September 29, 2009
I'm heading to school but I just heard on the news that an 8.3 mag earthquake has hit just south of American Samoa. Reportedly Pago Pago has been hit by a tsunami as well. Water from the initial wave reached 100 + yds inland.No word on the Kindom of Samoa, but Tsunami warnings/watches are being issued for Hawaii and Auckland.
No further info.
UPDATE: Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa's Congressional delegate reports that the harbor is full of cars via FNC. Still no reports from the Kingdom of Samoa.
UPDATE2: It's bad. Video at the link.
In American Samoa whole villages are reported wiped out. The Tsunami appears to have been around 30 feet high. The ranger station was hit. The 3 coasties at MSD Pago Pago have their hands full if they are still alive.The little info coming from the Kingdom of Samoa seems to be via the New Zealand consolate. It is bad as well. Only a few deaths at least 70 dead confirmed so far but from what I just heard on the radio lots are still missing.
Note that a huge percentage of the US fish catch actually comes through Tutuila.
UPDATE3: Video of damage on the southwest coast of Tutuila.
September 28, 2009
There is a LOT involved. It may require as much as 16 ships. I still think it was a defensible decision given the options but it certainly is not a cheap one. Read the whole thing. There is a good discussion in the comments too.
Why do these Mo-Rawns think that spamming people will win someone over to their idiot cause?
September 27, 2009
Our heroine is undeterred by any of this however.Through sheer determination she proceeds to acquire a table...a rival...and a fan. Now all she needs is content.
This is an odd little show and the dvd is not without its problems...while the first volume comes with the manga, nearly half of each disc is a live action segment concerning two of the voice actors trying to do a manga...which means I paid 14.99 for 50 minutes of sketch comedy and 50 minutes of....wtf?.These skits did nothing for me. Additionally the lettering in the manga is sized wrong. The letters are so small that I recommend a magnifying glass. The package suffers from this quite a bit.
As to the show itself, it is an off color show but cute show. It would likely not have worked as full length or even half length episodes, but the skit format suits its little stories. It is little better animated than an old UPA cartoon, but the animators actually have some fun with this and make the most of their limited budget. The characters are enjoyably quirky. At this point I've watched the whole thing and, despite the high level of background slash radiation and female nosebleeds.... I laughed.
I've fitfully tried to write this post since back in May when It began as a collection of capsule reviews of various films and TV episodes I'd seen at a friends house in Northern Virginia. However a brief conversation we had that afternoon is far more important..and frankly has been difficult to blog about.
Now my friend and I have a lot of shared interests and we tend to agree on a lot considering the considerable differences in our world view. He doesn't believe in the second amendment, nor the tenth amendment, and is for all sorts of restrictive zoning regulations....yet he calls himself a libertarian. Despite this intellectual incoherence he is a good man and I have developed a great deal of respect for him over the years. His views on matters of govt were likely formed from his upbringing in the urban Northeast, specifically New York City, where life is so interconnected and dependent upon public services that the notions of individualism, and self sufficiency range from being understandably alien to simply not being understood in quite the same way these concepts are in the rest of the country. I really think that the culture in that part of the U.S. is rather more different from the rest than is generally appreciated. My worldview, formed in the coastal southeast, is likely just as weird to him.
However, such differences in perspective as his and mine (and there are at least half a dozen distinct examples of this sort of regional outlook not to mention the myriad of ethnic perspectives) are one of the things that have given the US such a robust ability to deal with issues...but perhaps not for much longer.
You see, at some point during the evening the conversation turned to my experiences in school and I related that for the second time my being allowed into an upper level course was being questioned...that is for the second time in a couple of years I had a fellow student in one of my classes ask how a person with my beliefs was ALLOWED to attend an upper level class.
The specific example of college idiocy discussed is not really relevant and so is hidden behind this spoiler tag
My friend was quite appropriately appalled and we marveled at the ability of the myrmidons to miss the point of college. I joked that I had obviously missed my political correctness codebook...
....and at that point everything changed....
My friends mood changed, he gave me a stern look and told me that amongst his progressive friends, anyone who used the phrase "Politically Correct" was considered to be a bigot because they want to be able to say such things as 'ni**er' and 'fa##ot'. He went on to say that he agreed and anyone who used the phrase...he thought less of.
Now I should have said that on the rare occasions that I find anyone spouting such passive agressive Orwellian fucktardery I think much less of them.
But I didn't....I've known this guy too long and known him to be too good a person for that.
So, I defended my position but he cut me off and flatly said that he was not going to debate this....it is a sign of bigotry, and racism.... the end.
I almost walked out...
Being called a racist comes under fighting words.
If it had been nearly anyone else it would have ended right there, but I've known him for over a decade. He is a genuinely good guy.
His "advice" however, is not just wrong, it is destructive.
Here is why....
Courtesy is a very desirable impulse...but when it is enforced by government it is not genuine courtesy....it becomes Political correctness and that is just about the greatest threat to the nations discourse there is. While not quite as bad as it was a few years ago college is like walking on eggshells and its getting worse again. A viewpoint, an opinion, a word is declared intolerant..to protect someones feelings of course...the list expands because "feelings" are fragile things, especially if one loses an argument. Racial slurs are beyond the pale of polite conversation but now we have people looking for "code words" This is a power play...to control the floor and shut down debate. It is a testament to how far we have come that Americans, by and large are disgusted by racists, so much so that calling someone a racist is the equivalent of slaping them with a glove....but without the opportunity of a duel to clear their name...racists are quite properly pariahs in polite society. This gives the truly vile a tool in Political Correctness the number of "code words" and taboo viewpoints expands until finally....talking about POLITICAL CORRECTNESS defines one as a racist homophobe.
One could simply acquiesce and call it what it is, an Orwellian mind game to declare opposing viewpoints double-plus-ungood...of course in a matter of months my friends progressive acquaintances would inform him that the words Orwellian and double plus ungood are...well...the language of racists and homophobes...
This has been going on on for decades and a whole generation of students and now voters has learned to keep their heads down on this. Noted racist Dave Barry has some no doubt deeply offensive observations.
This has larger implication for our civics....
Infamous homophobe Gay Patriot has some thoughts about how this fear mongering is used to stifle political debate.
One result is that people who are worried by charts like this
and people who are give the Pyongyang creeps by this...
Now people who have been concerned about ACORN, an organization with ties to vote fraud, the mortgage crisis and...child prostitution....well those people are racists.
So..what do we call the actual racists now?
I suggest acorns.
The price of this fear driven newspeak is to cheapen the real atrocities and stifle freedom of expression. It is so pernicious, so pervasive that my friend, who quite rightly laments the Hayes code and CCA in casual conversation, made this post possible.
We can't communicate with each other or learn from one another if we are forever walking on eggshells.
Political correctness is a plague, a pestilence and it is frankly un-American. I walk on eggshells enough of the time at school. I'll damn well say political correctness if I please.
Just not when I'm around my friend apparently.
UPDATE: Well, the fellow read the post and sent me a long and thoughtfull missive via E-mail that included thoughts along the lines of: "How could you have thought I mea...Oh wait I guess I DID say that!" He pointed out that he managed to express almost the opposite of what he meant to say due in part to sleep deprivation. He also had other thoughts on the use of political correctness as a means to dismiss an argument, and the fact that the whole tone of such conversations has become depressing. His E-mail was quite well thought out and thought provoking....but being an idiot I lost it while deleting birther spam. NEXT TIME USE THE COMMENTS.
On a lighter note: What we had watched is not germane to the post but can be seen here
September 26, 2009
September 22, 2009
A modern president is generally not afforded the luxury of having available clear cut good and bad decisions particularly on foreign policy. None of these decisions take place in a vacuum and there are always other considerations and ramifications that interact like the workings of a pachinko machine except that they often result in deaths. Like Bush before him, President Obama is quite often presented with no good options available and like Bush, he is faced with the unenviable task of trying to select the least bad option from a truly vile lot.
I am certainly no fan or booster of the current president but think that a good case can be made that the decision in this case was in the national interest, in good faith and possibly the least bad available. Here is why.
Recent events in Afganistan and particularly Pakistan highlight the absolute necessity of not relying solely on a logistics line that runs through the Indus valley. However, options are limited by geography.
As I understand it, the facts facing the Obama administration were these:
A:The Russians desperately want to have a visible foreign policy victory for reasons of national prestige and credibility both foreign and domestic. They have railed against the placing of US missile defense systems in Poland. Although this is largely a symbolic thing it tasks them considerably.While we tend to think of this issue in terms of the brutal and wicked oppression the USSR inflicted upon its client states ( not to mention its own people) the Russians concern with foreigners on their frontier is based on a thousand years of slavic blood spilt by invaders.
B: While it has had some recent successes, and can likely be made to work, the US ground based BMD system has had a very chequrered development.
C: The US naval BMD system has not. (Interestingly, it was developed as an evolutionary outgrowth of the Aegis system almost as an afterthought, and was quite outside of the court intrigues and political power games of the land based system.) While on paper a less capable system, it has proven to be spectacularly successful with a demonstrated capability to not only hit incoming warheads but knock down low flying satellites as well. This system is operational.
D: The range of the system is such that if USN aegis vessels just...you know....happened to be stationed in the Black, Baltic and Adriatic Seas they could provide a decent umbrella against an Iranian Ballistic Missile attack.
Keeping ships on station in those areas is well within the capabilities of the USN even without any homeporting in Gdańsk and Varna...which might well be offered.
Thus by conceding the land based system and replacing it with BMD Aegis the US keeps its word in deed if not word to the nations it promised protection to. The Russians get something they want...a diplomatic victory. However, this doesn't really hurt the US tangibly.
This might seem like more unilateral self flagellation and concessions ....typical Obama kowtowing. It's not like we have gotten any major concessions from Russ....Oh WAIT*!! NATO can now resupply via Russia and this specifically includes using NATO aircraft in Russian airspace. This is a non trivial consession if there ever was one.
This had the potential to be the rarest of all things, a win, win win, in foreign policy, where nobody actually looses. The only thing that might screw it up would be if we made the announcement that we were yielding to the Russians and breaking the letter of our word to Eastern Europe...on...I don't know....the ANNIVERSARY OF THE INVASION OF POLAND BY GERMANY AND RUSSIA.
Dear GOD! The Stupid BURNS.
I don't know about my fellow righties, but I did not spend half a year last year saying "Country first!" because it was a catchy little ditty. We need to support the president when he does something right.... at least the parts he doesn't utterly screw up with unfathomably wretched timing. Given Obama's fairly provincial and left wing background there is always going to be something for us to cringe at in abject horror on issues foreign and domestic. But, knee jerk attacks on delicate foreign policy maneuvers in a time of war is not a good idea.
At the very least we ought to reserve judgment until after we have some better handle on how the President is going to respond to McChrystals' request.
Am I off base?
Tilt away in the comments please.
* Hat Tip Information Dissemination
His mom passed away Sunday.
September 21, 2009
Via Rand Simberg comes word that NASA is planning a press conference on Thursday regards some analysis of the data sent back by India's moon probe.
It seems that a lot more water than expected seems to have been found.
This would greatly simplify logistics for all sorts of things.
Interestingly, this development was actually foreseen by members of the bitter, angry, shrewish, insecure, catty, coalition who sounded the alarm over a month ago. However, their response was epidemiologically suspect as it made BASICC came off as not just whiny but racist to boot...
BASICC might have been more effective had they quietly linked to this or this.
Babes come in all hues....as do shrews.
September 19, 2009
SO! We're goin' to raise anchor, set sail for Sydney, and keelhaul us a shipwright until we're fully repaired!*
Until then, here are some bits of scuttlebutt we've heard as we sailed the sea of tubes.:
A Ghost Fleet!
Lookin' at this chart makes me want to hit the grog.
Someone needs to learn the difference between starboard and port.
All the scuuuuurvy politicking above will make ye seasick if ye can't laugh at it. Har!
This here be alchemy and such....
This sorcery either be the newest version of the South Sea Company...or it be the biggest thing since the lateen sail. (I'd wager the former, but the later would be nice)
That green bilgewater....don't pump it off!
...and keep this too!
Vettes on the Lex!
Armadillos be working to explore the infinite sea.
* Or send him cheesecake...one or the other.
September 17, 2009
Blogging will recommence...eventually.
September 13, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 07, 2009
Fear not! Our crack team of antipodean troubleshooters is on the case.
Everything will be fixed in a week or there will be a new blog with the same name and 917 fewer posts in this very spot.
September 05, 2009
September 02, 2009
Blogging will resume shortly.
I hope to have the weirdness with the banners fixed by Friday.
A few quick thoughts...
Continental airlines is excellent. Not only was this the cheapest flight I've taken in 12 years, it was almost pleasant. There is no way to make a 13 hour flight in coach pleasant, but Continental came close.
When you reenter the US try to do it in Houston. The line for customs and immigration was every bit as long as any I've seen, but the line moved. I was a random bag check and I still got through in just over an hour. By comparison Bob and I had a 5 hour layover in O'Hare in 2007 and missed our plane. I had a 4 hour layover in San Fran in 2008 and only made the plane because I called when I cleared customs and they held the plane 4 minutes. I stark contrast to O'Hare the staff at the airport in Houston was professional and courteous. My only gripe was that the currency exchange did not handle coins.
School started 2 days ago and there are a ton of beauraucratic snafus to resolve so I'm off....
Trip pics and other actual content soon.
I lieu of said content here is some Horo.
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