It's sometime after midnight, and my family is huddled in the basement with flashlights, candles, matches and Pete Delkus, who has just opened a fresh can of panic.
Welcome to the Weatherman Underground.
When I was in college, members of the Weatherman Underground were radical bomb-throwing freaks. These days, we all go underground when the weatherman freaks.
Delkus and all the other meteorologists with super-duper enhanced, 3-D, X-Ray vision, storm-tracker, spoon-bending, stain-remover Doppler radar were just doing their job, which is to spread as much pandemonium as possible anytime a storm cloud strays near Cincinnati.
Actually, that's not fair. I think they were just doing everything they could to alert us, so we don't rip their heads off for failing to predict weather that changes faster than a politician's principles.
Weather bulletins that interrupt our regularly scheduled programming are the price we pay to live in the child-proof nation, where everyone is protected by an invisible force-field of class-action lawsuits. TV storm warnings are just a video cousin of all those lawyer warnings on power tools and appliances.
"Warning: Gasoline is not intended for use in microwave ovens."
"Caution: Pets are not dishwasher safe."
"Attention: Do not use your electric hair dryer in the shower."
"Hey, moron: Don't even think about using these hedge trimmers for a haircut."
There oughta be a word for this cultural defect. And the other day I found it: "enstupidation.
Blogger Fred Reed uses it to describe affirmative action and television. But the word has too much talent to be stuck playing piano in that bar. It could work anywhere.
For example, my car locks itself again if I don't open a door in 10 seconds after pushing the "unlock" remote. This "security device" is annoying, maybe even dangerous. "By the time I found out the guy had a gun, officer, my car had already locked me out." Enstupidation.
And don't get me started on those Velcro "buttons" that weld your pocket shut as soon as you take out your wallet, so you stand there trying to put it back with one hand while you use the other to pry loose the pit-bull jaws of Velcro, doing a deviant version of the Macarena as you hold up the line at Home Depot. Enstupidation.
When a high-school dropout Hollywood star pretends to be an expert on foreign policy and politics - and other people listen - that's enstupidation.
"Youths" who celebrated Memorial Day by throwing rocks at cops in Avondale: enstupidation.
People who think the paranoid delusions of Michael Moore are a "documentary": enstupidation.
A city council that demands cruiser cams to find out if cops are doing anything wrong, but won't let a TV crew film them doing the job right: enstupidation.
One left-wing San Francisco federal judge (redundancy alert) who overrules the House, Senate and president to protect the "right" to barbaric partial-birth abortions: enstupidation.
Ted Kennedy lecturing on morality; Al Gore ranting about anyone "dishonoring" our country: enstupidation.
Slamming on your brakes to avoid a crash so someone can read a freeway Artimis sign that says "Buckle Your Seat Belt": enstupidation.
A country that runs to the basement during a thunderstorm, but forgets what terrorists did on 9-11: enstupidation nation.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8301.
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