September 30, 2014

Ebola Arrives

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Indeed, this is unlikely to be the only case like this we see. 

Ebola is a spectacularly nasty disease and causes much alarm. Given the spread in Africa it is certainly cause for concern. However, it is not terribly contagious. This isn't even a remarkable situation as other, similar diseases like Lassa Fever and Marburg have entered the US recently with little fanfare and no apocalypses. 

This situation is not to be taken lightly, but the greatest danger with this particular bug is panic. In the areas of Africa where panic has taken hold the outlook is quite grim . However, despite (and in some ways because of) its horrifying mortality rate, this disease can be brought under control much easier than, say, the flu. Indeed, the outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria seem to have been brought under control even as the situation deteriorates elsewhere. 

Be aware. Don't be stupid. Above all don't panic.

Also: A sense of humor can help.

Ebola Tan by 地下室: Gallows humor that threatens to....go viral. 

As terrible as this disease can be if it gets out of control, I'm actually more concerned with a couple of other pathogens that are already becoming well established here. 

UPDATE
On the other hand there is this ray of sunshine:
 A former Food and Drug Administration chief scientist and top infectious disease specialist said that several people were exposed to the Ebola virus by the unidentified patient in Dallas, America’s first case, and it’s likely that many more will be infected. 

There is also this Politico piece, which is very detailed and paints a particularly grim picture of the situation in West Africa. 

Nevertheless, the best advice remains as follows...




...but stay informed

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September 28, 2014

The Limits of Knowledge

Don has some rather scary footage taken by via a cellphone on Mount Ontake when it suddenly erupted. As many as 30 other hikers may be dead. I gather that there was some festival going on and there were a great many hikers on the summit. Japan monitors their fire mountains quite closely for obvious reasons, and yet this mountain had not given sufficient warning to close it to the public.


I suspect that there will be some recriminations over this. Seismometer readings, temperature sensor records and the recordings of instruments monitoring gas discharges will be examined and someone will be found to have dropped the ball and not detected that which will be determined to be obvious with 20/20 hindsight. 

Decisions, however, are not made in hindsight. Nature is unpredictable and vulcanism in particular is a chaotic process that experts are constantly making discoveries about. It is highly likely that this was one of those discoveries. 

The unexpected can befall us at any time, and it is good to be prepared, but all the preparation in the world will do little good if the earth suddenly explodes under one's feet. 

As to how one might prepare for this...If there is any "lesson" to be learned here I think it would be to carry a few dust masks when climbing a volcano. They won't protect one from lava, asphyxiation or a pyroclasm, but the ash itself is quite deadly. 

A life worth living carries a certain amount of risk. It is, therefore good to live it well while one has the chance. 

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In A Better World

...this is the sort of thing that "Japanese Spam" would refer to. 





Of course, that is dubious in an entirely different way.

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September 27, 2014

The Good,The Bad & That's It

There is no more ugly in my world because I've removed the mirror from my room. 


Banality is below the fold. As compensation for that and a lack of respectable content, here is a piece by Fuji Choko.

  
more...

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Some Good News

A welcome follow-up to the previous post: 


The Times of India reports that China and India are withdrawing from their positions in the disputed border region.


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September 24, 2014

Meanwhile:

While the world focuses on the current bombing campaign and the fact the the POTUS doesn't know that if your hands are full, you don't salute, there is news from the continent of Asia that as of this writing is getting little coverage in the US press. It is eliciting some interest in India though:


 Xi Jinping tells People’s Liberation Army to be ready to win regional war  

This, of course, is coming as Indian and Chinese troops are facing off in Ladakh.  

There is still the matter of territorial disputes with Japan as well as generally deteriorating relations. The Chicom's  'terraforming' adventures with the minor powers in the South China Sea are unlikely to be seriously challenged if Japan is out of the picture. 

There is another factor that might cause China to feel that there is a narrow window of opportunity for action and it again involves India. In 2012 there was a major scandal in India when it was revealed that India's ballistic missiles were unreliable, and India's nuclear deterrent was almost entirely delivered by Jaguars and Mirages which cannot really threaten China.  India is modernizing its forces with a new class of missile submarines. These are fitted with four tubes carrying a total 12 SLBMs with a modest 750km range. However, in a few years, these will be swapped out for 4 of the K-4 missiles with a 3000+KM range.  India currently has 90-110 warheads, most of which can't reach China. In a decade or less, if present trends continue, they will have a credible second strike capability with the ability to do China serious harm. 

Despite some nontrivial internal issues, China is in ascendance and has become a major world power, but its chance to completely secure it's position is threatened by two developing nations poised to experience growth comparable to what China achieved over the last 30 years. This will happen just as China hits a 20-30 year demographic arrestor switch on it's growth. Chinese leaders may perceive a narrow opportunity to become THE power, as China was for most of it's history, but that opportunity (if it exists at all) is a fleeting one and it will soon be surrounded by new major powers.

I said poweRs.
Because India is not the only country in the area that is ascendant. 

Indonesia has largely gotten it's act together in the last decades and it's booming economy is on the cusp of becoming a major economic powerhouse. It is further poised by geography to be a major regional naval power, in a commanding position on the trade routes that service China. China has started poking them too

100 years ago this year, Germany had become alarmed at Russia's rapid industrial and military progress. They decided that they needed to nip that in the bud before Russia fully modernized and became a serious threat. Certain members of the German general staff decided to take a pro-active approach. That decision did not end well. 

 
One factor has not been mentioned, and that is the USA. Well, there is another opportunity that will likely have a limited duration. The current astonishing display of foreign policy fecklessness is unlikely to continue to anything like the same degree past January 2017, regardless of who succeeds the current resident of the white house. In the intervening time however, it is quite possible that the USA has been largely discounted as a factor in the Politburo's risk assessment. 

With regard to the terrifying risks involved in seriously poking India,  we should not be limited to looking at the problem throufgh our eyes and weighing the costs with our value system. We look at the term "limited nuclear exchange" and see an oxymoron.  However, it should be remembered that Xi Jinping is an admirer of Mao, who led 1 successful war against India and fought a guerilla war against Japan. However, Mao killed far more of his own people than Japanese or Indians, and he did it in the name of national greatness.  The notion that the Chinese leadership is willing to take a gamble of this sort when the potential payoffs are so high should not be dismissed out of hand. They have 4000 years of history that tell them that China's proper place is as the Middle Kingdom..the center of the world.  More disturbingly, with over a billion people....the way they may look at it ...they have spares. 

UPDATE: With regard to the border dispute, it appears that the crisis, is, at least for now, winding down
more...

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Do Want!




Of course this is likely to be rather more my realistic. 

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September 23, 2014

Internet Navigation Failure...

For some reason the URL for The London Telegraph is taking me to The Onion





At least, I HOPE that's what is happening. 

UPDATE 10 minutes later :

A cautionary note. Take a moment between staring in horror at the above hyperlink and re-reading Harrison Bergeron to peruse this post by Popehat which Ace discusses at length here. Neither post discusses the story linked above, but focus on another recent infuriating headline; one that turned out not to quite match the facts at hand. Both posts should be read in full by everyone.

Back to the idiocy at hand...

The scary thing about this advertising story is that in this day and age, is that it's not actually inconceivable. 

John C. Wright points out an indirect ramification of this story. 
 Science fiction writers often show the folly of some trend in modern life by envisioning a darkly humorous future where that trend is carried to an absurd extreme. When real life exceeds the imagined absurdity, my life as a science fiction writer grows difficult. [/quote]

On the other hand, this must mean we are finally living in the future....
....just not the one we'd hoped for. 


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Amazing Facts!


I got home and noted that I had acquired some spam...13 pages of it in my comments dashboard. Well, I didn't have time to deal with it then so I flitted off to school with the intention of dealing with it later. 

However upon arriving home I noted that all 13 pages were gone. This means something. By applying Occam's Shamwow to the problem, I was able to figure out  how this miracle occurred. This blog previously noted that Sydney is currently beset by an amphibious assault of green...things

Pixy lives in Sydney.

Thus Pixy is responsible for the seaside phenomena and is using the quality cabbages to thwart spam. 



I have no idea how this can possibly work. However, I don't write code so I shouldn't judge. 

Some might suggest that correlation is not causation, but if that were the case, we would not know that UFOs are piloted by Bigfoots (and are attracted to drunks without cellphone cameras for some reason) but thanks to Occam's Shamwow we do!

Anyway...Thanks Pixy!


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September 22, 2014

All the World's Eyes are Upon ISIS, Russia and Ebola

...which makes it a perfect time for China to "adjust" it's border with India


Two nuclear powers who've already fought a war are having a border dispute.

I'm sure nothing bad can possibly happen. 

Here is footage of China's first nuclear test which has something American nuclear test footage sorely lacks...



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