Ted’s Waterloo

Computer update went pretty much without a hitch….well..okay there was one hitch but I think we got that licked. Seems there’s never a perfect upgrade session. See, what’s going on is that the NWS is going from county based warnings to storm based warnings. What that will mean for you is that instead of there being a warning issued for an entire county, the warning will be issued for wherever the storm is expected to travel. The result is a warned area in the shape of a polygon that may encompass several counties. This is great for West Texas where any one county may be the size of half the state of Kentucky. Around here, I have been told we have more counties per square mile than any other place in the country. So, there will be many times when there is a polygon that covers parts of 6 counties. Try explaining that in a crawl. In my view, the system is designed with graphics in mind because showing a map will be much more effective than trying to describe a 3 square mile area of one county, the northern half of an adjacent county and a 2 square mile area of a third, and so forth. So, the computer systems have to be updated to reflect the new warning criteria which is scheduled to go into full effect in October but it looks like most NWS offices are doing it now. Today will not be a great chance to see the new system in action, but Thursday afternoon may provide a good opportunity before a great weekend comes about.

This Date In History: Ted Kennedy’s aspiration for higher political office went into the drink on this date in 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. The Kennedy’s were having a party as a reunion for 5 women who had worked on the late Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Ted Kennedy said that he was driving Mary Jo Kopechne to the ferry that would take both of them home to their separate destinations. He said they took a wrong turn and ended up going off the end of a wooden bridge and into the water. Kennedy swam safely to shore while Kopechne drowned. There are many details of Kennedy’s story that have raised many questions, one of which is his story of taking Kopechne home. Apparently, she had left her purse and room key at the party. Go on any website and find out more sordid details. One thing is for certain, Mary Jo Kopechne’s life came to an end on this date in 1969 while millions of Americans were keeping tabs on the progress of the Apollo 11 astronauts. As for Ted Kennedy, he reported the accident 10 hours after it happened and he received a two month suspended sentence and suspension of his driver’s license for a year for leaving the scene of an accident. Politically, it was Ted Kennedy’s Waterloo as he never ran successfully for President as the questions about Chappaquiddick continue to this day. Yet, he has remained a member of the United States Senate and Mary Jo Kopechne has become but a footnote to history.

The writer Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville on this date in 1929 just prior to the end of the Roaring 20’s and the stock market crash in October 1929. Thompson started a two page newspaper at age of ten, which he sold for 4 cents. By his late teens he was in trouble for drinking, carousing, pyromania and vandalism. By the time he was 18, he went to jail for robbery but was released as long as he joined the Air Force. In the USAF he became a sports reporter and later got a job as a reporter in New York, though his stint at that publication was short as he was fired for kicking a soft drink machine. He went on to write conventional journalism but hit his stride as an author. Hells Angels became a best seller in 1970. Later, he was to cover the Kentucky Derby but it is said he went on a week-long boozing streak instead. His editors kept sending copy boys to try and find him and he gave them scribbled notes. The result was an unusual article titled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” which was hailed as a some sort of new journalistic style….gonzo journalism. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail both became best sellers. Thompson took his own life a couple of years ago.

While many people just love his work, I would warn young writers to not follow Thompson’s lead. Getting and staying loaded in the hopes of writing some great article or book will more than likely not produce great results unless your goal is to see an Herman Munster’s employer, Mr. Goodman.


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