October 23, 2015

200 MPH Sustained

Holy Crap!

This is the most powerful hurricane in history and is about to absolutely nail Manzanillo and Puerto Valarta as well as do a lot of damage to Guadalajara. Worse, the  west coast of the USM rarely gets hit by hurricanes, so a lot of the people there have no appreciation for what these storms can do. 



The flooding in Mexico is likely to be biblical when it hits the West Sierra Madre and again when it passes over the Eastern Sierra Madre but it will still be bad when it reaches Texas, where they are talking about 8-12 inches in Houston, which has already been hit by flooding this week and is thoroughly saturated. 



Hopefully, Ubu and Avatar are not in the low areas. 

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August 16, 2015

How Far Can He Go? How Long Will He Stay Free?

The videos of the massive explosion in Tianjin keep getting pulled from the internet. However, one brave reporter, a  He Xiaoxin, DID  get into the affected area and took some pictures. I don't expect this report to remain up much longer, but I'm linking to it.  I'm also posting his pictures below the fold to save them from the inevitable purge. I don't normally nick more than one pic from a news article and clearly identify the source via hyperlink and I certainly don't make a habit of nicking all the picture from a photo essay because that is, frankly, WRONG.


However, the likelihood of his work being bering deemed triggering to the Chinese government and sent down the memory hole moves me to do this. Fortunately, He Xiaoxin has extensively watermarked his work. If one reposts any of these, PLEASE make sure to credit He Xiaoxin and The China Digital Times. Also do read his whole article, not only to give the paper hits but because his text provides valuable context. 

However, if the article is gone then click on "more" and behold...the effects of a quarter kiloton blast....
more...

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August 12, 2015

The Sheer SCALE

 of the blasts in Tianjin made clear by the buildings in these videos. 



This looks to be at least as bad as Texas City or Black Tom

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December 04, 2014

Oh No...

Ruby is a category 5 storm and is going to hit approximately where Haiyan did. Where there are 15,000 people still living in tents.

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October 29, 2014

Snowflakes Can Help Spread Ebola!?

Actually, they have to be precious, special ones


The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal.
 

This is quite troubling. Ebola is not an unmanageable problem as Senegal and Nigeria have shown, but it is not to be trifled with.
It is said that doctors make the worst patients. Miss Hickox and her colleague in New York, (who lied to authorities about breaking quarantine ) are doing nothing to contradict that notion. 

Ace has some thoughts on this that are worth reading.

The reason we have coercive, non-voluntary quarantines is that we have learned through 4,000 years of recorded human history that people will not voluntarily self-quarantine, and will in fact act irrationally as willing agents of plague.

  It bears repeating that Ebola spread to Nigeria, and very nearly Minnesota because  an American named Patrick Sawyer decided that quarantine ought not to apply to his own special self. One of the problems America faces is a class of people who believe that they are above the laws they set for others. In the case of these doctors such aristocratic self indulgence could make a manageable problem a catastrophe. This would not be the first time political pressure screwed up a public health response, but it is far less excusable since this disease is far easier to screen for.  


The thing I like MOST about the United States is that the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement that some of its doctors have are almost indistinguishable from negligence and stupidity!

In other news: It appears that Ebola Tan's pet skull is named Wilhelm. How this information might be of use is unclear to me at this time. 

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August 20, 2014

All Eyes Are Upon the Unrest in Ferguson

So it might behoove us to look at what is happening elsewhere. 


IS (o ISIS or ISIL there is some disagreement on the proper acronym for these fiends) has beheaded  an American journalist ( James Wright Foley) on video and placed another reporter, Time's Steven Sotloff next to Foley's corpse and threatened to behead him unless their demands are met.  

Foley seems to have been quite highly regarded. A brief excerpt of a 2011 interview with him can be seen from 00:33 to 01:58 here. 


It should be noted that the executioner has a British accent, which is not entirely surprising, but is worrisome. Likewise, the fact that Sotloff was taken prisoner in Libya and transported to Iraq indicates an impressive reach and logistical capability by ISIS.

*****************

The situation in the Ukraine has taken a hopeful turn as Russian and Ukrainian leaders representatives are set to meet  negotiations next week. This comes as Ukrainian forces seem to be getting the better of the secessionists. This is a  conflict with some very nasty ethnic components, so a diplomatic solution would be most welcome. 

In related news; Apparently there is a group of American volunteers/mercenaries fighting with the Ukrainians and one of them was just killed

**********

In response to China's bellicose gestures, Japan is 'modifying' Article 9 of their constitution

Meanwhile, China has sent two survey vessels to survey the Philippines for...future construction. 

The PRC last week also tested a hypersonic (Mach 10) cruise missile. The week prior they tested what seems to have been  MIRVed versions of their old DF5 and the new DF31 ICBMs. China also felt this an opertune time to mention that announcing that the long rumored DF-41 road mobile ICBM was in fact, operational. This was just after.a test of an anti-satellite weapon

The People's Republic also snubbed a US proposal that countries not do things like build outposts in other countries territorial wasters. 

Chinese troops have been moving into an area claimed by India and planting flags

*************

On the Ebola front, the experimental drug tested on the three missionaries from the US and Spain looks promising. While the Spanish patient died, the two American aid workers seem to be recovering. The few remaining samples have been sent to Liberia, but the drug takes a long time to make, and there are regulatory hurdles. However, accelerated testing is being done of this and other vaccines. 

In Africa however, the situation is still quite dire, with a raid by a mob on an Ebola treatment facility eliciting some concern. Reportedly, in addition to freeing all the patients under quarantine, they stole bloody sheets and other infected items, so it's going to get worse. 

***************

While all this is going on the military is downsizing. That's not necessarily a dreadful mistake as there is a good bit of waste in the Pentagon. Particularly in the Army, after 10 years of war, one might well consider it good to weed out the people who in that time avoided combat and promote those who displayed out of the box thinking in time of war. One might especially want to retain those with awards for valor. Well, if one thinks that, then one is not in charge of the current downsizing process....

This is terrifying:
 The derogatory information didn't have to be recent. Got a GOMOR as a 2nd Lieutenant for Dumb LT Tricks, eight years ago? Kiss your ass goodbye. Got an Article 15 as a private before soldiering your way back into the Army's good graces, and then getting a ROTC scholarship? You're gone.

A non-GO Memorandum Of Reprimand was also a career killer, if you got it for something the Chief of Staff doesn't like - like carrying a personally owned weapon. That sent one combat-vet with a Purple Heart to the Dreaded Private Sector.

Being overweight, or looking overweight in your photo: killer.

A more trivial career killer, but one the board actually used: having your official DA photo in the old Army Green service uniform, not the new blue Army Service Uniform. 

Purple hearts and bronze stars seem to have no effect on ones assessment.  Having no combat experience is NOT a demerit. This is how you build an Army of bureaucratic wienies. It is how third world dictators set up their armies, with yes-men and those who fear above all taking a chance or trying new things.   

***************
Just before the unpleasantness started in Ferguson, there were some really revolting anti-semitic incidents including a mob shouting "Jews go back to Birkenau!"...In Boston.  

****************

As to Ferguson itself...it's probably good to withhold judgement until the facts of the shooting are made public later this week. Like so many recent news stories most of the initial reports were wrong, and that trend seems to continue nightly. The near nightly looting, is, of course, unacceptable and ( conversely) there are many concerns, not unfounded, regards the militarization of police forces. However, I urge you to read Tamara K's thoughts on the issue in full. It makes no judgments but provides important historical perspective. 

******************

Finally, it should be mentioned that there is another demonstration taking place by individuals who are fed up and seek respect from the police. For some reason, despite being in the media mecca of New York, this is not garnering a lot of coverage...

Who would have thunk it?




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August 03, 2014

100 Years Ago Today

The whole situation in Europe had been deteriorating since the 28th, but there had been an ephemeral moment of hope on August first, whe King George V himself had intervened and was exchanging telegrams with his cousins the Kaiser and the Tsar. There appeared to be some conciliation possible but a report that Russian troops had crossed the Austrian frontier invoked a declaration of war by Germany, While all this was going on Belgium was being discretely asked if they would mind terribly if a million or so German troops were to just, kind of pass through their country...for some reason.


Over the next 24 hours, German troops entered Russia's Polish territory, a German cruiser squadron bombarded the baltic town of Libau and German troops just kind of showed up in Luxembourg Significantly, that night. there were reports of German troops as far as 10 miles inside France and French border guards being killed.

The next day, August 3rd, German aircraft bombed the French city of Lune'ville. Belgium responded to Germany's inquiries with an emphatic "NO!". They then invoked their treaty with the British Empire and requested that London help them preserve their sovereignty. The British responded with a n order for full mobilization.  

Then as German and Russian troops engaged each other on the Polish/Prussian frontier Germany declared war upon France. 

With that, Hell descended upon Europe, and a catastrophe that the world has never fully recovered from began in earnest, 100 years ago today. 










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July 26, 2014

100 years Ago Today

Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire was reasonably satisfied with the Serbian response to his governments demands and ordered the Serbian Chief of Staff to be released with apologies. On the same day and perhaps in response to this act, his Army Chief of Staff and Foreign Minister quietly exchanged letters
 
 Berchtold: "We should like to deliver the declaration of war on Serbia as soon as possible so as to put an end to diverse influences. When do you want the declaration of war? Conrad: Only when we have progressed far enough for operations to begin immediately—on approximately August 12th. Berchtold: "The diplomatic situation will not hold as long as that.”   [/quote] 
(Quote via Wikipedia)

....Meanwhile, the diplomatic heads of both Austria and Russia rejected an offer by Sir Edward Grey (the British Foreign Minister) to mediate the dispute.

In July of 1914, the British Royal Navy was conducting a reserve mobilization drill. This once in a decade endeavor involved calling up reservists and bringing old ships out of reserve, getting them seaworthy and conducting training maneuvers with the active navy which was largely recalled to home waters for the affair. This drill was scheduled to end on July 26th, however, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, ordered all hands to stand fast and the fleet to not disperse as planned.  From this moment the RN was on a full war footing, something that would normally have taken months to achieve.


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July 25, 2014

100 Years Ago Today

Austria-Hungary turned down a Russian proposal to extend the deadline on the terms previously presented to Serbia. Serbia, to everyone's astonishment, agreed to nearly all the humiliating demands by 5:58pm on the 25th. However they did not accede to the demand that Austria-Hungary be given legal jurisdiction and arrest powers inside Serbia's border. Their response was otherwise humble to the point of groveling. At 6:30pm, the Austrio-Hungarian  consulate evacuated their embassy in Belgrade. The Serbian Chief of staff General Putnik, on his way back from consultations in Russia was arrested that evening in Budapest. Taking the hint, the Serbs voted on, and their monarch signed orders for a full emergency mobilization. Most of their government then abandoned the capital and relocated to the more defensible city of Nish. 


It should be noted that Germany's Kaiser was on vacation during this time, golfing cruising on his yacht and was only gradually beginning to understand the gravity of the situation. Likewise, Franz Joseph returned from his retreat where he had been since the funeral of his nephew. He was 84...in 1914. Though he was aware of the negotiations with Germany and the seriousness of the Russian assurances of their Serb allies, he was reportedly quite surprised at the harsh language of the ultimatum sent to Serbia by his ministers. 


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March 13, 2014

A Few More Crimea Links



The BBC has a series of maps that touch on the political and ethnic history of the peninsula.

Businessweek has an interesting overview of the situation that mentions briefly the CO of the Ukranian naval base in Crimea. Massively outnumbered he was offered the option of a commission in the Russian Navy. He lives in Crimea,, speaks Russian, is an ethnic Russian but took an oath to defend Ukraine until his enlistment is up or he is defeated, so he's declined the offer and is preparing to defend the base (and I imagine get his flotilla ready to break for Odessa).

The Tartars suffered under Stalin nearly as much as the Ukrainians did and are not happy with the upcoming referendum.

A few days old, Cdr Salamander's analysis of some of the lessons from this mess still deserves a read.


Pete Zaitcev reports what he's hearing in Russian language circles in the comments of the previous Crimea thread , though no source is included.

Aw HELL no.

UPDATE: Or...what exactly?

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March 03, 2014

On Crimea

Jerry Pournelle has thoughts.

The Wall Street Journal this morning in a lead editorial says flatly that the Russian de facto annexation of the Crimea cannot be allowed to stand. That is because they are crazy...


He goes on from there. It's short but has a good deal of historical perspective so I urge you to read the whole thing.

Brian Wang has an nice collection of links giving a good overview of the problems the U.S. President faces in making good on his threats. One of the biggest seems to be that the sort of divestment and sanctions policy threatened by SecState Kerry is likely to clobber European banks. I particularly note that China is quite vocally supporting Russia. The fact that after making grand pronouncements of red lines and consequences the US did nothing is a precedent that China is no doubt very pleased with as it looks at the territorial disputes it has with its neighbors.

I don't for a minute think that getting involved in any way is a good or wise. I certainly don't think that there is anything the President could have done to stop this, nor was it in our interest to poke the bear over it. I do think that the loud and empty bluster was supremely ill advised.

The Ukrainians suffered greatly under Stalin to the point that they aligned themselves with Hitler against him. There are reportedly still elements amongst the revolutionaries who look fondly at those who did so, though how influential they actually are is unclear.

The Russians are securing Sevastopol, which, being their only warm water European port is as vital to their economy as the pipelines that cross the Ukraine. The Crimea and western Ukraine are ethnically Russian (60% or more) and so the Russian claims of protecting their own are not entirely fatuous.

This is a nasty business and it apalls me that we are involved on any policy level beyond sending some aid.

Then there is this piece that Ace linked to...which just seems rather....odd.

I know there are people who comment here who know a lot more about this than me...have at it in the comments.

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February 06, 2014

This Bodes Ill

Snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountans is where the water in southern California, Nevada and to an extent, Arizona comes from.

This is what snowfall in the Sierra Nevada looked like on January 18 of 2013, which was actually a very bad drought year.



This is what it looked like on the same date this year..



There is more here (via)
Forget the agricultural debacle for a moment...water for the cities is going to be a first order calamity. It's already pretty bad.

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February 04, 2014

Jasper Has Passed On

 James Lileks  bids farewell to his friend of 19 years.




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November 09, 2013

All Thouse Hurricanes We Didn't Get

....just hit the Philippines at once.



Haiyan hit the Philippines with sea-level winds of nearly 200 mph scoring a direct hit in Cebu.

All of the Philippine islands are pretty mountainous and with this much rain ( reports of at least ten inches in  a few hours) means mudslides and inland flooding on top of a 20 foot storm surge.



Cyclones of this intensity are rare but not unheard of. However, they rarely hit land at anything like this strength. The last one to do so was Hurricane Camille which hit the southern US back in 1968 and there have been some slightly weaker storms that hit Asia.

The Phillipines gets hit with several typhoons a year, but this is in a category all its own. Worse, this storm comes on the heels of  a major earthquake which softened up the infrastructure and meant many people were still in tents. This is looking to be an almost unreal calamity.

Indeed, things do not look good for Tacloban, the capital of Leyte.


UPDATE: At least 10,000 dead.
UPDATE 2: ...in Tacloban alone....

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November 03, 2013

Central Texas

Wow , Austin got clobbered.








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October 19, 2013

The Root Cause of Our Problem

The Anchoress has found something deeply worrisome. It is all the more so because, as someone who spends a fair amount of time on a college campus, I find bonecrushing historical ignorance unnervingly unsurprising....and yet...



... even by the abysmal standards set by today's low expectations, a couple of the answers here are genuinely mortifying.







...For instance, while it would normally be somewhat heartening to hear a College Freshman know the name Franz Ferdinand, the context in which the name was invoked is rather dismaying.

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May 21, 2013

Footprints of a Monster

I got this grim but interesting image from The Daily Mail, which has some amazing and very sad pictures.of the tornado damage in Oklahoma and Kansas.



It's bad....and there are more storms on the way.
more...

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May 20, 2013

A Bad Day

...to be on Oklahoma or Kansas.



Witchita TV station gets hit


It looks like it just missed Don.


UPDATE:
 It's bad.
It's REALLY really bad.

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April 17, 2013

This Looks Grim

Oh no.

Just got this pic via Galrhan on Twitter, It is said to be of the Fertilizer plant in Waco that just blew up.
UPDATE: KTWX is saying over 60 dead.

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November 16, 2012

Oh Noes!




NOT THE TWINKIES!!!
THE TWINKIES!!!
"sob"


This is as bad as when that herd of butterflies swooped in and threw up on my waffles.

Ummm...what she said.
I think.
In the meantime, it's time to stock up! They'll last forever and with the world ending next month we'll need stuff to barter.

Appalled young twinkiephile is Rin Tezuka from Katawa Shoujo.
more...

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October 29, 2012

Catastrophe

After some flickering, we have power back here, but in NYC, It's as bad as was feared.



As I type this power is out in Manhattan, the subways are flooding and the storm is not half over. AOL reports at least 13 people are dead.

This security cam pic is making the rounds, purporting to be of one of the Tunnels.


Robert Costa Tweets this pic of the Ground Zero construction site.



Via Hot Air,  walls are being ripped off buildings..





No power and 3 feet of water in the streets...


Weather Nerd posted this pic of the situation in Brooklyn:



UPDATE: and to the South, the Graveyard of the Atlantic claimed another ship and two of her crew.

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October 28, 2012

Big Storm is Big (Updated)



We were already getting gale force winds and rain when it was down off Georgia. Hurricane force winds extend 110 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds extend out nearly 500 miles.

UPDATE 14:50 Monday.

Raining cats and dogs outside wind is about 20 kts with gusts up to 50.

 It started raining gently around noon....in the bathroom.

Turns out the turbine vent was not sealed properly when the house was re-roofed last month. We've also lost some shingles. Much scampering was done, on a roof in high winds. My 70 year old dad refused to stay off the roof.  In any event thanks to a tarp, a trash bag and a hose clamp the precipitation in the bathroom has ceased.

Two feet of water standing in back yard, and our street is impassible to the west.  It took me twice as long as usual to get to work this morning due to detours due to flooding and horizontal trees.  Winds here are expected to pick up dramatically tonight  and return to tropical storm force for 16-20 hours. We're in that odd position of having had the storm pass us ....yet its getting closer.

Keep in mind we here in Virginia have only been and only will be grazed by this storm, In comparison New Jersey, PA and NYC (and possibly the Appalachians)  are going to get CLOBBERED tonight and tomorrow. I sincerely hope no one else is hurt...but I also hope James Woolcott gets very very wet.

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October 26, 2012

UNEXPECTEDLY....

....Oregon is in the crosshairs. It looks like Steven's smugness has jinxed Oregon and doomed us all.


In all seriousness, this really does have the potential to be a first class calamity.

This thing is a queer storm to begin with because it is so damned big, tropical storm force winds extend over 200 miles from its eyewall as I type this.

 The big worry is up north. If, as expected, it turns into a hybrid nor'easter and then hits a cold front it will develop along very similar lines to the great 1888 blizzard. Its current track looks to bring utter disaster to central PA, but if it hits just south of New York it will push a maximum amount of surge into the Hudson.

Thus the nightmare 'hurricane hits NYC just right' scenario is still a possibility. The surge from this storm is likely to be much greater than a normal storm of its wind speed due to its great size and in any event these "Frankenstorms" are fiendishly difficult to predict (very few have happened).

Down here in Virginia, a 50 mile difference in the things track east tor west will make the difference between a rainy windy day and actual excitement.

For my part the generator is tested and I'll be getting additional water and petrol on the way home from school. While I don't expect a great deal of major damage around here except, perhaps,  at the oceanfront, I do expect to loose power and web access, possibly for several days.

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September 25, 2012

SERIOUS SUPER SOAKER SKIRMISH SLIGHTLY SHORT OF SENKAKUS

Japanese Coast Guard cutters have intercepted Chinese fishing vessels and patrol boats making a run for the Senkaku islands and engaged them with watercannon.

However, the Chinese vessels were not PRC, they were ROC.

Yes, the REPUBLIC of China, better known as Taiwan, also lays claim to the islets. and a small task force of patriotic Taiwanese fishermen sallied forth to make sure that this unspeakable mess got even more complicated. Taiwanese patrol boats, which had been escorting the flotilla gave covering fire with their own watercannon.  It appears that no one was injured.



The Taiwanese fishermen are concerned because if the 200 mile EEZ around the islets is strictly enforced, they would loose the bulk of their fishing grounds. (The islands are just over a hundred miles from Taiwan. )

China Daily implies there was no intent to land, just a peaceful protest to assert fishing rights. However Want China Times says they expressly refused to rule it out..

China Post has been covering this since the protestors left Taiwan and has this to say..

Chen Chun-sheng, chairman of the Su'ao District Fishermen's Association, emphasised that the purpose of the operation is to protest Japan's "nationalisation” of the island chain and also to advocate the rights of Taiwanese fishermen. The operation was made possible with a NT$5 million (US$170,500) donation to subsidise fuel costs, Chen said.

(Emphasis added)

China Post link is via AMPOTAN, who has much more including  information on the individual who is suspected of chartering the fishing boats....a Taiwanese businessman who made his fortune on the mainland and who has (allegedly) been taking over Taiwanese media outlets and making them pro-PRC mouthpieces.


Taken by itself the Taiwan-Japan dispute is not too worrying and can likely be resolved with some fisheries treaty.   However, these things never happen in isolation and with Mainland China and Japan having such a high stakes dispute over the islets this becomes something of a spanner in the works.

In other news Korea is suddenly playing hardball with their erstwhile ally over a dispute involving  a completely different set of even more Godforsaken  rocks .

Interesting times...

UPDATE: I'm sure this means nothing. More (without the sensationalist headline) here.

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September 11, 2012

Its Long Sleep is at an End



The Japanese just can't catch a break.

UPDATE: Everyone's favorite Hephaestupheliac, Don, sends this Wired article which takes a rather less pessimistic view. I'd contacted him in part due to another Wired article that made this bizarre statement:

The pressure in Mount Fuji's magma chamber is now higher than it was in 1707, the last time the nearly 4,000-metre-high Japanese volcano erupted, causing volcanologists to speculate that a disaster is imminent. 


Wow...
Those Edo period geologists were way more sophisticated than I'd thought. ...or there is a translation glitch ...or someone is on crack.

The Volcano Discovery piece I linked to initially seems fairly straight though. Though it to makes mention of the pressure being higher than the 1707 eruption. I'm really thinking something got mistranslated.

Fuji is active, it will erupt again and given its past behavior it seems a tad overdue, but Don is correct to point out that these things are fiendishly difficult to predict.

There's been no deformation and as far as I can tell since I got home, the slight increase in steam has not been enough to cause the government to close the mountain to climbers. So it's not really awakening, but it does seem to be stirring just a bit.


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