It is STILL Snowing
Tuesday evening it snowed and...iced. In the process of getting out of the car I dropped my keys and foolishly posed the question..."God. What else can go wrong?" Almost instantly my prayers were answered as I suddenly inverted myself and deposited my schoolbooks and cellphone in the briny puddle beneath my car.
Today I got out of work to find seven inches of snow on my car. I note that it is STILL coming down as I type this.
This winter has been unreal on the east coast, while other parts of the country are not having winter at all. To solve this mystery here is one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes who will explain to you, gentle readers, why this is all Bill DeBlasio's fault...
This year Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow and declared that there would be six additional weeks of winter. As Mr. Phil is a member of the groundhog tribe, and since (according to no less an August source that the Washington Post) he can control the weather, it is obvious that he is exacting revenge on the Northeastern United States by taking all the cold points from the rest of the temperate world and min/maxing the misery in the northeast.
As to why a rodent that can control the weather would not simply strike Mayor DeBlasio down with a lightning bolt, such uncongenial lines of reasoning can be special pleaded away by pointing out that the malignant critical theorist in question is an elected official (of America's Largest City) and therefore the electorate bears some blame in his eyes.
The solution to this unhappy situation is clear: Mayor Deblasio must be hog tied and left outside a groundhog warren for the Groundhog Tribe to do with as they please.
Of course it's possible that this analysis is somehow flawed, but ask yourself....do you want to take the chance that it isn't?.
Besides, even in the unlikely event that this course of action did nothing for the weather, DeBlasio would still be hogtied outside a groundhog warren. I'm seeing no downside here...
Every since I was a young child, I have seen animations created which show previous ice ages starting in the arctic, then growing slowly southward. What we are now witnessing is that ice ages actually start on the Eastern coast of North America, then spread westward across the continent over subsequent years.
Posted by: Siergen at Thu Feb 26 13:59:47 2015 (ohSuC)
Suddenly: A Roving Pedant Appears
Reading this article on Russian bomber incursions into UK airspace, this bit at the end jumped out at me.
The warnings came after military chiefs said Britain "could not copeâ€ if Russia attacked because our defence forces have been "decimatedâ€.
Sir Michael Graydon, former head of the RAF, said: "I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously.â€
To decimate something means to reduce it by a tenth. Yet in the next paragraph it is clearly stated that the UK military is at half their previous capability. What's more, the number of carriers has gone from 3 to zero in recent years and three is greater than one half of three so even that assessment is off by 50%.
Thus the objective truth is is that the UK Military isn't even close to being decimated.
"Decimate" is one of those terms whose meaning has drifted in practical use. Originally it was a punishment used by the Romans for military units which didn't perform well in battle. The men would be lined up, and every tenth man would be taken out and executed. So it meant that one tenth of the unit was gone.
Now, though, in common usage it means "reduced to one tenth the previous size" or in other words "subjected to 90% reduction".
I guess all you can do is agree with Humpty Dumpty: words mean what we use them to mean.
That GIF file is driving me nuts because I can't remember the show it's from. I remember when it ran a few years ago, but I didn't watch it. It's about a group of women who entertain their audience by telling stories, right?
Up here in Manassas it's cloudy, so there's no shadows outside, and the snow is still coming
down hard. That makes it hard to judge how deep the snow is from
inside. The weird thing is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of wind (most
flakes seem to all straight down), but at ground level it is moving fast
enough to keep part of my front sidewalk clear, while drifting deeply
around back. In fact, the neighbor kids just dug a tunnel through a snow
drift that they can crawl through...
Posted by: Siergen at Sat Feb 21 16:58:42 2015 (ohSuC)
Here in Duckford, it's 29, grey and snowing a bit. This is a refreshing change from most of the past week/month/season, where it's been grey, snowing a bit, and in the single digits. Except when it has been grey, snowing a lot, and windy.
To be blunt, this winter has sucked, but you've gotten more snow. You win.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Sat Feb 21 17:14:26 2015 (jGQR+)
74F and partly cloudy in Albuquerque, wind about 12 knots by mid-day
I used to live in Herndon a couple decades ago. Once on the way home from work (In Mclean) the roads were so impassable, I became trapped between two hills. (I could have made it except some other folks who didn't know how to to handle snow and ice blocked the path.
Fortunately, a family along the way welcomed in the trapped travelers for the night. And I also learned a lesson about watching my language.
(although these days, if I have to watch my language, I make sure it's colorful).
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Feb 22 02:33:27 2015 (TJ7ih)
...There are stories of even greater import than the fact that it is snowing in parts of North America in February.
This piece in the Atlantic has been widely linked to and deservedly so. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing. It gives one of the best overviews on the motivations of ISIS. It also explains in layman's terms the rationale behind what to those of us on the outside seems to be bizarre and frankly crazy behavior. They are not crazy. They are completely rational and logical given the premises they operate from. Nor are they ignorant as the group is led mostly by highly literate eschatologists who are, like many of the greatest monsters of all time convinced that they are going to make the world a better place and bring about heaven on earth. This is hard for people to get their heads around because it is simply so alien. They genuinely consider themselves to be virtuous. This is really beyond our modern experience, save possibly for the NAZIs, though even they were sufficiently uncomfortable with their atrocities that they tried to conceal them rather than using them as recruiting tools. The piece defies excerpting and you really should read the whole thing, but if you absolutely must get the Cliff's notes version or simply want to review the piece in bullet point format, Suburban Banshee has got your back. Take particular note of point #1.
In other news, it seems that ISIS is even more active in North Africa than previously supposed, having secured territory in the festering hell-hole formerly known as Libya, where they demonstrated their ability to operate with impunity by beheading 30 Egyptian Christians in the open on the beach, in broad daylight. In addition to a display of confidence the location choice is sending another message as well. It would appear that the ISIS "Barqa Province" in Africa consists of two coastal enclaves the smaller of which includes the city of Derna, an austere seaport, with a depth of only 15 feet, but it is a rail hub and has the logistical benefits that ports have.
Perhaps more worrying in some ways is the fact that the ISIS takeover of Derna is not exactly breaking news. It happened in August of last year . AFD did an in depth post on that unhappy development at the time. It makes for sobering reading.
Hifterâ€™s personal army and the Libyan military, as I noted in my earlier post, are being more or less crushed in Benghazi, representing eighty percent of all deaths (military, Islamist, and civilians) in Benghazi from mid-October to mid-November alone.
Hifter/ Haftar is a Libyan general leading an anti-islamist coalition.
This map is from Wikipedia and may be outdated, but it gives some idea of the mess that Libya has become. ISIS controlled areas are black and mainly cities, the grey areas are controlled by Ansar-El-Sharia, which is reportedly allied closely with ISIS (and given the eschatological underpinnings of ISIS, may be only nominally separate).
Do note that Derna, in addition to being a railway hub and small port has some disadvantages, should we as a nation, ever rediscover our resolve. Being on the coast it is inherently susceptible to an amphibious assault, and I'm sure that the USMC would not mind to revisit the place.
I have a problem with this idea that ISIS are not crazy. They are functionally incapable of dealing with reality, because they have uncritically adopted nonsensical premises. They want to bring about the apocalypse, but there's no such thing.
Jordan and Egypt are doing the only appropriate thing when dealing with people like that: If they disagree with you so deeply about the nature of reality that their goal is to remove you and everyone else from it, you have to remove them first.
And while they thrive in chaos, they have no chance at all in the face of any modern army with intelligence and air support. Plus, it looks like their inherent structure is such that as soon as they start suffering setbacks, they'll fall upon themselves and eat one another.
Together with the fact that everyone in the region hates them and their plan to retake Constantinople (!), that doesn't bode well for their long-term existence.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thu Feb 19 00:37:16 2015 (2yngH)
They thrive on chaos and denial, but you are right about their chances in a stand up fight. This same group was curb-stomped by the US and Commonwealth forces and driven far underground until we pulled out. The problem is that they are growing with great speed and are an idea as much as an army. I'm doubtful that these guys would not get curb stomped again, but if they are given time to metastisize much more, the cure could be debillitating for the west, especially if Russia, and/or China decide to move when these asshats are providing a distraction.
The good news is that it's inherently a crab bucket. Plus they've brought along a whole bunch of people who like to argue the correct interpretation of doctrine, and have no inherent problem with killing each other off if they think the other guy is incorrect. Plus newbies, many of whom seem to be equal parts professional Internet trolls and professional terrorists.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Thu Feb 19 22:08:41 2015 (ZJVQ5)
So the Jordanians and Egyptians are dropping live munitions on internet trolls?
Best. War. Ever.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Fri Feb 20 00:31:11 2015 (PiXy!)
Well, yes, I do have to admit a bit of schadenfreude from watching the Jawa Report's lists of Jihadi troll casualties.
In other news, apparently Jihad Watch has plenty of documentation that Libyan jihad groups want to be ISIS' little invasion of Italy, so maybe they really do want to go after Rome. I had wondered why they were interviewing the new Swiss Guard commander about whether they were ready for threats from ISIS. (And of course his answer was yes. It's not all halberds and freaky period uniforms over there.)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Feb 21 23:20:57 2015 (ZJVQ5)
But being poked to death by a fellow in pantaloons would be epic ignominy.
Having just driven a distance of 5 miles in a bit under an hour and a half, I think that this young lady sums up the opinion of many of my fellow Virginians...
"OH GOD! WE'RE GONNA HAFTA TO EAT OUR OWN LEGS AREN'T WE?"
It's been coming down remarkably hard for several hours now. Predictions are for 6-12 inches of snow, which is quite a bit for us. There has been some flickering and intermittent outages, so power may not persist.
In other news, the plumbing situation deteriorated rapidly Saturday night with the result that both bathrooms were unusable so we sent Mom to my sister's house before finally breaking down and calling a plumber. In a few moments I will get the first shower, I've had in over two days. Yay!
Mom is still in North Carolina suffering the dreadful indignity of having to watch her three year old granddaughter play in the snow.
UPDATE: I have not as of yet had to eat my own leg...but it has been a rear run thing.
Good luck on your weather and plumbing issues. The power flickered up here in Manassas a few hours before the snow started, but has been steady since then. Our forecast accumulation has been dropping slowly from its high of 12 inches all day, and currently sits at 3-5 inches total.
Posted by: Siergen at Mon Feb 16 20:27:13 2015 (ohSuC)
4-6 (unplowed, I assume) inches of snow and ice is more than enough for me to say "Nope, I'll wait for the plow" even up here in Boston, so I have sympathy. Luckily, I had previously taken the day off so I could clear the 3 feet (somehow) of snow from my deck and dig my car out in peace.
Posted by: ReallyBored at Tue Feb 17 10:28:41 2015 (ulGxe)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Feb 17 16:36:52 2015 (ZJVQ5)
Albeit we had a lot of insanely blowing snow on Saturday, and I misjudged my Saturday enough to have been waiting for a bus in it. Luckily, I was able to adjourn to a heated indoor area when it was really bad, and then my brother kindly volunteered to pick me up from the mall bus stop so I didn't have to walk home from the "slightly closer to my place, but still thirty minutes walk away" bus stop.
But overall snowfall was about an inch and a half. It just blew around a lot.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Tue Feb 17 18:14:58 2015 (ZJVQ5)
So, yeah, here in Sydney it can get awfully hot, and sometimes everything catches fire, but at least we don't have this frozen water falling from the sky nonsense.
Except hail. Hail we got.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Feb 17 18:53:25 2015 (2yngH)
One of only nice things about being in a post-employment situation is that if you plan ahead, you don't have to go out in cruddy weather.
We've had a couple of good storms this winter here in Duckford, and two friggin' cold snaps, but I've been able to avoid actually leaving Pond Central during them entirely.
Still, we've been pretty much looking at the East Coast's winter weather with a combination of pride and fear. Pride in that, if it occurred, we'd be able to deal with it, and fear that we might have to.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Wed Feb 18 03:58:23 2015 (jGQR+)
While here in the PNW, it's been unseasonably warm. Not that I mind. I have some lovely Rhododendrons in the front that have the annoying habit of blooming in February, and then instantly getting killed in a frost. Right now they're in full bloom, a rarity.
I should take pictures.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Feb 18 04:39:31 2015 (TJ7ih)
If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.
After many moves, I reside now in the town of my birth.
Today I find myself taking the pledge above; a pledge that in the country of my birth would have been unimaginable due to its redundancy.
"Fundamental transformation" indeed.
The United States of America is one of a few nations that is not defined by an ethnicity. In fact it is not even defined by geography. The U.S.A. is an experiment in facilitating a set of ideals. Take those away and the nation is no more, no matter what the map, or the U.S. code may say.
In October, then FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel promised that she would renew a push to regulate online political speech following a deadlocked commission vote that would have subjected political videos and blog posts to the reporting and disclosure requirements placed on political advertisers who broadcast on television. On Wednesday, she will begin to make good on that promise.
There are thoughts on this by other far more eloquent and prolific than I here, here, and here,
My youngest nephew had an utter fascination at an early age for flushing inappropriate things down the toilet. Plastic dinosaurs were a particular favourite. His name's Darwin, so this might have been some convoluted evolutionary experiment. But I think it was probably just toddler logic.
In about ten years he'll find this comment on Google and have to decide how my act of betrayal balances out against all the Lego...
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sat Feb 14 10:13:08 2015 (PiXy!)
Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon consultant and author of the recent book 100 Year Marathon, said Chinese military hawks, known as "ying pai,â€ told him they are ready to provide arms to Hawaiian independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
I suspect that the local independence movement (which doesn't have, as near as I can tell, the least bit of violent tendency... at least so long as haoles don't try to surf from their bit of beach!) has too much experience with the Chinese to be enticed by such an offer.
Seriously, these guys are about on the same level as the guy who says that the gold fringe on the flag in the courtroom means it isn't a legitimate court and thus he isn't obliged to pay his income tax. ;p
I don't mind admitting that the kingdom of Hawaii got a bit of a raw deal, but at the same time... in Texas, Santa Ana was legitimately elected and we didn't just secede, we actually -shot him- in the bargain. And looted his peg leg. So I don't have a whole ton of time for people complaining about the legitimacy of a monarchy...
I don't really understand claims about the "legality" of secession. I've seen it stated several times, usually without qualification. It seems like a content-less statement to me: You could as easily say that 'revolution is illegal', or 'war is illegal'. It would take a very unusual government to be okay with secession (since the de-facto constitution of most governments is that a political class owns tax-slaves and territory by force of arms - they're not going to let their livestock just leave.)
I'm not apologizing for the South in the US Civil War. I'm also not signalling approval of this particularly harebrained secession movement. On the other hand, I could easily envision circumstances where some sort of secession/and the resulting civil war would be preferable to the alternatives, and just as "illegal". (Say, some sort of genocidal communist state is ruling the country with an iron fist from some geographically well defined portion of our territory, etc.)
Posted by: eccentricorbit at Wed Feb 11 16:43:07 2015 (GtPd7)
I suppose you could say that if you lived under a government that allowed free secession of member territory, you wouldn't have much to worry about from them. They would possibly be the only government in the history of mankind that took the derivation of their power from the consent of their citizens seriously!
On the other end of the continuum, you have the Berlin Wall!
Posted by: eccentricorbit at Wed Feb 11 16:48:16 2015 (GtPd7)
The basic point of the Hawaiian independence movement isn't that they want to secede - it's that the accession was invalid in the first place, because the government that agreed to it wasn't the legitimate government of Hawaii. You could argue that the whole thing was a coup engineered by the US... except that when it happened the US didn't particularly want to take Hawaii and didn't change their mind until three years later, at which point the coup government was still in power. So yeah... not likely that it went Exactly As Planned, no?
That also runs straight into Texas as an example, and the US in general for that matter - but when someone who is pushing for Hawaiian independence says "the legitimate government was overthrown!" and you respond with "I have no problem with that," you can -hear- the little pop as their mind blows...
Hawaiian succession is inevitable. As the new island to the southeast of the Big Island rises the others are eroding away until they become atolls like Midway or ultimately guyots. This has been going on for millions of years.
Secession however, is not so clear cut. being a product of politics as opposed to geology.
Technically, the EU is still more of an economic league of nations than a country. It might get there eventually, but nobody would have signed on without a way of backing out.
The original states in the US were pretty clear on "we can't break apart or the rest of the world will come and take us over." One of the unacknowledged causes of the Civil War was that Americans were no longer quite as sure that Europe could come take them over. (Seeing as, in the 1850's, it sure seemed like individual states had to be able to do better than those European clowns.)
Hawaii, OTOH, would seem to be pretty clear on the fact that they kinda need something comparable to the US Navy to avoid getting picked off by the Russians or the Chinese.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Thu Feb 12 10:23:12 2015 (ZJVQ5)
The delusion that Hawaii could gain independence but retain some kind of security relationship with the US is usually in operation there. (Some even envision charging the US rent for the bases! It's almost cute.)
The sad thing is that the native Hawaiian community (which is a lot smaller than you'd think - maybe 10% of the population, though with a good amount of "mixed" also in there) is actually missing out on stuff because of this stupidity. Currently they're not recognized as an indigenous tribe at all. The federal government has noted that they'd be happy to sign them up so that Hawaiians would be available for the same kind of benefits that native indigenous folks can get, but the community's split between "let's go for it and get some recognition" and "no, because that would be admitting that the US's rule of Hawaii is legitimate" (i.e. can't be independent if you're a dependent...)
There are enough part-Hawaiians here that if the independence movement had any traction among them, it would be something serious instead of a joke. But enthusiasm among them is essentially zero, partly because they're also members of a larger culture, partly because the US is pretty darned good, and partly because there's a lot of suspicion that if the native Hawaiians were in charge, they'd define "native Hawaiian" pretty darned narrowly. There's some flat-out racism involved too, of course...
Haole Mackerel, I had no idea Hawaiian politics were that messed up Av.
Posted by: Mauser at Thu Feb 12 23:03:40 2015 (TJ7ih)
Well, don't get me wrong. Texas has its own crazy militia types, but if you talk about them it's not really "Texan government". Hawaii's actual government is full of Democrats, but kind of on the conservative side for that; they're not so much San Francisco as "virtually all of our grandparents were screwed by plantation owners", so it's kinda understandable. Also funny sitting around and watching them say "we shouldn't build anything new, damned greedy developers" and then wondering why the rent is so high and everyone's poor. Heh.
As far Steven's theory the seccession is somehow magically shut because some bunch of random people killed a whole bunch of other people in the 19th Century is really precious. It's not like Soviet Constitution contained a way for Kazakhstan to seccede, but one day it just did. The trick here is to catch a moment when Washington D.C. is powerless to do anything about it, then declare seccession and occupy all of federal property in Texas. Voila. What are they going to do, nuke Dallas?
Pete, the state of Arkansas tried something a bit like that in 1957, and Eisenhower sent in the 101st division. No, they wouldn't nuke Dallas, but there are a lot of things less extreme than that which could be done.
The trick here is to catch a moment when Washington D.C. is powerless to do anything about it,...
You're going to be waiting a good long time, I'm afraid.
I've been informed that Kill Haole Day is grossly exaggerated. Certainly nobody's ever tried to kill me except through lousy driving, which is not unique to Hawaii though it certainly is widespread. (Generally if I'm driving I'm in no hurry, so I let people in, and I get a lot of "shaka" (think a Hawaiian thumbs-up) thrown my way in return...)
There's no mechanism for secession in the constitution. So you'd have to amend the constitution (possible though pretty darned unlikely; everyone would need to be happy to see you go), or manage it through force alone... or attack the legitimacy of the government's control of your territory, which is something that was easier to do to the Soviet Union than it is to the US (even in Hawaii...)
Texas secede? Hell, we like the place. Suits us just fine. Same taste in flags even. Maybe if we could trim the sideburns a little we'd like it even more...
Handy Dandy Online Schedule
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes takes time from her twin hobbies of astrography and gunzelling to give us a handy dandy calculator for getting the most out of an interplanetary line-bash.
The Cosmic Train Schedule has launch windows and trip times for Hohmann transfer orbits between Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter (Sorry Ceres) out to about the year 2326.
WHY one might have need for this? I'm sure that I have no idea. But it is certainly a neat resource and if one ever stumbles across enough unused Delta V laying about and decides not to listen to one's mom...
Via Instapundit, this article is rather hard to read without putting down the keyboard and crawling under the bed.
It seems that ISIS has made some progress in governing their state. They have established a comprehensive and rapidly expanding a program of universal and compulsory education.
Specifically, after killing all the teachers, they are sending the kids to religious and military indoctrination camps. Kids to young or not yet ready to fight are transported with assault forces and serve in rear echelon as blood donors.
There is more here, and bit of that is touched on in this video from Vice, which, while not really graphic is nevertheless high octane nightmare fuel.
On the other hand, I was not aware that Turkey had turned off the Euphrates.
In the 1300s the Muslims created the Jannissaries; children abducted from non moselem families on raids who were trained using Spartan methods to be shock troops that would not only have great combat prowess, but give their enemies pause due to the fear that they might be fighting their own relatives. These are no such elite force but they are a dreadful problem that is likely to linger rather unpleasantly, and will be both worse and more persistent the longer we allow these vile groups to fester .
This began as the 21st century. In some ways it is looking more like the 12th.
I worry that this situation is inherently unstable. Like other abhorrent forms of warfare that ended up practiced by one side in a conflict, it may only be a matter of time before we too embrace the idea of war between non-state parties. And as was done with unrestricted submarine warfare, as was done with bombing of civilians in cities, when we pick up these tools we work a fearful slaughter.
The Janissaries were merely the Ottoman variant on the centuries-old Muslim practice of marmluk employment, which, as you can see from that link, goes back to the late 9th century. It was aimed internally, rather than externally, and the fact that it saw its hey-day after the expansionist years says a lot about the priorities of the rulers of the dar-es-salaam. Basically, the Muslim warriors, absent a reliable source of external plunder in the form of jihad, had very little loyalty to the heads of state, and their primary sentiments were aligned with tribal loyalties. They made terrible supports for the tyrants of the Muslim world, who were absolutists and thus wanted absolutely loyal troops. Slaves without any of the rights and privileges of freeborn Muslim men, and no tie to existing tribal or community power-centers was exactly what the Emir ordered. You couldn't enslave a Muslim, so importing pagans and kidnapping Christians to be battle-slaves was the solution.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Feb 9 17:03:25 2015 (jwKxK)
Secret Files and Origins BRICKMUPPET
The new blog-game that all the cool kids are playing right now is this homage to the inventor of the blog* Brian Williams.
Sound Like a Badass Without Committing Yourself to a Lie
My Walter Mitty lifestyle is somewhat non-conducive to this challenge but sacred honor says I have to give it a go.
So, what to write about?
The barracudas? No. anyone who dives regularly knows that barracudas aren't that big a deal.
Changing the bilge punp hanging upside down in the bilge of a fishing boat taking on water during the storm off Hatteras while seasick? No. No one wants to read about me aspirating my own vomit.
Stepping on the Alligator? No That's not badassery, that's clumsiness.
The bear under the trailer? No. Does not qualify. The bear and I achieved a nonviolent resolution to the situation.
The other bear, when the bear cub was behind me? No. See above.
That time in junior high when we built the raft and left the paddles on the island and the cops got called and the missing persons report was filed but we had come ashore in a completely different city? Nope not badassery...but might qualify as a failed Darwin award.
That time, at the babysitters with the bees, the baby and the wild pigs?Nope. No one would believe that.
How I became Tidewaters only LIVING comic book supervillain? That's not badass...that's just pathetic.
So I'll go with the origin of my nom de plume....
Everything in this story is true, though some descriptive phrase choices might be debatable.
It was a dark and stormy night. We get those in Virginia sometimes.
Several weeks or months after the storm, this happened.....