Sunday, November 30, 2008

Update: City of Los Angeles named on signs in Pacific Coast Highway tsunami terror campaign

It appears that the tsunami sign terror campaign aimed at Los Angeles beachgoers is being waged by the city of Los Angeles itself. The "TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE" and "TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE" signs that have appeared on the Pacific Coast Highway and its access road intersections are marked "Property City of Los Angeles."

The signs also bear the name "Maneri." The Maneri Sign Company is located in Gardena (City Hall reporters, do your thing...)

Our favorite so far?

At the three-way intersection of the PCH, West Channel Road and Chautauqua Boulevard, where drivers can leave the PCH and head along the low, flat West Channel into Santa Monica, or take a steep, rising hill up into Pacific Palisades.

Chautauqua Boulevard-- the steep, rising hill-- is marked "TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE," as if one fleeing rising waters would need to be directed to choose the road leading to higher ground.

Drivers taking the low, flat West Channel Road route will find a LEAVING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE sign a couple of hundred yards down the road. That would be a couple of hundred yards away from the beach and the direction of the approaching waters.

An investigation today revealed that the TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE signs are posted along the Pacific Coast Highway before all major access roads north of the California incline in Santa Monica and south of Malibu (Veronique de Turenne of the Here in Malibu site tells us the signs have not been posted in Malibu).

The appearance of the signs has more than a few people wondering why the government would want to drive toursists and beachgoers away from the vast, wide beaches of Will Rogers State Park. There are suspicions that government officials have some advance warning of an impending earthquake or underwater test that would trigger a tsunami-- a long high sea wave caused by an earthquake, submarine landslide or other disturbance.

A 2004 study by researchers at the University of Southern California showed that a 7.6 magnitude earthquake could cause the seafloor under Catalina Island to be thrust upward violently, causing a tsunami along the Southern California coast.

The researchers at the Viterbi School of Engineering described the tsunami hazard associated with offshore faults, including one that lies under Santa Catalina Island, just 25 miles off the Los Angeles coast.

"Catalina Island itself exists due to earthquake-related uplift on a geologic structure known as a restraining bend," said Mark Legg, a geophysicist working with the USC researchers, in the August 2004 issue of Earthquake Spectra.

"Although most faults offshore Los Angeles and Orange counties are mostly strike-slip-- faults that move side to side-- bends in the fault line produce areas where the ground is pushed up during major earthquakes. One of these regions lies directly below Santa Catalina Island."

"Strike slip faults are not straight," added Jose C. Borrero, assistant research professor in the USC Viterbi School. "Bends in the fault trace produce regions where earthquake stresses cause the sea floor to pop up and generate a tsunami".

A random survey of shoppers at the Gelsons supermarket in Pacific Palisades this afternoon found a majority of respondents reacting in bemused disbelief. Said one: "Fear. More fear."

British TV priest attacks Disneyland

A British priest says Disney is "exploiting spirituality" to sell its products and turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.

On the second point, we agree. As regular pilgrims to Disneyland, that is.

Christopher Jamison has launched the attack in a new book about finding happiness. He says that Disney is the "classic example" of consumerism being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality.

While the priest acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil, he argues it’s all a ploy to persuade people to buy Disney products.

"The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children's world needs Disney.

"So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney movie, which we'll also want to give them on DVD as a birthday present.

"They will be happier if they live the full Disney experience; and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland.

"This is the new pilgrimage that children desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life according to Disney.

"Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products.

"This is basically the commercial exploitation of spirituality."

Jamison is no monastic. He became famous as star of a BBC series called The Monastery.

Writes TabloidBaby:

"We'd have to argue that Disneyland, with its messages promoting world unity and the power of imagination, as well as its many rides and attractions that depict the journey through Hell in the journey toward redemption, does serve as an attractive and fulfilling pilgrimage site in a time when the traditional institutions such as the Catholic Church have betrayed the faithful so egregiously. Additionally, the heavy Disneyland security protects children against molesters."

In the book set for publication this week, Jamison also criticizes the obsession with celebrity, which he blames for creating jealousy and a society in which people are dissatisfied with their lives.

"Celebrity news magazines do no apparent external harm, but are a complete waste of interior time and space.

"Envy tells us to stop facing the challenges of the present life and to live in some future fantasy. Such envy drives a large part of our consumer culture."

He says that people need to learn to control their thoughts, and practice more self-discipline and self-control in their lives.

On that point, we must agree.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

'TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE' signs spoil beach experience along the Pacific Coast Highway

Somebody's found a new way to spoil the Southern California beach experience. One of the kids began pointing it out this week while we were driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica towards Malibu. But we didn't get a good look until yesterday, walking down Temescal Canyon Road in Pacific Palisades toward the PCH, headed to Will Rogers State Beach.

There's a new sign posted at the intersection:


And on the other side of the street, leading up the hill, a companion sign:


TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE? Now there's a good idea! Not RECREATION ZONE or BEACH VOLLEYBALL ZONE, but something sure to send a chill down the spine. And it was certainly good enough to scare the kids who were old enough to read, filling them with worry and dread as they stood on the wide expanse of beach and looked out toward the ocean.

The signs are at every access road to the PCH from Santa Monica at least to Malibu and most likely farther along than that.

That's a lot of signs, and we've got to figure the expenditure was less likely the work of some politically-correct do-gooder inspired by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 (the natural disaster most Americans wouldn't have blinked at, had not a vacationing Western supermodel lost her boyfriend in the waters) than some politician who took advantage of the publicity and projections to slide this pork expenditure to a campaign-contributing sign company.

The "LEAVING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE" is what gives away the game. It's one thing to post reminders for those approaching the beach. But is it really necessary to find an arbitrary point, a few dozen yards from the PCH, to post a sign to assure the hapless beachgoer, running from the approaching tide, that he's safe? Is that really the boundary of the TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE? What if the person fleeing a tsunami sees the sign, stops running, and is sucked into the surf?

Which leads to other questions: Do government officials know something they're not telling us? Is an earthquake, Pacific Ocean anomaly or ice shelf phenomenon expected to cause a tsunami in the near future? Have the signs been posted to help combat lawsuits from victims and survivors?

No, the real question is why the bureaucrats needed to find another way make people afraid even when they're trying to forget their cares for a couple of hours. Most people headed toward the shores of a great ocean would assume the hazards of big waves, rocks, riptides, sharks, sharp objects in the sand, too much sun, and the sight of fat people on bikinis. That's a lot of signs.

Thanks for ruining it for the kids.

Good stories inspire a country doctor

Dr. Crystal Bailey Gary and her husband Dr. Thomas Gary are family physicians who run the North Georgia Family Medicine center in Blairsville, Georgia. Dr. Crystal is one of those special people, dedicating her life to doing vitally important work and making other people's lives better.

And who'd think she was inspired by tabloid?

Dr. Crystal is the daughter of a legend: cameraman and mentor Lewis Bailey, who's guided the shoots and made the name of many a producer in tabloid television and network news (you'd surprised at how the two intertwine, then again if you read Tabloid Baby, you wouldn't be). Many of those producers knew Crystal back in the day as Lewis' fetching young assistant.

Dr. Crystal writes, and writes quite well, about the roots of her raising on the NGFM site:

"There is something to be said for kids 'from the sticks.' Growing up in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains afforded me opportunities that others might consider obstacles. Life blesses some folks with silver spoons while others it simply blesses. I know that I belong in the latter category.

"The second of five children, I grew up where I was born-- in the tiny town of Young Harris, Georgia. As far as my memory will stretch, I recall that my parents always reinforced with my siblings and me a deep respect for hard work, persistence, and dedication. We balanced our summers working in the garden or water-sealing our driveway with exploring the surrounding woods and creeks. Any given day might find us decked out in makeshift 'jungle attire' which closely resembled my father’s safari hat and faded Muppet-Baby sheets, and armed with nothing more than a pair of trusty contraband scissors to ward off the perils of the forest. If the mountains of North Georgia could talk, they would tell tales of our imaginative exploits that paralleled the equally captivating adventures beamed to us from our analog satellite television receiver.

"In spite of our inherent rural ways, technology like the satellite dish, played a large role in our existence. My father owned a television production business that comprised a camera crew and equipment. I was almost thirteen when I began filling in for sick crew members, working as a sound technician and grip on location for such productions as Entertainment Tonight, 60 Minutes, and Dateline. These experiences exposed me to a world that even the most cosmopolitan person rarely encounters.

"For instance, how many other people can plead guilty to accidentally whacking Patrick Swayze in the head with a boom microphone? It did not take many production shoots with Hard Copy for me to learn that life encompasses a wide variety of people, all of whom have singularly interesting personal stories. I listened to the diversified complaints, questions, and afflictions that dominated the lives of these storytellers. These experiences opened my eyes to the burden that one ailment or worry can create. That knowledge gave direction to my life.

"From an early age I learned to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual. After learning to listen, I became interested in doing more than just lending an ear to these personal life stories-- I wanted to intervene. A profound respect and love for human life drives my desire to help improve the lives of those around me. What better role than 'family doc' enables a person to fulfill this aspiration? Not to mention, something tells me that I might consider staying away from any career choices that involve boom microphones.

"Thus, after twenty-odd years of stumbling through an amalgamation of turnip greens and UHF cables, I can honestly say that I was born to be a family doctor."