ITEM: Fukushima nuclear disaster raised to highest level on international scale. It turns out the highest point of the international scale is Level 7, known, variously, as "Major Accident", "Chernobyl", or "Uh-oh". At the same time, officials insisted that this in no way implies that the Fukushima accident is as serious as Chernobyl, thereby assuring the world community that Japanese officials are just like anyone else's.
I'll admit that when I read that I momentarily wondered why the scale only goes up to 7, before it dawned on me that you really don't need anything further. Also, a seven-point scale limits the number of times nuclear power shills have to rewrite their "We must not let hysterical overreaction to this accident interfere with the reasonable use of nuclear power, vigorously regulated" pieces. To seven. Or eight, since for some reason there's a Level 0.
I do wonder about the scale, and since it turns out the numbers can be assigned by just about anyone--plant operator, national panel, celebrity judges--I'm working on my own:
Level 0: Nope. We haven't heard anything unusual.
Level 1: Just a few dings. These babies are built to the highest safety standards and governed by strict regulations.
Level 2: The Level 1 Alert is now inoperative.
Level 3: The Level 2 Alert is now inoperative.
Level 4: Listen, the middle of a crisis is no time to be pointing fingers.
Level 5: With any luck this'll hold for a week.
And so on.
ITEM: Libyan stalemate putting stress on NATO alliance.
I think that's Level 3.
Y'know, somebody needs to explain to me how seeing ten fucking days into the future is too much to ask of the people we entrust with high explosives and blank checks.
Of course, that's not exactly what's happened here; we're just ten days further into things and the required miracle hasn't yet materialized.
ITEM: Budget deal won't cut military spending.
Well, in fairness, that's the 60% of the Federal budget we can afford.
So the Democrats vote against their constituencies, and it's the Republicans who are termed courageous.
We have two major political parties in this country. One of them, in my lifetime, has been led by: 1) an excessively solarized, anti-fluoridationist version of Herbert Hoover; 2) a raging paranoiac; 3) a guy who played football without a helmet; 4) a B-movie actor whose room-temperature IQ wasn't improved by terminal brain bubbles; 5) an effete East Coast Yalie whose impersonation of a Texas bidnessman was so pathetic it made the previous guy look competent; 6) a small-time, small-town Georgia courthouse lizard so slimy he still has to apologize to amphibians he meets; 7) Bob Dole; 8) the son of #5, a man whose own phony Texanism could be explained by the fact that it's the only state where he'd be judged mentally competent to hold a driver's license, in conjunction with possibly the most loathsome human on this side of the planet; 9) John McCain; 10) a brain-dead weekend weather reporter McCain raised to national prominence in one of his periodic fits of Fuck Youism; and 11) John Boehner.
And the other one not only manages to keep losing to them, but keeps telling itself it needs to be more like 'em. American Exceptionalism, indeed.
ITEM: Applebee's gets 15-month-old boy plastered. I'm always fascinated with how "It was a mistake" serves to explain any corporate PR disaster, from nuclear meltdown to serving margaritas to underage toddlers ("employees will be retrained" was one of the announced changes, presumably because someone forgot to salt the rim of the sippy cup). So far as I know, no one's bothered to ask Applebee's why a fully-mixed margarita would be hanging around in a storage container in the first place. Maybe all their drinks are pre-mixed. I don't know. Anybody got David Brooks' personal email?
The infant blowing a point-one-oh, and the subsequent explanation ("Accident") reminded me of last week's announced mix-up at a local medical testing concern, which mistakenly informed eight Hoosiers they'd tested positive for chlamydia ("Okay, but the good news is we first thought it was twenty-three").
I saw this story on two local channels, and both fell all over themselves assuring viewers it was just a mistake. ("Hello, honey? Well, it's a funny thing…When that lab said you gave me an STD it was just a mistake! So you can come home now. They forgot to clean it or something. I sewed all your suits back together.") Both stories interviewed the Vice President of the joint ("Very sensitive equipment. Gave it a good cleaning. Moved it to another room"); one of the two did bother, after that, to talk to a doctor who was a little perturbed that patients might have been told their lousy husbands gave 'em crabs, and who might now be looking for a little legal relief from anyone involved.
And nobody said "Aren't you supposed to've read the manual?"
And this is the sort of deference given to someone who doesn't buy teevee time.