June 2008 Archives

After the Flood of 1993, the City of Coralville embarked on a major construction project to repair the Coralville Strip, the worst damaged area. The roads were torn up for months, causing much inconvenience to drivers, it was the main road to Iowa City. The City even promoted the forthcoming improvements to roads, sidewalks, and sewers, with a ludicrous PR slogan, "Coralville: Dig It Now, Love It Later."
The project was a huge success, attracting new businesses to the Strip, and inducing existing businesses to make expensive improvements. Unfortunately, all that money was spent right in the middle of the worst area of the 2008 Flood. The Coralville Strip is now open to traffic and the sight of it is appalling. Electricity is still off so the buildings are all dark. The roadside is stacked with debris pulled from flooded buildings. Everything, including the road surfaces, are coated with toxic floodwater residue. Now it's drying in the sun and turning into dust. As I drive towards the Strip, I can see a gray cloud of toxic dust over the area. The gray dust is kicked into the air by heavy construction equipment driving into the flood zone. Street sweepers are trying to clean the roads, but they aren't very good at cleaning off several inches of dry mud. I'm wondering if the EPA should start monitoring the air quality around here, it's awful.
It's pretty depressing seeing this every day. My house is safe and unaffected, it's in the old "bedroom community" for Iowa City. But almost everything between my house and Iowa City was flooded out and destroyed. Some areas of Iowa City are difficult to reach, it's hard to predict when you'll run into some place impassable. It looks like the Art Campus is still flooded, that always was the lowest ground in Iowa City.
The constant drone of bad news is oppressive, it makes me want to move away from here. But once in a while I hear a bit of news that makes me feel better. I saw a story about a poor woman who evacuated from Cedar Rapids' "Time Check Village" but left her 5 cats behind. Local TV news followed her to an emergency animal rescue shelter where she found all of her cats were saved and loafing around in cages. She picked up two of the cats, held them close and burst into tears, wailing "I want to take my kitties home!" But she will have to take them to a new home, her old home is gone. So are 2000 homes in that area.

Trouble RIght Here in River City

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Yeah, this is bad. I'm constantly checking for the NOAA NWS Advanced Hydrologic Report for the Iowa River at Iowa City on my iPhone. Here's what it looked like just after the peak of the flood. There was a data outage on Friday but is fairly accurate otherwise. Earlier predictions set a projected peak over 33ft.

The Hydrology Report shows the recent peak at 31.5. The floodwater is receding, but we're still not lower than the previous record 1993 flood stage of 28.5ft.


Floodwaters are receding, and everything is covered with a toxic muck. The environment is filthy, everything is covered with sludge, the smell is horrible, there are flies and gnats everywhere. It's going to take a lot of cleanup. The Coralville Municipal Water supply comes from the Iowa River, it was always bad, but now it's horrible, full of minerals and chlorine. I ran some hot tap water to wash some dishes and just about choked on the fumes.
There are National Guard crews stationed around town near critical infrastructure, and almost every local cop and first-responder is on double duty. All the flooded areas are still off-limits, water on the roads is receding but only official vehicles are allowed to pass. It's hard to tell where the worst damage is, yet. The area near me was the first to flood and the hardest hit, it will be the last to dry out.
The University of Iowa Arts campus is underwater. The old campus was damaged severely in '93, and a new building was constructed across the street to replace it. Unfortunately the architect forgot the primary design goal: the new building was supposed to be built at a higher elevation than the flood plain.
But what really got to me was the story of the Oakville Pigs. The Des Moines Register reported that hog farms were flooded, most of the pigs drowned but some made their way to the nearest high ground: the levee. They could not get across, their hooves threatened to rip the sandbags and breach the levee. Nobody could rescue them without risking the levee, so the Sherrifs had to shoot them with AR-15 rifles. Poor pigs, they struggled to dry land, just to get shot.
My internet connection is intermittently failing, so I'll try to get this online and post more later, when I have some free time (which is very rare lately).

Floods of 2008

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Major flooding is hitting Coralville, Iowa but my neighborhood is relatively unaffected. Many of the roads are closed but as long as the Interstate is open, I'll probably be able to get to work (if it's open). Unfortunately, my DSL went out so I'm blogging this from the only Internet access I have, my iPhone, and even cellular service is intermittent. We are just now surpassing the record flood of 29.5 ft. in 1993, and the expected crest is 32.9 ft., five days from now. This could be bad.

Peter Payne, Pornographer

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I've been censored again, ironically, by a pornographer. He has censored me before, so this time I saved my remarks, and I'll post them here for your evaluation. But first let's examine the censor.
Peter Payne first came to my attention in the early 1990s. Payne moved to Japan and started an online business exporting Japanese pornography. He sent pornographic spam hawking his wares to email addresses (such as mine) he harvested from Japanese-related Usenet newsgroups. I immediately complained to his ISP that I had no interest in receiving his pornographic spam. Payne responded by claiming I had signed up to receive the spam, when I would never do any such thing. But that was back in the days when spam was taken seriously by ISPs, so the spam stopped, despite Payne's protestations of innocence. I would have been glad to never hear of him again.
But since his early days as a porn peddler, he branched out into selling anime and manga, becoming quite a self-declared authority on the subject. Payne now drones on about anime subjects on the Japundit blog. And here is where we tangled again.
Peter Payne wrote an absolutely absurd article about how Japanese people can't deal with their memories from World War II except through the metaphor of anime and manga. When I paraphrase his argument this way, I convey it far more clearly and concisely than he did in the original article. Let me quote the paragraph that set me off:
If you asked Japanese who they considered the most respected “military heroes” of the country were, you might find some who would answer Amuro Rei or Bright Noah or Captain Okita/Captain Avatar, the legendary characters from these war-oriented anime series.
I responded:
When I ask my Japanese friends who are the greatest Japanese war heroes, they tell me stories of Oda Nobunaga, Toyoyomi Hideyoshi, Takeda Shingen etc. Not a single one of them has ever cited imaginary warriors from anime.

I suppose it depends on who you hang out with. I suppose it’s only natural that if you peddle porn and manga, you have lowbrow friends. But don’t let that warp your perceptions of Japanese society as a whole.
This is my problem with anime otaku. They spend so much time watching and discussing absolutely mind-rotting drivel, attempting to make it into something far beyond what it is: lowbrow entertainment. And then they make sweeping generalizations about Japanese society based on their "insight" into the culture, as they gleaned it from cartoons. I think this is terribly offensive, I argue that it is a thinly disguised form of racism. They are stereotyping a whole culture, based on ridiculous ideas they learned from comics or other comics fans.
So it is at times like this I enjoy pointing out that Peter Payne is a pornographer. A person who knows all the latest Japanese porn actresses but knows nothing about legendary samurai warriors (known by every Japanese schoolchild) could not help but form a warped opinion of Japanese culture. And of course he is particularly touchy about his profession, censoring any reference to it on the blog where he tries to "redeem" himself by pretending to be an astute cultural commentator.
Others agreed with my remarks, now the first comment in the censored thread starts, "I agree," but she is agreeing with ME and not Peter Payne. This is not obvious since Payne deleted my remark. This is a devious way to manipulate your blog's commenters, to make it look like they agree with the article, rather than agreeing with my dissent. This is shameful. But Peter Payne has no shame. That's why he has a nickname: Peter Porn.