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July 29, 2008



I just got the strangest call. Caller ID only identified the call coming from Washington, DC. I then was told that a review of government records indicated I was eligible for a no payback government grant up to $25,000 and that I should submit my application online.

Normally I would assume a spam sales call, yet it did not seem like that. It actually sounded very bureaucratic or governmental. Anyone heard of a new scam like this being done by phone rather than email?

Danube of Thought

DrJ, no I don't disagree at all--all other things being equal, the higher the Richter score the more potential there is for damage. But as you suggest, all other things are never equal. The Northridge quake of '94 remains far and away the most violent I have ever felt in my life. I was in the Hollywood hills, and if my house hadn't been sittin on granite I'd have ended up on Sunset Boulevard. And as far as I can recall, it was also the highest Richter I'd ever experienced.

Jane, how is Satch doing, and how did you come to be having dinner with him?

Mike Volpe

If his supporters have to resort to trumpeting his STATE SENATOR's legislative record and his time as head of law review, then I think some people may notice there is not much there.


The Northridge quake of '94 remains far and away the most violent I have ever felt in my life.

I'm not surprised -- I wouldn't want to go through one that big. The ones I have been through were middle 5s and very low 6s (ignoring the very small ones); I was interested to find that they quite different one to the next.

Some years ago I traded earthquakes for fires (Sierra foothills). They have been terrible up here this year. Just awful.


"No payback" should be all the clue you need. Ignor and give out no personal data.

Jim Miller

Just one extra point to add to this post: It is certain that Obama did not write most of those position papers, and it is likely that he has not even read all of them.

Jim Rhoads aka vnjagvet

Hey Dot, I had dinner with Satch Sanders last night. ( I figure you might be one of the few people that means something to.)

The former Celtic basketball great?



"Obama's not asking taxpayers to pay for his campaign. First candidate to do this since-well ever in the modern era!"

Wow, he accomplished breaking his word. There's one for the resume.


I thought liberals were supposed to be creative.


I've experienced a 6.6, 6.7 and 6.9 quake and they were very scary. The Loma Prieta was the worst for me and killed 63. It was not only the strongest I've experienced, it also the one where we were closest to the epicenter. This one today was definitely a rock 'n' roller, but nothing like those other three, not even close.


The Loma Prieta was the worst for me ...

I was not in the state for that one, but came back a few days after it happened. The section of I-80 in Oakland that flattened was stunning -- I had driven that way thousands of times (there for the grace of God...). All sorts of stores surrounding Union Square were boarded up (from missing glass) and North Beach was a mess. IIRC, it was also the beginning of the end for the Fell St. ramp, and for the Embarcadero Expressway. That's not counting the fatalities, which of course are more important.

Yeah, that one was bad.

Danube of Thought

After the Northridge quake, there were scores of aftershocks in the next several weeks, many of which would have made bold headlines the next day if they weren't so pale in comparison to the initial quake.

My wife and I became very accustomed to lying in bed and detecting the "pre-quake" that signals a larger one is on the way in a few seconds (depending on your distance from the epicenter). That lower-frequency, higher-speed pre-quake can actually trigger certain warning devices, but the problem is that the closer you are to the danger the less warning you get.

My house was high up in the Hollywood hills, and on a clear day you could see to Catalina. At night we had a genuinely spectacular view of the lights of L.A. It was early morning, still dark, when the quake hit, and we watched fascinated as several hundred electrical transformers blew in a matter of about 45 seconds. Each one gave off a bright green electrical flash, and it made for the weirdest fireworks display I've ever seen.

The whole sensation of a violent quake seems analogous to what it must be like to be weightless in space: there's no way to simulate the sensation; your whole array of sensors just somehow becomes discombobulated.


Wild story.

I've not been through anything that large, and have never experienced "pre-quakes." It could be that there simply was so much noise pollution that I couldn't feel or hear them.

My only notable quake was one that started, and built, and built, and built... and then it was over. No one had any idea how big it would get (of course) and those were ten very long seconds. It was a 5.9 or so, so it was really no big deal in retrospect.

It did not help that I was in a basement Chemistry lab, with a six story concrete building over me. That one had major retrofits done (as has had the entire Berkeley campus); it never would have survived a large quake.

There were a slew of middle to high 5/low 6 earthquakes in the early 80s. We all got terribly blase about them ("oh! another one?"). Well, as long as they stayed small, which gratefully they did.




Jane, how is Satch doing, and how did you come to be having dinner with him?

He was the speaker at a meeting I attended and they sat him next to me. He is gorgeous and elegant and funny and interesting. I asked him a lot of Un PC questions - about racisim and AA and other stuff like that. His answers were really interesting.

Then he spoke to the group about the Celtics, Red Auerbach, his experiences... He said the secret to success was that Red demanded they come to training camp in shape. Then they put about 20 games between them and their opponants before the opponants showed up. Red also demanded defense from his players as well as shot making. That's how he chose them - for their defenses skills.

He was absolutely wonderful.


opponants SHAPED up


Defensive skills.

And I haven't even been drinking.

Oh and he's writing a book that should be finished this fall on commuting.


Sorry, DrJ, it was a bad joke. Less/fewer is one that bugs me.


Thanks, Kim. I didn't notice the "your" (instead of "you're") in the post together with the misspelling. I missed the joke -- shame on me!


DOT - I don't remember if this Quake had a name, it was 1970 in the same area as the one today. My Mom was in the process of moving back to Calif. from Chicago. She had her apt., but the moving van wasn't coming for a couple days, so we took a card table, some cots and sleeping bags up to her new place from San Diego and spent the time waiting with her. The first night was the Quake.

I woke and felt like my blood was sloshing in my veins and then a second or so later the entire place began to shake and shake and shake hard. That was in LaVerne, very near Pomona and today's Chino Hills quake. Now, when I get that funny sensation that my blood is sloshing, I know a quake is coming any second. Is that what you mean by pre-quake and all your senses being involved?


Sara, that must have been Feb 9, 1971. My one and only CA earthquake (at least that I was conscious of!) We always called it the "Feb Niner Quake" but it has been named the Sylmar or San Fernando Quake. Here's the Wikipedia description of damage:

The earthquake ruptured a segment of the San Fernando fault zone, a set of north-dipping, high-angled reverse faults along the southeastern margin of the San Gabriel Mountains.

It caused more than 10 miles of discontinuous surface ruptures with average displacements of about 3 feet both horizontally and vertically. A strong aftershock sequence followed the main shock and included four quakes in the Magnitude 5 range.

The quake claimed 65 lives and caused more than half a billion dollars in damage, including the destruction of two hospitals, two freeway interchanges and the Lower Van Norman Dam. Damage to the dam caused concern that the dam, of the Earthen Bulwark type, might collapse, in whole or in part. [4] Much confusion ensued as various agencies declared a need for the mandatory evacuation of 40,000 people,[5] or voluntary evacuations of various portions of the San Fernando Valley below the dam. This depended on which agency was consulted, and often the evacuees were not able to be informed of the status of an evacuation in a timely manner, often returning home just as the police arrived to notify them of a new evacuation order, or evacuating at a moment when officials decided not to evacuate. Communication was made difficult by disruption of telephone, water, and electrical service.

The most spectacular damage included the collapse of structures at Olive View Hospital in Sylmar (which had opened just a month prior to the earthquake) and at the Veterans Administration Hospital at San Fernando, where 49 people died. The earthquake pushed Olive View Medical Center a foot off its foundation, causing the first floor to collapse, killing three patients and a hospital worker. Twelve overpass bridges fell into freeway lanes, including the freeway overpass connecting the Interstate 5 freeway and the Foothill Freeway that resulted in the death of at least two people.[5] The recently completed Interstate 5 and Antelope Valley Freeway interchange was destroyed as well. (This interchange was rebuilt and reopened in 1973, but collapsed again 21 years later during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, killing one.)

Landslides were widespread and caused extensive damage throughout the San Gabriel Mountains.

Danube of Thought

I can't be sure whether we're talking about the same phenomenon or not, Sara. The pre-quake stuff is very real, and measurable. The '94 aftershocks are the only time I've ever experienced them, but everyone in L.A. got used to them, and my new bride and I would lie there and say, "OK--here comes another one," and within a few seconds a significant aftershock would hit.

The sensory stuff I was talking about occurred only--or most dramatically--during the 45 seconds of the major quake. When you suddenly realize that the very earth beneath you is not secure, and seems to be somewhat mushy, everything comes a bit unglued--or at least for me. I mean if you can't count on Mother Earth, what are you going to do?


My younger brother was a freshman at Santa Cruz when Loma Prieta hit. Knowing him and his proclivities, when I heard the news I joked that he was probably out in the woods somewhere getting high. Well, it turned out that was exactly the case. Because he was with two other East Coast freshmen who also had never experienced an earthquake before, and because they were in the woods without buildings to gauge the shaking by, they really hadn't the slightest idea how serious it was until they wandered back to campus and heard the alarms going off and saw everyone freaking out.

They were in a special kind of woods, too - which may have contributed to the, uh, cognitive difficulties.


Don't worry, DrJ, most of the time I'm the only one who gets my jokes. It's a bad habit, but it sure is entertaining.


That's very interesting, Sara; likely your blood does slosh in the big veins and heart chambers.


it sure is entertaining.

It's tremendously exciting
when one stumbles on kim's writing,
to find complete evisceration
of the of precepts of Al Gore.
But despite the admiration
he shows Wodehousian narration,
he refrains from ever shouting out
"Your food will cost you more."


Oooh, thanks, Elliott. The Master has given me more pleasure through the years than any other single author(except, perhaps, that catholic author, anonymous). I have a marvelous skill for forgetting his plots, so I can reread something after several years, and it is almost like new. Just finished 'Tales of St Austin's', and 'A Precept's Uncle' which was fun.


What was it someone said, three original metaphors on every page.


cathyf: I was thinking late 1970, but Feb '71 works. And that is the quake. I remembered when you told about the Medical Center collapse. I think there was a motorcycle cop killed when the freeway collapsed and he rode right off the end.

I remember my Mom thanking God for small favors that the moving van had not arrived yet, so she didn't have anything in the house that could fall or break.


"Notes" and "Work" from the "Tales of St. Austin's" collection are two of the funniest things I've ever read.

"O judges (men?) of infinite wisdom and sagacity," is one of my favorite lines. The bit about 17 doubtful readings of Aeschylus is genius as well.


Obama has done one (and only one) tremendously impressive thing. He has propelled his political career with amazing speed. That really is impressive. Especially considering he's done so on no substantial basis.



You really nailed it.


Obama's not asking taxpayers to pay for his campaign

So how exactly does that work? Obama is paying for his campaign himself? Are those contributing to his campaign not taxpayers?


Are those contributing to his campaign not taxpayers?

To be fair, the troll-of-the-week would have been smarter to say "Obama's not forcing taxpayers to pay for his campaign." But as many have pointed out, he's obviously just acting in his own self-interest, and breaking his own promise. And, again as has been pointed out, Obama will be forcing taxpayers to fork out a lot of money if he gets elected, so no bonus points for him.

Still, it's good to see the public campaign finance system breaking down. It would be too much to ask that a President McCain realize the error of his ways and dump the whole thing in favor of unlimited private financing with full disclosure.


Paris Hilton and Barack Obama have the same level of legislative accomplishments.



From Yglesias' site:

In any sane nation Cohen would be torn limb from limb by an angry mob. The fact that that animal can safely walk the streets without fear of just retribution for his many crimes is one of the saddest facts about our current desperate situation.

Posted by voice of reason | July 29, 2008 10:16 AM

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