According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: Warning May Be Too Late

Friday, November 11, 2011

Warning May Be Too Late


The next sound you hear might be a thermonuclear detonation or a roaring tsunami about to drown your sorry fanny and sweep you away like so much dirty beach detritus. You should receive an early warning over the national Emergency Alert System (EAS) but you might not, because on Wednesday a test of the system failed miserably.

Some television, radio and cable stations apparently aired the test emergency broadcast, but others weren’t able to because of glitches in the system. The New York Times reported that some DirectTV subscribers' television sets played the Lady Gaga song "Paparazzi" when the test was under way (in case of emergency get up and dance?) and some Comcast subscribers in northern Virginia had their TV sets switched over to a shopping channel.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said since the test that it will be collecting and studying data from the test in order to ensure the big boo-boo won’t happen again. The Emergency Broadcast System, originally designed in the 1950s, was revamped as the Emergency Alert System in the 1990s, and is run by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the FCC. The goal of Wednesday's test was to ensure that our president could activate the system to inform the public in times of emergency.

But even if the glitches in the EAS are fixed, what makes our leaders think we’re actually going to receive an early-warning message of impending doom? How many people didn’t have their TV sets or radios turned on when the test broadcast was supposed to occur? Kathleen and I seldom turn on the radio or TV. I heard somebody say that next time the EAS might text cell phone users to ensure more people could receive a warning. We don’t turn our cell phones on all the time either and we seldom check for text messages.

The big problem that I see with the EAS though is the panic that will ensue if people do receive a warning in time. You and I both know that as soon as someone tells you not to panic you PANIC. I don’t know about other parts of the country, but in Western Washington our government leaders have directed that cities and towns designate evacuation routes for emergencies and have seen to it that signs have been put up to that effect. You’ve probably seen them: “Tsunami Evacuation Route.”

But official evacuation routes tend to become sort of clogged during times of emergency. Just watch news coverage of areas where disaster or impending disaster has been declared. The people who seem to be most successful at escape are the ones who exit their vehicles – though they shouldn’t do it in the middle of the road – and hike the heck out of harm’s way. It is ironic to me that former president Dwight Eisenhower pushed for the development of our interstate highway system in order to ensure rapid deployment of our military and now, even on a normal weekday, most of our interstate highways are so clogged you can’t even drive a tank through the gridlock.

Dogs often sense impending earthquakes, so hopefully, Sam will warn us of one of those. As for the H-bomb and Tsunamis, to quote TV’s M.A.S.H. psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, "Ladies and gentlemen take my advice, drop your pants and slide on the ice."

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