Friday, September 23, 2005

San Andreas Wriggling

In all the depth of news about hurricanes for the second year in a row, most have missed taking note of the small earthquakes along the San Andreas fault line in southern California. Several in the Central Valley, Salton Sea area and at least one small one noticed in Los Angeles have been recorded lately. Possibly precursors to a "big one."

Would the USGS seismic center be on top of this? Certainly. Would they announce these small (4.5 magnitude and below) earthquakes as possible precursors? Not likely. It is most likely they would document these and plan a "paper" to be presented after the large earthquake. It's touchy business predicting a major disaster when dealing with so much unknown. Not like a hurricane which you can see coming days ahead. Earthquakes can be even more devastating and much less predictable. It still might be precursors to the "big one" and worth keeping watch.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Big Bang - - - I wonder.

Musing again, this time about a collapsing universe falling into a dimensionless singularity and exploding into the present universe that we are, at least partially, aware of. I began to envision the collapse, not the "bang." It seems to me the mechanics of the collapse are difficult at best and improbable at least.

What happens as all this matter begins to get close and jostle for room? Well, first off, heat. So much heat that the whole thing stands the risk of never collapsing. There was once an argument put forth that the heat from our sun is created by the collapse of solar matter upon itself. I'm not certain this has been totally disproven. While much of the heat of the sun comes from the fusion process, I wonder if there actually is a portion of the heat formed by collapse and shrinking of the sun. Measurements of the solar disk have been made at Greenwich observatory for a couple of centuries. That is not enough time to determing solar radius changes. It's like trying to determine if a child's temperature is falling by taking their temperature ten seconds after you first determine they have a temperature. Solar events may have a rate that is not very easy to determine in human time spans.

So, the sun may have a portion of it's heat produced by shrinking. Certainly the shrinking universe would and it would be a lot of heat. Heat, as we all know, produces expansion and would delay and even prevent further collapse. Then, assuming we get past the heat of collapse, there is the heat formed by the chemical interaction of this molecular soup being squeezed tighter and tighter. In addition, there would be the heat formed by further fusion reactions from the masses of hydrogen and other light elements, creating one super nova after another and recreating a universe repeatedly, even if smaller than the one we now think we know. I'm sure others may come up with even more "events" on the way to a big bang if such a bang were even possible.

Where did all this matter come from? Dunno. Does it really show that it all comes from a single point? Hmmmm. Tricky. Are there other options? Too many to count and the mind boggles at just trying to think that matter even exists in the first place.

Now, I have doubts about the methodology of the "big bang' and the thinking that goes along with it. I'm not happy with "Divine intervention" either. Or with Aliens. Or with some kind of random event. However, the matter is there and must be explained (if you like to know, and I do). Where ever it all came from and however it was created, I'll be happy to have it not get a second universe created anytime soon or anywhere near where I'm at (that is if it's a Divine or random event). Afterall, if the Divinity could kill off all but a handful of humans simply because that Divinity had "regrets" over creating humans in the first place, perhaps the same Divinity might decide to "have regrets" and start over. If it's random then who knows if it might just break out all over again, pouring super-heated matter all over our poor little solar system and even more importantly, you and I. Maybe we'd better start being nice to each other to avoid Divine intervention, at least.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What did I say?

Remember when I said our electrical system is totally vulnerable and easily disrupted? So, now a single worker accidentally cuts a single wrong line and half of Los Angeles loses power. Can you imagine a dedicated effort? Even by one person? Blackout city!

And, electric is not the only soft spot. Pipelines, communication towers, highway overpasses, water supplies, bridges, you-name-it, and it's all there, wide open. Look around you and THINK.

I certainly don't want to end any of the small list of freedoms we have left, not even those we have not yet realized we've already lost but keep our rose-colored glasses on to avoid knowing. However, there's a rule of life that applies: "The guys with the swords always win." Ok, Ok, I don't want to fight over that. You might have the bigger sword. It's just the way it has always been and still is.

You can sit in your home and ooooHHHHMMMM all you want while a couple of gang members trash your possessions, rape and murder your spouse and children, and, when they turn on you, of course your ohm'ing will protect you. I suggest that if you believe in that kind of fairey tale, you remember that the Bible explicitly states that "Faith without works is dead."

If we don't do something, our joy of an open society (however messed up it might be, it's still better than...), our very joy of being able to cross bridges, have electricity, park openly at a public lot, walk down town, that and more might be not only lost but become both a hazard and a distant memory. We are not prepared for the few hundred dedicated-to-death and misguided religious fanatics willing to do anything to disrupt society. And, it's not just the United States, no country is prepared for such an attack.

Chairman Mao told them and showed them how to take over any country, society, culture, group of people, and so on. We can be thankful that, at present, the fanatics have been more interested in converting their own countries and mostly attack Americans as targets of opportunity. The troops in Iraq are "targets of opportunity" and a chance to practice and train for increased prowess in following the methods outlined by Chairman Mao in his "Little Red Book."

So long as these activist-fanatics are more interested in taking over their own countries and societies, our homeland will be less threatened. What would happen if all of the Islamic countries (and that includes those countries with more than 30 percent Islamic) united under the power of these fanatics? Would the present Islamic move to take over all of Africa increase and the pace quicken? Certainly. Would the move to take over areas with significant Muslim (but less than 30 percent) population quicken. Would force be used to accomplish this? Most definitely. Would WE be victims of increased violence from religious fanatics? Beyond doubt.

As we watch our world continue to move into more and more disarray and polarity, one of the keys to keeping our country safe from such fanatic attacks is to keep them interested in a different target and watching, watching, watching for them to have a safe harbor such as a group of Islamic countries ruled by the fanatics which would be a certain sign of trouble ahead. Is Bush right in pushing for Democratic reforms in Islamic countries? Couldn't be more right. Democratic style reforms will help keep not only us safe but those citizens of the Islamic countries safer and better economically than under fanatics.

Keeping an army in Iraq doesn't suit me at all. BUT!!! There are options. We could let fanatics take over, gain a safe harbor, and become targets in our own homes. I feel for the army targets we have sent to Iraq in order to be safer in our own homes. I especially feel for them because we don't seem to understand what they are doing for us there. Without them (our boys in Iraq) my electric might be a victim of fanatics, my water supply lost, I might not want to go to the store or flea market or football game or, or,or.

The guys we've sent to Iraq are the visible targets for the fanatics to gather and attack. Not the Sears Tower, not the Empire State building, not our electrical, water, communications and more, systems. Nope, we go to our dinner tables without a thought that we might not have any of those without those guys at risk in the front line at Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere. So, next time you drive safely to work, have lunch, buy groceries, watch TV, and go to bed in safety, thank those guys who do none of those things safely over there, in the front lines.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Greatest assets

New Orleans greatest assets are it's people. Now they are gone. The quickest way to return the city to any level of "normal" (if that could ever have been said of Carnival Town) is to get those people back.

Remember the scenes from WW2 of the Germans cleaning up totally devastated cities? Even if you're not as old as that, you've seen the pictures. The people who lived there were the asset required to bring those cities back. Did they evacuate the cities and wait to find all the bodies? Or remove the toxins dropped from the sky or the toxins blasted throughout the cities? Nope. Didn't have the resources.

For New Orleans to begin recovery quickly, the Mayor should post a notice in all possible ways of the addresses "cleared" and get those people back. FEMA can support this by paying a bit for the locals to repair and finish the cleaning job. What do you want to bet the people are eager to return and clean up. As soon as the water is down and people won't drown, allow the people back. If you have to have them sign a "release" of liability, fine. Just get the people back quickly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tropical Depression

I'm inundated with bad news and can't do anything about it except shut off the outside world and pretend it isn't happening. Talk about depression. New Orleans is all about bad. The city wasn't ready, the people weren't ready, FEMA wasn't ready, nothing was ready, nothing was right, and it's all a depressing disaster.

Now, it's the blame game. Our (soon to be) first Female President wants it all changed and "corrected." Egad, I suppose it will be as "corrected" as her vision of how to fix the health care system was. Everyone else is jumping in too, so it's not fair to stop with the former First Lady. Heads are rolling from top to bottom to get out from under the axe. Probably the sacrifical goat will be the FEMA director, whether or not he did or didn't (fill in a blank or hundred blanks here).

Now, as of this moment of writing, there's Ophelia about 100 miles away from this keyboard. Nothing bad at present, just rain and breezy. Of course we can now predict weather activity with considerable accuracy. The "computer models" are all in agreement or should I say disagreement. In fact, the computer models are all over the map with one sending Ophelia southwest, two of them sending Ophelia generally northwest, and one sending Ophelia north east, 180 degrees away from the first mentioned and 90 degrees away from the other two.

But wait! Don't buy yet! There's more!

Just about everyone in the United States watched Katrina grow in the Gulf of Mexico. I, too, watched and said, "That's perfect storm condition." Then, when Katrina turned into the perfect storm it was clear where it was going. The strike zone might have varied within a few miles and the intensity (if they were lucky---and they were) might drop some, but, for a full 24 hours even I could see the disaster on the way. I'm sure that was the case for virtually everyone in America or anywhere the weather system was available and shown for all to see. Where were the needed agencies at this time of obvious impending disaster? They make the big bucks, let them perform.

We saw with the Great Tsunami that education of the public would have saved many lives. Did we not learn from that? Obviously not. Was there any "real" preparation? Obviously not. The list goes on. You're welcome to add to it.

How smug we in America were with our attitude toward the "backward" countries that allowed a Tsunami to kill hundreds of thousands. WE are above that sort of thing. Oh yeah, sure. Was the lesson long in coming? Less than a year and we are on the list of stupid, backward, third world, disaster areas. How smug do we Americans feel now?

Earlier I thought it would take 30 or 40 billion to repair the mess. Now, it looks like even 100 billion won't do it and we are dealing with a trillian dollar disaster. Perhaps even more when the total economic stress to the system is resolved. Then there is the loss of life, lives in disarray, people who owned much now owning less, people who owned some now with little and people who owned little now with nothing. The disarry has spread from the Katrina strike area outward like ripples in water.

Much as when a rock is dropped in a pool of water, some water immediately splashes all about, even far away. Then, the ripples begin to spread. Such is the case with the Katrina disaster. The immediate splash sent gas prices soaring. The area under the rock has been squashed and made unliveable. Just outside the strike zone, there is damage and repair underway. Further out, the ripples have brought refugees, shortages, and there will be crime reported soon. What else can some of these refugees do? As the looters said, "You gotta stay alive." Well, at least the ones who took food and clothing, not the ones taking out the gocart and other expensive but usless "stuff" that didn't support life.

Now, the vision of the rock drop continues with the water rushing back to the drop zone. We had that immediately with the drowning of New Orleans, the ultimate removal of the refugees, and now the final removal of even the holdouts. An astounding vision of destruction and "tropical depression."

Is there a fix? Certainly. If the people of the United States can afford to spend a few hundred billion here and there (Iraq, Katrina, foreign aid, you name it), then we can afford to stop that sort of idiocy and spend the trillion dollars taking care of OUR citizens, OUR cities, OUR welfare. If a city or area is at risk to a "natural" disaster, flood, wind, earthquake, snow, ice, whatever, then spend the money up front to make it actually ready.

If you lived in Florida last year and you lost your home, roof, or other portion of your house, FEMA "gave" you money to fix it. Why not GIVE that money for needed upgrade so there wouldn't be a lose of home and security? As it was, FEMA handed out money to individuals with little or no control. Where that money went and if it went to home repair is unknown. Get the people, train them, hire the workers and supervise the upgrade so there won't be a need for FEMA to throw money off the back end of a "natural" disaster. Doesn't "preparedness" actually mean something in FEMA?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


New Orleans has an opportunity few cities have ever had in recent times. The city can be rebuilt to future standards and it can become the "future city" of this century. No more above-ground wires, the best waste and waste water removal, citizen facilities modernized and fully available, total broadband access, public transportation that actually functions and keeps the automobile away from the city, and so much that can be done.

Yes, it's a disaster. Yes, it's an opportunity. The bad did it's job well, now let's hope the good does even better. Please take this opportunity to become the finest city in the world and show the world what good can accomplish.

In a city just waiting for a disaster to come to town, there seems to have been little actual preparation for the disaster everyone said would come sooner or later. Is YOUR city safe? Yes, New Orleans is a city living below sea level, in a swamp, surrounded by water higher than the city streets, protected by the work of humans, dependent on the vagaries of nature to "not happen," and they were not ready. Is San Francisco ready for a 1906 level earthquake? Or Memphis if the New Madrid earthquake zone repeats it's 1812 event? Or Charleston, South Carolina if the earthquake of 1876 repeats? Not only do I doubt it, I'm certain they are not. Is any Gulf Coast or East Coast city ready for a category 5 direct hit from a hurricane? The answer here is a resounding NO. Can a city be prepared for such an event? Yes and New Orleans can show us the way.

How much would it have cost to get New Orleans and the other devastated cities and towns ready for a catageory 5 hurricane. Speaking here of minimizing loss of life first, continuation or return of public services second, and property protection third. There's more and you can make a long list of preparation requirements. How much would such "real" preparation have cost? Twenty Billion??? Maybe more? Ok, how much is this lack of preparation costing? Thirty or forty billion??? Certainly is and the actual cost will certainly be much higher in human values such as loss of life, injury, economic stress, you name it.

With that in mind, let's get busy and fix our cities. the benefits are enormous. Jobs, economic development, better living conditions under normal circumstances, protection during extreme conditions, and a use of FEMA money about to be thrown from the stern of the great ship Katrina. Imagine what that money would have done over the last five years if applied to protecting these same areas.

Well; the well that signifies the ending, it seems we never will learn. Perhaps it's cheaper to just throw money from the back end of a "natural" disaster than to prepare to make "natural" not a disaster.