30 August 2005

Pray

WBEN.com:

MARTIAL LAW DECLARED: Situation Deteriorating
CBS News - Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:37 AM

New Orleans, LA (CBS) - Martial Law has been declared in New Orleans as conditions continued to deteriorate. Water levels in The Big Easy and it's suburbs are rising at dangerous levels and officials stated they don't know where the water is coming from. Residents are being urged to get out of New Orleans in any way they can as officials fear "life will be unsustainable" for days or even weeks.


(H/T: Michelle Malkin)

24 August 2005

Foresight?

My high school US History and World Lit teacher, Mrs. Parsons, was well known in the school for her strongly held political and social ideas. One position she held that has always stuck with me was her assertion that the United States is a declining power, and that China would rise up and take our place as the primary world superpower. I don't know how much I ascribe to that idea myself, given the broad spectrum of arguments on both sides and the unavoidable (and hopefully not entirely unwarranted) hubris that comes from being an American citizen.

Regardless, cf. the Washington Times:

Kazakhstan’s foreign minister yesterday pledged his country’s support for U.S. military operations in Central Asia and said his country worked to water down neighboring countries’ efforts to evict American troops from the region.

Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev added that the U.S. military presence since the 2001 Afghanistan war and China’s emergence as a regional and global power were helping revive the 19th-century “Great Game” struggle for influence in the region.

“Yes, to some extent, the ‘Great Game’ is coming back to our region,” Mr. Tokayev told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“All of the major countries are expressing their own interest to be present [in Central Asia], which is only natural because this region turned out to be important geopolitically and from a strategic point of view,” he said.

Kazakhstan, a U.S. ally and the only Central Asian nation to contribute troops to the postwar mission in Iraq, startled the Bush administration last month when it endorsed a communique from the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) widely interpreted as demanding a deadline for shutting down U.S. bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, set up to support the Afghan war.

The increasingly influential SCO includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but is dominated by its two largest members—Russia and China. Both Moscow and Beijing have been unnerved by the prospect of permanent U.S. military outposts in their strategic backyard.


Whether or not China is on a crash course for a head-to-head confrontation with us, there are certainly plenty of theaters within which such standoffs might occur, including Hong Kong and the above-mentioned central Asia. And that doesn’t even address the economic grappling that’s likely going to happen in the next decade or so.

Eternal vigilance, the price both of freedom and success.

(Hat tip: Captain's Quarters)

20 August 2005

When CPU Fans Go Bad

... you see a BIOS ‘CPU Health’ status window that says:

     CPU Fan: 0 RPM
     CPU Temp: 60ºC

with the CPU Temp number rising roughly 1ºC every five seconds. (For reference, under normal conditions my CPU runs in the vicinity of 41-42ºC, with an occasional slight increase in really hot weather.)

Thank goodness $10 plus two or three days plus NewEgg equals ‘fixed’!

18 August 2005

I Guess I’m Just Not Artistically Enlightened

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m very technically-minded. I like calculus, differential equations, computers, programming, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, etc. I also like to think that I have a creative side, viz. the clarinet and piano, and I’ve been known to compose a bit of music and draw now and again. Apparently, though, I'm just a dimwitted clod when it comes to “real art.” I mean, I thought this was ridiculous and just plain disgusting, but I think this (link is time-sensitive; look for the story ‘A Bomb Grows In Brooklyn’) is completely reprehensible and more than a little frightening:

Chris Hackett wanted to have the bomb completed on Monday. But at 4 o’clock that day, he was still out shopping for parts.

He said the strength of the bomb would be equivalent to “about four pounds of TNT. It doesn’t sound like much,” he allowed, “but it’s enough to kill everyone in the gallery.”

Mr. Hackett, who is an artist, doesn’t like to jaywalk; he crosses the Manhattan streets with caution. He looks something like a big paramilitary teddy bear, in work boots (his only pair of shoes) and all-black clothes. He’s in his early 30’s and has lots of big dreadlocks and many freckles. He’s a co-founder of the Madagascar Institute, a collective of radically minded artists in Brooklyn. This latest project, a functional suitcase bomb, will be included in a large art exhibition that will open under the auspices of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council a few days before Sept. 11.

[...]

Mr. Hackett’s bomb is designed to be triggered from “anywhere else in the world—you call a cell phone.” He said that he had already purchased the cell-phone trigger. Only he knows the number—but, of course, he has no plans to explode it.

The bomb’s construction will be, in essence, familiar to anyone who has seen a Die Hard movie. The two components that comprise the explosive, fertilizer and fuel oil, would be detonated with oxygen and propane, but they remain unmixed inside the suitcase until the bomb is triggered.

“As long as [the explosive materials are] separate, it’s like an aisle in Home Depot,” he said. “The whole thing is safe and inert.”

[...]

Mr. Hackett has a weird habit of talking of his bomb in an active—which is to say, explosive—tense. “To ignite it, I’m putting a resister [sic] in. What that does, it’ll take a while to get enough current in it—when it shorts out, it makes a spark. Two minutes later, the spark goes off and the thing explodes.”

“It won’t go off,” said Seth Cameron, creative director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Mr. Cameron is the curator of the show, as well as an artist himself, and he was speaking from his Dumbo studio.

Did Mr. Cameron feel safe with the bomb’s construction? “Given Chris’ illustrious past, at first, no. Basically, I’m just making him swear up and down that he’s not going to …. ” He trailed off. “It’s one thing for him to blow himself up, but when it comes to other people … I’m just crossing my fingers.”


(“I’m just crossing my fingers”... now that inspires confidence! Color me glad I’m living in Boston, not NYC.)

Sooooo.... does this mean that all of the suicide bombers in Iraq and Palestine* and elsewhere, along with those responsible for the 1993 WTC and Oklahoma City bombings (to mention just a very few), are merely struggling, misunderstood artists? Should we petition the NEA to subsidize these visionary creative geniuses?

Or should we arrest Hackett for public endangerment and do our best to apprehend or kill those who are doing their best to try to kill us?

(Hat tip: LGF)

* By ‘Palestine’ I refer to the entire historical region of the British Mandate of Palestine—I should (more accurately) say ‘Israel,’ as no suicide terrorism (or very little if there is any) is taking place east of the Jordan River.

17 August 2005

Kelo Gets Even Worse

You may recall that I wrote a rather scathing post about the Kelo vs. New London SCOTUS decision that gave the Constitutionally dubious thumbs-up to the “eminent domain” land-grab by the city of New London to make way for a new hotel, conference center, and housing/office space complex. Well, turns out it gets even better (read: worse)—the city is now claiming that the people who are so stubbornly clinging to their homes owe back rent (and more, actually—they apparently want any and all rent collected for rental properties as well) for all of the time since the city initially made the eminent domain claim back in 2000. The amounts involved here are mind-blowing:

An NLDC estimate assessed Dery [who owns four buildings on the disputed property] for $6,100 per month since the takeover, a debt of more than $300K. One of his neighbors, case namesake Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house with her husband, learned she would owe in the ballpark of 57 grand. “I'd leave here broke,” says Kelo. “I wouldn't have a home or any money to get one. I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge.”


Dafydd over at Captain’s Quarters captures the mood well:

Sometimes, you almost have to laugh. But it’s a nervous sort of laugh, like when your next-door neighbor launches into a tirade about the interstellar aliens who have taken over all the PTAs in the county.


The development company is also (legally, actually) only reimbursing the erstwhile residents for the equivalent 2000 rent, since that’s when eminent domain was claimed. As Dafydd also points out, “[s]ince there has been a considerable rise in the value of real estate in the last five years, this means that the residents [...] will probably be paid less in compensation than they are assessed in rent... and far too little to buy a new house to replace the one seized.” If New London (CNL) is permitted to have its way, the lives of these people will be destroyed. They will have no homes, no money to buy new ones elsewhere, and will very likely be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Sounds fun, ne?

There’s been a lot of gab online lately about the judicial principle of stare decisis, much in the context of newly nominated SCOTUS prospect John Roberts and his position on Roe vs. Wade. In general, I think it’s a good thing, as it provides long-term stability to judicial decisions and prevents them from being overruled lightly. But, as above-linked m-w.com definition says, the principle should only apply when decisions don’t “contravene the ordinary principles of justice.”

Kill it! Kill it now, before it eats us all!!!

(Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters)

16 August 2005

I’m Really Not Dead!

And these people are crazy. For cryin’ out loud, folks! eBay!!

(Hat tip: By The Way)