THE ” WAR OF THE WORLDS ” MYTH – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I went to a presentation celebrating the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. The reason this particular broadcast has lived on in history and is still remembered and talked about today is really quite interesting.

Orson Welles broadcasting “The War of the Worlds”

The radio play starts with a typical program playing music from a live band. This fictional program is then interrupted by a realistic sounding “newscaster” reporting an increasingly destructive invasion by Martians. The Martians wipe out New Jersey and proceed to annihilate Manhattan. They are reported to be landing all over the east coast of the United States. The U.S. army is reported to be vanquished and the audience is told that we have no defenses left.

Rehearsal of War of the Worlds

Newspapers the next day, including the New York Times, headlined a nationwide panic that made this incident the most notorious event in broadcast history. The unprecedented mass hysteria was talked about in newspapers, books, articles and radio and TV shows for the past 80 years.

The day after the broadcast

There were reports of thousands of panicked calls to police and radio stations across the country. There were stories of traffic accidents, near riots and hordes of panicked people in the streets and on the roads, fleeing the Martian invasion. There were even reports of suicides and deaths due to the hysteria caused by the broadcast. It was claimed that the stories continued in the newspapers for two weeks, with over 12,500 articles about the panic.

The day after the broadcast

Today, however, this version of history has now been debunked and fallen out of favor. The current belief is that whatever panic occurred, it was small and not widespread. Most listeners understood this was a dramatization. While some may have been scared by the story, few panicked. Evidence shows that at the time of the event, newspaper reports of the story actually stopped after a day or two, not weeks. The story was not the long-lasting, national headline grabber we believed it to be.

In addition, far fewer people heard the original broadcast than most people believed. This fact makes the magnitude of the reported panic much more implausible. A rating service the night of the broadcast reported only 2% of listeners were even tuned in to The “War of the Worlds.” This was true, in part because Welles was scheduled opposite one of the most popular shows on the air – Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

In addition, several important CBS affiliates, including in Boston, didn’t even air Welles’ show. Instead, they aired local commercial programming, which further reduced Welles’ national audience.

History does show, however, that the story grew in magnitude and in detail as time went on. So the 1940 claim that one million people heard the broadcast is grossly exaggerated.

Just as the size of Welles’ audience has been inflated, so have the reports of mass hysteria. There is no documentation of any deaths or even hospital visits, as claimed, due to the shock of the broadcast. In reality, there were almost no contemporaneous news accounts of mobs in the streets or highways jammed with fleeing people. In fact, people later reported walking through the streets of major cities at the time of the broadcast and finding them as empty as usual at that time of night.

There is another piece of evidence used to counter the mass panic scenario. If the terror and chaos had been as bad and as widespread as reported, CBS and Welles would have been severely reprimanded or even punished. But no sanctions were levied and no official rulings or regulations were promulgated by the FCC.

Welles facing the press the day after the broadcast

So why was the mass panic story started and why did it survive for so long?

One credible theory is that newspapers were to blame for the origins of the story. Radio was still a relatively new medium in 1938 – only 18 years old. But already radio was taking advertising dollars and audiences away from the newspaper industry. So the newspapers seized upon this opportunity to trash the radio as an unreliable source of news. A newspaper trade journal at the time wrote: “The nation as a whole continues to face the danger of incomplete, misunderstood news over a medium which had yet to prove …that it is competent to perform the news job.”

You can’t trust the radio! Fake news!

People are now debating why this myth has persisted for so long. One answer is a man named Hadley Cantril. He wrote a scholarly book in 1940 that gave academic credence to the panic. He used numbers and statistics that made his story seem plausible, but which have subsequently come into question.

He had no hard facts to back up any of his assertions. And he is the only legitimate academic source that claims there was a sizeable panic. Yet his writing has kept this version of the story in textbooks, as it still is today.

There is a more philosophical explanation of the persistence of the mass hysteria myth. In 2000, Northwestern’s Jeffrey Sconce wrote an article called, “Haunted Media”. In it, he suggests that the “War of the Worlds” myth captures our unease with mass media and the internet’s power over us. We all fear, on some level, the media and the internet “…invading and colonizing our consciousness.” The myth is “…a cautionary tale about the power of the media.”

Jeffrey Sconce

Radio opened up a new means of mass communication and shared experiences. Now the internet is doing the same thing. Sconce states that “…today the internet provides us with both the promise of a dynamic communicative future and dystopian fears of a new form of mind control; lost privacy; and attacks from scary, mysterious forces.”

This is particularly true with today’s epidemic of fake news, foreign intervention, and manipulation of the internet and domestic political dirty tricks. We deal with political misinformation being spread to millions of people every day. A national panic may not have occurred because of a radio broadcast in 1938, but it is more likely to occur today because of the abuse of the internet.

REAL REPORTERS – Garry Armstrong

Word Prompt: Credibility

It’s never been a one-man show.

I logged more than 40-years in TV and radio news,  including 31 years at one Boston TV Station.  I’m always flattered when people say they remember me and my work. The body of work is considerable. Usually 3 or 4 daily newscasts, 5 to 6 days a week,  48 or so weeks a year times 40.  That’s a lot of news, good, bad and ugly.

A reporter,  the face in front of the camera,  gets the credit for everything. The images of life, death and the furies of Mother Nature.  Wars and Peace. Happiness and sorrow. You see the reporter, center screen with a name graphic, proof that he or she saw everything in the visuals that tell the story.

It’s a false premise.  It’s impractical. The reporter couldn’t possibly be in all the places seen in the story that has you riveted to the screen.

We’re called “talent” in business lexicon.  That should be a dead giveaway. We’re the human, face connection, to all those images on your screen.

The real reporters are the people behind the cameras.  The men and women who frequently put their lives on the line to bring you the pictures, the video seared into your sense memory.

I’m proud of all the awards I’ve received over the years. I’d be a liar if I said the hardware didn’t mean anything to me. They are reminders of the stories covered across four decades – on the local, state, national and international stages.  The awards have my name clearly etched, front and center. But I can see all the faces of those responsible for bringing the stories to life.

In the 60’s,  I was a green rookie, assigned to the national and international news,  landscapes that ranged from Vietnam, civilian dissent against the war, Civil Rights marches and violent opposition,  assassinations of national leaders,  a historic walk on the moon and a music-culture changer called Woodstock. I was a 20-something, agape at all these events I was covering for Network News.  It truly was baptism under fire.  I survived because of veterans whose careers began with the birth of radio and television news,  The great depression and World War Two.

The 20 something was handed the keys to the news kingdom.  Right place, right time. I may have often been driving the big car but those veterans always rode shotgun,  guiding me through some very difficult mazes of network news closed-door battles with the Pentagon,  the DOD and the White House.  I had a grizzled news manager who always counseled me, “Just tell the truth…make sure you’ve corroborated 2 or 3 times at least.

Don’t let the Pols or Generals faze you…make sure the stories are short, punchy…dump the adjectives”.

All that was behind me when I landed in Boston in 1970. If I thought I knew it all, I was dead wrong.  Boston was just edging its way into a golden era of TV Journalism.  The technology was rapidly changing and changing the way things were done.  TV news was still viewed with skepticism and contempt by many old-school journalists who believed the word was stronger than the picture.

Boston is a highly regarded news market. It can be tricky for a newcomer not versed in the proper pronunciation of towns and cities or the political landmines in seemingly benevolent Norman Rockwell like settings.

I was thrust into local celebrity by being a general assignment reporter covering blue-plate special stories of murders, fires, prison riots,  sexual predators, bad weather, and quirky politics.

I quickly learned to lean on the experience of the people shooting the stories.  They knew the players, the back stories,  the dos and the don’ts.

A news director (one of nearly 3 dozen I survived) told me to keep the camera crews under my thumb.  He said they were just ‘picture takers’, ‘lumpers’ and ‘complainers’.  That news director was history before I figured out how wrong he was.

Those picture takers really were reporters who saw everything around them. They knew when someone was just using his “face time” to dance around the truth and delay legal consequences. They warned me about the “frauds” and “fakers,” political and community leaders who could clean your pockets while shaking your hand.

I am especially thankful for the photojournalists who covered “the mean streets.”   They’re the ones I always saw at 3 o’clock in the morning at a devastating fire,  a triple homicide or drive-by shooting.  They always knew more than the eye-witnesses or law enforcement people just catching the case. I apologize to those whose names are omitted.  It’s impossible to do justice to all of you who were there for me and other reporters over all those years.

Boston is a unique TV news market because the competition is benevolent.  Everyone wants to be FIRST with the story, especially with the advent of electronic newsgathering.  Everything is “Now”.  It happens and,  in a few minutes,  you’re expected to be “live with breaking news”.  Truth and facts often become victims in the quest to be fast and first.

Reporters feel the pressure.  They often feel their jobs are on the line if they are not first.  The folks behind the cameras become a calming force.  They’ve observed the scene, the people, possible evidence.  Often, cameramen and women can figure out the story while fielding frantic and demanding calls from newsrooms.  Over the years,  I’ve leaned on camera and tech crews, not only from my station but also competitors.

I’ve been slipped pieces of paper with key information during live shots and looked like the best damn reporter in town.  In truth,  I was saved by a competing cameraman who saw me struggling and threw the lifeline.

I’ve been praised for memorable “standups” — those on-camera appearances where we look you in the eye and deliver riveting reports. The truth is those words often came from the people behind the camera.  Their words, repeated with sincere conviction by me.

The camera folks also correct information that we, seasoned reporters,  are sure is true.  I was often interrupted with,  “Garry, I don’t want to tell you what to say.  You always know what you’re doing…”   The bulb in my brain flashes — “Listen, know-it-all breath”.

So,  this is a thank you to Richie, Andy, Nat, Jack, Premack, Warren, Eddie,  Susan, Leslie, Noot,  Messrs. Richard Chase, “Fast Al”,  Stan The Man and all the other REAL — behind the camera reporters.

These were the journalists who enabled me to have such a long and satisfying career. Thank you!

REAL REPORTERS: BEHIND THE CAMERA JOURNALISTS – Garry Armstrong

It’s never been a one-man show.

I’ve logged over 40-years in TV and radio news,  including 31 years at one Boston TV Station.  I’m always flattered when people say they remember me and my work. The body of work is considerable. Usually 3 or 4 daily newscasts, 5 to 6 days a week,  48 or so weeks a year times 40.  That’s a lot of news, good, bad and ugly.

A reporter,  the face in front of the camera,  gets the credit for everything. The images of life, death and the furies of Mother Nature.  Wars and Peace. Happiness and sorrow. You see the reporter, center screen with a name graphic, proof that he or she saw everything in the visuals that tell the story.

It’s a false premise.  It’s impractical. The reporter couldn’t possibly be in all the places seen in the story that has you riveted to the screen.

We’re called “talent” in business lexicon.  That should be a dead giveaway. We’re the human, face connection, to all those images on your screen.

The real reporters are the people behind the cameras.  The men and women who frequently put their lives on the line to bring you the pictures, the video seared into your sense memory.

I’m proud of all the awards I’ve received over the years. I’d be a liar if I said the hardware didn’t mean anything to me. They are reminders of the stories covered across four decades – on the local, state, national and international stages.  The awards have my name clearly etched, front and center. But I can see all the faces of those responsible for bringing the stories to life.

In the 60’s,  I was a green rookie, assigned to the national and international news,  landscapes that ranged from Vietnam, civilian dissent against the war, Civil Rights marches and violent opposition,  assassinations of national leaders,  a historic walk on the moon and a music-culture changer called Woodstock. I was a 20-something, agape at all these events I was covering for Network News.  It truly was baptism under fire.  I survived because of veterans whose careers began with the birth of radio and television news,  The great depression and World War Two.

The 20 something was handed the keys to the news kingdom.  Right place, right time. I may have often been driving the big car but those veterans always rode shotgun,  guiding me through some very difficult mazes of network news closed-door battles with the Pentagon,  the DOD and the White House.  I had a grizzled news manager who always counseled me, “Just tell the truth…make sure you’ve corroborated 2 or 3 times at least.

Don’t let the Pols or Generals faze you…make sure the stories are short, punchy…dump the adjectives”.

All that was behind me when I landed in Boston in 1970. If I thought I knew it all, I was dead wrong.  Boston was just edging its way into a golden era of TV Journalism.  The technology was rapidly changing and changing the way things were done.  TV news was still viewed with skepticism and contempt by many old-school journalists who believed the word was stronger than the picture.

Boston is a highly regarded news market. It can be tricky for a newcomer not versed in the proper pronunciation of towns and cities or the political landmines in seemingly benevolent Norman Rockwell like settings.

I was thrust into local celebrity by being a general assignment reporter covering blue-plate special stories of murders, fires, prison riots,  sexual predators, bad weather, and quirky politics.

I quickly learned to lean on the experience of the people shooting the stories.  They knew the players, the back stories,  the dos and the don’ts.

A news director (one of nearly 3 dozen I survived) told me to keep the camera crews under my thumb.  He said they were just ‘picture takers’, ‘lumpers’ and ‘complainers’.  That news director was history before I figured out how wrong he was.

Those picture takers really were reporters who saw everything around them. They knew when someone was just using his “face time” to dance around the truth and delay legal consequences. They warned me about the “frauds” and “fakers,” political and community leaders who could clean your pockets while shaking your hand.

I am especially thankful for the photojournalists who covered “the mean streets.”   They’re the ones I always saw at 3 o’clock in the morning at a devastating fire,  a triple homicide or drive-by shooting.  They always knew more than the eye-witnesses or law enforcement people just catching the case. I apologize to those whose names are omitted.  It’s impossible to do justice to all of you who were there for me and other reporters over all those years.

Boston is a unique TV news market because the competition is benevolent.  Everyone wants to be FIRST with the story, especially with the advent of electronic newsgathering.  Everything is “Now”.  It happens and,  in a few minutes,  you’re expected to be “live with breaking news”.  Truth and facts often become victims in the quest to be fast and first.

Reporters feel the pressure.  They often feel their jobs are on the line if they are not first.  The folks behind the cameras become a calming force.  They’ve observed the scene, the people, possible evidence.  Often, cameramen and women can figure out the story while fielding frantic and demanding calls from newsrooms.  Over the years,  I’ve leaned on camera and tech crews, not only from my station but also competitors.

I’ve been slipped pieces of paper with key information during live shots and looked like the best damn reporter in town.  In truth,  I was saved by a competing cameraman who saw me struggling and threw the lifeline.

I’ve been praised for memorable “standups” — those on-camera appearances where we look you in the eye and deliver riveting reports. The truth is those words often came from the people behind the camera.  Their words, repeated with sincere conviction by me.

The camera folks also correct information that we, seasoned reporters,  are sure is true.  I was often interrupted with,  “Garry, I don’t want to tell you what to say.  You always know what you’re doing…”   The bulb in my brain flashes — “Listen, know-it-all breath”.

So,  this is a thank you to Richie, Andy, Nat, Jack, Premack, Warren, Eddie,  Susan, Leslie, Noot,  Messrs. Richard Chase, “Fast Al”,  Stan The Man and all the other REAL — behind the camera reporters.

These were the journalists who enabled me to have such a long and satisfying career. Thank you!

TURNS OUT YOU DON’T ACTUALLY NEED A PRESIDENT – BY TOM CURLEY

I wrote this post months ago. It was originally called “It’s A Crazy Idea, But It Just Might Work”.  I thought it was a joke, but, it turns out it’s working! Rather better than I thought it would. And now, with Trump back in the country … 


I’m not the first person to notice or comment on this, but  60 to 70 percent of Americans have been going thru the 5 Stages Of Grief after the election of, well, you know who.

freep.com

A few are still in Stage One, Denial. A lot are still in Stage Two, Anger. Most still seem to be stuck in Stage Three, Bargaining. Particularly the press. “Pivoting” and becoming “Presidential” are daily talking points.

youtube.com
youtube.com

Many have reached Stage Four, Depression. A few have made it to Stage Five, Acceptance.  Now as any grief counselor will tell you, people go through these stages at different times and some go through some stages but not all.  For example, I’ve gone through the first four but I can’t get to the fifth. Unless disgust counts as acceptance.

handheldpyrometer.com
handheldpyrometer.com

But here’s the thing.

No matter what stage of grief you are currently in, or whether you will go through all of them or just a few …

THIS GUY IS STILL

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!

capitolhillblue.com
capitolhillblue.com

So, what are we going to do about it?

business2community.com

We don’t have a lot of options, but one of our best options is the hope that he does nothing.

By which I mean NOTHING.

Nothing that’s Presidential, like “Running the Country” kind of stuff. Believe it or not, the government would survive if the President does nothing.  If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation you know that if the CEO goes on vacation for a month the company still runs just fine. Most times, even better.

The US government is a huge company and like any giant ship of state, it has a lot of inertia.

Our Ship of State (titanicstory.com)

Most government workers have worked there for decades. Their bosses come and go every four years, but they stay. They know what to do. George W Bush took 407 days of vacation during his two terms. That is one year, one month and 12 days of vacation for an 8-year job.  Looking back, would it have been so bad if he had taken even more time off?

crewof42.com
crewof42.com

So the problem becomes how do we prevent the new President from doing any “Running the Country” kind of stuff? In this case I don’t think it will be too hard. We, the American People need to KEEP HIM BUSY!

nytimes.com
nytimes.com

Think about it. For the first time ever, because of Twitter, a single individual can directly interact with the President of the United States and actually get his attention! He responds with amazing consistency. He must fight back over any “Mean Tweet”. “Mean Tweets” have occupied him from a few days to more than a week or so at a time.

youtube.com
youtube.com

So, we have to come up with “Mean Tweets.” Tweets that will cause him to retaliate.

Here’s an example:

@HeyLookOverHere! Hey Mister President! Why are your feet so small?! Why is nobody talking? Has the cover-up already started? SAD! #TinyPedaledPOTUS  #TeenyFeetInChief #TenLittleTinyPiggies

smosh.com
smosh.com

I checked this out on Snopes.com and it’s actually true!

There’s been  lots of talk and jokes made about the size of the New Commander In Chief’s hands.  But why has nobody noticed or mentioned his feet?  Turns out, they’re not that big! Proportional to the rest of his body, his feet are tiny!  According to the scales and tables set up by the “American Association of Podiatry Advisory and Measurements Board,” the President-elect’s feet are “… between 20 and 28 percent smaller than they should be for a person of his height.”

triloquist.net
triloquist.net

And people are starting to notice. People are saying they’ve heard that he buys shoes that are too big and stuffs them with paper ripped from the Wall Street Journal.

thefineyounggentleman.com
thefineyounggentleman.com

That should occupy him for a day or two. We have to all help by re-tweeting each week’s “Mean Tweet”. The more people that re-tweet a “Mean Tweet,” the more the President will notice. He pays close attention to this stuff!

politicususa.com
politicususa.com

It’s even better if the press picks up the “Mean Tweet”. That almost guarantees a rapid response from the Oval Office.

We all must work together! Organize! Come up with a schedule!! That’s the most important part. A schedule! We have  to keep him busy for four years.

purepursuitauto.com
purepursuitauto.com

But we’re Americans! We can do it!

We don’t have to stop at Twitter. Get him involved with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat,

isys6621.com
isys6621.com

My Space!  (OK that last one’s a joke for the old folks.)

This is how the next four years have to go.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Sir, the Ambassador from (fill in the blank) is here.

PRESIDENT: Leave me alone! I’m trying to pick the right default Instagram filter for all my pictures!

coolmaterial.com
coolmaterial.com

It’s a crazy plan, but it just might work!! And remember, any article or email or post you receive that starts with the statement: “I checked this on Snopes.com and it’s true” … ISN’T!

I obviously made up the story about his feet. But that’s no reason not to re-tweet it. Twitter has been his secret weapon and he’s been using it well. It can also be his kryptonite.

On a separate note, I’m sort of proud that I could write this whole blog without once actually typing the name Donald Trump.

 

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

Crap.

GOD MAY WORK IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS OR MAYBE NOT – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve been watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the unbelievable flooding it is causing. I can’t help but think that God really, REALLY hates Texas. I’m 66 years old and I’ve never seen a hurricane hit land, turn into a tropical storm, go back to sea, hit land again, go back to sea again, and hit land a third time.

The statistics are hard to wrap your head around. As I am writing this, the storm is still going strong and will be for maybe two or three more days. To date, this storm has dropped over 20 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER ON TEXAS AND LOUISIANA!

Stop now and try to wrap your head around that number.  And it isn’t over yet. There will be more. Estimates are for over 25 TRILLION gallons when this is all over. The weather channel has had to add two more colors to their rain fall charts to adjust to these levels of rain fall.

We need more purple!

The endless scenes of people being rescued reminds me of an old, old joke. There is a great flood and a man who is a devout Christian is trapped on the roof of his house.  The local police come by in a canoe and shout out to him to jump off the roof onto the canoe.

“Jump in the canoe!”

He replies: “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” The police argue with him for a while but he will not relent. Eventually they give up and move on. They have other people to save.

A few hours later, the water is up to his thighs when the State Police come by in another canoe and they tell him to jump in. Again, he states, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” After arguing with him for a while they give up and move on.

Another hour goes by and now the water is up to his waist. A Coast Guard Helicopter arrives over his house and a bullhorn shouts out, “We are lowering a basket. Climb in and you will be saved.

Again, he replies, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” So, the helicopter leaves because they have other people to save.

Another hour goes by and the water sweeps the man away and he dies. Suddenly he is in heaven at the feet of God. And he is livid. He is furious. He shouts, “GOD! I was a man of faith! I believed in YOU! HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORSAKEN ME???!”

And God looks down at him for a second and says: “Forsaken you?? What the Hell are you talking about?? I sent you TWO CANOES AND A HELICOPTER!!!”

I’m not the first person to notice that what may turn out to be the worst storm in history is hitting an area where a lot of folks there don’t believe in climate change.

I used to do a stand-up comedy routine (shameless plug):

where I talked about working in the news.

My point was that the news was always the same. Every week, somewhere in the world, there was an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or flood. And no matter where it happened, we would send a news crew to gather a poor family who had just lost all their worldly belongings, set them up in front of their recently destroyed mobile home and ask them THREE STUPID QUESTIONS.

The first was “How do you feel?”

The answer was never the one you would think …

“How do I feel? I just lost all my worldly belongings. How the hell do you think I feel? How do I feel? I feel great!!! I haven’t had this much fun since my last hemorrhoid operation!

The second was “Will you re-build?”

To this question the answer was always, “Oh yes, this is the third time in ten years we’ve been flooded out. We will rebuild.”

And the reporter would say “But why? You’ve been flooded out three times in ten years?”

And they would say “But this is Paradise! This is God’s country!”

And I would reply, “Don’t you think God is sending you a message??? GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY!! I’VE FLOODED YOU OUT THREE TIMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! CAN’T YOU IDIOTS TAKE A FRIGGING HINT???”

I’m telling these jokes because it helps me deal with the horror of what’s going on right now.

What’s happening in Texas now is horrific. Millions of people’s lives are being thrown into unimaginable chaos and despair. Global warming, global climate change is real. The NOAA and the weather channel label these storms as storms of the century, the floods are 100-year floods, 500-year floods. Harvey is being called a 1000-year flood. But it’s not. Hurricane Sandy was a Super Storm that was a 500-year event. And that was FIVE YEARS AGO!

Hurricane Harvey’s flooding is not a 1000-year event. It’s next year’s event. Maybe next month’s. The hurricane season isn’t over yet.


AND NOW — It’s a week later. Irma, the most powerful hurricane to ever be born in the Atlantic, is hustling towards Cuba … and probably, Florida … with 185 mph winds. After that … well … who knows, right? It looks like whatever parts of the U.S. aren’t underwater are on fire. 


Do you think that maybe God is, in fact, sending us a message?

PS: In case you’re curious, what was the Third Stupid Question?

“What did the tornado sound like?” And you all know the answer.“ It sounded just like a freight train going right through our living room.”

That’s a whole other blog.

GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, OR MAYBE HE DOESN’T – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve been watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the unbelievable flooding it is causing. I can’t help but think that God really, REALLY hates Texas. I’m 66 years old and I’ve never seen a hurricane hit land, turn into a tropical storm, go back to sea, hit land again, go back to sea again, and hit land a third time.

The statistics are hard to wrap your head around. As I am writing this, the storm is still going strong and will be for maybe two or three more days. To date, this storm has dropped over 20 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER ON TEXAS AND LOUISIANA!

Stop now and try to wrap your head around that number.  And it isn’t over yet. There will be more. Estimates are for over 25 TRILLION gallons when this is all over. The weather channel has had to add two more colors to their rain fall charts to adjust to these levels of rain fall.

We need more purple!

The endless scenes of people being rescued reminds me of an old old joke. There is a great flood and a man who is a devout Christian is trapped on the roof of his house.  The local police come by in a canoe and shout out to him to jump off the roof onto the canoe.

“Jump in the canoe!”

He replies: “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” The police argue with him for a while but he will not relent. Eventually they give up and move on. They have other people to save.

A few hours later, the water is up to his thighs when the State Police come by in another canoe and they tell him to jump in. Again, he states, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” After arguing with him for a while they give up and move on.

Another hour goes by and now the water is up to his waist. A Coast Guard Helicopter arrives over his house and a bullhorn shouts out, “We are lowering a basket. Climb in and you will be saved.

Again, he replies, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” So, the helicopter leaves because they have other people to save.

Another hour goes by and the water sweeps the man away and he dies. Suddenly he is in heaven at the feet of God. And he is livid. He is furious. He shouts, “GOD! I was a man of faith! I believed in YOU! HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORSAKEN ME???!”

And God looks down at him for a second and says: “Forsaken you?? What the Hell are you talking about?? I sent you TWO CANOES AND A HELICOPTER!!!”

I’m not the first person to notice that what may turn out to be the worst storm in history is hitting an area where a lot of folks there don’t believe in climate change.

I used to do a stand-up comedy routine (shameless plug):

where I talked about working in the news.

My point was that the news was always the same. Every week, somewhere in the world, there was an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or flood. And no matter where it happened, we would send a news crew to gather a poor family who had just lost all their worldly belongings, set them up in front of their recently destroyed mobile home and ask them THREE STUPID QUESTIONS.

The first was “How do you feel?”

The answer was never the one you would think …

“How do I feel? I just lost all my worldly belongings. How the hell do you think I feel? How do I feel? I feel great!!! I haven’t had this much fun since my last hemorrhoid operation!

The second was “Will you re-build?”

To this question the answer was always, “Oh yes, this is the third time in ten years we’ve been flooded out. We will rebuild.”

And the reporter would say “But why? You’ve been flooded out three times in ten years?”

And they would say “But this is Paradise! This is God’s country!”

And I would reply, “Don’t you think God is sending you a message??? GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY!! I’VE FLOODED YOU OUT THREE TIMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! CAN’T YOU IDIOTS TAKE A FRIGGING HINT???”

I’m telling these jokes because it helps me me deal with the horror of what is going on right now.

What’s happening in Texas now is horrific. Millions of people’s lives are being thrown into unimaginable chaos and despair. Global warming, global climate change is real. The NOAA and the weather channel label these storms as storms of the century, the floods are 100-year floods, 500-year floods. Harvey is being called a 1000-year flood. But it’s not. Hurricane Sandy was a Super Storm that was a 500-year event. And that was FIVE YEARS AGO!

Hurricane Harvey’s flooding is not a 1000-year event. It’s next year’s event. Maybe next month’s. The hurricane season isn’t over yet. Do you think that maybe God is, in fact, sending us a message?

PS: In case you’re curious, what was the Third Stupid Question?

“What did the tornado sound like?” And you all know the answer.“ It sounded just like a freight train going right through our living room.”

That’s a whole other blog.

NORMAL, NORMALIZING AND NORMALIZING NUTS – BY TOM CURLEY

Well, it’s been quite a week — don’t we say that every week? — and the words “unhinged” and “unprecedented” have been used even more than they were the week before.

And the week before that.

And the week before that.

A while ago, actually two weeks into this crazed mess called an administration, I wrote a blog called “We’re Getting Ahead of This Guy, But Where the Hell is He Going?” It pointed out that our “So Called President” is insane. Mentally ill. Off his rocker. A few fries short of a Happy Meal.

I pointed out that regardless of your political affiliation, you can’t have a President who is INSANE! When your Grandpa starts to show signs of dementia, you get him help. Maybe you have to put him in a home. BUT YOU DON’T MAKE HIM PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!

I said way back then, seven years ago (months are years in Trump-time), that the media had to start concentrating on this. Every day. Examine everything he says and does from the viewpoint of “This guy’s nuts.

He just proved it again.”

And this week, it finally happened. After the “campaign rally” SCROTUS held Tuesday night, August 22, 2017, I watched the media react in stunned shock. And then they all started talking about how this guy is seriously whacked.

They have also learned to call a lie, a lie. Not a “falsehood”. Not a “misrepresentation of the facts”. No, they called what he said exactly what it was. Lies. CNN covered the whole speech and then had a panel spend the next ten minutes or so talking about how this guy is insane. MSNBC only showed video of parts of the speech as pundit after pundit talked about how this guy has gone around the bend. They would bring the audio up now and then, listen for about 20 seconds and go “He’s not saying anything. And what he just said was a lie.” And then they’d go back to talking about how crazy he is.

There’s been lots of talk since this whack-job took office about “normalizing his behavior”. How we can’t let things like racism, misogyny, xenophobia and eating steak well done with ketchup become “normal”.

But here’s the thing. We are “normalizing” him. Just not in the way everybody thought. We are all recognizing he is insane and we are basically ignoring him. The world laughs at us and has started to stop paying any attention to anything he says.

Even leaders like Kim Jon Un are saying things like “Wow, I’m the sane one here. How insane is that?

He’s lost Congress. Even though it is controlled by his own party. He’s lost enough Senators to stop anything he might try to pass. Both houses voted by over 90% to stop him from lifting sanctions on Russia.  Republicans have introduced legislation protecting Robert Mueller’s special investigation. Stories leak every day from White House aides saying basically, “You think what he said today was insane? You have no idea what we stop him from saying every day!”. He’s being marginalized.

News reports are coming down  to this.

ANCHOR 1: In the news today, the President said something incredibly stupid and crazy.

ANCHOR 2: Yup. Moving on to sports …