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Pain in the brain, Thursday miscellany & thoughts for Scott

Man, this round of deadlining is hurting my head and my whole self. I’ve just done the second draft of the most difficult article I’ve written in years. Probably wrote 15,000 words overall (that’s about 1/6th of a novel, people) to get 4,000 that I hope are useable. Write, rewrite, cut, cut, cut, rewrite, cut, cut. Have a feeling the client will still want one more session of slash and burn. Maybe tear the thing down to 3,000 or 3,500.

After that, more deadlines. More challenging ones, in a way. Some days, I wish I’d taken up a promising career in ditch-digging when I had a chance.

But you know us writers and arty types. We Suffer in true capital-S style.

In the meantime, while I’m destroying my health and sanity for The Sake of My Art (but don’t worry about me ...), you might want:


  1. Pat
    Pat October 27, 2011 3:54 am

    (Scott) Shades of Kent State! Isn’t it time YET? If that’s not an attack on us, what is?

    Thanks for the food shopper advice. Good ideas.

  2. Roberta X
    Roberta X October 27, 2011 4:28 am

    My blushes! “Insider” to the EAS system? Kind of; there’s not a lot of “inside” to it.

    The State-level organizations are usually run by volunteers from the radio/TV business who meet once a year, if that, and there’s usually someone from the State government department responsible for emergency preparedness, the State Police and the NOAA/NWS office in some semi-official capacity. They draw up the who-listens-to-who plan (a big challenge in the sparely-settled areas) and distribute it to stations. Everyone supposedly monitors two broadcast stations and NOAA Weather Radio.

    At the State level, the two routes in are via NOAA radio, and via the State government’s chosen method — where I live, State Police HQ has an EAS signal generator (the annoying alert tone plus a simple-minded data burst that carries a very limited set of messages via three-letter event codes + regional idents [FIPS codes], things like “TWW” for tidal wave warning, etc.) and redundant connections to the State primary station — they send an alert or State test, the primary picks it up and it gets relayed throughout the state

    That leaves the Feds with the simple problem of getting an alert to the handful of AM stations they picked as primary entry points.

    It is a pretty loose setup. For “routine” bad weather/fire/etc. alerts, local stations can originate their own using the standard event codes. The lost child code is usually triggered at State level, sometimes FIPS-coded for specific counties. I think only the National Activation code is reserved; a station that set off the EAS system frivolously would be fined or worse. Remember, this system relies on stations that sell airtime for money. If it is overused, compliance drops, and FCC/FEMA are well aware of that.

    –The NOAA alerts are routinely “scooped” by commercial weather alerting services. In much of the country, for all but the most severe and urgent weather, you will probably not hear EAS tones on the big local TV stations because they are already on the air with live radar by the time the EAS alert comes to them. There’s a message in that, which will be obvious to Claire’s audience.

  3. Mic
    Mic October 27, 2011 7:25 am

    Claire who is this brutal article for and when will it come out. I figure if you shaved off a few years of your life to write it I should go read it.

  4. Jim
    Jim October 27, 2011 8:08 am

    Regarding these VIPR squads, what would happen if somebody is legally carrying a firearm and the goons search him and find it? I wonder if they realize it is legal for people other than themselves to carry guns?

  5. Claire
    Claire October 27, 2011 8:56 am

    Mic — :-). The “brutal” article is for the print edition of Backwoods Home — the Jan/Feb issue, which arrives in early December. The “brutality” has nothing to do with the client and everything to do with the topic. It’s not a normal BHM article (at least for me; it’s the sort of thing John Silveira usually writes) and the reason for so much overwriting and revising is that the topic is enormous and complex. My first draft sucked bigtime because I was trying to cover too much. Dave reviewed a partial draft of it and gave me a painful but helpful reality check.

    The good news — I woke up to an enthusiastic YES on the latest version. Yay! Now all I need to do is continue to revise until the drop-dead date, as the subject is not only big but one that’s changing with every headline this week. That is, I continue to revise as I work on the other projects. So I still get to feel sorry for myself — just what every writer most likes to do. ūüėČ

  6. Claire
    Claire October 27, 2011 8:59 am

    Jim — Damn good question. What do you want to bet somebody doing legal carry soon gets busted or killed by these incompetents?

    BTW, for anybody who cares, I wrote my most recent SWAT article on the topic of the VIPRs. That one won’t appear until late winter (SWAT has LOOOOOONG lead times).

  7. Jim
    Jim October 27, 2011 9:13 am

    I just had an idea. The next time these vipers strike, there should be a swarm of open-carrying people pass through the area. Overwhelm them with people legally carrying openly, not with any hostile attitudes, but just ignoring the vipers until they are approached and then only interacting in as minimal a way as possible. Of course, video of the interactions would be good.

  8. Scott
    Scott October 27, 2011 9:16 am

    How are tear gas cartridges supposed to be fired? Lobbed into the air, at the ground, or some other way? I thought they used the kind that are sort of like bug-bombs-pull the tab, roll them into a crowd.
    On VIPR-sounds like a great way to discourage the use public transportation-I’d set off a metal detector just with my keys alone(9 of’em)-would my MacGyver Unit(Tinker model Swiaa Army knife) count as a weapon? What about a single AAA maglite?
    A FEMA demonstration of power? Mental image-that’s the plot of the new Three Stooges movie…
    A friend of mine who went though some really rough financial times could’ve written the single-shopper article-a small freezer and lots of Sterilite boxes go a long way.

  9. Matt, another
    Matt, another October 27, 2011 9:54 am

    I think if one looks at recent history of Tennesee that these VIPR squads are just a federal extension of business as usual for the State of Tennesee. Various local and state police agencies have been stalking the interstates that pass through Tennesee for years. Ostensibly they have been interdicting drug smugglers headed to the greater Chicago area. Reality they have used that as an excuse for illegal search and seizure, seizing any amount of money the local officers and prosecutors deem “excessive” regardless of the reason it is carried. Incorporating the TSA into the mix is only for additional cover of organized criminal activity that has gone on for years.

  10. Tam
    Tam October 27, 2011 4:16 pm


    Regarding these VIPR squads, what would happen if somebody is legally carrying a firearm and the goons search him and find it?

    Well, he’d be in big trouble, since the VIPR stuff is only happening at Weigh Stations and there is no legal way for an interstate CDL to legally carry a firearm in their truck.

  11. Jim
    Jim October 28, 2011 6:34 am


    First, the VIPR squads are not limited to weigh stations. The article to which Claire linked also mentioned rest stops. The TSA also planned to implement their inspections at a high school prom, until the local authorities took that over, according to the article. Bus stop searches were also mentioned in the article. Also, in Indianapolis, a TSA squad was searching people on a city street. You can read a discussion on that in The Firing Line, by searching on “vipr” in their forums. It is entitled, “Feds searching people in downtown Indianapolis.” That was back in 2007.

    Commercial truck drivers are not prohibited by federal law from carrying a firearm in their trucks. They are subject to state laws on this issue, in the same way that automobile drivers are. Their companies often prohibit carrying, but many drivers are independent. Interstate carrying through prohibiting states is protected by USC Title 18 Section 926 (a), the “Peacable Journey Law,” which basically says it has to be inaccessible while travelling through states that prohibit carry, as long as the driver is coming from and going to a place where it is legal. This applies to automobiles and trucks both.

  12. Tam
    Tam October 28, 2011 10:17 am


    While the site said “Currently, however, VIPR is focusing on highways, usually setting up check points at weigh stations or rest areas.”, this is flatly contradicted by the facts (even reported correctly elsewhere in the same article: “Tennessee deployed multiagency ‚ÄúVisible Intermodal Prevention and Response‚ÄĚ (VIPR) teams ‚Äúsimultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.‚ÄĚ)

    I am not saying this makes it right, but when you see the camel’s nose entering the tent, it is important to correctly identify it as the camel’s nose. If you say “Look! The camel is in the tent!” people will just call you paranoid and want to argue.

  13. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 28, 2011 12:31 pm

    Wonder how long it will take the long haul truckers (among others) just to say “nuts to this” and find something else to do? I know two who have quit driving this last year, and two more who are thinking about it.

    Being separated from their families and the normal risks of long haul trucking were bad enough, but this ever increasing police state nonsense may create even worse shipping nightmares than the price of diesel, taxes and insurance already has.

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