Guv Christie: You’re not wrong, Walter. You’re just an asshole.

Illustration: DFE

Jeremy Moule has a great post up on the City Newspaper blog, questioning those who insist that now is not a great time to talk about cuts to FEMA. We are in a crisis, County Executive Brooks and others say, we can talk about the political objective of gutting federal programs some other day.

But it is while we are in the moment that we realize what things truly mean. After the moment is passed, it is easy – even compulsory – to abstract the meaning out of everything; to analyze with either clinical or cynical cool the things that were of white-hot importance only a moment ago. And while we’re in our current moment of kumbaya between Democratic President and Candidate Barack Obama and Republican Governor and Political Supporter Chris Christie, I feel like there’s something else we ought to discuss.

Just a few days ago, Governor Chris Christie went on Fox and Friends to discuss the recovery efforts happening in the State of New Jersey after Sandy’s path of destruction. Steve Doocy, per his usual, made a lame attempt to try to turn the topic political. Here is what happened:


“Wait,” you say. “Tom! He just totally put the smack down on Doocy! That’s awesome! He turned the focus of the discussion away from politics and on to the crisis. That’s exactly the kind of leadership we need! How could you disagree??”

Yes. I certainly support changing the subject to more pressing and important matters, rather than using the opportunity to score political points. But that’s not what happened. Let me illustrate again:


And there are lots of other examples. You see, Governor Chris Christie is what we describe in clinical terms as a Big Fat Republican Asshole (BFRA).

The defining characteristic of the BFRA is the inability to say, and be sincere, that they disagree with your position or see things differently. They are not typically capable of even saying that they think your position is wrong. Rather, they are compelled to tell you that:

  1. YOU are personally wrong for believing what you do.
  2. Believing such things is just a symptom of your naiveté and lack of experience on these matters.
  3. “Guys like you” that believe such things better “get their heads out of their asses,” soon.
  4. Frankly, your opinion makes him question your moral character.

“Awe, man! All I said was that I liked nectarines, man!”

But the subject does not matter to the BFRA. He must dismiss everything about you the moment you disagree with him. And do so loudly until his wife tells him to shut up.

You can appeal to false equivalence all you like. Yes, there are annoying Democrats, if that helps you sleep at night. But nowhere else in our political spectrum does there exist anyone quite like the BFRA. It is a specific, definable pathology of a specific political party. In fact, the BFRA is so dedicated to the R in BFRA that they typically have lawn signs for every race in the tri-county area right out on the front lawn. The BFRA frequently gets visits from the local fire marshal, warning him of the fire hazard this situation represents.

Said fire marshal, though, is frankly not very good at his job if he thinks that kind of malarkey. Probably not a very good person, either.

I noticed all this about Chris Christie when he stood up for one of his staffers, who happened to be gay, after getting elected. I can’t seem to find the video, but he staunchly refused calls from fellow Republicans to fire his staffer over the “transgression” of his homosexuality. I watched him and, for a moment, was proud of a Republican who stood up for gay rights. But of course, per BFRA pathology, he proceeded to stand up in the worst, most obnoxious, toxic and repellent ways possible. Instead of a Republican appealing to fellow Republicans’ better angels, he once again was telling everyone who disagreed with him that they were stupid.

And honestly: the only thing worse than an asshole you disagree with is an asshole you agree with. Because now, despite yourself and to your chagrin, you’re with that asshole.


Tracking #Sandy on Twitter: RIT boffins create realtime geo-tagged tweet tracker.

As usual for those of us on Twitter, our news feeds are the place to which we find ourselves glued in the Hurricane Sandy crisis. From useful information, to sometimes even more useful humor to words of encouragement and word that our friends and family are ok, Twitter provides instantaneous, ad hoc community that is simultaneously both in and out of danger. But two masters students at Rochester Institute of Science went a little farther in showing just how global concern for Sandy’s victims really is:

Currently, the app pins a tweet regarding Hurricane Sandy on the world map and displays it for 10 seconds. It then stores the message and location in a database, before displaying the next tweet.

“We want to collect a timeline of tweets from Sandy’s start to finish,” Williams says. “If everything holds up, we’ll have stored up to 150,000 geo-located tweets by the end of Oct. 30.”

The project is powered by tapping into Twitter’s public timeline and searching for tweets that have specific terms or hashtags. Since Twitter allows users to “geo-tag” their tweet – to give the precise geographical location they’re at when sending a tweet – the Sandy mapper is able to determine where on the planet each corresponding tweet comes from and place it on the world map. As new tweets come up, the map pans from location to location. The system isn’t always perfect: for example, someone who writes a tweet about “Sandy” as in someone named Sandy might appear on the map, even though they have nothing to do with the storm.

Check out the project yourself. My only request might have been that they embed Twitter Intents to the results, so you could RT a few. Very fascinating to just watch as tweets come up, regardless. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to hit the “publish” button on this post and quickly snap back over there to see it!

Weather Science

The two forces that make #Sandy quite unlike Irene

Batten down the hatches; Mother Nature is about to unleash her wrath on the eastern seaboard Monday afternoon. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, meteorologists have predicted for many days that Hurricane Sandy was going to be be “the storm”. You know, that storm people will reference back to and compare every other storm to twenty years down the road. She will be strong, she will be relentless and she will be sure to leave her mark on the Rochester region.

Without a doubt Upstate New Yorkers have faced their fair share of powerful tropical cyclones, Hurricanes Bob, Isabel and most recently Irene to name a few. These hurricanes packed a powerful punch in terms of precipitation, closing down the Thruway and paralyzing small communities due to localized flooding. However, these three storms were not able to provide the wind Sandy is projected to produce.

This is because Sandy will eventually transition from a tropical cyclone into an extra-tropical cyclone. As Sandy moves onshore, she will become integrated into a deep trough and upper-level jet stream associated with the cold air present over the northeast. When she merges with the deep trough, her central pressure will drop, winds will strengthen and she will spread out over a huge area. Tropical-storm force winds will extend over 500 miles northward of the center of Sandy – an unprecedented size! As a result, Sandy will produce sustained winds over 40 mph and gusts exceeding 55mph in the Rochester area.

Hurricane Sandy is projected to make landfall somewhere between southern Jersey and Delaware around midnight Tuesday and dump anywhere from ten to twelve inches of rain in the area. Although Rochester won’t see that much precipitation, parts of Western and Central New York could see over three inches of rain from Sandy, more than enough to cause localized flooding.

That amount of precipitation has the ability to dampen the ground so that with the strong winds, trees could be uprooted. Given the counter-clockwise flow around Sandy, winds will be coming from the northeast, opposite the typical prevailing wind direction, which could put added stress on trees. A positive thing to note though is that most of the leaves have fallen off the trees, lightening their weight. Nevertheless, be alert if your house is situated near tall trees, especially if they have a weak root structure.

As if there is not enough to worry about, Rochesterians will have to pay special attention to Lake Ontario throughout the storm. Sandy’s winds will blow across the flat lake, causing over 20 feet waves, almost unprecedented heights for Ontario.

It’s fair to say that the hype Sandy has brought is nothing short of extraordinary. However we will have to wait to see if she puts her money where her mouth is. My guess is, Sandy is not fooling around and the 50 million people she is projected to impact should take the necessary precautions to stay out of harms way.