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 14, 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 20, 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 30, 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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