A Real Blowjob

Aim giant fans toward the ocean. Irrigate Africa. Fire NOAA. And other paranoid rants from the feds' conceptually challenged file.

Imagine the peace of mind! As yet another hurricane churns toward the United States, a high-ranking government official calmly flips a switch. Instantly three or four large fans strategically stationed along the eastern seaboard crank to life. Within seconds wind speeds stronger than the storm are generated and the cyclone deflects harmlessly out to sea.

"Like it or not, it just might save lies and property," writes a Rochester, New York, gentleman, in a letter to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami. In hand-drafted blueprints he describes mammoth propellers featuring 18-foot blades and a 60-foot base of steel-reinforced concrete. Optional fins would "act like venetian blinds" to better direct the air flow. "Think it over in the meantime as you realize a small fan can move a lot of air. Check with NASA."

This Maginot Line of giant fans is just one of a dozen provocative ideas collected during the past two years by NHC spokesman Frank Lepore. He calls the thick manila folder of storm-related brainstorms the "conceptually challenged" file. "Most people we hear from want to know how they can get a hurricane named after them or if their house lies in a flood plain," Lepore elaborates. "Those kinds of inquiries I either answer myself or direct to someone else who can. Now with these ... " he says, holding up the file, "they are unique enough that I keep them together in one place."

Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach recently revealed the existence of the not-exactly-top-secret file. In an August 30 column tangentially related to Hurricane Dennis, Achenbach wondered why hurricane names aren't sold to corporate sponsors, i.e., Hurricane Home Depot or Tropical Storm Bed, Bath & Beyond.

"You're attaching your corporate name to something that causes something like five billion dollars in damage a year, on average, and probably scores of deaths," Lepore told Achenbach. The columnist's printed response, written tongue-in-cheek: "Oh yeah. We forgot about that."

Lepore told Achenbach (who once wrote for the Miami Herald, by the way) that the idea of corporate sponsorship occasionally surfaces, then submerges again deep into the conceptually challenged file. Last week, during a brief respite between Hurricane Gert and Tropical Storm Harvey, Lepore opened the entire dossier to New Timesfor inspection. He asked only that contributors' full names not be used.

It is rich with ideas from across the nation. Larry in Ocala notes that Atlantic hurricanes form when extremely hot, dry air rises off the Sahara Desert. In a two-page proposal, he recommends stopping the storms before they start by irrigating sunbaked Africa like California's Imperial Valley. Simple as that. "I have presented this dissertation to you not only for entertainment value but because your resources have the here-with-all to further investigate any meritorious statements and get on with the business of saving more lives," he explains. "Naturally I expect for my lifetime achievement a consultation fee in the upper six figures, to be deposited in my parents' jurisdiction. Because beyond the obvious influences they have had in my life, I worked most of this thesis out in the company of my father."

More reactive than proactive, Earl in Alabama has thought of a way to combat the hurricanes after they form, but before they reach U.S. shores. He offers a little bluster before describing his solution: "I am the thorn that has been in the [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's] side for the last several years," he writes. "As you know, each year from 500 to 1000 human beings die and over $100 billion in theirs and our properties are destroyed. NEEDLESSLY!!

"There is absolutely no reason for a hurricane to make landfall," he continues. "NOAA must be done away with! The military must take control of our weather. The reason NOAA allows our friends to die and their property to be destroyed is simply avarice -- there are too many six-figure jobs involved."

Earl notes that hurricanes thrive in an environment depleted of oxygen. All the military needs to do, he says, is fly over a cyclone with tanks of "ground-level" oxygen (Earl doesn't clarify just what such a substance might be), dump it on the storm, and boom! Hurricane gone. He notes that such oxygen infusion could also prevent tornados, forest fires, and coastal flooding. "Please go to your superiors," he requests.

If Earl thinks he's uncovered a government conspiracy, he should speak to a certain record producer living in Atlanta. In a mammoth mailing sent to, among others, the Bank of New York, the State Farm Insurance Company, Oprah Winfrey, and Nguyen Qui Duc (the contributing arts editor of the Vietnam Business Journal), the producer reveals that he is wise to the U.S. government's participation in a global conspiracy to enable Israel to take over the United States in a "holly war." (To take place during the biblically significant Christmas season?)

The conspiracy is pretty darn tough to comprehend. Insurance companies, banks, and construction companies, all acting in concert, have deliberately built almost all North American suburban homes with fragile wood frames. (Okay? Understand?) Hurricanes develop when hot air clashes with cold air and a nefarious government, most likely operating from a top-secret air force base, could exploit the traditionally warmer cities and the cooler suburbs to create deadly hurricanes that would level the wood-frame suburban houses, where most "white people" live. This would leave the United States vulnerable to attack by the dreaded Israelis.

"The destruction of over 100 million or more whites by Isreal in a holly war has [to] be avoided by alerting northern Americans their homes are being cheaply built," he concludes. There's more about the Vietnam War and hydrogen bombs and stucco siding. Oprah could not be reached for comment.

Compared with the "holly war" warning, other ideas in the conceptually challenged file are less-than-fully thought out. A British man announces that his new "high-tech" company can prevent windstorm destruction. Then he trumpets some unexplained "humanitarian project" that "will be shown live on television in front of international media around the globe. All potential victims will be a witness of our technological performance proving human beings [have] the capacity to answer the hurricane and tornado challenge."

The ability to alter the weather is a common theme. Kenny in Cleburne, Texas, announces his experience in "weather modification." Among his "special skills" are the ability to create rain, snow, and "breeze." He is also a "hurricane killer." A notation from an NHC official, scribbled at the bottom of Kenny's résumé, states simply: "Send employment application."

Like Kenny, George from California also slays 'canes. But he doesn't stop there. "I have a special gift," George reveals in a six-page, single-spaced letter typed on stationery featuring cartoon penguins in stocking caps and scarves. "This gift has allowed me to be able to bring in a storm or to move one out. You may ask, 'How are you able to do such a thing?' I was born this way."

He explains further: "When I was conceived I was brought from sea level to 7200 feet above sea level to a cabin up in the mountains to a place called Green Valley Lake. When I was born I was frequently brought up to the mountains and also to the desert, which is below sea level, to visit my grandmother. These climatic changes put a lot of stresses on my body while I was growing up, which caused my body to be able to develop in a strange way to where I could control my environment to survive through all of these temperature changes of high and low pressure, altitude, moisture depravation, humid conditions, solar radiation fluctuations, well you get the pitcher!"

George claims that his desire for warm weather at a cousin's wedding accidentally caused the eruption of Mount St. Helens. ("I do not want to be the blame so I kept quiet," he reveals.) A near-death experience following a motorcycle accident prompted him to renew his commitment to his church, and to use his powers for good. "I make sure there is enough water for the fish and wildlife, and make sure the economy is going good," he says. "I have pushed hurricanes off the East Coast when I am aware of them."

He has tried alerting officials at the "Department of Fish and Game" and "other weather radio people" to his special gift, but "they would say such things as, 'I don't have time for this,' or they put me down or just do not believe it. So I just do whatever I think will help the salmon, flush out all the pollution, and many other things, and I do not get paid for it."

George says he's currently using the Internet to contact thirsty nations.

Finally there is a letter from Frank in Mobile, Alabama. His is the most provocative dispatch in the file. Like several others, Frank claims to know the secret to hurricane prevention. Before he surrenders it, though, he wants NHC officials to work. "Over the past few years hurricanes have been developing more frequently and with much more violent force in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, causing billions of dollars in property damage, misery, and sadness to hundreds, due to loss of life," he says. "From all indications there is no relief in sight, unless some discovery, scientific or technological development is made.

"That is what my idea or discovery is all about," he continues. "As you know, hurricanes develop from tropical storms. My discovery or idea is to prevent tropical storms (once they develop) from becoming a hurricane. Once a tropical storm is 'born' in the Atlantic or Pacific, my discovery will stop it 'dead' in its tracks.

"My discovery or idea is for sale. The idea is embodied in solving the following riddle:

Out of the violent came something calm

and out of the strong there was no harm.

"The discovery or idea comes in three phases:

Phase #1 -- Solve Riddle

Phase #2 -- Tell How It Works

Phase #3 -- Final Details of Discovery

"I am not trying to get a patent," he insists. "It will take much money to build and develop this project. If you think you can tackle this 'baby' I will be happy to share my idea or discovery with you."

So far no one has solved the riddle, leaving the discovery process stalled in Phase #1, despite a tantalizing pitch from the inventor: "When this project is complete and put in operation, it could serve as a catalyst for the production of one of the greatest movies ever seen," he teases. "It might carry the title The Destruction of Tropical Storm. It could even outrate the Titanic."

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