towards Princeton. We were getting trucks from NH.

But NJ is one of those blue states, well, mostly blue. It is a very high tax state. Central and North NJ is (was) stuffed with overeducated biomedical researchers and Wall Street bankers and Vice Presidents and financial analysts. In other words, NJ is a state that sends much more money to Washington than it ever gets back. And even though the area is small, it’s dense. We were too big to fail.

Texas? Hmmm… No offense to the lovely people I know who live there, but Texas is messed up. I remember the times I visited Houston where my delicate elite east coast sensibilities were shocked by the utter lack of building codes. It was a free for all of construction, like Texas was waving a big middle finger at the rest of us and saying, “we’re going to do whatever the fuck we want. You can’t stop us.”

According to the elites of Political Gabfest, Houston was already over paved back in the late 90s. Now, there is 30% MORE pavement. Some of the excess rain doesn’t get absorbed into the ground. This year, the Gulf of Mexico’s waters were unusually warm. You don’t need to believe in climate change causing more devastating hurricanes but if you live near the coast and warmer waters increase the chances of more rain on your fair city, maybe you should stop laying so much asphalt and concrete. But far be it for us coastal smartasses to tell TEXAS what to do.

If you read my post from yesterday, environmental protections are lax and the Governor owes his office to the Koch brothers whose laissez faire attitude to regulation may have contributed to the chemical plant disaster.

In NJ, you need to get a permit for everything and her inspectors are meticulous. Trash collection is heavily regulated. And zoning is Byzantine. But we were never able to upgrade the power lines, roads and rail lines. They suffered after Sandy. Could the state have insisted on businesses making the investments? Yeah probably. But some of our features passed through several states and some of our federal tax dollars should have been sent back before disaster struck to keep ahead of the problem.

Instead, we east coast elites send a lot of money out of state so that other places don’t have to regulate and zone. And we’ll bail out Houston, because it is the right thing to do. But at some point, we’re going to have to face reality and do something about our rotting infrastructure and unregulated suburban sprawl.

Two major disasters don’t necessary imply correlation. Let’s just say there’s a trend.

************************

I completely forgot how some GOP legislators were threatening to hold up money for Hurricane Sandy unless they got an offset for the states affected. That would be NJ, NY, PA and CT. Those states already far exceed what Texas sends to the Federal Government as a percentage of state GDP. Adding an offset tax would have added insult to injury.

Funny how it’s always the red states that complain about taxes when they’re actually receiving welfare from states like NJ.

Yep, they have no problem with logical inconsistencies and compartmentalization.

I wouldn’t sweat it if I was Texas. The rest of us will do the right thing because we’re bleeding heart elites who care about people. But for once in your lives, you right wingers should stuff a sock in your pie holes and stop whinging about how the rest of us are oppressing you.

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Saturday: Is it too early…

… for Nicki Minaj?

I think not.

Grab you cleaning gear and get to work. I’ll supervise.

***************************************

This is funny. Someone left a “Your security is low” message on Wikileaks front page a few days ago.

The authors at Gizmodo are very anxious to say, “No, they weren’t really hacked, we swear.”

Mebbe. Mebbe not. Still, I would have loved to see Julian’s face when he read that.

Is nothing sacred these days??