FLOODS

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

-Robert A. Heinlein

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

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It’s terribly hot outside, and I am busily preparing for my trip to Atlanta and DragonCon, where I am presenting an award as well as participating on panels and the usual stuff. Travel is a major expedition for me now, and takes a lot of preparation; and alas, all my experience during the Cold War and even in BYTE days is basically irrelevant. Back in the days when you wore a necktie to air travel I flew around enough to get lifetime memberships in most airline lounge clubs, which simplifies things a lot, but what I learned then about airline travel doesn’t apply now. Maybe to First Class, but not to anyone else. Fortunately I can arrange for a wheel chair and get help boarding, but the old days seem to be gone. The cabin crew – can’t call them stewardesses anymore – try, but they’re overworked and understaffed, and more and more passengers no longer wear neckties and are polite and understanding. I miss the old days before deregulation of prices, when airlines had to compete on service, not on being cheap. And yes, I thoroughly realize that I’ve just said I’d rather have higher prices filter airline travel, and that’s assertion of privilege and all that. It won’t stop me from missing the old days when flying was a pleasant experience.

Anyway, I’ve got appointments this afternoon and not a lot of time.

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If there’s a lesson from the current weather – you really can’t blame it on climate – it’s one we used to know. When I was a kid during the depression, people who built houses in areas a few feet above flood level – in flood plains like Houston and Baton Rouge and much of the Mississippi Valley – built them on stilts. In Tornado Alley they built storm cellars. In flood plains in Tornado Alley they built on stilts and hoped to find shelter every 25 or thirty years. The primary rule was, if you build mansions in flood plains, prepare to self insure, and if you’re not that rich, think of living somewhere else.

After all. Talk of 30 year floods, or 50 year floods, or even 100 year floods is a prediction; and while the likelihood of two 50 year floods in a decade is low, it ain’t zero. My house is 70 feet above the concreted river down by Ventura Blvd, and I didn’t worry even when the only storm drains were streets, which we’re about six feet above anyway; our streets being 70 feet above Ventura Blvd. And yes, I did all those calculations before we bought this place. After all, I grew up in Memphis, known at Bluff City, and then in Capleville known at Nonconnah Bottom, and I was born in Louisiana. I know about houses on stilts, and one of my earliest memories is of railway flatcars filled with injured and refugees from the Tupelo, Mississippi Tornado.

Which is not to say I have no sympathy for the victims of the storm. I do think it madness to continue the fiction that replacing the old local Civil Defense organizations, many of them managed by volunteer retired military officers and veterans, with FEMA which Governors like Clinton used as places for political agents to get a salary while they worked for his election, was a good idea.

The way FEMA worked, at least when I was familiar with it, made Clinton’s action as good as any, because the local FEMA officials’ competence was irrelevant. Washington controlled FEMA, and needed no advice from locals; neither local FEMA nor National Guard. Locals couldn’t possibly as competent as the DC Professionals, and don’t you forget it. Of course when Clinton became President he had some reasons to suspect that…

A long time ago, Civil Defense organized local communities down to Boy Scout level, and it worked pretty well. After Katrina drove some victims to seek refuge in Houston, then came Humphrey (which may be a bit ironic), we learn that a 30 or 40 year flood can be followed by something worse in fewer than 20 years; of course we have always known that, but perhaps this time we can pay attention?

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The date of this picture is 1935.

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http://blabber.buzz/politics/conservative-news/216117-climatologist-former-nasa-scientist-houston-flood-not-sign-of-climate-change

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Another Visit to the law of unintended results.

 

Jerry,

During our current SoCal heat wave I began to wonder how much additional CO2 has belched into the atmosphere since R22, commonly referred to as Freon, due to the fact that none of the replacements are as efficient.

I did a little reading and learned that not only do the replacement coolants require more energy for the same amount of cooling, but ChloroFluoroCarbons are much more potent greenhouse gasses that CO2. (Not hard to believe since CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas.) All of the retrofitting of R22 systems with “acceptable” refrigerants has undoubtedly released a lot of refrigerant into the atmosphere.

BTW, how is the naturally occurring and fluctuating Ozone hole doing these days.

Bob Holmes

But the models say…

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Antifa Mobs Violently Attack Peaceful Protesters At Berkeley, Police Stand Down

Is anyone surprised?

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NEWin Q-MAG.org: humans in caves – heath advantages

http://www.q-mag.org/

Third and last installment of Amanda Laoupi’s article on the environmental bio-advantages of Neanderthals.

Anne-Marie de Grazia

 

 

I have found this interesting. We are after all the children of Cain and Abel.

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Thousand-Year-Old Viking Fortress Reveals a Technologically-Advanced Society.

<http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/thousand-year-old-viking-fortress-reveals-technologically-advanced-society>

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Roland Dobbins

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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The Longest War

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

-Robert A. Heinlein

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski

We have to start with the premise that the goal is to defeat the enemy.

Jim Woolsey

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Acting against his instincts and preferences, President Trump announced a new strategy for what is said to be the longest war in American history: the Afghan Campaign. We will no longer insist on “victory”; we will, perhaps, accept a political settlement that may include elements of the Taliban. Given the domestic situation this was inevitable. The alternative would be to abandon Afghanistan and come home, leaving the situation to ebb and flow without our presence.

Whether abandoning Afghanistan to the Pakistani, Indian, Russian, Moslem Republics formerly part of the USSR, al Qaeda, the Caliphate, Sunni Muslim powers, Shiite Powers including Iran, random war lords who want regional control, Kabul which wants its writ to run all over Afghanistan, and probably other factions I have left out is a good idea I can not say for sure. They can fight it out without our formal presence, and if we have favorites I’m sure we have Special Forces that can intervene when our interests are at stake. This would be my preference, and formerly was the preference of President Trump; indeed, it is the outcome he expected and until recently accepted. Afghanistan is a sink hole, with few resources we want, and an infinite capacity for absorbing American blood and treasure. My immediate reaction was to wonder which faction, neo-conservative, military industrial complex, Deep State, alligators in the swamp, or some other managed to get the President’s ear.

On the other hand, there are precedents. The Afghan War is not the longest war in American history. The longest was the Seventy Years War, also known as the Cold War, which formally began just after World War II but actually started with the Russian Revolution and World War One. Indeed, the Afghan War isn’t even the second longest in American history.

The Korean War began June 26, 1950, and has not formally ended. It is no longer a shooting war, but does anyone suppose that South Korea would have developed into the nation it has become if the United States had not intervened; and having intervened fought North Korea and China to a standstill, then negotiated a stalemate armistice enforced by substantial numbers of US troops in South Korea? We stopped most of our nation building efforts in Korea, and the US garrison in Korea no longer feels that it could become a shooting war in hours; indeed, many think of serving in Korea as easy duty, a tour of overseas duty without much danger and all the comforts of civilization to boot. It wasn’t always that way, of course. We were nearly thrown into the sea at Pusan. But MacArthur invaded at Inchon, and from holding the perimeter by our fingernails we went to hot pursuit all the way to the Yalu chasing the best view a soldier can have, the enemy’s back.

And from there it turned sour again with the Chinese intervention. It ended in a standoff that endures to this day. But while China’s ally turned into a hermit kingdom invisible from space at night, South Korea developed into one of the Asian tigers – as, incidentally, did Taiwan; while Japan, once our hated enemy, developed into a noticeable economic base, and despite a great slowdown you can see each island of Japan from space at night; while North Korea remains as dark as inner Siberia or the Congo.

Had we just cut and run after the Chinese intervention in 1950, would the situation be more stable now? No one can know for certain, and the skillful manipulation of all the participants in the Cold Wear will be studied for a very long time, the actual outcome was at one time proclaimed by some foolish but influential intellectuals as “The End of History.” It is a better outcome today than many of us feared while the Seventy Years War wound down.

Whether this echoes the President’s chain of thought I cannot know; but surely he is aware of it. Broadcasting the end of US involvement would have a lasting and profound effect on Pakistan, India, Burma, Iran, and other places; it would rejuvenate al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban, confirming their belief that they needed only to survive to win. It would give our enemies a sanctuary and advertise that others could do so.

We are committed to an overseas presence for decades with this strategy; but the result in Korea suggests that need not be the worst possible outcome.

There are implications. We will need Legions. But it can be done, and may be the safest alternative in a situation that has no attractive alternatives.

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I have a dinner engagement with an executive producer of the Big Bang Theory; purely a social engagement with a friend and neighbor, but I have just enough time to get this up.

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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