July 31, 2022

Meanwhile: In the Taiwan Straits

The People's Republic of China is holding live fire drills with naval and costal artillery assets as the U.S. Navy sends a carrier strike group into the contested waters around the Republic of China on Taiwan. 

All this is because the U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, offhandedly mentioned that she was going to visit Taiwan as part of her visit to several east Asian countries.  The Chicoms reacted with the grace and dignity one has come to expect from them over the last few years, threatening President Biden in the course of an angry two hour phone call between him and Party Chairman Xi Xinping and publicly threatening to blow the U.S. congressional delegation's plane out of the sky if they actually look like they are going to land on Taiwan.  

My dislike of the current Speaker of the House is nothing short of Brobdingnagian, but I laud her for standing by an ally. I also think that she and the congressional delegation now HAVE to visit Taiwan as not doing so will send a message of weakness and acquiescence that will almost certainly come back to haunt us most calamitously in the near future. 

China, internally, is currently in far greater turmoil than is generally appreciated, (but that even commies are noting) and its leadership cadre are looking for a distraction that can shore up support amongst the people and assure the populace that the regime still has the "Mandate of Heaven", which, while not recognized by the politburo, is a deeply ingrained cultural tradition in China.

Things are sufficiently messed up in the Middle Kingdom right now that it is quite possible that Xi might roll the dice in hopes of a 'short victorious war'. 

Taiwan is where the vast majority of our semi-conductors are made, at least the ones not made with Chinese spyware. Taiwan is actually of such strategic importance that it's a place that most Democrats, Republicans, and even some Libertarians are willing to fight for for both moral, economic and strategic reasons. 

This could get very hot, very quick. 

Fill your tanks with gas tonight. 

Maybe buy some canned food. 

And save some bottle caps. 

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February 07, 2020

Second Order Effects, Leading Indicators, Devil's Advocacy, and Friendly Advice

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is starting to have second order economic effects. Hundai is shutting down at least one factory due to a shortage of parts from China. Similar issues are stymieing production at Airbus, Kia, Apple, and EricssonAB and this is unlikely to be an isolated trend.  Certainly futures markets believe so as copper prices are plummeting to nearly a three year low.

There have been a number of disease outbreaks that have caused concern over the last few years, SARS, MERS, any number of bird flu variants, Ebola, and others were (and in the case of Ebola still are) serious problems and genuinely dangerous, but they did not approach anything like what was feared and may contribute to a cry wolf effect when the big one hits. Something feels different about this, it may not pan out but the impression I get is that if it doesn't become a pandemic, it will be because of heroic efforts and luck.

A leading indicator of what the U.S. government may think is coming can be found in the fact that the Pentagon is being asked to set up quarantine stations on or near 11 airports nationwide. This is in addition to the 20 that the Centers for Disease Control operate. As of a week ago there were already 1,000 people in the U.S. in quarantine for this virus.  

I was asked on Discord to comment about the following:

There has been some speculation that the location of China's Class 4 Biohazard facility smack dab in the middle of this mess, and that the 2 week asymptomatic contagious period  (which is near the gold standard for a bioweapon) indicate that this disease is a military pathogen that got away from them like Glanders did from the Germans in WW1.

First of all, there's no direct evidence. Second, evolution is perfectly capable of producing horrific examples of pestilence as the Black Death, Plague of Justinian, Smallpox and Spanish Influenza show. Third, it is probably not relevant as the disease exists and must be dealt with. I emphasize probably because if it were an engineered virus that might have implications for treatment, though such matters are beyond a mere bachelor of arts' area of expertise.

I'm skeptical, but in the interest of devil's advocacy it should be noted that the P.R.C. is, like the U.S.S.R. before it, is a communist dictatorship. Using bioweapons seems unwise in the extreme, but the hubris of a bureaucrat knows no bounds and if the 5-year plan says that there will be a vaccine fore one's own forces, then in the mind of a bureaucrat that vaccine will exist. Additionally, in an earlier post we mentioned that serious concerns were raised about the then-under-construction Wuhan lab in 2017 and that there were 2 earlier containment failures with the less dangerous SARS virus in a Beijing lab about a decade ago. One involved a protocol issue and one involved an attempted live virus vaccine that had not, in fact, been rendered fully safe. China doesn't have a good track record in this area.  Here is an interview with  Ken Albiek who was an executive at Biopreparat (the soviet bio-warfare program). It's pretty horrifying, particularly the bit about what happened in Sverdlovsk when a filter was not properly installed and someone broke a container. Anthrax is not person to person contagious, had it been a more virulent disease it would have been  a major incident, with the only saving grace being the closed nature of the Soviet Union. It's entirely possible that the odious Chinese regime did botch something like happened in Sverdlovsk , but there is no hard evidence I'm aware of and eating fruit bats is a perfectly reliable way to get dreadful new diseases.

So heed this friendly advice...

Also:If you are interested in biowarfare,its potential for bio-terrorism or find that you sleep too soundly at night, I recommend buying BioHazzard, by Ken Albiek, which gives an overview in layman accessible terms of the mischief that Biopreparat was involved in.

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February 02, 2020

More Pronouncements Pertaining to Pestilence

There's nothing particularly unexpected in the news of the Coronavirus except for this that Instapundit found this morning. A story indicating that the bug's transmission rate outside China is expected to closely follow that inside China (hardly news) is getting deleted.

Perhaps it's the wording.

 Coronavirus infections predicted to grow exponentially; first death outside China; outbreak becomes political.

That WaPo link was good as of 10:50 AM, but several of the links on this ">screenshot are not.

Note that the John Hopkins tracking page does not match the aforementioned headline as of this post.

In other news, Ebola is having something of a resurgence in the Congo.

Fortunately, humanity is resilient, and can find something positive even in this mess.

OK...perhaps it's not that fortunate, but this exists.

Corona-Chan and Ebola-Chan:Viral Gal-lows humor is by dp6523

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February 01, 2020

Oh For Crying Out Loud

While China's Hubei Provence has been in the news with this Coronavirus, Hunan Provence has been hit with what is being described as a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 birdflu in Hunan Provence.

Over 17,000 chickens have been killed trying to get a handle on this secondary mess, about which the news is mixed.

The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual," the WHO said. "There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food." The mortality rate in humans is 60%, the WHO added.

Emphasis mine

Let's hope it stays mostly bird-bound.

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January 27, 2020

More Viral Videos

Dev, over at Short Fat Otaku lived in Wuhan for a while and has film he took there as well as some thoughts on the matter, 

Vee, is not really a Nazi vampire, he's actually a libertarian doctor and he has two videos on the situation as it stood yesterday.

One on quarantine.

And one on why he finds the hype credible.

Coincidentally, all 3 are are around 13 minutes long. 

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January 26, 2020

A Note of Concern:

With regard to what we mentioned day before yesterday regarding the situation in Wuhan PRC and Captain Tripps this new Coronavirus, it's hard for us outside the loop to know what is hype, misinformation, miscommunication, mistranslation, a combination of all four, or rock solid investigative reporting.

What we can be reasonably confident of is that the Chinese Communist Party, being a totalitarian state, is going to try to cover-up or minimize the situation to the maximum extent possible and even rather beyond credulity.

Thus, seeing that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has declared that the situation is "grave"  is cause for some concern. This is as close to a declaration of emergency as we're ever likely to see from the politburo. I've got a degree in Asian history and while certainly no China hand, I've done several papers on Chinese politics, and the fact that Xi Jinping is admitting even this much is a genuinely terrifying thing. The CCP considers its people to be grease for the machinery of their state.

But this situation actually seems to have them scared.

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January 23, 2020

Take With a Grain of Salt (UPDATE)

There's a lot of talk about the outbreak of this coronavirus which started in Wuhan and has now spread to multiple countries. At this point the death toll 5 days on is said (by the ever-so-trustworthy government of China) to be 25. That's almost equal to a half-hour in a really bad flu season, but given the small numbers reported (~825) that comes to one in 33 of those infected being killed...which is....quite impressive if the data is accurate.

The data's probably NOT accurate. It's almost certainly skewed one way or another. However, the Chinese have instituted a quarantine(!) of Wuhan, where the outbreak started. Wuhan is a city that's bigger than London. There are now multiple cities that are also locked down. I don't know the provenance of the following video, but it is alleged to be from inside Wuhan...where they are apparently going to great lengths to look like the beginning of a zombie movie.

Entirely coincidentally, Wuhan is the home of China's National Bio-Safety Laboratory China's first level 4 Biohazard facility which now handles the most deadly diseases on the planet, because China has had such a good record with the less dangerous ones.

Fortunately, we can all rest easy, because despite what some on the internet are implying when they talk about the situation in Wuhan City, it turns out that the Chinese word for raccoon is not actually wuhan , it's huànxióng.

So rejoice! There are no zombies in evidence at this time.
But there is reason to keep one's eye on this.

In the U.K., doctors are being given instructions on how to deal with a patient that is suspected of having this bug. "Lock the patient in a room and leave the area straightaway."
I don't know if this just socialized medicine at work, or this is serious business, but I'm starting to lean towards the latter.
Good LORD!

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May 07, 2018

Signs, Portents and Ponderables

 This story dates from March, but it caught my eye for a couple of reasons.

"We’re seeing members from all the three letter agencies,” said Fortitude creator Drew Miller, a retired Air Force colonel and intelligence officer, in a reference to the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

The gentleman being quoted runs Fortitude Ranch, a prepper outfit that provides a number of fallout shelters and protected compounds around the U.S. in the event of a societal catastrophe. 

The two facilities near D.C. are reportedly getting a lot of business from civil servants in agencies that would be standing duty during a crisis with the aim of protecting family members.

Over the last several years, there have been quite a few luxury bomb shelters in the news like Vivos that cater to millionaires and such. While those are certainly cause for interest with regards to what the rich and connected might be anticipating, this particular collection of facilities are interesting in part because of their austerity. 

The underground portions of the compounds are not 5-star accommodations. 

They do, however, appear to be reasonably well thought out and adequate

The company requires that everyone familiarize themselves with their facilities weapons and stand watch at the gates in the event the area is habitable. They provide air transport from the many small airports in the DC area, to get the families to the facilities in a crisis.

One clever bit: they want their clients to be familiar with the facilities so they double as rustic resorts (as they have large acrerages and the east coast facilities are in the mountains) at which the members can relax and get training on the facilities weapons(!).

So why should this be of any interest:
The impression given by their approach and lack of granite countertops is that this series of shelters is for people who are...serious...about this sort of thing. More importantly, civil servants in the agencies that concern themselves with this stuff have reportedly looked at the situation the country is in and decided to put down money on it. 

The whole thing brings to mind this...

Yes kids. It's time to get your bug out bags in order.

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May 06, 2018

A Solution to the Fermi Paradox

At some point every advanced species reaches such a level of prosperity and safety amongst their creative classes that whatever serves as their equivalent of an amygdala atrophies to such a degree that some theoretically intelligent minds conclude that an "internet of things" is a good idea and nobody has the good sense to tar and feather them. 

To wit.

The cyber threat hunters had honed their chops at the National Security Agency -- the world's premier electronic spy agency. And last fall, they were analyzing malware samples from around the world when they stumbled across something highly troubling: the first known piece of computer software designed to kill humans.

 I suggest that you  read the whole thing.

 Now yes; " first known piece of computer software designed to kill humans" indicates a lack of understanding of how fire control systems work. But, they're talking about malware here so, all pedantry aside... There is a bit in the article about a particular company's policy not to provide information on the source of the attacks. I have some questions about that for my more technically inclined readers.

I would imagine that it is very difficult to achieve any certainty on where an attack comes from since it would seem likely that routing access through a third party one might want to frame would inherently be well within the capability of entities doing this sort of thing. I'm not particularly tech savvy so I have to ask if this is this even remotely correct.

Is it still considered best practice to have an air gap between one's equipment software and the internet? Obviously this is pretty much thrown out the window by the internet of things, which are all about convenience with little or no thought to security. However if someone's internet connected slow cooker is hacked there is a culinary mishap. If someone's refrigerator is hacked to empty their checking account and order 500 gallons of natto and boiled okra, then one person stupid enough to give his the refrigerator the keys to his Amazon account has learned a lesson.   If these industrial systems are hacked we could have another Bhopal. Why is there a way to access these on site systems from the internet at all? Shouldn't that be on site? 

Of course one needs the ability to send out a general alarm but that interface can be electro-mechanical and therefore nigh un-hackable, at least remotely.  

Anyway, I'm curious what others have to say on this. 
So discuss...


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January 14, 2018

Crying Wolf

As everyone in the world knows, Hawaii was not hit with an ICBM yesterday. This appears to have been a similar screw up to what happened in Guam last year, but much more widely noticed. 

A few things to takeaway from this....

Despite its position as a major strategic target from which there is no escape, Hawaii doesn't seem to have much of a public fallout shelter system online.  (There are reports  that they're working on this though)We don't here either, but that is due to geology (and a water table 4 feet below the grass).

"Duck and Cover" will actually increase the chances of survival, especially in a limited attack. Note that even if duck and cover only increased ones survival odds by one percent, in a nation of 320 million that's 3.2 million more people who would survive than would otherwise. 

Enough of these false alarms will assure that if/when the actual attack comes innocent fatalities will be maximized. 

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November 16, 2014

So....What's Happening?

First off, one of the 'Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes' has some thoughts on science reportage....

Of course the 'Science Babes' are just the imaginary braniac waifus of a lonely male blogger who has a sick fetish for smart girls, so it is likely that their supposed views on such microagressions are no different than any member of the macho women haters club....

Indeed, the maladroit neckbeard known as Suburbanbanshee has presumed to express thoughts on this as has noted woman hater Elizabeth Scalia. Misogynistic troglodyte Amy Alkon mansplains the situation and, of course the vaginaphobic Pope of patriarchal privilege, Sarah Hoyt, unleashes a glorious TL;DR of hateorade

Also, there was something about a comet.

In other, obviously less important news:

The Russians, always eager to remind us that we are loved,  have decided to regularly send nuclear capable bombers to patrol the Gulf of Mexico.

In unrelated news PRAVDA is running the headline Russia prepares nuclear surprise for NATO.  It should be noted that the use of the words "nuclear" and "surprise" next to each other is generally frowned upon. However, there are always translation issues and the Muscovites probably have a different style guide. In any event, given the relative parity in acknowledged warheads the Russians are unlikely to do anything really stupid unless they think our deterrent is seriously unreliable for some reason

In even less related news, soon we'll have 3 wrenches

Concluding our chain of nonsequiters, Canada's National Post has an analysis of what Russia's goals actually might be

With regard to China, a navy analyst who stated earlier this year that China was preparing for a "Short, Sharp, War" was rather publicly reassigned on the eve of the recent conference with China

"If you talk about it openly, you cross the line and unnecessarily antagonize," Greenert said at a forum in Newport, Rhode Island. "You probably have a sense about how much we trade with that country. It's astounding. "
North Korea has launched a ballistic missile submarine

In all seriousness the old Golf class boat is almost certainly not a cause for concern so it should not affect ones real-estate purchases in any way. However there are all sorts of other issues that might persuade one to overcome ones dread of dealing with a condo association in order to move into more secure environs. (Like they say....)

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October 07, 2014

Over 25 days

I note that the Spanish nurse who has contracted Ebola got it from treating Father Miguel Pajares, who was reported dead on the 12th of August. Therefore, one can assume that 25 or more days passed since she was exposed.

Incubation is said to be no more than 21 days. 

UPDATE: Belay all that.

Well then: JP Gibb in the comments points out that she had treated another priest since the death of Father Pajeares, 

I swear, when I looked this up this morning trying to get the dates there was no mention of the second priest. However Father Manuel Garcia Viejo is also mentioned here.  He died 12 days ago which puts this well within the 21 day incubation period. 

Oh well. Thanks JP Gibb! 

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October 03, 2014

All That is Needed is Discipline, Competence and Awareness

...we opined about the matter of the Ebola patient in Texas, advised our readers that there was a lot of hype and pointed to the heartening examples of Senegal and Nigeria as representative of how, when alerted to the danger ahead of time and given basic health care facilities, even a third world government can successfully deal with an outbreak of this disease. 

Last night however, I noted something that concerned me. It concerned me enough that I was not, in fact, able to sleep the rest of the night and this has haunted me all day. Before I potentially alarm our readers I think it advisable to get a second opinion, so we'll ask some of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes if they are optimistic about the situation in Dallas...

Well then.

Last night on Gateway Pundit, these two images in particular caused me some worry. 

These pictures are allegedly of the cleanup of the vomit and blood soaked sheets in the apartment that the Ebola patient was in. It took days for the city to get a cleanup team out there which puts the family's efforts to break quarantine in a far more sympathetic light. as they were in the house with deadly, infectious blood and spew...in Dallas...In September. 

It gets worse of course.

They aren't wearing any hazmat gear.

I did hazmat cleanup and response for 12 years and EVERYTHING in these pictures is wrong. The pressure washer is the LAST thing one should use as it temporarily aerosolized the infecty bits. Dispersing it into the dirt where children play is an additional sin and as Gateway Pundit notes, there is a woman in sandals walking through the stream unaware. The apartment cleaning crew's precautions consist of holding the bags of death at arms length. 

EVERYONE in these photo's is likely exposed and their friends. coworkers and families are now at risk too when some or all of these people develop symptoms in 3-21 days. Every single person in the picture needs to be tracked down and quarantined. Not only that, other employees of the cleaning firm have likely been exposed as well, from the pressure washer, vehicle and the linens themselves, since no particular precautions seem to be being taken...those do not appear to be HAZMAT bags. 

It gets worse. The pressure washer makes it likely that droplets got inhaled by some people. This could cause the bug to develop in the lungs first. Ebola is NOT airborne. It can't hang in the air like a flu virus, but it is conceivable that a pneumonic infection could make a victim able to spread the disease over a wider area more efficiently much like pneumonic plague. Note that plague is also not really airborne. It's spread mainly by fleas and exploding buboes, but if inhaled it is far more virulent as sneezing and coughing can project it a much longer distance.  This does not require any mutation of the disease just that it get into the lungs. 

Whoever sent these completely unprepared and untrained men (who are obviously woefully uninformed about what they are dealing with) to this apartment needs to be arrested, and tried for negligent manslaughter as soon as anyone associated with this fiasco dies. Whatever government agency hired these people needs to have its chairman, and all responsible for this fiasco face the same fate. There is NO reason why a city health department does not have a HAZWOPER qualified contractor or in house department to handle an infectious substance cleanup. That would seem to be one of the Health Department's main jobs.  Heads need to roll, but I fear that a far worse fate awaits many Texans because of this gross negligence

What should have been a scary but contained event like the Nigeria outbreak now looks like it could very possibly be an utter catastrophe. Add everyone in these picture, the children who play in the complex, their families and friends and the owners of any dogs that happen by and lap up a bit of the water to the potentially exposed list. 

Now it is possible that they were using bleach, but given the level of PPE displayed in the photo's I'd say that was not likely. 

 If this pans out like I fear (and I pray to God I am wrong) this is going to be a real disaster. If it finds an animal reservoir, it's going to be with us a long time.

Seirgen, regarding your inquiry....

It is never the time to panic. Situations like this demand anything but panic. Panic is why this disease is rampaging through Liberia, In that case though the doctors were caught flat-footed. Dealing with a malaria outbreak they were were unaware Ebola was in the area,  and misdiagnosed the disease and infected themselves in the process. By the time they realized they were dealing with Ebola a huge number of the doctors were infected and dying themselves...The United States had ample warning and rescources that the doctors in Liberia ( and Nigeria for that matter) could only dream of. And we may have squandered it with negligence and stupidity. 

Ebola Tan says: "Negligence and stupidity are two of my favorite things!"

UPDATE: It appears that the family has been moved out and a proper hazmat team has been called in. Unfortunately they have been stymied by agents from the CDC and Dallas City EMT both of whom have helpfully required that they file an approved cleanup plan

We're doomed. 

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June 24, 2012

I Don't Even...

Good grief. I've NEVER seen a track like this.

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May 20, 2011

End Times

I thought it was a joke, but the CDC page really does have info on Romero-zombies. Of course it IS a joke...I hope...but it actually is on the CDC site.

Now as I type this, tomorrow is alleged to be the end of the world. The Anchoress of all people is, amongst other things directing her readers to Rapture looting parties.

I'm pretty sure that this whole silly thing is being hyped out of proportion by Dick Dawkins athiests. Predicting the end times is actually a sin in Christianity and I'm unaware of anyone who takes this seriously except the dunderhead preacher and members of his flock. I suspect at least some of the "believers" being interviewed are Mobys. Still, there is much idiocy to lampoon here. Don has thoughts and links to thoughts along those lines.

There is also the potential for amusing mischief: Steven Den Beste points to a helpful suggestion and of course there is this.


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May 11, 2009


Wonderduck is taking the malware hits so we don't have too.

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