September 27, 2011
This is the Way the World Ends...
The world will not end with delusional self-indulgent B.S. like man-made global warming. It is far more likely that all but the least observant of us will miss it when a massive solar flare like AR1302 casts us back into the Dark Ages.
Very few would die as a direct result of a solar flare's massive electromagnetic blast, but the partial or full collapse of our electrical grid, most forms of machine-based transportation, and collapse of computer-controlled water treatment and pumping stations means that the vast majority of us would succumb to starvation and disease within the first three months.
Overnight, the Amish would become the most technologically-advanced population in the United States and one of the only sectors of our technology-driven society not directly affected. Not that they would last very long. Their desperate and starving neighbors would most likely overrun and pillage the pacifist community within weeks, meaning that Mormons and preppers may be the only subsets of society to survive.
I'm just full of sunshine and rainbows today, aren't I?
September 02, 2011
I've Got A Bad Feeling About This
Fire up the buses this time, you morons.
August 09, 2011
It seems your quaint and artificial veneer of civility is falling away, as adults trained to be spoiled children by your culture seem intent on burning their neighborhoods—and just about anyone else's—to the ground. It seems that they are a bit put-out because they aren't getting their "fair turn" sucking on the government teat.
At least that is what your fellow socialists claim.
Tell me... how is that working out for you?
Specifically, I mean the part where these leeches rip apart and destroy your homes and livelihood, as your prim little government tells you to stand aside and not dare hurt the poor dears.
Are you still liking the wussification of your nation, and the acceptance of violence, now that it is your world on fire?
Despite the best efforts of our current president and his criminal Attorney General, we don't do that here.
We have a response for looters. From our perspective it's called "outbound fire."
The firearm I am holding in the photo above is just one of many that I have access to; I own several very much like it, and they all fire very real, very deadly bullets. Just before posing for this photo, I had just used this very rifle to repeatedly shoot a 6" target at 150 yards (about 137 meters, a bit longer than a football pitch) with very little effort.
Why? It's quite simple.
Our Creator endowed me with certain unalienable rights—stop me if you've heard this—and also the responsibility to defend the life he gave me from oppressors, tyrants, and thugs.
That right extends to defending the lives of my family, and our home. No one has the right to take away my home or threaten my family, and I have the God-given responsibility to ensure their safety and survival by any means necessary.
We're quite adamant about that, and have taken up arms against entire governments on more than one occasion to ensure our liberties, and will likely do so again at some point.
I'm sure you find our ideals all very quaint as you flee your home for a less combustible location, but perhaps you can reflect upon the idea at a later time. Giving up the rights given to you by your Maker wasn't an intelligent decision, and is perhaps one you may want to revisit.
He expects you to defend the life he gave you, not just the body you inhabit.
Think about that, once you've put out the fires.
The Fit Has Hit The Shan
The economy is going so well that the host of one of the most popular radio morning shows in our rather large market area spent at least a good half hour this morning talking about his disaster preparation plans, and stocking up for survival with like-minded families.
The few callers to the show had an interesting mix of reactions. Some thought he had clearly gone off the deep end, and very bluntly stated—almost directly—that " it can't happen here." Others thought he was very much on the right track.
It was interesting to listen to the host calmly insist such preparation is a form of insurance, which is a sentiment I share. You have home insurance, car insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, flood insurance... all designed around the theory that it just makes sense to be prepared as you can be for those eventualities. Disaster preparation is nothing more than an insurance to make sure that your family has access to food, water, and shelter in the even of natural disaster or economic turmoil that could interrupt our normal just-in-time supply chain.
Quite frankly, you're rather a bad provider if you don't think ahead for your family's security. I think he made the right call.
May 14, 2011
Corps of Engineers to Flood Productive Farmland to Save Fetid Cesspool
Here's an idea: Let's build a city below sea level—a city that keeps sinking lower every minute, at that—and surround it on three sides by one of the mightiest rivers in the world, a massive lake, and the Gulf of Mexico. Then we'll fill it with a heart-rending mix of poverty and corruption, and then make it most famous for wanton debauchery, inhumanity, and greed.
Then, when we've created about the most depraved place possible in a goelogically untenable position, we'll use the political influence of that hole in the swamp to make sure people and property that are productive are destroyed by the whims of those with a stake in the corruption.
Of course, one could note that if the Corps hadn't created the current system of levees and canals, nature itself would have been able to distribute the flood waters as God intended to make fertile cropland and a home for man and beast alike. Modern man, unfortunately, finds the idea of letting the Mississippi act the way a river is supposed to act in its own delta to be far too uncivilized, even as they destroy the delta itself and all who reside there in the process.
March 11, 2011
Catastrophic 8.9 Quake, Tsunami Level Northern Japan
Our language lacks the words to convey the scope of the devastation.
A powerful tsunami spawned by the largest earthquake in Japan's recorded history slammed the eastern coast Friday, sweeping away boats, cars, homes and people as widespread fires burned out of control. Tsunami warnings blanketed the entire Pacific, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.
Authorities said at least 35 people were killed. The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, most of them of more than magnitude 6.0. Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.
A utility company in northeastern Japan reported a fire in a turbine building of nuclear power plant.
U.S. servicemen at bases in Japan are accounted for and safe and are gearing up to render assistance if asked. The tsunami racing across the Pacific is supposed to hit Hawaii in less than 2 hours from now with waves roughly 2 meters high.
Please pray for those affected.
January 26, 2011
IFAKs Saved Lives in Tucson
@ITSTactical points to a Washington Post article about the lives saved in Tucson because responding deputies were equipped with military-grade Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) optimized to deal with the most common causes of battlefield trauma and death. The small kits—not even the size of a child's lunchbox—have saved lives in combat overseas and did the same at the site of Jared Loughner's attack.
Doctors and law enforcement officials told reporters here that the incident would have been much worse without a small brown kit devised by David Kleinman, a SWAT team medic who had become concerned about rising violence.
Kleinman cobbled together the Individual First Aid Kits out of simple items used by combat medics in Iraq and Afghanistan: an emergency bandage pioneered by the Israeli army; a strip of gauze that contains a substance which coagulates blood on contact; a tactical tourniquet; shears that are sturdy and sharp enough to slice off victims' clothing; and sealing material that works especially well on chest wounds.
I purchased my first IFAK in mid-2010. As I spend a decent amount of time at shooting ranges, and the skill level and safety practices of people at ranges varies widely, it simply seemed prudent to have such a kit as part of my range bag in case someone suffers the results of a negligent discharge or catastrophic failure. I'm also looking to pick up some relevant first responder training so that I can use the kit more effectively, but the brilliance of the kit is that it uses equipment that requires minimal training.
As ITS brought this article to my attention, I think it only fair that I provide a link to their site, where they sell a similar kit they call an ETA. Considering the amount of time I spend on the road each week (minimum of 250 miles) I'm thinking about picking up a pair of these to keep in my vehicles to deal with the more common scenario of running across an accident scene.
I hope I never find myself needing to use any sort of blow-out kit like these, but if they're needed, I hope to God that I have one nearby.
January 03, 2011
What Is Going On In Arkansas?
I read the other day of the deaths of a thousand blackbirds that fell dead out of the sky in Arkansas. The original claim by "experts" was that there must have been some sort of cloud-to-cloud lighting that lit up the flock, but now that the total is over 5,000 birds, that theory just doesn't seem to hold water. And speaking of water, at least 100,000 drum (the freshwater fish, not the saltwater game fish, or the musical instrument) have died in an Arkansas river, and the toll may go into the hundreds of thousands. disease is suspected instead of pollution since only one species was killed (other native fish seem to be unaffected), but when you have two bizarre die-offs within days and within fairly close proximity, you have to start wondering if this is a coincidence, or if the die-offs are somehow tied together to the same biological organism.
There is no word yet an whether or not if any of the fish and fowl have come back from the dead with a dietary preference for brains, but we'll keep a look-out, just in case.
July 01, 2010
A Whale Skimmer Still Anchored By Administration, EPA
The most powerful oil-skimming vessel in the world languishes in port, anchored by incompetency in the White House and absurd EPA red tape:
The A Whale arrived in the Gulf on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said. It was anchored in Boothville, Lousiana, about an hour south of New Orleans.
"While the ship is ready to work, it still doesn't have approval to engage in the effort," said Frank Maisano, spokesman for TMT Shipping, the vessel's owner and operator, in a statement.
Officials from the company are meeting with BP and the U.S. Coast Guard Thursday morning, he told CNN. "We don't know what will happen," he said, but added it's expected that parameters for a test of the vessel will be discussed -- "they'll give us a plot and we'll test the technology."
Has a government ever been overthrown for environmental incompetence?
June 26, 2010
Governed by Fools
They mismanage wars, economies, and even disasters:
The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company's expense. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.
In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with "Thanks but no thanks," remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.
Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
Why, why do liberals place such blind trust in legendary incompetence of government bureaucrats, instead of the ingenuity of the people?
Change? The Pending "Oilcane" Disaster
Doug Ross stares into the eye of the pending environmental disaster of an oil-fueled Gulf coast hurricane, and places the blame squarely at the feet of the incompetent spill response of the Obama Administration.
The recovery period after a hurricane can take years. It was 10 years until some communities fully recovered from Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, some never recovered at all. The New Orleans area is still putting itself back together after Katrina in 2005. The recovery period after an oil-soaked hurricane -- or what could be called an Oilicane – is impossible to forecast but it could take years and many billions of dollars. One wonders if BP has the money to survive such a unique disaster. The human and natural losses from such an event could be historic.There's that word again: historic. Everything about this administration is historic -- and none of it in a good way.
Should, heaven forbid, the world's first Oilcane wreak havoc in the Southeast, one man will have to shoulder substantial blame. One man's legacy will be utter economic and environmental ruin. One man's unsuitability for the highest office in the land will be crystal clear even to the most obtuse observer.
I've been through a number of minor-to-moderate hurricanes, have seen trees crashing down around me on cars and buildings. When I return to my hometown of Greenville, NC to visit family, I can still see the scars from Hurricane Floyd's floodwaters.
I can't even begin to fathom the environmental disaster of a hurricane compounded by the sludge of oil. It may simply kill entire sections of the coast, rendering large areas toxic wastelands unacceptable for habitation.
Obama's Democrats own the Deepwater Horizon disaster, lock, stock and oil barrel.
That will be a comfort to no one.
June 23, 2010
Obama Continues Effort to Wreck The Gulf
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster is threatening the estuary marshes and wetlands of the Mississippi delta, potentially destroying the vital nurseries of hundreds or thousands of species, including commercially and recreationally important species of fish, shellfish, and waterfowl. Louisiana has taken matters into their own hands, creating sand barriers to slow or stop the oil's intrusion.
The Obama government's response? Sabotage.
The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.
Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline.
"Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil," Nungesser wrote to Obama.
Ideologically-driven pissants and list-checking bureaucrats led by the wimp in the White House have done nothing to help the Gulf coastal states, and have thrown up a series of absurd roadblocks that not only threaten to create billions of dollars in economic losses, but may kill entire ecosystems.
The Obama Administration continues to impede emergency efforts for the most absurd reasons.
We must ask the obvious question: is the White House purposefully sabotaging emergency efforts to save vital wetlands in order to serve a radical political agenda? Does Obama really think that wrecking rescue efforts to save coastal communities and delicate ecosystems actually makes his cap-and-trade fantasy more palatable?
June 21, 2010
I'll Take Your Worse-Case Scenario, and Raise It To Eleventy
So if this is correct, the pressure from the Deepwater Horizon gusher will defeat all conventional attempts to plug the well, because the walls of the well have been fatally compromised. If we manage to cap the well at or below the seafloor, the pressure will simply blow out the sides of the well below it, finding fissures (or creating them) in the seafloor, before creating countless seeps and blowouts for miles around.
If these experts are right the well cannot be capped. The best we can hope for is to capture as much of the oil as possible and keep the environmental damage minimized while a deep kill is attempted with the relief well underway. If the relief well fails...
Why you should be pissed off:
If the folks at The Oil Drum are correct with their hypothesis, the failed blowout preventer (BOP) and casing pipes are collapsing, BP knows they are collapsing, the government knows about it as well, and they are all conspiring to keep us in the dark.
So what is it that the Obama Administration is trying to hide?
When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? ...it won't be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov't must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.
All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of" The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out...as I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn't any "cap dome" or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?....is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.
It's a race now...a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it's last gasp in a horrific crescendo.
No wonder the President spends his time playing golf, partying with celebrities and generally living it up while he can. Once the public finds out how deeply his government conspired with BP to cover up the extent of the disaster, the American people are going to call for his resignation, if not for his head on a pike.
But as horrific as the scenario painted for us by this group of experts may be, there is one possible scenario even more cataclysmic, a methane eruption wilder than any nightmare Roland Emmerich could dream up.
Quite frankly the magnitude of what Terrence Aym suggests is possible isn't believable. It isn't because he's necessarily wrong, but because what he suggests could occur is so horrific that we can't allow ourselves to consider the possibility.
According to Aym, geologists report that there is a massive lake of methane gas trapped deep under the well at an incredible pressure of 100,000 psi. As the oil rushes out and weakens the seafloor, a collapse could cause a blowout of super-pressurized methane.
If the huge methane bubble breaches the seabed, it will erupt with an explosive fury similar to that experienced during the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in the Pacific Northwest. A gas gusher will surge upwards through miles of ancient sedimentary rock—layer after layer—past the oil reservoir. It will explode upwards propelled by 50 tons psi, burst through the cracks and fissures of the compromised sea floor, and rupture miles of ocean bottom with one titanic explosion.
The burgeoning methane gas cloud will surface, killing everything it touches, and set off a supersonic tsunami with the wave traveling somewhere between 400 to 600 miles per hour...
...A supersonic tsunami would literally sweep away everything from Miami to the panhandle in a matter of minutes. Loss of human life would be virtually instantaneous and measured in the millions. Of course the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and southern region of Georgia—a state with no Gulf coastline—would also experience tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of casualties.
I hope this scenario is far-fetched, but neither is desirable.
All that we can say for certain now is that the well failed, and that it likely failed because corners were cut, warnings were ignored, and rules were ignored or discarded. This applies to the companies involved and the government to which they must answer.
Barack Obama infamously boasted several weeks ago that he met with experts so that he'd know "who's ass to kick" for this disaster. The Obama Administration signed off on the drilling of this well.
The buck stops with the man sitting behind the Resolute Desk.
May 28, 2010
Don't Claim Success So Soon: BP's "Top Kill" Effort Far From Over
I've been far more quiet (in general) about the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling disaster that I was the disasters of hurricane's Katrina and Rita, precisely because I know so little about drilling, especially drilling that occurs a mile underwater.
My criticisms of the White House response has also been muted as well, as I don't think they have any more answers, legal authority, or capability to respond to this disaster than President Bush did in the aforementioned storms. I find myself, once again, defending the Office of the Presidency because it is not the ultimate authority on everything (even though President's certainly like to think so, and we do too, when it is time to assign blame). If we're going to criticize the White House for anything, it had to be its actions and inactions before the rig exploded, which can no doubt be traced back to earlier administrations as well.
This disaster is a tough problem to fix, and I'm sure the engineers geologists and workers frantically working on this are doing the very best they can to solve the problem of the gushing oil well a mile below the cold dark waters of the Gulf.
But I was a bit shocked yesterday to see so many news sites and blogs so eager to be the first to trumpet the success of BP's "top kill" attempt. The process is simple, in theory. Pump heavy mud in to the well, and the weight of the mud will eventually overcome the pressure of the oil attempting to escape from deep underground. Once equilibrium has been established, the oil will stop flowing and the well can them be capped by a thick layer of concrete.
By early yesterday, officials were attempting to claim success, even though they had no idea if the attempt worked. The process only had a 60%-70% of working, and we still don't know if it is having the intended effect.
Keep your fingers crossed, folks, but we still don't know of the mud is working, if it is is creating a permanent stoppage, or just forcing the oil to look for another outlet. Even if the mud works, it will be years, perhaps, before we know if the concrete plug has really stopped the column of oil and gas forcing it's way to the surface, or just redirected it.
Hope for the best, but don't assume this is over.
Update: Peggy Noonan, of all people, has a much harsher take on Obama's actions and inactions, and wonders if his illusion of competence can survive:
I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.
There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.
The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.
May 14, 2010
Why Not Nuke It?
National Geographic warns that the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico could leak for years, wrecking the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico and once it hits the Gulf Stream, the East Coast as well.
Why not nuke it?
A low-yield nuclear device detonated deep in the relief well now being drilled in the would fracture the rock around the leak and seal it, would it not? Presumably, the detonation sealing the well would trap any radiation far under the seabed.
It seems a potentially practical solution at a time where we seem to be running out of ideal solutions, and one that might be far less ecologically damaging than allowing the leak to spew oil for years.
Any experts out there care to weigh in on this?
May 12, 2010
Not every complex problem needs to have a complex (and expensive) solution. Check out this quite green idea for capturing much of the oil still being emitted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Via the Huffington Post, which has the back story.
May 06, 2010
The Disaster America Ignored
I'll be frank: I didn't have a grasp of how bad the flooding in Tennessee was, because I didn't see enough news coverage to grasp to severity of the disaster.
I know now. [via Hot Air]
It's amazing and inspiring to watch a community exhibit so much courage and a can-do attitude in the face of such utter devastation. They didn't cry and wait for others to rescue them; they rescued themselves. They didn't loot and riot and shoot at those trying to help them; they organized and helped those most in need.
In several years, I suspect most of Nashville will bear few physical scars from the 2010 flood, because the city and people of Nashville are not just survivors, they are winners determined to triumph.
Years after Katrina, New Orleans will still be a stinking cesspool of quitters and defeatists crying for handouts.
Look at the character of these two cities, and see if you can figure out why one will thrive no matter the odds, and why one will fail no matter the treasure wasted.
Update: Frank Ross has similar thoughts:
Nashville had all of the elements of Katrina, except for the "narrative" bits: no helpless population, no incompetent governor, no hopeless mayor, no looting, no screeching about FEMA, and most important, no Republican in the White House. Instead, it offered a community that banded together, took on the task, saved its neighbors, fought back the floods and is now getting on with its life.
In other words, it offered an old fashioned America: folks doing what Americans do best, including that most important thing: not whining. Maybe that's why they call it the Volunteer State.
Meanwhile, readers of left wing blogs did what liberals always do, and immediately attacked this post as being—sigh—racist. Why of course it is, dear liberal.
Strong moral fiber. Deep sense of community. Selflessness. Courage in the most extreme circumstances. Charity. All racist.
At least for liberals, I mean. For those of you able to comprehend a more complex world view, I'd suggest re-reading Bill Whittle's excellent post-Katrina essay Tribes.
As I said... character matters.
April 30, 2010
Do They Suspect Sabotage?
Mr. Obama said SWAT teams were being dispatched to the Gulf to investigate oil rigs and said his administration is now working to determine the cause of the disaster...
...Napolitano said the Homeland Security and Interior departments are conducting a joint investigation into what caused the explosion on the rig.
I understand that Homeland Security may have a valid role investigating the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, especially if there are concerns that it may not have been an obvious accident and that sabotage needs to be ruled out.
But unless SWAT means something in some other context than paramilitary special weapons and tactics teams, I'm not understanding why these units are being deployed to oil rigs, when to the best of my knowledge, that is both well outside their normal jurisdiction, and presumably, beyond the average SWAT team's skill set.
Don't get me wrong... I'm not bad-mouthing SWAT officers, but how many of them have the kind of background to investigate oil rigs? The logical use of such teams on a rig would be to provide security and deter criminal actions, right?
So why does the President think that oil rigs need SWAT teams instead of engineers?
January 24, 2010
At War With Dying
Simply a must-read from the USNS Comfort. Please keep these wonderful men and women in your prayers as they show the best of humanity in the worst of times.
January 20, 2010
Not Again: Haiti Rocked by 6.1 Quake
The hits just keep coming:
The U.S. Geological Survey says the preliminary 6.1 magnitude quake hit at 6:03 a.m. (1103 GMT) Wednesday about 35 miles northwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince.
It says the quake struck at a depth of 13.7 miles.
AP reporters in the Haitian capital say the temblor sent scores of people fleeing into the streets.
The only possible upsides to this is that rescue teams and relief supplies are already on-hand, and that so many buildings were destroyed in last weeks quake that there simply aren't very many more occupied structures left to collapse.
For all intents and purposes, Haiti is no more.
January 15, 2010
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Unbelievable. Haitians aren't getting the help they need because the nation's already meager infrastructure was destroyed by the earthquake, and their brilliant response is to create more roadblocks? And out of the corpses of their countrymen, at that?
As Bill Whittle noted so perfectly in the essay Tribes after Hurricane Katrina, this is an issue of a mental mindset. The same mindset that has made Haiti one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in the hemisphere is the same childish, short-term gratification-focused mindset that leads people to build roadblocks when roads need to be cleared.
Their "logic"—such as it is—seems to be that if they build roadblocks, aide convoys cannot pass them by, and must stop and service them. That building such gruesome edifices only ensures that the flow of aide will slow even further, making their survival even less likely, seems to have completely escaped them.
It is heart-wrenching to watch an already pathetic nation experience such a disaster, but even more pathetic to watch them committing suicide through stupidity.
January 14, 2010
Barack Obama Hates Black People
For years, all we've heard from the left is how George W. Bush was to blame for the failures that occurred during the hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. Throughout the 2008 campaign season, we heard how George W. Bush was the cause of so many of this nation's problems real or imagined, and to this very day, Barack Obama and his administration try to blame every conceivable problem, malady, short-coming and gaffe on the 43rd President.
And now Obama wants Bush to help head up relief efforts for Haiti.
I wonder what Kanye West is thinking.
(h/t Hot Air)
Morehead City Port Shut for Third Day Because of Explosive Spills
The cleanup of a spill of explosive materials at the state port in Morehead City stretched into a third day Thursday, with no word on when the port might reopen.
Nine 50-kilogram drums filled with the explosive PETN were punctured by a forklift early Tuesday as they were being unloaded at the port. Officials said Wednesday that they had found PETN leaking from drums in shipping containers not involved in Tuesday's accident.
100 grams of this can blow up a car/half that could rip open an airliner. There were 450,000 grams in the drums in the main spill, and an unknown amount of leakage in the secondary spills.
We're in the best of hands...
January 13, 2010
Good News! NC Port's Contractors Spilled More PETN
Hey, it's only a slurry of one of the most powerful explosives on earth. We don't need to be careful with it, or anything:
Nine 50-kilogram drums filled with the explosive PETN were punctured by a forklift early Tuesday as they were being unloaded at the port. Also known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, the colorless PETN crystals are used in detonating cords for industrial explosions, as well as in heart medications.
Officials said Wednesday afternoon that they had found more of the PETN spilled at the port that didn't come from the punctured drums, which necessitated additional cleanup. They said they didn't know how the PETN was spilled but said it might have occurred during shipping.
That's encouraging news. It seems that would-be terrorists don't need to manufacture explosives or try to smuggle them into the country. They can simply get custodial positions at the nation's ports, and then they can blow up what they retrieve from their dustpans or wring out of a mop.
Homeland security? Not so much.
As you probably know by now, a 7.0 earthquake centered just five miles underground apparently destroyed the Haitian capital of Port-au- Prince yesterday, and damged cites and towns throughout the impoverished island nation.
World governments, the Red Cross and other volunteer aide organizations are rushing in to save as many lives as possible.
The exact scope of the devastation is not precisely known and may not be known for some time, but there are expectations that thousands are dead in collapsed buildings, and that as many as three million people will need some sort of assistance in the wake of this natural disaster.
We're going to do the best we can with what we have, but we could do better.
In recent years there have been some novel ideas floated on using retiring U.S. Navy vessels as floating emergency response bases for natural disasters and terrorist attacks on coastal regions in our hemisphere. Theoretically, ships could be based strategically on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as in a port in the Gulf of Mexico with supplies and rescue equipment pre-loaded for dispatch on very short notice.
An acquaintance of mine named Ward Brewer (which I've unfortunately fallen out of contact with) was a firm proponent of the idea, and proposed using some of the retiring Tarawa-class amphibious assault ships in this role. While obsolete by Navy standards and being replaced by more modern vessels, many of the features that made the Tarawa-class so well-suited for landing Marines on hostile shore would work exceptionally well for transporting heavy equipment, medical supplies, and rescue craft to areas in need. Each Tarawa can create fresh water, electricity, and has a 300-bed hospital with four operating rooms, 17 ICU rooms, and a 1,000-unit blood bank.
As it so happens, two Tarawa class ships are still in service, and presumably could be re-tasked to this rescue role upon their retirements with minimal transition work, and the first ship in the series is presently inactive and presumably ready to be refit as needed.
With real unemployment presently at 22% and skilled American tradesmen at shipyards around the nation needing work, it would seem to be an excellent time for a President so concerned about America's image to announce plans to turn these old warriors into angels of mercy.
June 10, 2009
38 Injured, Two Dead, One Missing in Garner, NC ConAgra Blast
A fire at a nearby ConAgra plant led to explosions late yesterday morning that collapsed large sections of the building's roof and caused an ammonia leak that was responsible for a large number of the injuries. Two bodies have been located within the wreckage of the building, but rescuers were forced to abandon overnight recovery efforts because of intense lightning and heavy rains as violent thunderstorms passed through the area. Another person is listed as missing.
Someone had called the plant over the course of the preceding weekend and threatened to start a fire, but authorities are officially downplaying the possibility of arson at this time.
Please say a prayer for the victims of this tragedy and the their families, and also for the first responders and search teams who risked their own lives to save others.
April 03, 2009
Massacre at American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY
Breaking news is that the American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY today has been attacked. Casualty accounts vary depending on source, but it appears a minimum of 13 people have been killed and more than 20 have been wounded.
ABC News reports that the shooter committed suicide.
Please remember to take all early media accounts (including this blog entry) with a grain of salt until details are confirmed, and pray for the victims and their families.
February 20, 2009
The 11 Most Expensive Catastrophes in History
I received this via email this morning. I apologize in advance for not knowing who the author is, or knowing if it is particularly accurate, or who has the rights to the images, but found it interesting that it was circulating, and thought I'd share.
# 11. Titanic - $150 Million
The sinking of the Titanic is possibly the most famous accident in the world. But it barely makes our list of top 10 most expensive. On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage and was considered to be the most luxurious ocean liner ever built. Over 1,500 people lost their lives when the ship ran into an iceberg and sunk in frigid waters. The ship cost $7 million to build ($150 million in today ' s dollars).
# 10. Tanker Truck vs Bridge - $358 Million
On August 26, 2004, a car collided with a tanker truck containing 32,000 liters of fuel on the Wiehltal Bridge in Germany . The tanker crashed through the guardrail and fell 90 feet off the A4 Autobahn resulting in a huge explosion and fire which destroyed the load-bearing ability of the bridge. Temporary repairs cost $40 million and the cost to replace the bridge is estimated at $318 Million.
# 9. MetroLink Crash - $500 Million
On September 12, 2008, in what was one of the worst train crashes in California history, 25 people were killed when a Metrolink commuter train crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles . It is thought that the Metrolink train may have run through a red signal while the conductor was busy text messaging.. Wrongful death lawsuits are expected to cause $500 million in losses for Metrolink.
# 8. B-2 Bomber Crash - $1.4 Billion
Here we have our first billion dollar accident (and we ' re only #7 on the list). This B-2 stealth bomber crashed shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on February 23, 2008. Investigators blamed distorted data in the flight control computers caused by moisture in the system. This resulted in the aircraft making a sudden nose-up move which made the B-2 stall and crash. This was 1 of only 21 ever built and was the most expensive aviation accident in history. Both pilots were able to eject to safety.
# 7. Exxon Valdez - $2.5 Billion
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was not a large one in relation to the world ' s biggest oil spills, but it was a costly one due to the remote location of Prince William Sound (accessible only by helicopter and boat). On March 24, 1989, 10.8 million gallons of oil was spilled when the ship ' s master, Joseph Hazelwood, left the controls and the ship crashed into a Reef. The cleanup cost Exxon $2.5 billion.
# 6. Piper Alpha Oil Rig - $3.4 Billion
The world ' s worst off-shore oil disaster. At one time, it was the world ' s single largest oil producer, spewing out 317,000 barrels of oil per day. On July 6, 1988, as part of routine maintenance, technicians removed and checked safety valves which were essential in preventing dangerous build-up of liquid gas. There were 100 identical safety valves which were checked. Unfortunately, the technicians made a mistake and forgot to replace one of them. At 10 PM that same night, a technician pressed a start button for the liquid gas pumps and the world ' s most expensive oil rig accident was set in motion.
Within 2 hours, the 300 foot platform was engulfed in flames. It eventually collapsed, killing 167 workers and resulting in $3.4 Billion in damages.
# 5. Challenger Explosion - $5.5 Billion
The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after takeoff due on January 28, 1986 due to a faulty O-ring. It failed to seal one of the joints, allowing pressurized gas to reach the outside. This in turn caused the external tank to dump its payload of liquid hydrogen causing a massive explosion. The cost of replacing the Space Shuttle was $2 billion in 1986 ($4.5 billion in today ' s dollars). The cost of investigation, problem correction, and replacement of lost equipment cost $450 million from 1986-1987 ($1 Billion in today ' s dollars).
# 4. Prestige Oil Spill - $12 Billion
On November 13, 2002, the Prestige oil tanker was carrying 77,000 tons of heavy fuel oil when one of its twelve tanks burst during a storm off Galicia , Spain . Fearing that the ship would sink, the captain called for help from Spanish rescue workers, expecting them to take the ship into harbour. However, pressure from local authorities forced the captain to steer the ship away from the coast. The captain tried to get help from the French and Portuguese authorities, but they too ordered the ship away from their shores. The storm eventually took its toll on the ship resulting in the tanker splitting in half and releasing 20 million gallons oil into the sea.
According to a report by the Pontevedra Economist Board, the total cleanup cost $12 billion.
# 3. Space Shuttle Columbia - $13 Billion
The Space Shuttle Columbia was the first space worthy shuttle in NASA ' s orbital fleet. It was destroyed during re-entry over Texas on February 1, 2003 after a hole was punctured in one of the wings during launch 16 days earlier. The original cost of the shuttle was $2 Billion in 1978. That comes out to $6.3 Billion in today ' s dollars. $500 million was spent on the investigation, making it the costliest aircraft accident investigation in history. The search and recovery of debris cost $300 million.
In the end, the total cost of the accident (not including replacement of the shuttle) came out to $13 Billion according to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics..
# 2. Chernobyl - $200 Billion
On April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the costliest accident in history. The Chernobyl disaster has been called the biggest socio-economic catastrophe in peacetime history. 50% of the area of Ukraine is in some way contaminated. Over 200,000 people had to be evacuated and resettled while 1.7 million people were directly affected by the disaster. The death toll attributed to Chernobyl , including people who died from cancer years later, is estimated at 125,000. The total costs including cleanup, resettlement, and compensation to victims has been estimated to be roughly $200 Billion. The cost of a new steel shelter for the Chernobyl nuclear plant will cost $2 billion alone. The accident was officially attributed to power plant operators who violated plant procedures and were ignorant of the safety requirements needed.
# 1. 2008 Presidential Election- $800 Billion in the first two months………..
That was, of course, an incredible lie, and I responded thus in response to the others who had also received this email:
I must protest the inaccuracy of this email in the strongest possible terms.
Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. I received this email on February 20, 2009. He signed the Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act of 2009--AKA, the stimulus package--into law 4 days ago.
Barack Obama became the most costly disaster in world history in 50% of the time allowed in this forwarded email.
I'd like to find out who the pro-Obama shill is that seeks to minimize the harm that this two-legged trainweck has caused IN JUST 28 DAYS. Somehow, I suspect his terrorist buddy, Bill Ayers.
February 01, 2009
Obama's "Katrina on Ice"
More than 700,000 homes are still without power in Kentucky due to a massive ice storm that struck the state six days ago, forcing Gov. Steve Beshear to mobilize his entire state's Army and Air National Guard, a total of 4,600 men and the largest call-out in Kentucky's history.
FEMA has apparently been a no-show.
Our Hawaiian-borne President, basking in the glow of an overheated Oval Office and dining on $100/lb steak, has been utterly disinterested, indulging himself in vodka martinis at cocktail parties, as he continues to talk up the need for the $1.1 trillion dollar "stimulus" while simultaneously trying to lower expectations of its impact, knowing how little it will actually accomplish for the economy even as it furthers his political agenda.
So please pardon some of my friends if they engage in a little hyperbole as they notice that our Freshman Senator cum President is a bit too giddy with his newfound power and the D.C. cocktail circuit to notice that as many as 1.5 million Americans are in dire straits at this moment.
After all, Barack Obama probably doesn't hate white people no matter what 20-years in the pews of a racial separatist church suggests. It's just far harder to see a bunch of white people against ice and snow.
And Caleb, while I don't doubt that the sage of hopenchange has a distinct preference for the refined metropolitan areas of the nation over areas those that bitterly cling to the Bibles, guns, and snowshovels, I'm pretty sure even he doesn't consider Kentucky "southern", even on his 57-state map.
January 16, 2009
Deterring the Obama Assassination Threat
With woeful predictably, the media is ginning up threats of an Obama assassination attempt to accompany his inauguration next Tuesday. Are there any specific threats, militant chatter, or suspicious behavior?
Of course not.
But birds gotta fly, Huffington Post authors have to insist Bush is going to stage his coup any second now, and CNN has to make up news:
So far, there is no known organized effort to express opposition to Obama's rise to the presidency other than a call by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for its members to wear black armbands as well as fly the U.S. flag upside down on Inauguration Day and Obama's first full day in office.
As Tuesday approaches, when Obama stands outside the Capitol to take the oath of office, experts expect anger about the new president to spike. But they don't expect it to go away.
"The level of vitriol, I expect, will go up a bit more around inauguration time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino?
The simple fact of the matter is that while Barack Obama is as cringe-inducing as a trainwreck about to happen, the freshman Senator cum President Elect hasn't done anything to garner strong feelings of hatred from anyone.
He didn't do anything as a Illinois legislator. He didn't do much more as a U.S. Senator. And he's made and backtracked on so many promises as a candidate and future President that people are to confused about where he stands too even know if they disagree with him.
And as CNN even notes, white supremacists can't even get that worked up (arm bands?), as he's only 50% non-white.
He stands for nothing, and represents nothing. The simple fact of the matter is that until he's actually sworn into his first-ever leadership position on Tuesday and had time to flail and make a series of horribly stupid mistakes, there isn't anything he's done to make him worth an effort on his life.
Obama is also defended by legions of highly trained federal law enforcement officers, and perhaps the greatest deterrent of all, a simple two word phrase of such horror that would stop most callous, calculating assassin in his tracks.
Women and Children First
155 souls crash-landed into the freezing cold waters of the Hudson River yesterday afternoon, and through particularly brilliant examples of piloting skill, courage, heart and determination, the rapid response of an inspiring cast of everyday heroes and not a little divine providence, nobody died.
I may get frustrated with my fellow Americans from time to time, but in those times that it all falls apart, there are simply no other people on this planet that I'd rather have at my back.
God bless you all.
September 06, 2008
Much Ado About Nothing
TS Hannah certainly may have had a more substantial impact south and east of here (and certainly along the beaches), but what I've seen thus far isn't anything you'd recognize from the ground as anything more than a series of showers... and I've got a pretty good vantage point:
In this satellite image snagged the image from the Weather Channel just a few minutes ago, I'm just inside the right side of the nasty little red dot, and we're not seeing much of anything right now, even though we've had an estimated 4 inches of rain overnight.
Let's hope everyone makes it out with as little damage as we have thus far.
August 30, 2008
Gustav Takes Aim At The Gulf Coast
I've got a bad feeling about this.
I hope those along the Gulf coastline are in the process of packing up and heading out, especially those in New Orleans. There will be no shelters of last resort; the Superdome will be locked down.
It doesn't matter where you hide...
Fragments of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina
...storms this size don't leave much behind.
July 28, 2008
There was a shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN yesterday during a children's play. Two people have died, and seven more are recovering from injuries that resulted when an unemployed man with a long history of verbal hostility against Christians targeted this specific congregation because he also hated liberals and gays.
While many in the political blogosphere will no doubt focus on the fact that Adkisson said he hated liberals and gays, the fact of the matter is that the didn't target a gay club or local progressive political groups, he specifically targeted a church. He did so after expressing beliefs to neighbors in the past that he had an abiding anger against Christianity, an anger that appears rooted in his childhood. The church appears to have been targeted because it embodied at least three things this pathetic human being hated, not just the one or two things I know certain critics will single out as they view the world through their own warped prisms.
Adkisson had apparently planned to keep murdering church-goers until gunned down by police. He planned to keep killing innocents until he died in a hail of police bullets... suicide-by-cop. But he was instead tackled and restrained by church-goers just seconds into his attack as he attempted to reload after shooting his shotgun's magazine dry.
The two people that died were 60 and 61. Those wounded were 38, 41, 42, 68, 69, 71, and 76. Though Adkisson walked past an assembled group of children outside the sanctuary awaiting their stage call, he did not fire on them. No children were physically injured, and no parents of young children were killed, creating orphans. There is reason to be thankful for that.
Though he was found with 73 live 12-gauge shotgun cartridges, he was only able to fire 3 before being tackled while trying to reload. Most semi-automatic and pump shotguns hold 5 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition, unless plugged for bird-hunting. Those two additional shots would have taken less than a second to fire, and could have hurt several more people, at least. There is reason to be thankful that the previous owner of the gun was probably a bird hunter. There is reason to be thankful that Adkisson apparently didn't know enough to remove the plug.
Sunday was a horrible day for the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, and there will be terrible days ahead as they seek to recover, and to heal.
But most will heal, and a day that could have been far worse was not, thanks to small miracles.
Update: Apparently there are some people who want to go on a shrieking political bender about this tragedy (both right and left), but that isn't going to happen here. Comments off.
June 18, 2008
The worlds greatest environmental hypocrite wastes so much energy that his consumption would power 232 normal homes.
Sadly not content with even that level of wastefulness, the Goracle has now taken to directly belching balls of energy into the atmosphere.
Update: Steve Strum notes (correctly) that Gore's annual usage would power 232 normal homes for a month. Not quite as bad as originally thought, but still horrific.
May 08, 2008
CNN has an article posted this AM about the on-going misery in Myanmar resulting from the recent cyclone that devastated the Irrawaddy delta and has left as many as 100,000 dead. The country's paranoid military dictatorship is hampering aid efforts, and as a result, is no doubt adding to the number of dead and injured.
In writing about the U.S. forces in the area poised to help if the dictatorship will only allow international aid, CNN makes the following curious claim (in bold):
The U.S has also been pushing for access, pledging $3.25 million and offering to send U.S. Navy ships to the region to help relief efforts.
The U.S. military had already flown six helicopters on to a Thai airbase, as Washington awaits permission to go into the south Asian country, two senior military officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.
In addition, several C-130 cargo aircraft aboard the USS Essex, which was conducting an exercise in the region, were available for relief missions.
That is one neat trick.
Essex is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. It is perhaps the most capable ship class in the world when it comes to providing help in the event of coastal disasters such as hurricane and cyclones due to its onboard 600-bed hospital, large helicopter contingent with search and rescue and transport capability, and well deck that houses LCACS and LCUs capable of landing heavy supplies and vehicles directly onto the beach. Essex is capable of a lot of things... but launching and landing a C-130 is not remotely among their capabilities.
Either Essex is merely being used to haul C-130s to the region that will have to be offloaded in port before being used, or CNN drastically has their story wrong. I suspect the former over the latter but you never know.
After all... "this is CNN."
February 18, 2008
Text Messages Don't Stop Crime
A futile effort, to say the least:
In the event of an emergency on North Carolina State University's campus, officials would send out text messages to faculty, students and staff.
Getting people to sign up to receive the "WolfAlert" messages is another issue.
Of the 40,000 faculty, students and staff at N.C. State, only 10,000 have registered their phone numbers, despite campus-wide advertising. For those who have signed-up, school officials plan to test the system this week.
N.C. State isn't the only campus trying to get this type of system off the ground. On North Carolina's 110 public and private college campuses, new safety measures have quickly become the priority.
"Our challenges are population and geography. We're the largest in terms of students and area," said David Rainer, N.C. State's associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety.
Last year, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper formed a task force to look at crisis communication plans at colleges and universities. The task now is to make sure those plans work.
The plans being used will do very little to stop the next Virginia Tech or NIU.
Keeping involuntarily committed people from being able to purchase firearms and getting the mentally ill treatment are laudable goals, but messaging systems and alarms are reactive in nature, and would not have saved a single life at either of the universities when gunmen rampaged through classrooms in a matter of minutes. In both instances, the events would have been over, or almost over, before an alert was even issued.
These are feel-good solutions, but in general are not real solutions to stop a threat as it is occurring. They are designed merely to speed emergency response to those who are lucky enough to survive the initial onslaught, or to keep a shooter from moving from one building into another after catastrophic events have already started. If you happen to be in the room or building when such an unlikely assault takes place, there is little that can currently be done to save you.
In such situations, only luck can save you if you are unarmed. I'd like to see university administrators in North Carolina rationally discuss the pros and cons of allowing faculty, staff and students in off-campus housing with concealed carry permits to carry their handguns on campus. I can find little evidence of such a conversation having occurred.
Perhaps university administrators are under the impression that by posting policies declaring university campuses "gun free" that they in fact are. I know for a fact that is not the case from my own university days, when I knew of at least three students who chose to carry pistols because they did not feel (rightfully) that university police officers, while diligent, could be relied upon to be there at the precise moment they were needed if a violent crime was visited upon them.
This was over a decade ago. University shootings were virtually unheard of at the time, and those I knew to carry did so because of a fear of sexual assault or armed robbery on or near campus.
Those I speak with now are now typically staff and faculty-aged, and while those fears of being a victim of a case of individual violent crime are still valid, I've heard some talk from staff and faculty would would feel safer if they had the means to legally protect their fellow staff members and students if a school shooter happened upon their classroom or administration building. They aren't looking to be heroes. Like most in the education field, they only want what is best for their students, and they tend to agree that life is one of their students continuing interests.
Not all university staff and faculty are comfortable with the idea of fellow faculty and staff being armed—in fact, I'd hazard a guess that most are probably uncomfortable with the general concept of having to face the fact that firearms are indeed on university campuses. They would rather pretend them away.
But firearms are on university campuses across North Carolina, and they always will be as long as distant parking lots and night classes exist. Instead of making self-defense illegal and typically be practiced by those with no formal training, it would perhaps be far wiser to allow those who have undergone the legal training, shooting qualifications, and background investigation to earn a CCH to legally carry a defensive handgun on campuses.
Allowing CCH to legal permit holders is not guaranteed to stop any specific crime on college campuses, but what it does do is give qualified citizens the option, and that is a discussion worth having, and far more likely to help prevent or stop a violent crime on campus than a belated text message or siren.
December 06, 2007
Surviving the Mall
You should never have to shop in fear, but yesterday's senseless murders at an Omaha, Nebraska mall remind us that violence can happen almost anywhere. Because it can, it isn't a bad idea to have an exit strategy in the back of your mind.
In the very unlikely event that you find yourself in a situation like that in Nebraska yesterday or previous shootings this year in malls in Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and Douglasville, Georgia, there are simple actions you can take to increase your changes of getting out unharmed.
The long, wide corridors and hallways lined with stores in a mall provide us with easy access from one store to another. In situations where a shooter is on the loose, they are also going to be the first route of escape for shoppers. The panicked rush of people attempting to use these corridors to escape increases the risk of being trampled in a mob. It goes without saying that these long open hallways provide next to no cover from any bullets fired.
If you happen to be walking in the mall and a shooting occurs, get into the nearest store or side hallway.
Firearms, be they handguns, rifles, or shotguns, are typically fired from the shoulder. Most bullets or pellets travel roughly on a horizontal plane from shoulder to waist high. By going prone, you decrease your chances of getting hit. Once down, stay down. Bullets have no problem penetrating multiple layers of building materials. Just because you do not see the shooter does not mean you are out of danger.
Stores do not bring their merchandise in through the front door. Almost all have loading docks, and to comply with fire codes, an emergency exit that leads either to a back hallway, or provide directs access to the outside of the building. Look up for the "exit" sign on the ceiling at the back of the store, and make your way there as fast as possible, keeping as low as possible.
Once you make it outside, keep moving. Put as much physical space and as many physical objects between you and the scene as possible.
Putting it all together.
- Get in.
- Get low.
- Get out.
- Keep moving.
File that bit of information in the back of your mind. I'll pray you never have occasion to use it.
November 08, 2007
"It is the Greatest Scam in History"
So says John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, as he discusses global warming. He is not kind to global warming advocates, some of which preached the horrors of the impending ice ages of global cooling just several decades ago with the same cocksure fanaticism.
It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create in allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.
"Friends in government?"
Gee, I wonder which former vice president and political party he could be referring to...
October 23, 2007
Pink and Grey
Scott Lindlaw reports on the differences between the current wildfire evacuation to Qualcomm stadium and the scene in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
Like Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years earlier in New Orleans, thousands of people rousted by natural disaster fled to the NFL stadium here, waiting out the calamity and worrying about their homes.
The similarities ended there, as an almost festive atmosphere reigned at Qualcomm Stadium.
Bands belted out rock 'n' roll, lavish buffets served gourmet entrees, and massage therapists helped relieve the stress for those forced to flee their homes because of wildfires.
"The people are happy. They have everything here," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared Monday night after his second Qualcomm tour.
Although anxieties ran high, the misery index seemed low as the celebrity governor waded through the mob. Scarcely a complaint was registered with him.
Predictably, the completely different ways these cities are dealing with their disasters only needed the common point of a stadium refuge to set keyboards a-clattering from both the left and the right.
At right-leaning Liberty Pundit:
Because these are mostly white people, and the response has been supposedly better, you can better believe that people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have taken note and will trot this out in the future whenever it suits their purpose. They’ll say that because these are white people and the governor is a Republican (jury is still out on that), and this was a better response, then it proves that our party hates blacks (or whatever minority they want to use to serve their purpose). Nevermind that the failures of Katrina were mostly the result of incompetent Democrats in New Orleans, it was still all George W. Bush's fault, because he didn't personally land in New Orleans and start bailing water.
At lefty blog Attytood:
Still, I can't help but think that other nations must look at these things -- the treatment of evacuees in one of America's richest cities (at least by housing price), and in one of its poorest -- and conclude that we're some kind of barbarians. The contrast between the wealth of water and food at Qualcomm, pictured at top of this post, with the scarcity at the Superdome is outrageous.
My biggest quibble with this AP article is the headline about "civility" -- which implies the contrast is the fault of the evacuees. That myth was pretty much punctured after Katrina, as in this article:The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know. "I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."
They just weren't given food or water...let alone massage therapists. You have to be haunted by these words from Superdome survivor Phyllis Johnson, written shortly after Katrina and well before yesterday's evacuation:Johnson said many of the people she met inside the dome thought they were going to die there. But she didn't want to lay down and die. She escaped the shelter, slogged through chest-high water and finally caught a ride on a stolen truck. She ended up getting onto a bus headed for Houston.
Even though President Bush said today that race played no part in the botched evacuation efforts, Johnson strongly disagrees. She is sure that if the people who were stranded in New Orleans after the storm were white, they would have been rescued immediately and treated with dignity.
"They portrayed us as savages," she said.
How can you look at that picture up top from San Diego and not agree with Phyllis Johnson?
It's interesting that on both the right and the left, the natural inclination here was to make the issue one of color. The problem with both of these opinions is that they are predicated upon skin colors of black and white, and not one of tribal colors:
That has nothing to do with me being white. If the blacks and Hispanics and Jews and gays that I work with and associate with were there with me, it would have been that much better. That’s because the people I associate with – my Tribe – consists not of blacks and whites and gays and Hispanics and Asians, but of individuals who do not rape, murder, or steal. My Tribe consists of people who know that sometimes bad things happen, and that these instances are opportunities to show ourselves what we are made of. My people go into burning buildings. My Tribe consists of organizers and self-starters, proud and self-reliant people who do not need to be told what to do in a crisis. My Tribe is not fearless; they are something better. They are courageous. My Tribe is honorable, and decent, and kind, and inventive. My Tribe knows how to give orders, and how to follow them. My Tribe knows enough about how the world works to figure out ways to boil water, ration food, repair structures, build and maintain makeshift latrines, and care for the wounded and the dead with respect and compassion.
There are some things my Tribe is not good at at all. My Tribe doesn't make excuses. My Tribe will analyze failure and assign blame, but that is to make sure that we do better next time, and we never, ever waste valuable energy and time doing so while people are still in danger. My Tribe says, and in their heart completely believes that it's the other guy that's the hero. My Tribe does not believe that a single Man can cause, prevent or steer Hurricanes, and my Tribe does not and has never made someone else responsible for their own safety, and that of their loved ones.
My Tribe doesn't fire on people risking their lives, coming to help us. My Tribe doesn't curse such people because they arrived on Day Four, when we felt they should have been here before breakfast on Day One. We are grateful, not to say indebted, that they have come at all. My Tribe can't eat Nike's and we don't know how to feed seven by boiling a wide-screen TV. My Tribe doesn't give a sweet God Damn about what color the looters are, or what color the rescuers are, because we can plainly see before our very eyes that both those Tribes have colors enough to cover everyone in glory or in shame. My Tribe doesn't see black and white skins. My Tribe only sees black and white hats, and the hat we choose to wear is the most personal decision we can make.
That’s the other thing, too – the most important thing. My Tribe thinks that while you are born into a Tribe, you do not have to stay there. Good people can join bad Tribes, and bad people can choose good ones. My Tribe thinks you choose your Tribe. That, more than anything, is what makes my Tribe unique.
Let's not talk about Black and White tribes… I know too many pathetic, hateful, racists and more decent, capable and kind people of both colors for that to make any sense at all. Do you not? Do you not know corrupt, ignorant, violent people, both black and white, to cure you of this elementary idiocy? Have you not met and talked and laughed with people who were funny, decent, upright, honest and honorable of every shade so that the very idea of racial politics should just seem like a desperate and divisive and just plain evil tactic to hold power?
If such a thing is not self-evident to you, please get off my property. Right now. I should tell you I own a gun and I know how to use it. I assure you that the pleasure I would take in shooting you would be temporary, minimal, and deeply regretted later.
Now, for the rest of you, let’s get past Republican and Democrat, Red and Blue, too. Let’s talk about these two Tribes: Pink, the color of bunny ears, and Grey, the color of a mechanical pencil lead.
I live in both worlds. In entertainment, everything is Pink, the color of Angelyne's Stingray – it's exciting and dynamic and glamorous. I'm also a pilot, and I know honest-to-God rocket scientists, and combat flight crews and Special Ops guys -- stone-cold Grey, all of them -- and am proud and deeply honored to call them my friends.
The Pink Tribe is all about feeling good: feeling good about yourself! Sexually, emotionally, artistically – nothing is off limits, nothing is forbidden, convention is fossilized insanity and everybody gets to do their own thing without regard to consequences, reality, or natural law. We all have our own reality – one small personal reality is called "science," say – and we Make Our Own Luck and we Visualize Good Things and There Are No Coincidences and Everything Happens for a Reason and You Can Be Whatever You Want to Be and we all have Special Psychic Powers and if something Bad should happen it's because Someone Bad Made It Happen. A Spell, perhaps.
The Pink Tribe motto, in fact, is the ultimate Zen Koan, the sound of one hand clapping: EVERYBODY IS SPECIAL.
Then, in the other corner, there is the Grey Tribe – the grey of reinforced concrete. This is a Tribe where emotion is repressed because Emotion Clouds Judgment. This is the world of Quadratic Equations and Stress Risers and Loads Torsional, Compressive and Tensile, a place where Reality Can Ruin Your Best Day, the place where Murphy mercilessly picks off the Weak and the Incompetent, where the Speed Limit is 186,282.36 miles per second, where every bridge has a Failure Load and levees come in 50 year, 100 year and 1000 Year Flood Flavors.
The Grey Tribe motto is, near as I can tell, THINGS BREAK SOMETIMES AND PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE MY BRIDGE.
These paragraphs are from just a few brief moments of the excellent Bill Whittle essay Tribes, but it does much to help us understand the long-term differences between these two vastly different cities, and how different they will be in the weeks and months ahead.
The people of San Deigo and surrounding communities, liberal Democrats, moderates, and staunch conservatives of every color and creed, will rebuild and thrive again long before New Orleans does. They will do so because New Orleans, "The Big Easy," regardless of politics, is as Pink a city as there has ever been in the United States. It is a city of psychological poverty, and will be so until it finally falls into the Gulf in 5 or 50 years hence.
San Diego, evolving both demographically and politically, is often Pink, but is as Grey has it has to be, when it has to be.
It is about color. Just not the colors you think.
September 14, 2007
Well, thanks to this I might continue my fund-raising efforts for a few more days.
I haven't been outside to check the damage to any great degree yet, but know that the straight-line winds in my area were strong enough to damage homes under construction within view of my house, down trees, and lift my rather substantial grill into the air and toss it into my neighbor's yard. I'll retrieve it tomorrow, but my guess is that it's toast.
If anyone hasn't donated yet and could, I'd appreciate it.
I really liked that grill.
Update: Picture added above. For us, that's all we lost, and for that I'm very thankful.
Talking to folks in the area and surveying the damage, it appears out area took a hit from a very minor tornado (there were a total of six in the area, all blessedly weak). Not a lot of damage in my neighborhood, but there was in the older neighborhood nearby where there were far more mature trees, a lot of which lost branches, and several large oaks that were totally ripped apart.
Nobody got seriously injured or killed, and that is what really matters.
The "Liberal Braintrust" Update: It seems that several lefty bloggers have seized upon this post as proof of great hypocrisy on my part, as I've stated publicly on several occasions that New Orleans should not be rebuilt in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The reasoning behind not rebuilding New Orleans is scientifically-driven and practical in nature. The Mississippi delta silt upon which the city was built is rapidly compacting, and hence the city itself is literally and inevitably sinking. This is combined with the fact that the marshlands protecting the city are eroding at a rate of 25-35 square miles/year, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with noted scientists from coastal and marine studies programs including LSU, have stated the geological inevitability of the city merging with the Gulf of Mexico prior to 2100, and quite possibly by 2050 or sooner with the landfall of any major hurricanes (which Katrina was not when it hit; New Orleans suffered category 1-2 winds), or a sudden rise in sea level, which could occur if global warming is as dramatic as some expect.
Simply put, New Orleans is a sinking hole in a swamp surrounded on three sides by hungry waters: rebuilding the city with an anemic patchwork of small levee improvements is a colossal exercise in stupidity, when relocating the population is a much more intelligent and more viable long-term option. It may also ultimately lead to a far greater loss of life the next time the city is inundated.
Liberal Logic: New Orleans = Bobs' Grill.
Somehow, this bit of scientifically-supported common sense means I'm a hypocrite because I extended my already running week-long yearly fundraising effort, mentioning specifically late Friday that that I'm going to need to replace my storm-tossed grill.
Said grill was up-ended and tossed into my neighbor's yard by what appears to be a very small tornado that spun out of a line of thunderstorms that developed quickly as a line of storms passed through Friday evening. The line of storms was the leftovers of what was Humberto, the storm that hit minimal hurricane status before it made landfall on Texas last week and quickly dissipated.
According to these esteemed liberal thinkers, asking my readership to continue a voluntary fundraiser is the exact same thing, somehow, as demanding billions of taxpayer dollars from the federal government to replace a city doomed by geology, oceanography, and hydrology.
Perhaps if I lobbied taxpayers for the funds that argument would have some merit, but I'm not applying for a grant, or demanding that taxpayers fund anything. I didn’t do that. I extended a pre-existing weeklong fundraiser where I asked for voluntary donations from my readers. My "crime" was continuing a voluntary fundraiser for a specific reason?
Heaven forbid. How do I live with myself.
August 29, 2007
Rebuilding New Orleans: A Continuing Mistake
Two years ago today, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana as a large Category 3 storm. While parts of coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama suffered the onslaught of the storm's surging waves and wind, most of the world's attention was paid, and is still being paid, to the City of New Orleans, where dozens of levee failures flooded most of the city.
More than 1,800 people were confirmed killed by Hurricane Katrina or in its wake, with 705 still missing, according to Wikipedia.
Literally millions of words have been written ascribing blame for the human failures that contributed to the loss of lives and property brought by this hurricane. The blame and blame-shifting continues to this day, and will be echoed, no doubt, long after the second-hand memories of the storm fade.
But this is not a post about past culpabilities, but those mistakes we are currently making in our all-too-human arrogance as we try to reclaim a disaster.
This is map of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expected the Louisiana coastline to look like in 50 years, prior to the massive erosion and seafloor damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and also before the current fervor over global warming began predicting significant sea-level rise. The effects of Katrina and Rita have obviously shortened this timeline, and any sea-level rise that occurs will only hasten the demise of the city known as the Big Easy which is being killed, not protected, by the very levees and dikes that politicians seem so eager to keep building and rebuilding. Experts at LSU predict that the delta protecting New Orleans from a hungry Gulf of Mexico will be gone by 2090.
Several days ago, Presidential candidate Barack Obama unwittingly cited an appropriate passage from the Bible, even though, like most politicians, he drew exactly the wrong conclusions from the scripture he noted:
"Getting ready to talk to you today, I recall what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount," Obama said at New Orleans' First Emmanuel Baptist Church. "He said, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock."
"The rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on the rock," he continued.
Most foundations and cities in America are built on rock, clay, or similarly durable soils, while New Orleans exemplifies the agonizing reality of the other house in that parable, the one that Obama didn't mention... that one made by foolish builders upon the sand, as noted in Matthew 7:24-27:
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
The shattered fool's house in Matthew was built upon the sand.
New Orleans is built upon an even more unstable soil, silt, that is constantly compacting and sinking. What's more, that sinking, unstable soil is in a bowl below sea-level surrounded by the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, and Lake Pontchartrain, bodies of water that are eating away the coastline at a rate of 25 square miles or more each year.
In September of 2005, I interviewed a geologist who was the former Dean of his southern university's Coastal and Marine Studies program. His closing, unsolicited recommendation was that New Orleans "should be largely abandoned as a city."
New Orleans is doomed city, a geographical mistake destined to fall to geologic and hydraulic forces beyond our control. It is sad they we are too arrogant to concede this failed city to the sea, and seem destined to waste the billions of dollars that could be spent moving the inhabitants to higher ground.
Instead we seem intent on enticing back the poor and the destitute with promises of rebuilding what should not be rebuilt, just to put their lives in danger once more.
8/31 Update: Over at Reason, Steve Chapman is on the same page:
Before the nation undertakes the extravagant project of rebuilding New Orleans and securing it from the elements, we might ask if there isn't a better option, not only for the nation but for the flood victims.
The Democratic debate over the future of New Orleans somehow passed over the instructive example of Valmeyer, Ill. In 1993, the town of 900 was swamped, not for the first time, by a rain-swollen Mississippi River. It hasn't been swamped since, because it's not there anymore. Rather than remain in a vulnerable spot, the residents voted to relocate their village to a bluff 400 feet above the river.
But no one wants to suggest similar discretion in Louisiana.
New Orleans, like Valmeyer, had long been a natural disaster waiting to happen. Most of the city lies below sea level, surrounded by water on three sides, and it's sinking. On top of that, it's steadily grown more exposed to hurricanes, thanks to the loss of coastal wetlands that once served as a buffer. It's a bathtub waiting to be filled.
As one scientist said after Katrina, "A city should never have been built there in the first place." Now that we have a chance to correct the mistake, why repeat it?
Gee, that sounds familiar.
August 01, 2007
Prayers for Minneapolis
As you are no doubt well aware of by now, the I35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during rush our this evening.
Dozens of vehicles have fallen into the river or the ground below; others have been crushed by the falling span. As I write this, authorities are stating that they can confirm seven people have died, that more than 30 are injured, and that 20 people or more are thought to be missing.
My heart goes out to those who have loved ones involved in this disaster, and I ask those readers who are religious to please consider saying prayers for those involved in this disaster, their families, the first responders, and attending medical personnel.
Update: James Lileks is continuing to update the story.
Worth noting are the stories of the heroism of ordinary people amid the disaster, as many people nearby and on the bridge rushed to aid others.
From Lileks at 10:21 PM:
I’m listening to a story on the news about a man who survived the fall – then ran to help the kids on the bus. I’d guess the fellow never considered what he might do in such a situation. Never thought about it much. Who would? But then you find yourself on a bridge that’s crashed down into the Mississippi, and you’re struggling with the seat belt buckle. It works , but your hands feel thick. You’re alive – which doesn’t seem that odd, really, you’ve always been alive, so this is just different, but you have strange thoughts about insurance and a mad swirl of panic and there’s blood in your hair but you can stand – and then you see a school bus. So you go to the bus. Of course you go the bus.
Most of us would. It’s a remarkable instinct that wells up and kicks in, and it’s something you never expected to experience. As someone said about humans: We’re at our best when things are worst.
Would you have run to the bus? I'll answer for you: yes.
And from what I'm hearing, many did exactly that.
May 26, 2007
who i are and what this blog needs
I'm still not quite sure why CY volunteered to let me guest blog, unless he's looking for ace type posting, without teh funny, snide remarks and esoteric wit. Which if you're familiar with ace's site leaves us with poking fun at Andy "Patron Saint of the Man Pooter" Sullivan, a mutual hatred of Ice-Wops and pr0n.
If you're unfamiliar with my work, which you almost assuredly are, most recently I've been posting at agent bedhead, who was nice enough to take me in when I got too
lazy busy to post at my own site. I'm also as CY mentioned part of the team at apothegm designs and responsible for the design of this site, which to those ever cleaver and uniquely refreshing liberal commenters means I'm a bigot hoping to enslave brown people so they'll pick my vast nonexistent fields of cotton and call me masta.
Anyhoo, enough about me and on with what this blog needs.
Since I've already numbed your minds enough and posted a link to an Snow Porker getting his, I'll bring on teh pr0n.
How's this news? Well the Australian lass pictured above, Kylie Minogue, is according to the bosh desperate for a man. She was engaged to a French(man?), so more than likely she's still as pure as the driven snow. Me, I'd take care of her, but I'm happily married, so I figured I'd let you guys have the first, um, crack at her. Consider yourselves warned, she's a naughty little minx, so you'd best be, "up" to the challenge, so to speak.
More of what this blog needs, food pr0n, is on the way, with pictures, just as soon as I get the ham, ribs and sausage off the smoker.
Since absolutely none of this interests 99.92735% if CY's normal readers I'll have analysis of what blind hogs, sadly no and the democratic underground have in common and how they've changed my life for the better. But first, pork.
May 22, 2007
Virginia Tech Shooter Had Plenty More Ammo
Seung-Hui Cho fired less than half of the 377 rounds of ammunition he brought with him into Norris Hall on April 16 before commiting suicide after killing 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech:
The gunman who killed 30 people at a Virginia Tech building was "well-prepared" to continue his shooting spree with more than 200 additional rounds of ammunition, a state panel was told Monday.
Police found 203 live rounds in Norris Hall, where Seung-Hui Cho killed 25 students and five faculty members before committing suicide on April 16, State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty told a panel investigating the massacre. Cho also shot two other students elsewhere.
"He was well-prepared to continue on," Flaherty said.
Cho fired 174 shots from two handguns on the second floor in a span of nine minutes, taking his own life at 9:51 a.m. as police on the stairwell approached the floor, Flaherty said.
I suspect, but certainly cannot prove, that Cho chose to take his life when he did because he heard the sounds of police shooting through the locks on the first-floor doors he had chained shut, and he did not want to risk of being wounded by police and captured.
May 09, 2007
A Little Early This Year: CY's Hurricane Survival Guide
I'd not planned on reposting this for several more weeks, but Andrea has other ideas.
WARNING: This is not comprehensive hurricane survival guide. I've only been through a few, and hardly consider myself an expert. Anyone who claims to be able to tell you everything you need to do to survive in every situation is lying. Adjust the following accordingly to your circumstances, but remember the only way to beat a hurricane is to not be there when it arrives.
Before the Storm: General
- Listen to the radio, watch television news, or read online news sources to keep abreast of developing tropical systems. Keep close track of storms that may head in your general direction. Don't be caught flat-footed.
- Know the hurricane evacuation routes for your area. By a state map or better yet, an atlas that can provide you with parallel routes away from an impending storm.
- Make sure any vital medical prescriptions are filled in advance of an impending storm.
- Make hotel reservations further inland several days in advance "just in case." Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Before the Storm: Around the House
- Secure any lightweight objects outside the home. Bikes, toys, plants and other outdoor items can be carried away by wind and water, often at unpleasant velocities.
- Board up your windows if possible, or tape them with duct tape in an asterisk pattern (*) if that is your only option. This serves to reinforce the glass, and in the event of a window shattering, may keep the shattered glass together so that it falls to the floor instead of spraying.
Before the Storm: Transportation
- Fill your gas tank several days in advance, and keep it topped off.
- Check your vehicle's fluids, and belts, making sure to top off your windshield washer fluid and coolants.
- Make sure your tires are in good shape, and make sure your spare tire is inflated.
- Make sure your tires have adequate tread. See manufacturers guidelines.
- Leave when storm impact seems imminent. Do not wait for the official evacuation order if you can leave earlier.
Before the Storm: Personal
- Create a "bug-out bag."
- This is an emergency evacuation bag of bare essentials you make need in an emergency. In this bag (preferably a backpack) include:
- a small battery-operated AM/FM radio, and fresh batteries for same.
- two waterproof flashlights and/or battery operated lanterns with fresh batteries for same.
- cell phone (and charger).
- disposable lighter and waterproof matches.
- personal toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer, and other personal hygiene products as applicable.
- a first aid kit with painkillers, bandages and band aids.
- duct tape (min. 2 rolls)
- sturdy pocket knife
- hammer & prybar
- box of 8D nails
- blankets (multiple)
- study boots
- general-purpose leather gloves
- enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food and water (1 gallon per person per day) for three days.
- last but not least, all insurance information, property, vehicle, life, and medical.
- create a contacts list. Include a I.C.E. "in case of emergency" number.
- put an I.C.E. notification with your ID and store it in your cell phone.
Before the Storm: Evacuation
- pack bug-out bag, and supplies including food and water into vehicle.
- make one last check to make sure outdoor items are secured.
- cut off all electrical switches, appliances, televisions, lights, etc.
- before you leave, contact your I.C.E. person and let them know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- make sure all windows are closed tightly and locked.
- lock all doors.
- anticipate high winds and driving rain. Stay calm, drive cautiously. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Beware of standing water.
- Call your I.C.E. contact when you arrive safely.
During the Storm
Moving away from the hurricane will most likely reduce the effects of a hurricane, but it cannot eliminate risks entirely, even hundred of miles inland.
- Duct tape windows in asterisk or "star" pattern (*). stay away from windows. draw blinds and curtains, if possible, to contain glass in the event of a window breaking.
- stay inside, away from windows and doors especially during the eye of the storm. Winds restart again quickly with extreme velocities as the eyes passes and the wind shifts 180 degrees.
- stay near interior walls. If the winds are very strong move into an interior bathroom where the building is likely to be strongest.
- do not leave unless flooding is imminent or you are instructed to do so by authorities.
After the Storm
- stay off the road and away from affected areas until authorities clear the area for your return.
- watch for downed power lines and other debris in roads.
- be very careful of standing pools of water and especially flowing water. It is ofnte deeper and more powerful than it appears.
- watch for displaced wildlife. poisonous snakes, fireants, and abandoned pets. all can present hazards.
- watch for dangerous debris.
- lookout for injured people and animals. Call authorities if possible.
- do not become a tourist. go home, and stay home.
- secure your property. take stock of any damage. Catalog damage for insurance purposes.
Again, this list is hardly comprehensive, and cannot anticipate special needs or unexpected situations. It is however, a start, and can help you get ready for the 2007 storm season.
May 07, 2007
Kathleen Sebelius' Political Disaster
Our hearts go out to those in Greensburg, Kansas who have lost family members and friends as a result of this natural disaster. If you know of displaced survivors who have yet to contact their loved ones, or wish to contribute to disaster relief, please contact the American Red Cross.
I wonder just how accurate this headline is: Iraq War Hampers Kansas Cleanup.
The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor.
Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.
The Greensburg administrator estimated that 95 percent of the town of 1500 was destroyed by Friday's tornado.
The Kansas National Guard has about 40 percent of the equipment it is allotted because much of it has been sent to Iraq.
...she fears deployments of Kansas National Guard troops and equipment could hurt the state’s ability to react to disasters on the homefront.
In the same KCBS article cited above, Kansas Rep. Lee Tafanelli (R), a member of the Kansas National Guard, notes that that Kansas Army National Guard still retained 70-80 percent of its manpower.
If the figures provided by the Democratic governor and the Republican State rep and Guardsman are correct, the Army National Guard in Kansas still retains 40%-50% of their heavy equipment and 70%-80% of their manpower, which should be more than adequate to handle geographically narrow and isolated events such as the Greensburg tornado and others that hit Kansas this past Friday.
But please, don't take my word for it. Listen to what the state adjutant general had to say:
"We've been over the town twice now — all of our partners around the state, the experts from cities with technical search-and-rescue," Maj. Gen. Todd Bunting, the state's adjutant general, told CNN Monday morning. "We've done everything we can.
"Some of this rubble is 20, 30 feet deep. That's where we've spent all our efforts, and we'll do it again today."
As Maj. Gen. Bunting notes, they've already been over Greensburg twice, and they are going through the destroyed town of 1,500 again.
While it was no doubt comforting to have the additional manpower and equipment from the National Guard available, it is the state and local emergency personnel with trained search-and-rescue experts that are our best resources for this and similar situations.
Despite an inaccurate claim made by Sebelius on CNN, National Guard soldiers are not first responders, and they never have been. National Guardsmen can only be called to duty in governor-declared states of emergency, or federally, by presidential order.
Our first responders were, and remain, our local and state police, fire, and rescue units. The National Guard is now, and has always been, a reserve force.
Despite the reduction of certain kinds of National Guard equipment in state armories, I suspect that the personnel and equipment that remain at Gov. Sebelius' disposal is more than sufficient to handle the effort at hand. On some level, she seems to agree. Of thousands of National Guardsmen available, she has apparently deployed just 110.
It seems apparent that her anti-war pronouncements and appointments have as much to do with her claims as does any actually shortfall of equipment, and I suspect her words have as much to do with Sebelius' political hopes as it does the reality of Greenburg's battered ground.
Update: Reality bites... for Sebelius, that is:
Pentagon officials are disputing claims that the Iraq war has spread National Guardsmen too thin to respond to a Kansas tornado after the governor and some Democratic lawmakers complained that the Guard are not equipped to help displaced residents.
Kansas has 88 percent of its state Guard forces available, and 83,000 Guardsmen from neighboring states are also on the ready should the state request their assistance, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday, citing National Guard Bureau statistics.
According to Whitman, the Kansas Guard have available 352 Humvees, 94 cargo trucks, 72 dump trucks, 62 five-ton trucks, 13 medium-haul trucks and trailers and 152 2 1/2-ton trucks, a surplus, he noted.
How many of the Kansas National Guard's available 83,000+ men, 393 trucks and 352 Humvees would be required in a town of 1,500?
April 26, 2007
Confirmed: Va Tech Shooter Used Standard Magazines
Virginia State Police Public Relations Manager Corinne Geller confirms via email that Cho Seung-Hui only used standard capacity magazines in a rampage last Monday at Virginia Tech that left more than 50 Virginia Tech students and faculty dead or injured.
"We are not identifying the capacity of the magazines or number of magazines purchased prior or in Cho's possession at the time of the shootings. I can tell you that the magazines were standard issue."
Numerous, immediate, and still erroneous media claims that Cho used high capacity or extended magazines containing as many as 33 rounds are patently false. Geller confirms that Cho used only standard capacity magazines, which for a Glock 19, is 15 rounds.
April 25, 2007
Cho Still Had Ammunition When He Committed Suicide
On Deadline is reporting that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho still had additional ammunition with him when he died in an updated to a blog entry on the shooting timeline.
The shootings at Norris Hall lasted nine minutes, and it is now apparent that the massacre would not have last much longer in any event, as Cho shot himself just after police officers shot the lock off a first floor door of Norris Hall and entered the building.
The obvious inference I'm tempted to make is that Cho heard the police gunfire and decided to take his life as a result of the perimeter being breached, not because he was low on ammunition, and not because he was out of potential targets. He apparently wanted to successfully commit suicide, rather than face the possibility of being taken alive and having to face the consequences of his murder spree.
I don’t know that the evidence supports these assumptions, but with no easily detectable motive or trigger for the largest mass shooting in American history, inferences and assumptions may be all we have.
Update: Over at Hot Air, AP makes a chilling speculation (my bold):
The theory right now is that he shot himself when he heard them shoot through their way through the front door of Norris Hall. Which makes the fact that VTech was a gun-free zone that much harder — if he'd heard a gunshot in the building earlier in his rampage, he might have turned his own gun on himself sooner thinking it was the police.
There is of course no way to know if that is what would have transpired, and it is probably pointless to wonder how many of the 59 killed or wounded by Cho might not have been shot had he suspected that he was about to come under fire or had actual aimed shots directed his way, distracting him from his attack.
When I was in grad school, I suspected that several fellow students (mostly women) were occasionally armed, and knew for a fact one person was armed almost every day I saw him.
We, too, were a "gun free" school, but I felt a bit safer knowing that we weren't quite as gun free as the administration would have liked.
A psychology major has admitted to being the person who has been placing a memorial stone for Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho among those of his victims:
A senior Virginia Tech psychology major has identified herself in a letter to the editor in the Collegiate Times as the person who's been placing a stone at the memorial for Seung-Hui Cho.
The writer, Katelynn L. Johnson, wrote in the lengthy letter that she placed the stone at the memorial at 4 a.m. last Thursday morning in the dark to avoid drawing attention.
"I refuse to do what is popular and agree with everyone around me that only 32 people died on Monday. 33 died."She said in the letter that she intends to continue adding a stone whenever it is removed, as was the case earlier this week.
I somewhat suspect this student aced VT's PSYCH 3014: Abnormal Psychology, based largely upon her own head start on the subject.
The fact that Cho coldly murdered 32 others and wounded 29 more before taking his own life doesn't seem to be of much concern to Ms. Johnson, who is in the process of making herself the most unpopular living student on campus by memorializing a mass murderer.
April 23, 2007
This is perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the Virginia Tech massacre I've read thus far (my bold).
Police are still searching for a motive. Cho, the 23-year-old English major who was described as reclusive and extremely shy, left behind a package of videos and letters railing against privilege and wealth, but did not say how he chose his victims...
Those victims apparently did not fight back against Cho's ambush. Massello said he did not recall any injuries suggesting a struggle. Many victims had defensive wounds, indicating they tried to shield themselves from Cho's gunfire, he said.
Massello said Cho hit many of his victims several times.
The media's portrayal of the Virginia Tech massacre has been abysmal and highly inaccurate during the course of the past week. Because of their well-documented shortcomings, I've wanted to avoided commenting on certain aspects of the events of April 16 in Norris Hall at Virginia Tech, where Cho Seung-Hui shot to death 30 of his victims, and wounded 29 more.
During this time period, primarily local media accounts have started to create a patchwork of stories that are helping us piece together an image of how individual students reacted during this tragedy, one that has disturbed several people I've spoken with, both online and in person.
No one could have easily predicted that a student such as Cho would have gone on a murderous rampage, and no one knows how they would respond to an event such as this unless they're faced with a similar situation themselves.
It is because of this that I was concerned when I read John Derbyshire's NRO Blog entry The Spirit of Self Defense, posted just one day after the massacre, when so few facts were known.
As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22. At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad. Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.
I think we can all agree that people react to high stress unexpected situations differently, and that how we response is influenced by our previous training and experiences. I don't think it is reasonable to expect that anyone in the situation at Norris Hall would have any previous training or experience to handle the situation of a heavily-armed student shooting up a classroom building, though oddly enough, there was a student, Regina Rohde, enrolled at Virgina Tech that was not at Norris Hall who survived the Columbine High School massacre. Even that experience would not have prepared anyone to "take a run at the guy" as Derbyshire suggested. Something else in a person's background or make-up would have to make them act in such a counterintuitive way as to attempt to attack someone with a firearm. I'll note that counterintuitive is not necessarily the same as wrong.
Arguably, it should make us re-examine the basic, emotional "fight or flight" response. Wikipedia describes the reaction to acute stress thusly:
The fight-or-flight response, also called the acute stress response, was first described by Walter Cannon in 1927. His theory states that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. This response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.
About.com provides a more useful definition:
This is the body’s response to perceived threat or danger. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, speeding the heart rate, slowing digestion, shunting blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a burst of energy and strength. Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, it’s now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, like in traffic or during a stressful day at work.
While the massacre itself was shocking enough, the anecdotal evidence pieced together showing that many students (rightly) fled, and that at least some of those who couldn't escape simply let themselves be shot (including at least one student who curled into a ball and allowed Cho to shoot him). The corner's comments shows that he found no evidence suggesting wounds consistent with someone attempting to defend themselves when their lives were in mortal jeopardy. This is shocking in its own right.
Obviously, many of the 59 students, faculty and staff shot by Cho had a very limited chance to react, and there were students in those classrooms who were not shot at all only as a matter of chance. Why is it, though, that when the fight or flight response engaged as it undoubtedly was in Norris Hall, that it appears not a single soul did as Derbyshire asked, "take a run at the guy"?
This isn't a question of bravery by any measure, and I don't want anyone to misconstrue it as such. I am honestly curious as to why the "fight" part of the "fight or flight" response apparently never kicked in to any one of the students, faculty, and staff members who could not escape.
When a man is in the process of gunning down your classmates in a ruthless manner and obviously has the same intention of doing the same to you, you are presented with a very short list of options:
- do nothing or attempt to hide (a passive response)
- attempt to block the gunman from entering the classroom (an active response)
- attempt to attack the gunman, if only to save your own life (an active response) want to take on of the above options, but succumb to shock (a blocked response)
That is far from being any sort of a clinical response and may not be accurate. It is simply a layman's understanding of how someone may react in the very crudest terms to a horrible situation.
In this circumstance, the flight response is by far the best option, and for those who were able to escape before Cho started shooting in their classrooms, it paid off. But I'm not concerned with the actions of those who were able to escape, but with the actions of those who were unable to escape. What of those who were left?
While we do know that some students were successful in barricading doors and prevented Cho from entering (and that one professor and at least one student died attempting to barricade doors). Once Cho was able to enter classrooms, however, not a single person attempted to attack him according to the coroner, even though that might have been their best option for survival. I speak of this not to condemn, but only in an effort to understand why.
Mark Steyn made an admirable attempt to understand why in A Culture of Passivity. I'm not sure I agree with it, but the following bears reflecting upon:
it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.
At the time Steyn wrote his article, not all of the facts were known. We now know that another student died trying to prevent Cho from entering his classroom and was gunned down, just as we know that several other students kept pressing against the door, even as Cho fired through. These brave men all saved lives attempting to preventing a wolf from entering among the sheep. These men are what you would recognize from Bill Whittle's seminal essay Tribes as sheepdogs. Whittle borrowed this description from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's seminar The Bulletproof Mind as Whittle was writing about the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
Whittle cited Grossman as stating:
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident."
This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million total Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, "We intimidate those who intimidate others."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about "Tommy" the British soldier:
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that,
an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir,"
when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys,
there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir,"
when there's trouble in the wind.
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Whittle continues on his own:
Here is the Grey philosophy I try to live by:
Sometimes, Bad Things Happen. Some things are beyond my control, beyond the control of the smartest and best people we have, even beyond the awesome, subtle and unlimited control of the simpering, sub-human village idiot from Texas.
Hurricanes come. They have come for all of human history, and more are coming. Barbarians also come to steal or destroy what they cannot make themselves, and they, like human tempests, have swept a path of destruction through civilization since before history was written on clay tablets on the banks of the Euphrates.
I am not a wolf. I have never harmed a person in my life. But I am not a sheep, either. I know these forces are out there, and wishing it were not so will not only not make them go away – it will rob me of my chance to kick their ass when they show up.
It takes courage to fight oncoming storms. Courage.
Courage isn’t free. It is taught, taught by certain tribes who have been around enough and seen enough incoming storms to know what one looks like.
Tribes is an excellent essay, though perhaps imperfect to apply to the students, faculty and staff trapped inside Norris Hall last Monday. That said, I am forced to wonder why not one of those 59 people shot, nor those who were not shot, did not make an attempt to defend at least themselves, if not others. The "extreme provocation" that Grossman noted can make even sheep attack was certainly present in Norris Hall a week ago today, and yet, not one apparently acted upon it.
Have we become as a culture so adverse to the idea of conflict that we will willing surrender our lives and the lives of others to avoid fighting back?
I am trapped, and think perhaps, that we all are.
Have we become so enamored with the idea of conflict avoidance and conflict resolution at all costs, that we have forgotten that at some points, conflict is the only correct response? Do we not need to teach courage, or at least self-preservation, as well?
I can offer no answers. I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions.
I do think, however, that as a society, somebody should find the right questions to ask, and do all we can to get those answers.
If not, we give our futures to the wolves to decide.
April 18, 2007
Return Address: Ishmael
NBC News President Steve Capus said the network received the package in Wednesday morning's mail delivery and immediately turned the material over to FBI agents in New York. The FBI is assisting Virginia State Police in the investigation.
The package included a long, "rambling, manifesto-like statement embedded with a series of photographs," Capus said. The material is "hard-to-follow ... disturbing, very disturbing — very angry, profanity-laced," he said.
It does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does include "vague references," including “things like 'This didn’t have to happen,'" Capus said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.
One of the photos.
It shows Cho with the murder weapons, the Glock 19 in his right hand, the Walther P22 in his left.
And in a related article:
Among the materials are 23 QuickTime video files showing Cho talking directly to the camera, Capus said. He does not name anyone specifically, but he talks at length about religion and his hatred of the wealthy.
I'm watching the coverage on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams as they discuss the case. The return address was "Ishmael," as written on Cho's arm. Cho's comments spoke of himself in the past tense.
I'm not sure what to say about this at this point.
Update: Ace glibly notes, "It really would have been a good idea to lock the campus down after the first shootings, eh?"
Striking the Balance
SWAT teams wearing body armor and carrying machine guns stormed an administrative building at Virginia Tech this morning:
Virginia Tech students still on edge after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history got another scare Wednesday morning as police in SWAT gear with weapons drawn swarmed Burruss Hall, which houses the president's office.
The threat of suspicious activity turned out to be unfounded, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, and the building was reopened. But students were rattled.
"They were just screaming, 'Get off the sidewalks,'" said Terryn Wingler-Petty, a junior from Wisconsin. "They seemed very confused about what was going on. They were just trying to get people organized."
One officer was seen escorting a crying young woman out of Burruss Hall, telling her, "It's OK. It's OK."
To the best of my knowledge, Cho Seung-Hui killed himself with a bullet to the head on Monday morning after killing 32 innocent people and wounding many more, and he is still dead. Based upon thousands of years of human experience with one notable exception some 2,000 years ago, he is forecast to remain deceased.
So why is Virginia Tech still blanketed with heavily-armed and understandably tense police officers, many of which are dealing themselves with the aftershocks of trauma from the largest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history, just two days ago?
Part of the reason is to provide the public perception that something is being done and that the tragic massacre of two days ago will not be repeated on this ravaged, grief-stricken campus, a campus already awash in disbelief, shock, and fear. The officers are meant to provide psychological security as much as they are to provide physical security.
But as this morning's frightening false alarm showed, sometimes an overwhelming police presence in the wake of a traumatic event can instead lead to situation that increases or extends fears.
Today, Virginia Tech may very well be the safest college campus in the United States, but the massive display of force by police comes with its own costs.
Heavily-armed and no doubt highly-stressed first responders chasing ghosts and rumors are adding trauma to still fragile students like the young woman noted in the story above.
While a heightened police presence is still warranted to deal with the inevitable false alarms and to help provide a feeling of security, it is two days too late for the need of heavy body armor, and no current reason for police to walk around campus with tactical carbines. The time for such things has passed. On this day and in days forward, badges and "Smokie the Bear" covers should be enough. Enough, but not too much.
There is a balance, an equilibrium, an illusion of normalcy that must be regained for healing to begin.
Hopefully the officials at Virginia Tech will be able to find this equilibrium sooner, rather than later.
April 17, 2007
Virginia Tech Shooter, Weapons Identified
Allahpundit has the story on the shooter, who has been identified as Seung Hui Cho (CNN calls him Cho Seung Hui), a Korean national, a permanent resident of the United States and a Virginia Tech student.
I'm cross-referencing this to Curt at Flopping Aces, who noted in an update a post to a firearms message board, where a gun shop employee claims (site currently down) he sold Cho the firearms used in the shooting:
"Well, I'm screwed. They found a receipt in the gunman's pocket indicating that he bought the gun from me in March. ATF is at my shop right now. See you later, I'm on my way to the shop right now."
[...]"Call BS all you like, but I just spent the last several hours with 3 ATF agents. I saw the shooter's picture. I know his name and home address. I also know that he used a Glock 19 and a Walther P-22. The serial number was ground off the Glock. Why would he do that and still keep the receipt in his pocket from when he bought the gun? ATF told me that they are going to keep this low-key and not report this to the tv news. However, they cautioned that it will leak out eventually, and that I should be ready to deal with CNN, FOX, etc. My 32 camera surveillance system recorded the event 35 days ago. This is a digital system that only keeps the video for 35 days. We got lucky. By the way, the paperwork for Mr. Cho was perfect, thank God."
I'm as disgusted as you probably are with the poster's focus on himself among all the real carnage around him, but that fact remains that he named "Mr. Cho" more than 12 hours before officials, so I think his claim that he sold these firearms to Cho is probably legitimate.
The firearms used in the shooting appear to be a Glock 19 (left, above), a 9mm pistol very popular with police agencies in many countries including the United States, and a Walther P22 (right, above), a .22 caliber pistol that is primarily used as a practice or target pistol. The Glock is typically sold with two standard 15-round factory magazines, a capacity fairly standard among comparable sized 9mm pistols. The P22 is typically sold with a pair of ten-round magazines.
April 16, 2007
Multiple Shootings at Virginia Tech
At least one shooter eyewitnesses identified as an "Asian" male wearing military load-bearing equipment has shot between 7-17 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
One fatality has been confirmed, and one shooter is in custody as the campus remains on a lockdown while police search for a second gunman. The first shootings took place in a dormitory, and a second rounds of gunfire erupted in an engineering classroom building at the opposite end of campus hours later. The campus has been shutdown and students are locked down as police scour the campus for a possible second shooter.
Collegiate Times, the Va. Tech student newspaper, is stating that there are 22 fatalities, including one shooter. The web site also states that three men were arrested and escorted from the engineering building.
I'm not sure how accurate these accounts are, and cannot find a corroborating source to support these claimed fatalities. I would therefore recommend this being regarded as rumor for now. If true, however, this may be the deadliest collegiate shooting in modern history.
Update High number of fatalities confirmed, via AP.
Update: The following is an educated guess, and may be incorrect: Based upon the high number of fatalities among those shot, and the high number of victims overall, and the description of the shooter as wearing some sort of load-bearing vest, I'm going to make an educated guess and suggest that the shooter was likely armed with a 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle, probably patterned on the AK-47.
There are a couple of reasons why I feel this is probably the type of weapon used.
- The description a shooter "wearing a vest covered in clips." The witness seems to be describing load-bearing equipment, typically made for either 5.56 NATO or 7.62x39 magazines, the two most standard assault rifle calibers. The typical standard magazine for each weapon is typically 30 rounds.
- Of the two calibers, the 7.62x39 is a far more lethal bullet across a wider range of conditions than the 5.56 NATO or slightly less powerful .223 Remington variant that can be fired from the same weapon. People shot with 5.56 NATO rounds often survive after even being hit with multiple shots. The high number of fatalities suggests a more lethal caliber and/or cartridge.
- The rifles patterned after AK-series are typically far less expensive (often less than $500) than those patterned on the AR15/M16 platform (often more than $900-1,000), and are also often more plentiful for sale.
Obviously, our prayers go out to those Virginia Tech faculty, students, staff, and family members affected by this tragedy.
Update: I'd like to make one last statement about this after reading Allah's latest update, noting that a bill to allow students to carry handguns was recently quashed in the Virginia General Assembly.
When I was a T.A. in graduate school at East Carolina University in the mid-1990s, I knew several graduate and undergraduate students that illegally carried concealed weapons on a fairly regular basis. Contrary to what you might suspect, most of these students were female liberal arts majors. One of my students in the class that I taught brought a Browning .380 to class every day. I felt safe knowing my fellow students were armed. I also felt better when the left the building at night that they could protect themselves and others from any predators that may have been about.
Would the number of students shot at Virginia Tech today have been lower if student there were allowed to take a training class, get a permit, and carry a concealed weapon on campus? There is of course not way to be sure. I do think it is obvious that an armed student or faculty member could have at least made taking their lives a far more difficult.
I'd urge a far more somber Virginia General Assembly, and the General Assembly of other states, to consider letting student who have satisfied their state requirements to carry concealed weapons also carry those weapons on campus. The lives saved may belong to someone dear to them.
Update: 32 killed, 28 wounded. NBC is citing two anonymous law enforcement officials as saying that a pair of 9mm handguns were used in the rampage. This does not seem to match up with eariler reports of the shooter wearing what sounded like military load-bearing equipment, and if accurate, means my earlier educated guess was based upon inaccurate assumptions, as I noted it could be.
A clearer picture separating the fact from rumor will begin to emerge over the coming days.
March 27, 2007
Sewage Flood Engulfs Gaza Village
Revolting beyond description:
At least five Palestinians including two toddlers drowned in a “sewage tsunami” today, when a water treatment reservoir burst its embankment, flooding a village in the northern Gaza Strip.
The deluge, triggered by the collapse of a system aid organisations had long warned was dangerously overburdened, submerged dozens of homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Nasr beneath a cesspool of foul-smelling effluent.
Two women in their 70s, a teenage girl and two boys aged one and two died in the flood. At least 15 people were injured and local medics say scores more are still missing.
This AFP picture pulled from Yahoo! News photos gives you an idea of how massive the sewage spill was. The waters these men are paddling in are full of bacteria and human waste. I cannot even begin to imagine the stench or the near total destruction this breach has created in the village of Umm al-Nasr.
I know from reading hurricane-related coverage that the mold and bacteria that can result from other kinds of flooding mandate that some buildings be razed as a result. I would imagine that by western standards, any structure inundated with raw sewage would almost certainly have to be destroyed, but I fear that in Umm al-Nasr, many of the residents, primarily poor Bedouin shepherds, do not have the resources to rebuild, and will endeavor to reoccupy their bacteria-infested homes. If this occurs, I suspect the death toll will sadly increase from disease.
As is so often the case involving anything in Gaza, the story's political overtones were among the foul things that quickly rose to the surface.
The Hamas movement, the leading partner in a newly formed Palestinian unity government, blamed the disaster on a foreign aid boycott slapped on the Palestinian Authority a year ago when the Islamist hardliners first came to power. Israel and the West consider Hamas a terrorist outfit.
In a statement, Hamas said: “The overflowing of the [reservoir] is one of the results of the suspension of international aid to our people, which is preventing the government from improving and developing infrastructure.”
To the credit of the Times, they deftly debunked Hamas in the immediately following paragraph.
As far back as January 2004, UN aid agencies in the Gaza Strip had warned that the sewage treatment facility was operating far beyond its capacity and posed a grave danger to nearby residents.
Also sadly stereotypical was how residents responded to the interior minister who rushed to the scene to inspect the damage. What did the residents feel? Justifiable outrage.
Hopefully the people of Umm al-Nasr will receive aid to help them cleanse and rebuild their village. It's too bad Hamas and other Palestinian groups let the water treatment facilities deteriorate to such a deadly condition in the first place.
March 15, 2007
Gore Effect Hits Middle East
Ah... Lebanon in April.
March 13, 2007
An Inconvenient Truth for Al Gore
At least he'll aways have his Oscar, even if his documentary isn't supported by the data:
"I don’t want to pick on Al Gore," Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. "But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data."
Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made "the most important and salient points" about climate change, if not "some nuances and distinctions" scientists might want. "The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger," he said, adding, "I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand."
Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in "An Inconvenient Truth," which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.
Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.
Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for "getting the message out," Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were "overselling our certainty about knowing the future."
Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe's recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.
"He's a very polarizing figure in the science community," said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. "Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore."
Gore's fellow global warming co-religionists will most likely discount the attempt to inject actual science into the global warming debate. As we well know, science and faith do not always go hand-in-hand.
February 20, 2007
Am I alone in thinking that the only real apparent benefit of United Nations involvement in this project is the threat that if Apophisians don't find a way to change course away from Earth, that they might be subject to rape?
February 02, 2007
Global Warming: The Un-Science of Fear
Long before al Gore invented the Internet, way back in 1989-90, I was an undergraduate taking a series of geology classes, and I liked them well enough that I gave serious thought to making that branch of science my vocation.
Times and majors changed, but I can still recall the long view of the earth's climate over the course of history, and so when I hear politicians like Barbara Boxer declare "The scientific debate is over," on global warming, then I know that I am hearing the words of someone scientifically incurious, politically reactionary, and/or hopelessly gullible.
The debate isn't over. For what it is worth, most of the "debate" is simply invalid. Junk science. Hype.
Humankind has very little or nothing to do with climate change, a fact that that a group of idiots assembled in Paris can't quite seem to grasp.
Let me say it very slowly: Global warming is real, but mankind has little or nothing to do with it, and it is a transitory state.
Here's a little reality check for Al Gore:
Approximately 99.72% of the "greenhouse effect" is due to natural causes -- mostly water vapor and traces of other gases, which we can do nothing at all about. Eliminating human activity altogether would have little impact on climate change.
The simple fact of the matter is that global warming began 18,000 years ago as we started leaving the Pleistocene Ice Age. We are currently on the tail end of a 20,000-year interglacial period, and do you know what that means?
If millions of years of history can be our guide—and it should— we are within a few hundred years of entering a new ice age.
Global warming advocates attempt to say that global warming can be tied to an increase of greenhouse gases they tie to the Industrial Revolution. They're confusing proximation with causation. Just because things occur at the same time doesn't mean they are related... unless, of course, you really want to believe that on this day in 1971, a groundhog seeing his shadow somehow helped the success of Idi Amin's coup in Uganda. Good luck with that.
No, the Industrial Revolution coincided with global warming, but it didn't cause it. It was merely part of a cycle already millions of years older than mankind itself.
(both charts from here, which will decode them for you quite nicely.)
The "science" you see from proponents of the idea that humans are behind global warming are guilty of finding precisely what they were looking for, not of promoting responsible science.
What causes global warming? Read the link above, but if your eyes start to glaze over, Jules Crittenden's take isn't far off:
Re Earth. It gets hot. It gets cold. This is what Earth does. No one knows why. Even the scientists who say its getting hot because of human activity, when pressed, have to admit it might be only heating up at a greater rate because of human activity, but even then, no one can really say for sure.
It's hotter now than it's been since the time of Jesus. What that means is, 2,000 years ago, the Earth was as hot as it is now. I'm blaming Iron Age farming practices and smelting for that New Testament uptick. Or maybe it was the righteous fire and burning passion of the age … have to go back and have another look at the ice cores. Might find some particles of faith.
By the 14th century, it was wicked cold. And I do mean wicked. Like, medieval cold. Even all those witch burnings had no effect. But not as cold as it was 10,000 years ago. We're really only just starting to warm up from that. We have a long way to go before it is as warm as it was 66 million years ago, you know, Everglades in Montana warm.
All the time in between, I'm fuzzy on the temps. But I'm going to take a wild guess. Warm, cold, warm, cold, warm, cold. You have a water view? Look out. It might come through your window. Never know. Things happen.
You would think that the Global Warming Evangelicals would have a handle on the way-cool existentialism of this, considering some are actually poets instead of scientists, but perhaps we overestimate how good they are at being poets, as well.
January 22, 2007
George Bush Hates British People
Directly ignoring the pleas of police and other authorities, looters wade through debris-filled water to take away anything they could carry, despite warnings that toxic chemicals in the mix could pose a dangerous hazard.
New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina? Try England, today.
December 21, 2006
Uranium-Laden Big Rigs Flips
I think this is generally why they prefer to ship nuclear fuels by rail:
A fully loaded tractor-trailer carrying about 6,600 pounds of powdered uranium has overturned on part of Interstate 40 in Johnston County, authorities say.
All eastbound lanes of I-40 are closed at exit 325 (N.C. Highway 242 to Benson). Traffic is being rerouted through Benson.
The accident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. when the vehicle overturned on the Interstate 95 northbound ramp to I-40 east.
Johnston County's emergency communications director says the threat level is low because the uranium is packed securely. The only threat is if the radioactive material breaks through the reinforced container it is in.
Let's hope that doesn't happen.
BTW... what color is "Carolina Green?"
October 06, 2006
Chemical Fire Forces NC Town's Evacuation
Didn't get too much sleep last night. I was glued to the television, trying to guess how bad a chemical fire in a neighboring town was going to get and whether or not we'd need to evacuate:
Shifting winds forced Apex officials to expand an evacuation area early Friday to protect residents from a chemical gas plume that continued to spread from an industrial fire that has raged since late Thursday.
Town Manager Bruce Radford said a leak at the EQ North Carolina plant on Investment Boulevard sent several large plumes of chlorine gas into the air around 9 p.m. Thursday. A large fire broke out at the plant afterward, sending flames more than 100 feet into the night sky and setting off multiple explosions.
EQ is a licensed hazardous-waste facility that serves businesses
Apex and Wake County officials declared a state of emergency early Friday and evacuated about 16,000 people -- half of Apex -- within hours.
The fire started shortly after a chlorine gas leak was detected. As of now, the fire is still burning, and firefighters have rightly decided it would be safer to let it burn itself out. The sun is coming up and the winds going to shift, possibly forcing more evacuations.
EQ, the company that blew up, had closed and the last employee had left by 7:00 PM. The chlorine gas leak was detected around 9:00 PM and the fire came shortly afterward.
It is too early to determine a cause.
August 29, 2006
One year ago today, Hurricane Katrina made its second and third landfalls as a Category 3 Hurricane. While the media continues to portray Katrina as the "perfect storm" because of the destruction it caused in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the simple fact is that Katrina could have been far worse. New Orleans did not suffer a direct hit.
At some point in the unforeseen future, the perfect storm will hit New Orleans, and the billions of dollars we are pumping into rebuilding the city will be realized for the misallocation of funds that it is as it slides beneath the waves for a final time, perhaps with a far greater loss of life than the 1,836 souls that were lost when Katrina bypassed New Orleans.
We should have learned; you don't build a major city in a hole in a swamp surrounded by the Mighty Mississippi on the once side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other an expect it to last. Katrina should have been our wake-up call to relocate or abandon the Big Easy for higher ground; instead we are pumping millions of dollars into a city that the Army Corps of Engineers predicted would fall into the sea within 50 years even before Katrina chewed up an already receding Louisiana coastline.
We have not learned the lessons that this mighty near miss tried to teach us, and are now doomed to repeat our mistake in the future. It is arrogant and foolish to think Band-Aid solutions will resurrect a city so close to its natural death.
So what would have been the "proper" response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina? Rebuilding elsewhere. Surely, the millions of dollars flowing into the slowly drowning city of New Orleans would have been better spent in relocating it to higher ground further inland, where it could have a legitimate chance to rebuild and prosper, instead of looking forward to the dark further of The Next Time, when the futility of our efforts to combat the forces of nature will be realized on a stark day after.
But instead we rebuild New Orleans to fail, no stronger, weaker in many regards, and doomed to repeat as scene of massive tragedy. We have failed to learn from the recent past, and will be forced to live with the consequences in the future.
Update: In the comments, some folks are making the correct observation that not all of New Orleans flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina, and that some spots are indeed above sea level. To them I say, "for now."
New Orleans, on average, is eight feet below sea level, and sinking three feet per century.
The simple fact of the matter is that all of New Orleans (and the Mississippi Delta in general) is built upon a bed of silt hundreds of feet thick, and this fine material is constantly compacting. The rate of subsidence varies from spot to spot, but all of the Mississippi delta is subsiding, and all of New Orleans is sinking along with it.
That is according to the U.S Geological Survey.
June 28, 2006
Just hearing those words conjures up images of worn down, obsolete rusty freighters, decrepit warships, and sepia-tone pictures of half-sunken Liberty ships whose glory days have long since past.
They are the abandoned hulks and hulls no longer wanted or needed, destined for an ignoble end at the bottom of the sea after being used as a naval target, or at the end of a scrapyard's cutting torch.
But what if some of these grizzled veterans of wars past still had a story left to tell? What if some of these salt-flecked graybeards of the fleet still have a purpose, and can be called forth once more?
Finding that purpose is the calling of Ward Brewer, CEO of a little-known and unheralded non-profit Beauchamp Tower Corporation (BTC). Operation Enduring Service, the program started to press these aging ships back into service, began with a glance at a picture on a wall. As the Operation Enduring Service web site explains:
A 1944 Will Cressy lithograph of the USS Orion, which hung on James Gulley's living room wall since he returned from the war, now hangs on his grandson's office wall. In April of 2002, while working on his company's National Emergency Urban Interface Program, a momentary glance at that picture drew Ward's attention.
Taking a break from working on the company's emergency response program, Ward began searching for the USS Orion on the Internet to find out more about her. Several sites had pictures and brief histories of the USS Orion as well as other Fulton Class Submarine Tenders. There was one site, however, that would dramatically change future events. The USS Torsk Volunteers had been aboard the USS Orion in order to obtain various parts that were needed for the continued restoration of their submarine. While searching the ship, the "Torsk Bandits" as they called themselves, took numerous pictures of the USS Orion. It was these pictures that caught Ward Brewer's eye.
The USS Orion was built like a small city, carrying with her everything she could possibly need to perform her mission. It was all there, Machine Shops, Foundry, Electronics, Utilities, Berthing, Galleys, etc. This incredible concentration of capabilities made the USS Orion and her Fulton Class sister ships efficient, effective, and one of the most versatile assets in the United States Navy. It was the versatility and unique assets of these ships that resulted in Ward Brewer considering a project design so bold and unusual that few would believe it was even possible.
Brewer's general concept was simple; save these aging ships from the scrapyard, and refit them with the most modern technologies this generation can bring to bear to create a small fleet of ultra-capable disaster response and recovery ships.
The Fulton-class of Submarine Tenders was Brewer's first choice for this mission, but as more modern ships began to retire, the Mars-class Combat Stores Ship became the most logical choice to be refitted as the very first purpose-built Fast Attack Disaster Response Ships.
The former USNS San Diego may be the very first of this new breed of ships.
Outfitted with an emergency response center, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations center and a land/sea/air communications center than can coordinate across military, law enforcement and civilian radio frequencies, this ship will be the coordinating hub of disaster response in coming hurricane seasons, working with FEMA, the Coast Guard, Salvation Army and other organizations that response to the worse storms Mother Nature can throw at Gulf and East Coast states.
Able to provide food, water, fuel and emergency supplies to an area measuring of thousands of square miles, these ships will be able to do what no agency in any country has ever been capable of doing.
The problem, of course, is securing these aging vessels and finding a way to finance their refitting and return to duty.
Operation Enduring Service has long been pushing the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to release a substantial number of ships to Beauchamp Tower Corporation from the James River and Suisun Bay National Defense Reserve Fleets.
National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisian Bay, California
Ships of historical significanceâ€”particularly World War II-era shipsâ€”would be brought back to period standards and used as museum ships, providing future generations insights into how the Greatest Generation fought to preserve this nation's freedoms. A handful of vessels such as the USNS San Diego would be refitted for emergency response.
A substantial part of the operationâ€”both museum ships and modernized disaster response vesselsâ€”would be financed by selling the salvage and scrapping rights to other vessels too far gone to be of further use except for as recycled raw materials. The total cost of this program to taxpayers?
Not one dime.
The salvage and scrapping of those vessels beyond their useful days will partially finance both the historical and rescue operations, with the rest of the costs being absorbed by the deep pockets of major corporate donors already committed to Beauchamp Tower Corporation.
As fantastic as it sounds, the operation will actually save the American taxpayer tens of millions of dollars that the Maritime Administration has been paying to companies across the Atlantic to tow away and dispose of ships as American shipyards want for work.
* * *
Long-time readers of this site know that I've been trying to do my small part to help make Operation Enduring Service a reality, as I've been writing posts advocating readers to help pressure Congressmen and Senators for support about it off and on since early November of last year.
Back in March I had something of an idea, an alternative to harassing Congressmen, and being in near daily contact with Brewer (who I have since come to regard as a long-distance friend) I passed that idea along. I then more or less stopped my public advocacy for this project, even as that idea went to the right people and things began to get a bit more interesting (to put it mildly) behind the scenes.
It pains me as a blogger to sit on a good idea, but I've done just that thus far. If things go as planned, I should be able to break that silence very, very soon.
June 14, 2006
Alberto Pays a Visit
While Glenn Reynolds seems to have sailed through Tropical Storm Alberto without any problems, we're not having it quite as easy here in central North Carolina. The following pictures are pulled from from NCDOT cameras and viewer-submited photos at WRAL-TV.com.
Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh is, for understandable reasons, closed...
A closer look of parking near the mall shows that anchoring is more of an issue than parking.
If you want to cross Trinty Road, you'd better be able to part the waters.
A front yard in Cary (the Containment Area for Relocated Yankees, according to Wikipedia), just south of Raleigh finds itself suddenly overwatered.
With a total of 4-8 inches of rain expected to drop before Albero clears the area, the commute home promises to be entertaining, to say the least.
Aren't we lucky this wasn't a "real storm?"
June 01, 2006
Hurricane Season 2006 Begins
It's that time of year again.
From VOA News:
Well-known U.S. storm forecaster William Gray has predicted an active Atlantic hurricane season. Gray and his team at Colorado State University say 17 tropical storms can be expected this season, with nine of them becoming hurricanes. He added that five of the storms will be major hurricanes.
Last week, officials at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted there will be up to 16 named storms. They said they expect 10 of them to become hurricanes, and that six of them could become major hurricanes.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
NOAA and Gray say the world is in a 20-year cycle that will continue to bring strong storms.
The 2005 storm season was the most destructive in recorded history, with seven major hurricanes, including Katrina, which killed some 1,300 people along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
In case you have forgotten Katrinaâ€”which I admit is unlikelyâ€”these never before released photos taken by a North Carolina church relief team should jog your memory. They were taken between September17-22, 2005 between Gretna, Louisiana (just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans), and Waveland, Mississippi.
A heavily damaged Mardi Gras float in a destroyed Louisiana warehouse.
A mobile home lot, trailer long gone, and a twisted rail bed. Mississippi.
Destroyed gas station, only the pumps are upright. Mississippi.
A home destroyed. Storm surge took away much of the first floor. Trees appear to have collapsed on the rest. Mississippi.
A tangle of vehicles including cars, motorcycles and tractors from garage crushed by the storm surge. Mississippi.
The remains of an unknown commercial building. Destroyed by storm surge. Mississippi.
If these photos are sobering, then they've served their purpose. As someone who has been through hurricanes in the past, I created a Hurricane Survival Guide last summer to try to help people prepare. It is still there, still (I hope) relevant, and you are more than welcome to use it as a rough guide for the busy season ahead.
Of course, the best hurricane survival tip is this: when it comes, be far, far away. Everything you own, no matter how much personal value it has, is just stuff.
You can't replace you.
April 19, 2006
Bush Blamed for Landslides
Well, perhaps not yet, but you know it's coming:
New Orleans is at the top end of what looks like a gigantic, slow-moving landslide, according to geologists who have been carefully studying the ground movements in the area...
"Not only is southern Louisiana sinking, it's sliding," said geologist Roy Dokka of Louisiana State University.
Like a smaller landslide on the side of a hill, the huge Southern Louisiana landslide has a "headwall" where the slide is breaking away and a "toe" out in the Gulf where the debris from the slide is piling up, Dokka explained. The only difference from a traditional landslide is that this one is far, far larger and it's buried under lots of wet sediments, so it requires very accurate survey measurements to detect it.
The city and an adjoining section of Mississippi are collapsing into the Gulf of Mexico at an ever-increasing rate of speed.
Gulf Coast resident and Hurricane Katrina survivor Seawitch reveals this and other research showing a geologic disaster occurring along the Michoud Fault that runs under New Orleans, including the specific points where the levees were breached during Hurricane Katrina.
April 18, 2006
Glenn Reynolds has a Porkbuster's post up hammering Mississippi Senator Trent Lott for wanting to spend $700 million to relocate a rail line already rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina at a cost of $250 million dollars.
Read both entries and draw your own conclusions.
My church sent mission teams originally to Gretna, Louisiana, and has sent repeated mission teams to Waveland, Mississippi to help Gulf Coast residents recover from the storm. As they drove in and out of the area affected by Hurricane Katrina, they shot hundreds of photos showing immense devastation on a scale few can fathom.
This photo is probably that of the rail line in question. It was shot in coastal Mississippi or Louisiana (it was hard for outsiders to tell which, with all landmarks and road signs destroyed) directly after Hurricane Katrina. The massive damage to the rail bed is obvious.
I don't think that I have a problem with eventually rerouting the railroad to a safer inland path, but I have to ask: why couldn't they have done this before spending the first $250 million dollars?
No matter how you slice it, hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted.
March 31, 2006
New Orleans: Out of Time?
As they say, timing is everything:
A full recovery in New Orleans could take 25 years as homeowners, businesses and tourists are coaxed back to the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast recovery coordinator said Thursday. "We kind of want it to happen overnight, or I do, but it's going to take some time," White House coordinator Don Powell said in an interview with Associated Press reporters and editors. "This could be five to 25 years for it all to fit into place."
Powell added: "It's been a bottom-up process and it's complex."
Well, the "bottom" part is right. Guess where New Orleans will be in the next half-century or so?
Give yourself two points if you correctly answered "The Gulf of Mexico."
The original (snark-free) version of this Louisiana wetlands projection comes courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is used at LSU's Louisiana Energy & Environmental
Resource & Information Center (LEERIC) in this article.
Back in September I interviewed the former chair of a Coastal and Marine Studies Department, and asked him the following question:
1. Are estimates that the continued rate of wetland loss in Louisiana will place New Orleans on or in the Gulf of Mexico in the 2050-2090 time frame accurate?
The estimates are probably accurate. There are three main factors: Global sea level rise, delta subsidence, Mississippi River sedimentation. Sea level is rising, the delta is sinking and the river is depositing much less sediment on the delta now than in the past (for multiple reasons).
In other words, by the time New Orleans can recover from Hurricane Katrina, it may do so just in time to disappear under the waves of the Gulf of Mexico forever.
I don't have any problems with spending our tax dollars to rebuild New Orleans, I just don't think it wise to rebuild the city in the same nearly indefensible location.
March 29, 2006
Slightly damp, a total of 259. Previously used as a symbol of incompetence. Works great as anchors and fish attractors. Ask for Ray.
March 23, 2006
Shall We Play a Game, Part V
March 20, 2006
Shall We Play a Game, Part IV
...In which the ex-USNS San Diego goes to sea, and plots an intercept course for Hurricane Beryl in the continuing "Salvation Navy" narrative over at Beauchamp Tower Corporation's OES Project blog.
March 17, 2006
Shall We Play a Game?
BCT/OES has Part 2 of their "Salvation Navy" disaster response narrative up.
March 15, 2006
Pimp My Ship
I've written several times in the past about Beauchamp Tower Corporation and their plan to convert retired Navy ships into a small fleet of state-of-the-art disaster-response vessels that would greatly increase the nation's capability to respond to both major terrorist attacks and natural disasters such as hurricanes, all without costing the taxpayer a single dime. As a matter of fact, the corporate sponsor-backed program could save the government up to $100 million by taking over old ships the government is spending millions to scrap.
The BTC blog has a new/old post up called Shall...We...Play..A...Game? Part 1, which discusses the birth of what I've dubbed the "Salvation Navy" in narrative form.
If you like to see how things work, BTC will be putting up a post a day describing in both broad strokes, and in small detail, what the program will be like from it's inception and the first "Pimp My Ship" refitting process, through BTC's first hypothetical hurricane response.
March 02, 2006
Smells like Mapes...
The Associated Press summary video (embedded in this Washington Post story) of a high-level videoconference made one day prior to Hurricane Katrina's landfall smells to high heaven.
The leaked videoâ€”heavily sympathetic to former FEMA director Michael Brownâ€”relies on dramatic still image splices of a post-Katrina New Orleans for dramatic effect in a heavily edited montage of dramatic hypothetical situations, narrated by an AP voice attempting to weave together an otherwise incoherent 2 minute, 41 seconds of disjointed footage.
There is no way of telling, of course what the full video shows until it is seen in an unedited, un-spliced form. Until such a point as the unedited footage is made public, any claims made about this AP video should be regarded as highly suspect.
Jason Coleman covers some of the inaccuracies in the spliced video in more detail.
March 01, 2006
Saving the Salvation Navy
Ward Brewer is tired. Exhausted. Pissed.
It took years of effort to get this far, and as it comes down to the wire, everything he's worked so hard for depends on what happens in the first tense days of March.
The former emergency responder is the CEO of Beauchamp Tower Corporation, a non-profit organization with a bold and brilliant idea: convert obsolete, scrapyard-bound military vessels into a fleet of state-of-the-art disaster response ships that can be on-site after a major natural disaster like last year's Hurricane Katrina in a matter of hours instead of days. Many of the challenges Beauchamp Tower Corporation have been document Operation Enduring Service on the OES Project Weblog.
Retired Navy veterans such as Mars-class combat stores ships and other obsolete but still-capable cargo ships will be refitted to provide complex emergency communications support that can replace cell phone and radio towers lost in a hurricane, so that on-shore first responders can answer rescue calls even if the local phone and radio systems are destroyed.
These same ships, crewed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and supported by disaster-aid groups, can bring in hundreds of emergency-response personnel to a disaster zone and provide them housing so that lodging on-shore can be dedicated to the victims of the storm, while bringing thousands of tons of supplies. Each ship will also be capable of distilling, bottling, and shipping thousands of gallons of water and over 100 tons of ice to shore each day.
This humanitarian fleetâ€”this Salvation Navyâ€”will have far more disaster-response capability than anything currently in use by either FEMA or the military, andâ€”here's the kickerâ€”it actually saves taxpayers the tens of millions of dollars it would have taken to turn these ships into scrap.
Generous corporate sponsors will underwrite the conversion and modernization of the rescue fleet.
So why is Ward Brewer so upset? Politics.
For want of a "germaine" bill between now and the end of March to which they can attach a rider giving these obsolete ships to his non-profit Beauchamp Tower Corporation, the entire program could be sent to the bottom.
The U.S. Navy has been holding these ships, but if legislation does not come through soon, other interests and indeed other countries will be allowed to potentially scrap or salvage these ships, ships that could be saving American lives in coming hurricane seasons. We gripe about foreign nations controlling our ports, even as we give away our ships. This must not stand.
Ladies and Gentlemen, kickstart your Congress.
Save this Salvation Navy.
January 16, 2006
God Hates Black People
Strange as it may seem (or not), New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, not Robert Byrd or Pat Robertson, made the following claim:
Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.
"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."
Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again. Many of the city's black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.
"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans _ the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
Nagin went on to have an imaginary conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I'm going to be very charitable with Mayor Nagin, and simply suggest that he take some time off from his job and seek counseling for what may be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The man is starting to sound less rational than Marion Barry.
January 04, 2006
The twelve missing miners feared dead in West Virginia have been found... alive.
Twelve miners caught in an explosion in a coal mine were found alive Tuesday night, more than 41 hours after the blast, family members and Gov. Joe Manchin said.
Bells at a church where relatives had been gathering rang out as family members ran out screaming in jubilation.
Relatives were yelling, "They're alive!"
Manchin said rescuers told him the miners were found.
"They told us they have 12 alive," Manchin said. "We have some people that are going to need some medical attention."
A few minutes after word came, the throng, several hundred strong, broke into a chorus of the hymn "How Great Thou Art," in a chilly, night air.
Of course he isn't safe. But he's good. *
Update: Early AM reports turned out to be false. 11 of 12 miners found were deceased. Only one miner, Randal McCloy, is clinging to life in critical condition.
The rumor started when people overheard communications between rescue team and the comand center and misunderstood calls that rescuers found 12 miners and were checking their vital signs.
December 29, 2005
The "Ghost Coast" Is Not Forgotten
Four months after Hurrican Katrina slammed ashore, the catastrophic destruction of the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf coasts have been all but forgotten by the media (and Wikipedia).
On December 14, the Sun-Herald posted an editorial, Mississippi's Invisible Coast asking for at least some media attention by focused on those outside of New Orleans.
As Aug. 29 recedes into the conscious time of many Americans, the great storm that devastated 70 miles of Mississippi's Coast, destroying the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands, fades into a black hole of media obscurity.
Never mind that, if taken alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of American history. The telling of Katrina by national media has created the illusion of the hurricane's impact on our Coast as something of a footnote.
The awful tragedy that befell New Orleans as a consequence of levee failures at the time of Katrina, likewise, taken by itself, also represents a monumental natural disaster. But, of course, the devastation there, and here, were not separate events, but one, wrought by the Aug. 29 storm.
There is no question that the New Orleans story, like ours, is a compelling, ongoing saga as its brave people seek to reclaim those parts of the city lost to the floods.
But it becomes more and more obvious that to national media, New Orleans is THE story - to the extent that if the Mississippi Coast is mentioned at all it is often in an add-on paragraph that mentions "and the Gulf Coast" or "and Mississippi and Alabama."
The mainstream media has once again dropped the ball. It is up to us to tell the tale of a battered land and a proud people outside of New Orleans.
December 26, 2005
Victims of the Wave
Today marking the one year anniversary of what much of the world knows as the Asian or Boxing Day Tsunami, which took over 200,000 lives in South Asia. Glenn Reynolds has a roundup of roundups on his site.
Please say a prayer for those that never returned home, and for those that were left behind to face a shattered world without them.
December 19, 2005
George Bush Hates White People
Why, the next thing you'll here is that Bush didn't order the levees blown up.
Against the conventional media wisdom of the day comes this report from the L.A. Times:
New Orleans was the site of most of Katrina's fatalities; the state reported that 76% of storm deaths statewide occurred in the city. Of the 380 bodies from New Orleans that have been formally identified, a moderately disproportionate number are white. New Orleans' population was 28% white, yet 33% of the identified victims in the city are white and 67% black.
"The affected population is more multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural than one might discern from national media reports," said Richard Campanella, a Tulane University geographer who has studied which parts of the city were hit the worst by flooding. His research showed that predominantly white districts in the city were almost as likely to flood as predominantly black ones.
Many of the dead were older and were quite capable of leaving, but made the conscious decision not to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Katrina's impending landfall. They chose... poorly.
Kanye West could not immediately be reached for additional comment.
December 09, 2005
several more to go.
As Ward stated "It should be noted that this is the first time in history that the Mexican Government has donated a ship to a United States organization for a museum and the Mexican Navy takes this donation very seriously--as do we."
And so Ward's transcendence to the top of the Gun Blogging world begins. Sure there are folks with "Commie Cannons" and other large guns, but does anybody have a destoyer? I think not.
With USS John Rodgers is secure, it's time to hammer MARAD for trying to scrap the USS Howard Gilmore before it can be utilized to aid in hurricane relief. YOU can stop them with a call to your Senators and Congress people.
USS Orion (AS-18) left. USS Howard W. Gilmore (AS-16) in dazzle paint on Navy Day Celebration, Hudson River, October 27, 1945.
...yesterday I received an overnight letter informing me that we had until January 6, 2006 to tow the USS Howard W. Gilmore out of the fleet or they were going to scrap her. That is two months ahead of our donation hold schedule and only gives us two weeks to move her due to the Christmas holidays. MARAD knows that this is impossible and only offers this time because they know it can't be done--you can't get a tow company that fast during the holidays. This way, they can look like they are "trying to work with us" and still make sure we can't perform.
Individuals at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) are intentionally speeding up the process of trying to scrap a ship earmarked to be donated to a disaster recovery mission that has the stated goal of saving American lives.
Be sure to tell your elected representatives. that the men responsible for this travesty at MARAD are William H. Kahill, Deputy Director, Office of Ship Operations (202-366-1875 ext. 2122), and Eugene Magee, Division of Reserve Fleet Chief (202-366-5752 ext. 2112).
December 08, 2005
...and with the blessings of the U.S. State Department, and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations, delivered back to the United States. The Mexican Navy's E-01 Cuitlahuac will once again become DD-574 John Rodgers, the most decorated surviving Fletcher-class destroyer of WWII in the Pacific.
DD-74 John Rodgers off Iwo Jima, Feb 15, 1945. Source
Did I mention that this entire chain of events took place becuase of the tenacity and hard work of a blogger by the name of Ward Brewer?
December 05, 2005
Good Deeds Punished
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) intends to scrap the USS Howard W. Gilmore before it can be refitted for disaster response. YOU can stop them with a call to your Senators and Congressman.
Almost a month ago, Confederate Yankee got behind Operation Enduring Service, a frankly brilliant plan to convert a small group of mothballed Navy vessels into a state-of-the-art fleet of disaster response ships at absolutely zero cost. As a matter of fact, OES would save American taxpayers roughly $100 million dollars in costs associated with scrapping dozens of ships being sent overseas to be scrapped, and create thousands of shipyard jobs by scrapping and/or refitting those same ships here in the United States.
But someone is standing in the way:
...yesterday I received an overnight letter informing me that we had until January 6, 2006 to tow the USS Howard W. Gilmore out of the fleet or they were going to scrap her. That is two months ahead of our donation hold schedule and only gives us two weeks to move her due to the Christmas holidays. MARAD knows that this is impossible and only offers this time because they know it can't be done--you can't get a tow company that fast during the holidays. This way, they can look like they are "trying to work with us" and still make sure we can't perform.
Individuals at the Maritime Adminstration (MARAD) are intentionally speeding up the process of trying to scrap a ship earmarked to be donated to a disaster recovery mission that has the stated goal of saving American lives.
Be sure to tell your elected representatives. that the men responsible for this travesty at MARAD are William H. Kahill, Deputy Director, Office of Ship Operations (202-366-1875 ext. 2122), and Eugene Magee, Division of Reserve Fleet Chief (202-366-5752 ext. 2112).
This must not stand.
An Accidental Moment of Honesty
The NY Times tattles on the Democratic Party:
It was Thursday, Sept. 1, three days after Hurricane Katrina had ripped across the Gulf Coast. As New Orleans descended into horror, the top aides to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana were certain the White House was trying to blame their boss, and they were becoming increasingly furious.
"Bush's numbers are low, and they are getting pummeled by the media for their inept response to Katrina and are actively working to make us the scapegoats," Bob Mann, Ms. Blanco's communications director, wrote in an e-mail message that afternoon, outlining plans by Washington Democrats to help turn the blame back onto President Bush. [my emphasis]
Hurrican Katrina has ripped though the Gulf Coast less than 72 hours before, New Orleans was largely submerged, part so Mississippi earased, people were trapped and dying in the floodwaters and debris and the primary concern of state and national Democrats was poll numbers?
November 15, 2005
OES On the Air
Our friend Ward Brewer, CEO of Beauchamp Tower Corporation, was on Raleigh, NC's News-Talk 680 WPTF this morning, talking about Operation Enduring Service, a bid to build a small fleet of disaster response cargo ships from obsolete ships no longer needed by the United States Navy.
Of course, I wasn't able to listen to the show, so if anyone in the Raleigh area heard it, please let me know how you think it went.
You've almost certainly heard a lot about the blog initiative Porkbusters sponsored by N.Z.Bear at The Truth Laid Bear and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. I haven't said much about it, not because I don't support it (I support the Fiscal Watch Team Offset Package), but because so many others have done a much better job saying what needs to be said (As a side note, that is why you don't see me offering a lot of commentary on SCOTUS nominations).
The driving idea behind Porkbusters was to cut wasteful government spending, called "pork," to help pay for the massive clean-up and recovery costs associated with the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Katrina (and later, Hurricane Rita).
These colors don't run. Somewhere between Gretna, LA, and Waveland, MS
(Taken By a Hope Chapel Hurricane Relief Team Sept. 17-22, 2005)
While independent of the Porkbusters, Operation Enduring Service is the near-perfect execution of the Porkbusters project. Operation Enduring Service will save American taxpayers $100 million dollars spent to scrap retired American naval ships, overseas. It will efficiently use the salvage and sale of certain ships to pay for the scrapping of less desirable vessels, and will actually generate enough profits to help pay to upgrade and refit several ships to be used in future disaster relief efforts.
The project will even help teh economies of storm-tossed Gulf states by creating between 1,500-3,000 shipbuilding-related jobs.
Operation Enduring Service will save $100 million in wasteful government spending, creates thousands of jobs in the Gulf States devastated by hurricanes this past year, and will build a fleet of disaster response vessels that will greatly enhance our nation's ability to respond to future disasters, at no cost to the taxpayer.
We are literally talking about a privately-funded and self-supporting "Salvation Navy" that will greatly assist FEMA and become the most technologically advanced ships available for use by the United States Coast Guard.
The USS San Diego is but one U.S Navy veteran that looks to return to service as one of the nation's first Fast Response Emergency Cargo Vessel/Rescue Ships.
Corporate donors will pick up other costs of preparing these ships for service, and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary will crew these vessels, but we have to get them first, and time is running very, very short.
The legislation required to make this happen is dangerously close to falling by the wayside. It has to pass before Congress ends this Session, in approximately one week, or the corporate sponsors will be forced to pull out.
BTC has obtained the support of a number of Congressmen and Senators. Each of the senators has the ability to submit this legislation for Operation Enduring Service and should be contacted via phone, fax or electronically and encouraged to submit this legislation immediately.
Senator Cochran, (R-MS) (Chairman of Appropriations)
Phone: (202) 224-5054
Internet Contact Form
Without this legislation the Corporate Donors will withdraw, the ships will no longer be available and the emergency relief program will collapse.
This is not a partisan exercise; each and every one of us has been directly affected by the recent hurricanes and will be affected again.
This requires immediate action, of the project will collapse. Contact with your House Representative and Senators, let them know the senators above have the legislation to make this happen and to support it or to submit it themselves.
Questions and comments can be directed to:
November 11, 2005
Help These Veterans Return to Service
The USS San Diego is but one U.S Navy veteran that looks to return to service as one of the nation's first Fast Response Emergency Cargo Vessel/Rescue Ships.
Beauchamp Tower Corporation has created Operation Enduring Service which will rebuild and refit obsolete military ships to provide state-of-the-art emergency relief and disaster response at no cost to the taxpayers and a savings to the government of at least $100 million.
In addition, the rebuild/refit of these ships will result in the creation of approximately 3,000 jobs in the areas hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while increasing the operational capability of the United States Coast Guard.
A number of organizations and corporations are working closely with Beauchamp Tower Corporation to make this happen, including:
- United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
- Dell Computers
- Microsoft Corporation
- Sherwin Williams
- Bender Shipyard
- Alabama Shipyard
- IPSCO Steel
- Erikson Aircrane Heavy Lift Helicopters
- AEPCO Shipyard
- ERM North America
- KME Fire Apparatus
and many, many more.
But due to time constraints, the legislation required to make this happen is dangerously close to falling by the wayside. It has to pass before Congress ends this Session, in approximately one week.
BTC has obtained the support of a number of Congressmen and Senators. Each of the senators has the ability to submit this legislation for Operation Enduring Service and should be contacted via phone, fax or electronically and encouraged to submit this legislation immediately.
Senator Cochran, (R-MS) (Chairman of Appropriations)
Phone: (202) 224-5054
Internet Contact Form
Senator DeWine, (R-OH)
Phone: (202) 224-2315
Fax: (202) 224-6519
Becky Watts has the legislation for his office
Internet Contact Form
Senator Shelby, (R-AL)
Phone: (202) 224-5744
Fax: (202) 224-3416
Ryan Welch has the legislation for his office
Senator Sessions, (R-AL)
Phone: 202) 224-4124
Fax: (202) 224-3149
Stephen Boyd has the legislation for his office
Internet Contact Form
Without this legislation the Corporate Donors will withdraw, the ships will no longer be available and the emergency relief program will collapse.
This is not a partisan exercise; each and every one of us has been directly affected by the recent hurricanes and will be affected again.
This requires immediate action from every one, contact with your House Representative and Senators, let them know the senators above have the legislation to make this happen and to support it or to submit it themselves.
Questions and comments can be directed to:
Please help these Navy veterans return to serve their nation once more.