Friday, May 26, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Remember
"Go tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by here,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie."
- inscription at Thermopylae

All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

Next Monday is Memorial Day. Between the barbeques, picnics, and boat trips, take a moment to remember.

Remember those that serve, those that served, and those "still on patrol." Ultimately, they did it for you and me.

They chose to serve something greater than themselves.

Recommended Reading
Argghhh!, "Memorial Day 2006."

James S. Robbins, "Remembering Frankie."

"Five Days in May - The Loss of the U.S.S. Scorpion."

Victor Davis Hanson, "Looking Back at Iraq."

Cathy Seipp, "Dear Useful Idiot."

Kathryn Lopez, "Lost City."

Thought of the Week(end)
"Those who will may raise monuments of marble to perpetuate the fame of heroes. Those who will may build memorial halls to remind those who shall gather there in after times what manhood could do and dare for right, and what high examples of virtue and valor have gone before them. But let us make our offering to the ever-living soul. Let us build our benefactions in the ever-growing heart, that they shall live and rise and spread in blessing beyond our sight, beyond the ken of man and beyond the touch of time."
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Memorial Day 1884

Churchill Quote of the Week
"Be of good cheer. The hour of your deliverance will come. The soul of freedom is deathless. It cannot and will not perish."
Winston Churchill
Broadcast, London, 11th September 1940

Friday, May 19, 2006

New England Flooding - Update

Maine Man's friend has kindly offered the following pictures for us to post, of the flooding this week in York Beach, Maine. (Click on each picture for a bigger picture.)

Just to put things in perspective: York Beach is a tourist town northeast of Portsmouth, N.H., about 90 minutes away from Boston. A place where many head to escape the heat of summer for a few weeks. As such, its economy depends on tourism.

But the tourist season is going to have a rough start.

Several local roads were washed out. This is the Cape Neddick bridge, one of the more dramatic failures. The river below displaced the bridge's supports, causing it to buckle. (Now think about how much water it took to generate that kind of force.)

As for the flooding across the region, the rain has let up and the waters are beginning to recede. In Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, the task is now cleaning up and getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

But this flood has earned a place in the record books:
It really was a 100-year flood.

Preliminary estimates of the magnitude of this week's flooding show the highest-ever floods recorded at 12 rivers in central and southern New Hampshire, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

Those rivers include the Lamprey River at Newmarket; Salmon Falls River at Milton; Cocheco River near Rochester; Exeter River near Brentwood; Soucook River near Concord; Warner River at Davisville; Piscataquog River near Goffstown; Beaver Brook at North Pehlman; and the Spicket River near Methuen, Mass., the survey said.

"Flows during the flood peak for the Lamprey, Exeter, Warner, Soucook, Merrimack and Spicket rivers generally were at or exceeded those peaks that would be expected an average of once in a 100-year period, termed the 100-year return interval," said Kenneth Toppin, a USGS hydrologist.

Examples of recorded peak flood flows highlight the magnitude of the flooding, Toppin said. For example, the peak flow in the Lamprey River at Newmarket was 9,100 cubic feet per second on May 16; normal flow for this date is 366 cubic feet per second. The Piscataquog River near Goffstown had a peak flow of 10,100 cubic feet per second on May 14; normal flow for this date is 426 cubic feet per second.

The Merrimack River at Manchester peaked at 74,800 cubic feet per second, the third-highest flow since peaks in 1936 from spring runoff and in 1938 from a hurricane.

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - Selective Outrage
So the UN wants us to close Guantanamo.

You know, for running a super-secret torture center, we aren't very good at it. Everyone knows where it is, it's observed by the International Red Cross and the UN, and there's no actual torture going on. In fact, the inmates are putting on weight. That may be torture by a Hollywood starlet's standards, but not anywhere else in the world.

Of course, the UN has yet to issue any statements condemning Cuba's gulags, China's slave labor camps, or the actions of secret police in their secret prisons in a whole host of Islamic countries.

Maybe next week.

Recommended Reading
VDH, "Anti-anti-Americanism."

Allow me to introduce someone, Aayan Hirsi Ali. It's a strange, sad story. And it raises some questions.

And Deroy Murdock returns to New Orleans.

Despite all the hype, The Da Vinci Code is receiving a harsh reception. And that's just from the movie critics. I haven't even mentioned those who take exception to the film on philosopical and/or moral grounds.

Thought of the Week
"We are in a war of a peculiar nature. It is not with an ordinary community, which is hostile or friendly as passion or as interest may veer about: not with a state which makes war through wantonness, and abandons it through lassitude. We are at war with a system, which by its essence, is inimical to all other governments, and which makes peace or war, as peace and war may best contribute to their subversion. It is with an armed doctrine that we are at war. It has, by its essence, a faction of opinion, and of interest, and of enthusiasm, in every country."
Edmund Burke, Letters on Regicide Peace, 1796.

Churchill Quote of the Week
"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'."
Sir Winston Churchill, Second World War (1948)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Noble Sacrifice

From The Onion:
Heroic Computer Dies To Save World From Master's Thesis
May 17, 2006 Issue 42•20

WALTHAM, MA—A courageous young notebook computer committed a fatal, self-inflicted execution error late Sunday night, selflessly giving its own life so that professors, academic advisors, classmates, and even future generations of college students would never have to read Jill Samoskevich's 227-page master's thesis, sources close to the Brandeis University English graduate student reported Monday.

The brave laptop, even after fulfilling its mission, steadfastly resists a technician's data-recovery attempts.

"This fearless little machine saved me from unspoken hours of exasperated head-scratching and eyestrain, as well as years of agonizing self-doubt over my decision to devote my life to teaching," said professor John Rebson, who had already read through three drafts of Samoskevich's sprawling, 38,000-word dissertation, titled A Hermeneutical Exploration Of Onomatopoeia In The Works Of William Carlos Williams As It May Or May Not Relate To Post-Agrarian Appalachia. "It was an incredible act of bravery. This laptop sacrificed itself in order to put an end to Jill's senseless rambling."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New England Flooding

It appears that the floodwaters are beginning to subside.

So far, the largest disruptions appear to be happening in Massachusetts. In addition to property damage, closed roads, and evacuations in the northeastern quarter of the state, flood damage has forced the closing of two wastewater plants, dumping 150 million gallons of sewage into the swollen Merrimack River.

As I work in the water and wastewater treatment field, I have been following this aspect rather closely. The plants themselves are intact, and undamaged. The problem is pipes and powerlines. In Haverhill, MA, the main sewer lines into the plant were exposed and then destroyed by floodwaters; and in Lawrence, MA, floodwaters destroyed the power lines into the plant. In both places, the equipment is ready to go, but the disruptions are going to affect their ability to treat wastewater for some weeks to come. The overall environmental impact is not going to be as bad as one might think - the dilution offered by the massive amount of water in the Merrimack will go a long ways towards mitigating the impact. And while the wastewater plants will need some time to get back to peak efficiency, they will be able to at least partially treat the wastewater as soon as repairs are made.

New Hampshire recieved record rainfall over the entire southern half of the state. The water has now moved on from its earlier peaks, but more rain is expected.

But some of the best information I have been getting is from Maine Man, who lives in York, Maine. (And is okay - his home is located well outside the flood zone.) There, the damage is limited to property damage - flooded homes and businesses, plus some washed-out roads and a collapsed bridge.

The problem is, York depends on tourism, and the area affected by the flooding is the core of the tourist district. They have until Memorial Day (just a week and a half) to clean up - or they are going to lose business.

And it's not over yet.

More Information:
NorthEast Cable News

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rough Weekend - and Week - in New England


Lot of flooding in the Northeast. Some places saw over 15 inches of rain over the weekend. While this storm is almost over, another one is moving in. The morning news was saying this is the worst flooding they've seen in 70 years.

So if anyone sees Maine Man floating by, throw him a line!

[Seriously MM - check in here if you get the chance. We'd like to know how things are in your neck of the woods.]

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - King Rocky
It's just a flat-out rant today.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has budgeted $20,000 for a portrait of himself.

Twenty thousand dollars.

Now, I don't object to the idea of a portrait, per se. Our offices deserve some pomp and circumstance.

I just don't think the mayor of Salt Lake City deserves twenty thousand dollars' worth of pomp.

But given Rocky's political proclivities and progressive politics, plus his warm personal leadership style, I have an idea of what the picture will look like:

What do you think?

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson, "In The Eye Of The Beholder."

Jonah Goldberg, "Pick Up Your Own Crap." (Don't be put off by the title. This one of Jonah's G-Files, where he delves into a topic at length. It's a good one, on populism.)

Robert Rubin, "I Was An Icelandic War Criminal." (This is an interesting one too. There is a disturbiung trend by a few left-wing extremists to crmiinalize any views they disagree with. Look for yourself.)

Geoffrey Norman, "The Greenest State." Politics, Vermont-style.

Thought of the Week
"At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account."
Thomas Jefferson (letter to Monsieur A. Coray, 31 October 1823)

Churchill Quote of the Week
"The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. The come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians ... Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."
Sir Winston Churchill, April 24, 1933

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Your Pal, Mahmoud

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to President Bush. While the press has tripped all over itself praising this apparent thaw in the crisis, that is only because they haven't read all eighteen pages. That, and they can't read Persian.

Fortunately, a translation (
available in its entirety here) has become available:
Dear Infidel Crusader Zionist sock-puppet Saudi-lackey depoiler of Mesopotamia woman-touching pigdog fiendish
(293 words excised)
Shah-licking son of a toad’s offal: I trust this finds you well. I have much on my mind, and have taken the pen to unburden my breast. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope should you wish to reply.
. . . and if you had the problem I have with razors you would know why my beard seems so tentative at times; if I may speak with you man to anointed hastener of the Apocalypse, how do you get such a smooth shave? A hot towel? Perhaps the Five-Blade Razor of which we have heard muttered rumors? Personally, I use an exfoliating agent which

(8343 words excised)

. . . and Jack Bauer will not be able to save you this time, my friend. If there is an attack on our country we will double our aid to the Iraqi patriots, double our funding to Hezbollah and its female auxiliary wing Sisboombah, and double again our attempts to secrete through your borders weapons both chemical and biological.
I'm thinking dialogue isn't going to work, here.

actual translation is available here.)

[Crossposted to
The Pacific Slope.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Among the members of the new United Nations human rights council: China and Cuba.

There's a couple of human rights champions, all right.

"Get the US out of the UN" sounds better every day.

May 10, 1869

What was it the Engines said,
Pilots touching,—head to head
Facing on the single track,
Half a world behind each back?

Bret Harte

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

By Popular Demand

Politics has a math of its own. Whereas a scientifically minded person might see things this way: One person who says 2+2=5 is an idiot; two people who think 2+2=5 are two idiots; and a million people who think 2+2=5 are a whole lot of idiots—political math works differently. Let’s work backwards: if a million people think 2+2=5, then they are not a million idiots, but a “constituency.” If they are growing in number, they are also a “movement.” And, if you were not only the first person to proclaim 2+2=5, but you were the first to persuade others, then you, my friend, are not an idiot, but a visionary.
And that's just the first paragraph.

Jonah Goldberg has written
another great G-File. It's long - and it's good.

Populism is one of those stange political forces that everyone acknowledges but then try to ignore. Politicians don't like telling people they are wrong - it costs them votes.

Goldberg's article particularly piques my interest because of a new movement to eliminate the electoral college, which I consider patently wrongheaded. The topic may sound familiar to you -
Jamo has written about it before. This movement claims that the electoral college does not reflect the "will of the people."

That it fails to represent or honor the law is immaterial. As Goldberg writes,
[Populism] does not pretend to privilege objective truth or the best arguments or even justice—if by justice you mean an objective system of judgment which might rule against “the people.” For populists, “justice” is defined by the giant baby getting its bottle.
The electoral college was not created on a whim. Rather, it is the last defense against mobocracy. It is an arbiter of sectional and regional interests, balancing regional needs and popular whimsy.

It would be nice if those so eager to change or bypass the Constitution understood it first. But popular movements often depend on ignorance - as Huey P. Long proved.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Washoe Furo Questus

Back from Reno, and I didn't even lose my shirt. Of course, it helps not to bet in the first place. Didn't have time to make it to Virginia City, but maybe next time.

Got a lot of reading done on this trip. I was able to get into Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. I think Chandler is going to become a favorite of mine. He has a gift for prose, one that is fun to read as he takes you through the tawdry side of 1930s Los Angeles.

A quick wrapup of the news:

The Editors of National Review said it best: "We Lost." Zacarias Moussaoui will now spend the rest of his life behind bars in a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, rather than be executed for conspiring and planning the murder of 3000 American citizens. Anyone want to bet the usual suspects arrange for his parole inside of twenty years? (Although I'm angry about this, rather than depressed.)

Victor Davis Hanson, "For Better or Worse?"

Ralph Peters, "The Tribes Are Back."

For some goings-on in the world of country music, go here.

That's all for this week. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Democrat gets 'Real'

As a resident of Sandy, I give a warm, heartfelt "Thank you!" to Salt Lake County mayor, Peter Corroon (D), for sticking up for the taxpayer. If you have not already heard, major league soccer's REAL Salt Lake team had asked for taxpayer dollars for a new soccer-only stadium in Sandy. Like a spoiled child, REAL stuck out their hands demanding $Millions for their precious stadium. However, their financial documents leaked out, which raised some serious questions about the feasibility of their proposal. Mayor Corroon put his foot down and refused to give REAL Salt Lake the $35M they requested.

The best argument for not funding REAL is money. Guess what, the county doesn't have an extra $35M floating around in pocket change. They would have to bond out for $48.5M according to Corroon. This still doesn't sound too extreme until you figure that over the life of the bond, the interest payments would end up costing the county $87.5M!!! And that my friends, is exactly why we do not need a new REAL soccer stadium. Let them find independent investors to foot the bill. I hope none of my tax money gets filtered out to these weasels.

I hope you're listening, Tom Dolan (Mayor, Sandy). We don't want you pandering to these guys. We don't want you giving them our money. Leave the butt-kissing to Rocky Anderson (Mayor, Salt Lake City) After all, he's a seasoned, professional butt-kisser; and, hopefully REAL will decide to locate in their namesake, Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To The Biggest Little City In The World

Photo from Declan McCullagh Photography.

Heading out to Reno on business. (Yeah, I've been travelling a lot lately, haven't I?) Hopefully I can get a little trainwatching in too - Sparks yard is right by the airport, and Donner Pass is just a little ways away. (No snowplow action this time of year, though.)

week, although I will try to stop in and get a discussion going on that
alternative fuels article.

If I'm not back Friday afternoon, you can assume one of three things:
(1) I missed my flight;
(2) I'm in
Folsom Prison;
(3) I hit the jackpot and am on my way to my new mansion in Tahiti.

In other words - I'll be back Friday.

Sizing Up Alternative Fuels

We have all asked it - if gasoline is getting so expensive, surely there must be other alternatives?

Popular Mechanics takes a look.

I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I hope to do so and have some comments up by Monday.

[Found thanks to Instapundit.]

Monday, May 01, 2006

How To Screw Up Your Economy

Step 1: Elect a socialistic nutjob to run your country, who mouths all the usual neo-Communist platitudes about "the people" and exploitation, the evil geedy capitalists, etc.

Step 2:
Actively discourage foreign investment while pretending to be protecting your resources. (Actually, you're just shaking them down - a keltocacy, if you will.)

Then step back, and watch the money come rolling in - for about a month. Then watch it stop. And watch your country starve.