An Obstinance of Authority

Watching the news there was an interesting display of the “Helicopter Parenting” nature of government today and just how obstinate it can be.

I can’t say exactly the source. It was on the Roku and I think it was one of those channels that puts up the most recent snippets from other channels (the hot stories of the last 24 hours).

One of the major networks had a reporter down in the Florida Keys reporting on how recovery was going. It might have been the ‘Today’ show. He was at the police barricade where folks were being told they could go no further. The basic “story” was that an increasing number of folks were stacking up there wanting to return to their property and start putting their lives back together, but were being denied entry by the police. Typical after a disaster of dramatic proportions in some ways.

The reporter asked one of the police “why?”. His answer was that it wasn’t safe (the stock answer to any denial of freedom, it seems). The claim was that the First Responders and power company needed the streets empty so they could check houses for any dead folks and get down electrical wires out of the way. Unanswered was how those down wires had such dangerous electricity in them when all the generation and transmission in the area were down. OK, that much is pretty much SOP for such events. Authority wants to prove Control before it allows the peasants back into the space.

But then they went on. There’s no water, no food supply, no electricity, no street lights, no Air Conditioning. One guy with a large truck was busy ranting that he had water, food, a generator and more, yet was being kept out…

AND, said the cop, there’s no cell service and no internet “how can you call for help if you get in trouble?”

Really? Have we reached the point where without cell service and the internet we can’t function? Have these folks never been in the wilderness before? Do they not remember just a couple of decades back when nobody had cell phones and the internet was for Nerds? Have we forgotten folks lived in Florida, Texas, heck even Phoenix Arizona prior to A/C? Do they not understand the notion of “camping” where you bring your own food, water, and light with you? Where, GASP!, you might actually just go to bed when it gets dark and not need 24 hour / day lighting?

In about 1970 a friend and I went “car camping” up in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Quincy. We stayed in a State Park, but it was the old style parks you don’t see anymore. No fee. No lights. No “facilities”. About all it had was dirt parking spaces under the trees and some garbage cans for your trash. You were on your own for things like water and food and lighting. We put 2 sleeping bags in the truck bed and slept under the stars. Middle of the night we heard some rattling noises. A flashlight played in that direction showed a smallish black bear working the garbage can route. He looked at us with a “Hey, Buddy, kill that damn light will ya!?” look. We did and he went back to the garbage cans while we went back to trying to sleep.

Now we had no cell phones then. We were about an hour drive away from anywhere with significant population. The last street light was far far away. Electricity was something used in the city, not the wild. The internet was only a dream in the mind of someone at DARPA. His truck had no radio and no air conditioner. Food, water, bedding those were all things you provided for yourself, along with any policing or protection ( I think the County had about 1/2 dozen Deputies to cover the whole thing, then.) Shelter? That was your tent, trailer, or in our case, the back of the truck. As not-quite-adults, we were encouraged to go out on our own into that wild to “build character” and learn to be independent. What was sometimes stated as “growing up”…

So to my world view, taking a pickup stocked with luxuries like a generator and portable self cooling “ice chest” with LED lighting and more water and food than they could eat and drink, including an AM / FM radio with CD player for entertainment and likely having modern conveniences like A/C built into it; well, that just seems like paradise on wheels.

Yet here was Authority stating that it was not safe to be self reliant. That it was essential to life to have grid electricity, cell service, the internet, running water and sewers, hospitals with ambulance on call, policed streets and all modern City Central Services before even a temporary occupation for purposes of repair and recovery could be allowed. In short, citizens are only dependent chattel of the Helicopter Parental State and all must be treated as imbecile children.

In essence: When the Central Authority demands you evacuate and not shelter in place, expect your home to have the door broken down BY THE AUTHORITIES so they can assure nobody is dead or injured inside before you are allowed back in. (then they spray paint that fact on your home so expect to repaint) Expect to be kept out until long after the electric company has come and gone, the streets are bulldozed of debris (so forget retrieving any items from the rubble of your home), gas stations are stocked, cell service verified, and proper oversight of your activities is assured (no doubt with fee collectors and permit issuers in abundance). Do NOT expect to be self reliant on any score or to “camp out” or “rough it”. After all, no one can survive without Oprah on TV and a long nightly chat with friends on the cell phone…

Sigh. Whatever happened to the people who crossed a continent of wild lands in a conestoga wagon…

But it gets worse.

The Police, getting testy after all these uppity independent Keys folks wanting to just go rebuild their lives again were demanding answers; said that they were going to enforce the “Curfew” last night. Anyone near their barriers overnight would be busted. Now, normally in a curfew, you are supposed to go home. But these folks are specifically being prohibited from going home. The Prepared Pickup Guy was busy saying “Where am I supposed to go? I’ve got nowhere to go.” And he is right. It’s 700 miles from there to anywhere not raked by a hurricane and there isn’t a lot of gas available in between. Oh, and one would need to drive into the night curfew to get there even IF gas was available.

So here they are, in the middle of a hurricane mess, 700 miles of mess to get to not much going north, being told there’s a curfew and get off the streets. Or Else. Sigh.
The Stupid, it burns.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to An Obstinance of Authority

  1. Wayne Job says:

    Well said EM I am also from an older independent generation albeit ozzie, I would be pissed off.

  2. Greg Hall says:

    A lot of peo[ple are idiots and need a Nanny State. On the news I saw an interview with a guy buying water and microwaveable meals befor Irma hit. Ah… where are you going to get the power to run your microwave Genius? Then there were the people rushing to buy bottled water. Ya know you have this valve inside your house that when opened water flows out. Fill some jugs! Then we have the people buying loads of canned goods. Most people today don’t even have a manual can opener. How do you oepn a can with no electricity? Hammer and a screwdriver?? And then we have the people sitting around a candle in the dark, just waiting for someone to knock over the candle and burn the house down. While others said they had plenty of propane for their gas grill. You going to stand outside in the huricane and grill? Or do it inside and die from CO? The best was the woman who said they had plenty of water, even enough for the toilet? You don’t waste potable water on flushing a toilet!Use rain water or floodwater. Just strain it for debris.
    Get yourself some water storage, a kerosene lantern or two, a large kerosene table lamp, a small kerosene stove w/10 gallons of fuel, some MRE’s and freeze-dried foods and sit back and watch the unwashed whine the Government needs to save them!

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    That is part of the segmentation of our society into two groups, the “city folk” who mostly are highly dependent on government services and the “rural folk” who could do just fine with little or no government.

    Many in the city are one to two generations separated from your roughing it in the bed of a pickup truck. They have never gone camping in the sense people my age associate with camping. There idea of roughing it is staying in a cheap motel that runs out of ice by 10:00 pm and has showers that don’t get hot, and no pool.

    They have no sense of self help, having been conditioned since birth to look to service providers for all their needs. They have grown up in a room service world where every essential service and commodity is just a phone call away or within a 2 block radius.

    Like you if the government and other essential services were beamed up to the mother ship, I could get by for weeks or months without outside support beyond a little help from a neighbor to help me drag a dead tree back to the apartment complex so we could chop it up for fire wood.

    Many of those in government are from that “city folk” cohort and cannot imagine people taking care of essential needs on their own.

    The general population no longer has significant fractions composed of groups with essential coping skills, (ex-military with field experience, active hunters and outdoors types who do not need $3000 worth of titanium camping gear, and carbon fiber pack frames to go for a hike, or people who grew up in rural areas where you cut down your own fire wood, or cleaned up storm damage than walked down the road to help your neighbor clean up his downed trees.

    Instead they are a generation that goes into withdrawal if they cannot watch their favorite TV show, don’t own a backup radio and wouldn’t have clue how to string an expedient antenna to pickup the station 300 miles down the road at 11:00 pm. Would sit and patiently wait 5 days for the tree service to come to cut up the 6″ tree that is blocking the driveway and have no idea there is a mechanical release on the electric garage door, and their car is not trapped in the garage until power comes back.

    The last TV show that showed a resourceful person getting things done with what ever was at hand was MacGyver which ended its run in 1992, so that generation of viewers are now in their early 40’s for the most part and their 20 something kids have never gone camping that did not include the use of $35,000 motor home with a satellite dish at an RV park with a pool and showers.

  4. Larry Geiger says:

    ” The claim was that the First Responders and power company needed the streets empty so they could check houses for any dead folks and get down electrical wires out of the way.” I mostly agree Chief. But the other “reason” you don’t mention was the condition of the roadway and the bridges. The Marion county and the state were inspecting bridge piers, ramps and flooded areas. Especially he first day or two. Now I’m not disagreeing mostly. However, there is a case for the local government to certify things that they are responsible for. For instance, here in Brevard county they did some inspections on the bridges before they re-opened them to the barrier island.

    Now all that other malarky about communications and supplies I agree with you. People should be responsible for their own safety in most cases. This is America. If they want to go, then let them. It is ridiculous that the government feels like it needs to rescue everyone who does something stupid.

  5. Larry Geiger says:

    Larry: that’s mostly true. But my city boys who were in my Scout troop have most of those skill and experience. Many of them would be useful in an emergency situation. However, Scouting reaches a relatively small minority of boys and dads. And some Scout units are almost as bad as you say about learning the abilities to survive.

  6. jerry l krause says:

    Hi E.M.,

    I could tell you about I built a 17ft, redwood strip, fiberglass, canoe, put it on top of my pickup, traveled 300 miles to the Boundary Wilderness Area in northern Minnesota. Put the canoe in the water for the first time with enough supplies for 10 days to begin paddling and portaging for ten days, And I have.

    I come to you now to tell you I have maybe learned something about which you advised me. But rather than tell, I need to show. And I consider this could only be done first by email. You have my address and if you are curious please send me an email so I might reply. If you have forgotten, my objective is to first refute the GHE by observations instead of by arguments. Then to move on beyond that to explain the actual cause of the downwelling IR radiation from the atmosphere for which it is claimed that only the GHE of atmospheric gases can explain.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  7. philjourdan says:

    Government rarely helps. At best they maintain a status quo. And this is the case here.

    While not in a wilderness, I have been without power for days. I learned I did not like grilled food every day. But it is a way to get by. We welcomed the power crews who restored our power. But we survived.

    And yes, back in the 70s, camping was a tent in a forest where the “prepared” ones brought TP.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jerry K:

    I’ll send an email. It’s about time I did my once-a-month email check anyway ;-)

    FWIW, a buddy and I made a raft about Jr. year of high school. 8 foot by 8 foot. Whole thing came apart into one pickup truck bed load. 6 x 30 gallon barrels cable stayed into 2 pontoons. Figured you could put a VW on it and not sink! Spend a day and night on the Feather River with it… a longer than expected adventure as the river was slower and more winding than expected…


    Government often helps… themselves… The rest of us not so much.

    With a Coleman gasoline stove and a Primus Propane one I can make just about every style of food but baked. For that I had to get a kerosene oven… Oh, and a nice cast iron Dutch Oven lets you make some baked things, though heat regulation is more of a challenge.

    Back during the first round of California Democratic Electricity Stupidity under Gov. Grey (out) Davis we had plenty of opportunities to practice our “no electricity” skills. Biggest impact was the loss of TV and the Internet. So I put the Entertainment Cluster on a UPS with about an hour life span. Got it through most outages just on that. Anything over about 20 to 30 minutes I’d just start the generator and swap the plug over. Even during the Loma Prieta Quake when the local TV stations were off the air, we had TV via the satellite dish. At that time they had 6 or 9 “local” TV stations from around the country so I got to watch the coverage from NYC, Virginia, etc and compare to the reality. The news sure played up the “disaster”…

    Were I somewhere with Southern Humidity, I’d have a genset sized to run the A/C for a week+. Yeah, likely a Diesel on a small trailer… Honda made (makes?) a nice 12 kW job.

    I did significantly less baked or roasted dinners then as there was a real risk the electric oven would stop 1/2 way through… With the pan fried / boiled stuff I could just start the propane stove and move the pan to the counter.

    I did more grilling in Florida than when here. Just because the grill was sitting on the patio just outside the kitchen / entry there. At home it is a much longer walk… and a bigger grill harder to get to working condition… Now I’ve got a propane Webber I inherited, but only used it once. Then found out the hose / valves have a very slow leak and the 1/4 tank of propane it came with turned to zero over a couple of weeks as I’d forgotten to turn off the valve at the tank, too. Maybe I’ll refill the propane tank and see if I can find the leaking valve… next year…

    In California the weather is generally so mild we never really noticed the lack of H-VAC. Just open the windows if it is too hot and put a bit of wood in the fire place if too cold ( I assumed the Fireplace Police would not be busting us for using it on a ‘spare the air day’ if it was our only source of heat…)

    We had a couple of days outage once. I think a pole got taken out in an accident. I did a ‘walk around’ the neighborhood the first night and there was roughly one generator per block. A few homes had candles running. Many were pitch black. The lack of preparedness was appalling. I had enough candles for 2 weeks, 2 generators and fuel for about a week without getting the siphon into the car tanks, a half dozen flashlights (Maglights) with spare batteries and a couple of propane and gasoline camping lanterns. (Why keep a Coleman Gas Lantern in the age of LEDs? Because it’s a nice kW heater with free light… just make sure to keep some air flow through the space and turn it off if anyone gets drowsy… We had no issues with about a 4 inch window opening on each side of the house for cross flow. We were warm enough despite the fresh air flow. Though I only ran it for about 1/2 an hour as a test. Then we went back to the electric lights on the generator (it gets set up on the patio where the dominant winds drift away from the house).

    Heck, I even had put our driveway light on an old UPS that was being tossed by a company that was going out of business, so our front light was on. Had a PG&E Truck stop in front of our house and stare at me, so I hollered at him that it was on a battery and he looked relieved… I think they were planning to work on the wires and thought maybe power was back and nobody told them ;-)

    So we got really really good at not noticing power outages. I had a lamp and the entertainment cluster on one big kW ups, and the bedroom on another. We’d know the power went out as the kitchen light, if on, would go out… and IF we had a lamp on near the sofa, it would go out. Then the soft cheeping of the UPS would start. After a few minutes I’d go fire up the generator, drag the cord into the house, and swap the UPSs over (via pre-laid cables behind the furniture) to the generator. That would stop the cheeping. IF it was even longer term (like the several days we had once) I’d put the fridge on the generator too after a couple of hours, and we’d set up candles & flashlights in rooms like the office and bathroom. Gentle candle light for ambiance, flashlight if you needed bright.

    I used the 5 kW Briggs & Stratton powered generator for doing appliances. Clothes washer and dryer. (Gas dryer, so just needed to run the motor and controls). Noisy obnoxious thing. Used it one outage of 3? days in a decade, so sold it to a friend who had no generator and doesn’t mind noise so much. Figured I really didn’t need to do wash for a week anyway and it could just wait.

    Bought a 1 kW inverter to clip to the car if I need added power. Something like $60 at Costco. I’ve never used it. We dumped Grey (out) Davis and power stability returned… As the push to solar / wind reaches criticality, I figure I’ll just start re-building my own system again. Put some jumper cables with permanent attachment on the inverter. Get the Honda 1 kW generator serviced. Put i a battery box “someday” in the garage if enough outages happen to make it worth while.

    Oh Well. We’ll see how much the Dims can screw up a working power grid before people decide to toss them again…

  9. philjourdan says:

    The “Whole House” generators (there is a big business in them around here – even though power is not an issue 99% of the time) are about the size of one of those 150 quart coolers. They sell gas or petrol ones, but recommend you be on a gas line and buy one of those (I have a tank). That will run the AC (or heat) so not quite as big as the diesel on a trailer. They run about $7500, plus installation, and you want a certified person to do that. There was a scandal around here where some outfit was installing them incorrectly – and then went out of business. Lots of home owners had to pay again to get it done right.

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