Recently in Other... Category

Florida condo update #1

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Crap - from the Miami Herald:

Number of missing in Surfside condo collapse rises to 159, Miami-Dade mayor says
The arduous and heartbreaking task of recovering the bodies of victims at the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside began overnight and continued into a somber Friday morning in an unfolding tragedy that is feared to be the worst building failure in Florida history.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava said Friday morning that the number of people who are unaccounted for in Thursday’s building collapse increased to 159 — dramatically higher than the 99 reported earlier. The official death toll rose to four, as three more people were found in the rubble.

She said 120 people are now accounted for but stressed that all the numbers are “fluid” because some residents may not have been in the building when it collapsed.

“Unfortunately, this has been a tragic night,” Levine Cava said, while stressing that rescuers will “continue searching because we still have hope that we will find people alive.”

Prayers going out. Hard time for everyone.

Prayers going out to Miami

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Huge building collapse - from Miami station WSVN:

At least 1 dead, 35 rescued after partial building collapse at Champlain Towers in Surfside
At least one person has died and 35 others have been rescued after a partial building collapsed in Surfside.

The collapse happened at the Champlain Towers South Condo near 88th Street and Collins Avenue, just before 1:30 a.m., Thursday.

More than 80 Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units responded to the scene. Rescue crews from other cities have also responded to the scene to assist.

The pictures or horrific.

Suez - back to normal; Two memes

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The Ever Given is no longer stuck and shipping has been resumed.  From gCaptain:

Ever Given Freed Allowing Shipping to Resume Through Suez Canal
Shipping was on the move again late on Monday in Egypt’s Suez Canal after tugs refloated a giant container ship which had been blocking the channel for almost a week, causing a huge build-up of vessels around the waterway.

After the 400-meter-long (430-yard) Ever Given was dislodged, 113 ships were expected to transit the canal in both directions by early Tuesday morning, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie told reporters.

He said a backlog of 422 ships could be cleared in 3 -1/2 days.

And the memes keep coming - here are two:

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Heh - I'd get one of the Ikea doorstops if they were available.  Cute.

From gCaptain:

Ever Given Salvage Successful – Statement from the Salvage Company
The MV Ever Given has been succssfully refloated in the Suez Canal and the ship is currently under tow to Great Bitter Lakes, where awaiting vessels are expected to continue their southbound transit. Below is the full statement from Boskalis, parent company of the SMIT Salvage, the appointed salvor in the operation:

Grounded container vessel Ever Given successfully refloated in the Suez Canal by expert salvage team of Boskalis subsidiary SMIT Salvage
Boskalis announces the successful salvage operation of the grounded 20,000 TEU container vessel Ever Given in the Suez Canal. With a length of 400 meters and a width of nearly 60 meters this giant ship had been wedged in this vital shipping route since 23 March 2021 blocking all shipping traffic ever since.

Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis: “Shortly following the grounding of the Ever Given we were requested through SMIT Salvage to provide assistance with the salvage operation. I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again. I’m extremely proud of the outstanding job done by the team on site as well as the many SMIT Salvage and Boskalis colleagues back home to complete this challenging operation under the watchful eye of the world. The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented and the result is a true display of our unique capabilities as a dredging and marine services provider.”

As everyone breathes a big sigh of relief and some people prepare to write a very large check to Boskalis. Job well done.

From Mothership:

Truck with 'Evergreen' container blocks highway, goes viral for resembling Suez Canal situation

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A truck carrying an "Evergreen" shipping container is going viral on social media for its marked similarity to the colossal container ship (also emblazoned with "Evergreen") that got stuck in the Suez Canal earlier this week.

The photo appears to be taken from surveillance footage, with text on the image's header stating the location of the incident to be the Changshen Expressway (长深高速), with the date and time of the photo indicated as 9:55am on Mar. 27.

And here's a photo of the Ever Given, a container ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal on Mar. 23:

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Not a good year for Evergreen...  Corporate rebranding in 3... 2... 1...

The stuck boat - the memes

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Aaaand - the memes:

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And yep - still stuck. There is even a website now:  https://istheshipstillstuck.com/

Still stuck - Suez

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Satellite photo:

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From gCaptain:

Latest Attempt to Refloat Ever Given Unsuccessful as Shipping Rates Surge
The Suez Canal stepped up efforts on Friday to free a giant stuck container ship and end a blockage that has sent shipping rates for fuel tankers soaring and disrupted global supply chains for everything from grains to baby clothes.

Shipping rates for oil product tankers have nearly doubled after the 400-meter (430-yard) long Ever Given ran aground in the vital trade waterway on Tuesday.

Efforts to free it may take weeks and be complicated by unstable weather conditions, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

Shipping rates?

The blockage could cost global trade $6 billion to 10 billion a week, a study by German insurer Allianz showed on Friday.

Ratings agency Moody’s expects Europe’s manufacturing and car parts suppliers to be most affected because they operate “just-in-time” supply chains.

Petroleum costs are up a bunch too - wonder if this will spur them to build a pipeline. Much cheaper overall.

Ever the optimist - Ever Given

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That ship in the Suez. From gCaptain:

Ever Given Could Be Stuck for Weeks; Ship Owner Apologizes For Grounding
A container ship blocking the Suez Canal like a “beached whale” may take weeks to free, the salvage company said, as officials stopped all ships entering the channel on Thursday in a new setback for global trade.

The 400 m (430 yard) Ever Given, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said eight tugs were working to move the vessel, which got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a dust storm.

“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis which is trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television program “Nieuwsuur.”

I am glad that I do not do retail in Europe. The Suez is a component of their primary supply chain and we just discovered what the term: "Single Point of Failure" is all about. I have a generally optimistic outlook on life but I know a bit about Engineering and this is going to take time.  This is not just a matter of yanking on a rope. I would not be surprised if they had to excavate around her or if some structure had to be built for leverage or anchoring.  There is no tide in the Mediterranean Sea to speak of but there is quite the flow in the Gulf of Suez off the Arabian Ocean. Powerful forces in play.

Suez? Yep - still stuck

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From Mike Schuler at gCaptain:

Grounded ‘Mega Ship’ Blocking Suez Canal in Both Directions
An ultra-large containership is aground and blocking ship traffic in the Suez Canal.

AIS data shows the MV Ever Given is stuck sideways towards the south end of the canal near Said, Egypt, preventing ships from passing in either direction. Several tugs have been on scene for several hours working to dislodge the ship.

Shipping agent GAC reports that the grounding occurred at 7:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday (March 23) at kilometer 151 after the vessel suffered a black out while transiting.

It seems the Ever Given had just begun its transit of the waterway as part of a northbound convoy when the incident occurred.

Here is a photo from someone on the ship next in line.  The Ever Given is really wedged in there.

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I hate to think of the dollars being lost each minute or the fines to be levied against Evergreen.

Yay me!!!

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Coming in over the wire.  Could be interesting.

Stormy weather - ONE Apus

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Talk about a rough voyage - from gCaptain:

ONE Apus Arrives in Kobe, Revealing Cargo Loss of Epic Proportions
The containership ONE Apus arrived at the Port of Kobe, Japan on Tuesday after its eight-day trek from the middle of Pacific Ocean where it lost nearly 2,000 containers during a storm.

“Chidori Ship Holding LLC as owners and NYK Shipmanagement Pte Ltd as managers of the container vessel ONE Apus (IMO# 9806079) can confirm that the ship is now safely berthed in the Port of Kobe after losing 1,816 containers overboard when it encountered severe weather on Monday, November 30, 2020,” the latest update said.

Calm weather but the ship faced up to 16 meter tall waves.  That pencils out to 52.5 feet in height. Yowser! Two photos:

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Ho. Li. Crap - that must have been a wild ride.  Ship is OK, no lives lost. Still - bet there were not that many people showing up for dinner.  I have only been seasick once in my life but I bet that would have been the second had I been aboard. Full coverage here: ONE Apus Cargo Loss

Camping - so true

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You are camping in their yard - never forget that.

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Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

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Summer just got started:

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The flooding in China

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Getting worse - from American Thinker:

China floods threaten collapse of world's largest dam
The China Meteorological Administration issued a "No. 1 Flood" warning as a second month of rain and earthquakes risks collapse of Three Gorges Dam and the safety of 400 million.  

Southern China in June suffered its worst flooding since 1940 with the overflowing of 250 rivers impacting 15 million residents and causing at least 121 people dead or missing.  The world's largest hydroelectric dam, the 1.4-mile-wide and 630-foot-high Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtse River with a 5-trillion-gallon capacity, fully opened its seven massive outlets to begin discharging a record 28 acre-feet per second.

But after thirty-one days of rain, a record 16.8 inches falling between Sunday and Monday morning, and inflows running at 40 acre-feet per second after, CMA on July 4 issued an 80-percent risk of thundershowers for each of the next 11 days.

Lots of links - prayers go out for the people living there. This is a 100-year flood and there are legitimate questions about the safety of the dam.

Sums it up pretty well:

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Academia - a quote

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I should start a collection - this is number three:

There are two ways of forming an opinion. One is the scientific method; the other, the scholastic. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all-important, and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything, and facts are junked when they do not fit theory.
--Robert A. Heinlein

The other two I love are as follows:

"For real people, if something works in theory, but not in practice, it doesn't work. For academics, if something works in practice, but not in theory, it doesn't exist."
--Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A corollary to what Vox Day said:

In academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world there is.

So true - all of them.

Ides of March

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March 15th

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The travel ban - Wuhan Virus

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They just added the U.K. and Ireland to the travel ban - from CNBC:

US adds UK and Ireland to coronavirus travel restrictions, Trump considers domestic travel curbs
The U.S. will add the U.K. and Ireland to sweeping travel restrictions as the coronavirus spreads, President Donald Trump said Saturday, as he discouraged the American public from unnecessary travel.

Very good move - nip this in the bud. The President also declared this Sunday as a National Day of Prayer:

Prayer has great power. I know some people who meditate - I do that as well as prayer. We are all tapping into the same etheric forces - just taking different paths to the same destination.

Heh - COVID-19

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Two memes:

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Something to remember and act on

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Wise words - need to keep remembering this:

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A clever hack if you are not mobbed and beaten to a pulp first:

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From RACONTEUR REPORT

Something to consider - bubble-wrap

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Found on the intarwebs:

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Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt

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Found on the web:

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So true - poor sod...

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Never thought of it this way:

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Three headlines

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Done with the framing - insulation and then done for the day

Three headlines:

One paragraph:

What the bow tie–wearing myopics of the swamp can't or refuse to see is that President Trump's support comes, at its source, from growing animal spirits in America convinced that the federal government is a major problem.  The country elected Mr. Trump, in part, because he promised to be a giant club willing to bash the D.C. hull repeatedly until it sinks into the Potomac River basin.  You can't fight a war if you don't even understand the positions of the players or the stakes involved, and the D.C. denizens prove every day that they have no idea what's going on in the minds of those living between the coasts.

Nails it flat.  Next:

One paragraph:

Sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel, Kerry was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying "maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here" and explaining that in order to run, he'd have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches. Kerry said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to "raise a couple of million," adding that such donors "now have the reality of Bernie."

What - don't have access to your wife's money any more? Grifter.  And the last:

Two paragraphs:

The professor said it was possible the coronavirus might be transmitted via faeces. After entering the intestine and multiplying, it may then be excreted and come into contact with a person's hands, he said.

He also warned that the virus could be turned to vapour by the force of a toilet flushing, endangering people in the same room.

This is going to be a lot of fun in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles when it hits the homeless population.

And do not get me started on the new fad of air hand dryers - those are a serious health hazard if the person using them does not do the full 20-second health-department hand wash. A quick rinse (with or without soap) will just loosen the surface bacteria and the hand dryer will aerosolize them into a 6-10 foot cloud.
Don't believe me? Here, here, here and here. The Journal of Applied Microbiology has the definitive paper.

RIP - Kobe Bryant

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He died in a helicopter crash today. Juan Browne has the details:

Sad - his daughter as well as a bunch of other people were killed as well.

I never fly helicopters if I do not have to. Much more dangerous than fixed wing.

Lovely place and great people. Passed through there several times on my way to adventures and would not mind spending a month or two visiting. Unfortunately, this is not a well-run Nation. This latest example from the Washington Examiner:

Puerto Rico fires emergency director after finding warehouse full of wasted Hurricane Maria aid
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez has fired the island’s director of emergency management after officials found a warehouse full of emergency supplies dating back to 2017's Hurricane Maria.

Vasquez dismissed Carlos Acevedo on Saturday and gave officials two days to investigate why the wasted supplies were forgotten. The warehouse was initially investigated for damage following recent earthquakes in the area, and investigators found thousands of items of supplies, including food, water, diapers, and medicine that were intended to help those affected by Hurricane Maria years ago.

I love that she gave them two days to respond. No chance for them to kick the can down the road and gracefully retire on full pension six months later. And this is just the latest:

Nearly 3,000 people reportedly died because of the hurricane and its lasting effects on the island. Mass protests in Puerto Rico in the hurricane’s aftermath led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rossello in July 2019.

In September 2018, hundreds of pallets of water were found abandoned on an airstrip. The water had gone bad sitting in the sun for months, while many in Puerto Rico lacked access to clean water. A month prior, a local radio station found crates of food, water, medicine, and other supplies left to rot in a state elections office. By the time the discovery was made, rats and other animals had already broken into the supplies and torn through trailers full of aid.

I get it. It is easy to get overwhelmed and lose traction. At that point, you need to recognize your problem and call for outside help. There is no shame in that. Some of the CERT and FEMA drills cover just those situations. I am saddened to realize that this could have been prevented had #1) - these people taken their responsibilities more seriously and #2) - they had spent 20-50 hours in a classroom covering some of the basic FEMA course materials. Available for free online. Great stuff. Start here: Emergency Management Institute. This series is incredible if you are working with CERT or Amateur Radio groups: ICS Resource Center This group too: National Incident Management System (NIMS)

These are all free, self-paced study and invaluable in a crisis. The best definition for "Emergency" that I have heard is that it is "an incident that outstrips your ability to cope". A couple of tens of hours spent getting CERT training or with these online classes would make your average emergency a lot less of a crisis.

Not one I would like to undertake but for sheer balls, this is one for the record books. From Associated Press:

6 men become 1st to cross perilous Drake Passage unassisted
As freezing water thrashed their rowboat in some of the most treacherous waters in the world, six men fought for 13 days to make history, becoming the first people to traverse the infamous Drake Passage with nothing other than sheer manpower.

They dodged icebergs, held their breaths as giant whales breached near their small boat and rode building-sized waves while rowing 24 hours a day toward Antarctica.

The team of men from four countries finished crossing the Drake Passage on Wednesday in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.

A bit more about the conditions on board:

Besides the threat to their lives, the men labored under grueling conditions. Their 29-foot (9-meter) rowboat, named the Ohana, had to be in constant motion to avoid capsizing. That meant three men would row for 90 minutes while the other three rested, still cold and wet.

“You’re rowing inside an open hold, 40-foot sea waves are splashing in your face, near-freezing water is splashing over the bow,” said 34-year-old Colin O’Brady of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one of the six men on the boat.

“It was quite harrowing,” O’Brady told The Associated Press on Thursday in his first interview after the journey. “By the end, we all lost a good amount of weight and were delirious from the sleep deprivation.”

O'Brady has done some other truly epic adventures. The adventure was covered by the Discovery Channel

Heh - a meme and a visual trope

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Climate change is pure propaganda: about 10% science and 90% the sun.

A new Christmas accessory

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From America's Newspaper of Record - the Babylon Bee:

New Greta On The Shelf Doll Will Track Your Climate Sins

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A fun new "Greta on the Shelf" doll will watch you every day and fly back to the UN each night to report your climate sins to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The doll is equipped with eye sensors programmed to detect activities that are harmful to the environment.

"Greta sees you when you're sleeping, she knows when you drive your SUV to the store instead of taking public transportation," the manufacturer said. "She knows if you've been bad or carbon-neutral, so be carbon-neutral for goodness' sake!"

One couple in Portland proudly displayed their new doll and lectured their children on the true meaning of Christmas: fighting climate change. "We're gonna play a fun game for the holidays this year -- try to be good little carbon-neutral children, or Greta will tell on you!"

"How dare you!" the doll chanted as the kids of the household left the door open while the heater was on. "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood." The doll then blasted off toward UN headquarters using its jet engines to report on the naughty children, who will receive coal in their stocking. They will be snitched on again, however, if they burn the coal for warmth.

I can see Alexa doing this - why I do not have one and never will.

From its YouTube channel:

The 11foot8 bridge is a railroad trestle over Gregson St in Durham, North Carolina and it has earned a reputation for for its rigorous enforcement of the laws of physics. No truck taller than 11 feet and 8 inches will pass under this stubborn piece of infrastructure. Period. On this channel we document the various attempts of hapless drivers trying to get past this bridge. Some try to be sneaky, some try to be quick, some try to argue, but the bridge always wins.  There is a reason why the locals call it the "canopener!"

Last month, the railroad raised it to 12 foot 4. Two days ago (11/26/2019) It claimed its first victim:

Here is a nice story about the guy who films this bridge - from Duke University

THE DUKE EMPLOYEE BEHIND THE ‘CAN OPENER BRIDGE’ CAM
Jurgen Henn was a few weeks into starting his job at Duke when he heard a sound that nearly knocked him out of his seat in his Brightleaf Square office.

“There was this incredible crashing noise outside,” said Henn, an IT manager for the Center for Autism and Brain Development in the Duke School of Medicine. “I wandered down to see what happened. A tractor-trailer had gotten stuck underneath the railroad bridge.”

In 2008, Henn set up a camera on the second floor of Brightleaf Square and one outside of Morgan Imports to capture vehicles getting stuck or damaged trying to pass under the 11-foot-8-inch train trestle, known as the “Can Opener Bridge,” at the intersection of S. Gregson and W. Peabody streets in Durham.

The bridge has a website here: 11 foot 8 but the YouTube channel gets updated more frequently.

Dumb and Dumber

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From The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys:

REAL MEN OF GENIUS: LADDER EDITION

This is the dumbest thing I can imagine. No, not the lavender truck. That’s garden variety dumb. No, not the man holding the ladder. Gravity, leverage, fulcrums, friction, it’s all mysterious to him. But most people are like that. He’s nothing special. The guy in the bucket, sort of helping, but not really helping at all, is unexceptional. Most people just stand aside and let other people hurt themselves if they’re bound and determined to try. The man descending the ladder is a dope, of course, but he’s not the dumbest person involved here.

No, the dumbest thing in this video is the guy holding the camera vertically. The rest is conversation.

So true. Even in this day and age people still do not shoot their videos in landscape. They watch them in landscape, they just do not shoot them in landscape. Talk about bonehead...

And she is back in the hospital

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg - from USA Today:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, four-time cancer survivor, is back in the hospital
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a four-time cancer survivor, is back in the hospital after experiencing chills and fever Friday night.

Ginsburg, 86, was first admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington before being transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of any possible infection, the court's press office announced Saturday evening.

She was treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids and thereafter improved, the court said. She hopes to be released as early as Sunday morning.

I would not wish anyone ill health or a terminal illness but when she passes, this will be an incredible chance for the Supreme Court to return to its conservative roots and to cease legislating from the bench.

I still find it mind-boggling that she did not retire during Obama's reign - it would have been a shoe-in for another, younger liberal justice.

California infrastructure

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A couple of stories. First, the Los Angeles Times:

California suffered widespread cellphone outages during fires. A big earthquake would be much worse
When Ted Atz, a 75-year-old retiree in Marin County, learned that his power would go out during the Kincade fire, he texted his loved ones that he might lose cell service.

He was right. For four long days, Atz couldn’t make or receive calls. He’d drive around his hometown of San Anselmo, hoping to find better reception. He had no luck and was frustrated by the knowledge that if he suffered some kind of medical or other emergency, he couldn’t reach 911.

“I would have liked to let family know that I was OK,” Atz said.

Most cell sites have about three days of backup power - after that? Pffffttttt... Seems in Ted's case, the local site did not even have that. (cough... amateur radio... cough...)

This from Glen Reynolds - Law Professor and Instapundit:

Working With the System
We worry about terrorists, and rightly. But even without terrorists, things go wrong. SARS brought a major chunk of the global economy, and global transport network to a halt. The Great Blackout left 50 million without power for reasons still not entirely clear. The heat wave in France produced over 10,000 deaths. And the former Soviet Republic of Georgia suffered its own blackout, affecting millions -- though that one, like the great blackout in Memphis earlier this summer that left over a million people without power, some for weeks, got less attention because media people weren't affected directly.

And the meat of the matter:

But it's clear that this stuff matters. In particular, the cell-phone industry has dropped the ball. The cellphone network isn't just a luxury for rich guys and soccer moms anymore: it's a vital part of emergency infrastructure.

Unfortunately, according to an article in Newsday, it isn't up to the job:

Less than two years after the cellular network faltered following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the cellular system -- which the wireless industry promotes as a safety net during emergencies -- choked again.

The system broke down as a flood of nervous callers overloaded the network for some carriers; there wasn't enough capacity to handle the excess calls. Complicating matters, many cellular sites, which depend on electricity, had inadequate backup power.

Cell-phone carriers say the electrical outage was an event they couldn't possibly foresee.

I don't think that's much of an excuse, and I think that cell-phone technology is mature enough that it's fair to start expecting the kind of robust reliability that we've seen from landline services. This is too important to ignore.

And this from Glen at Instapundit:

SOME KATRINA LESSONS:
We’re going to see a plethora of commissions and inquiries (most about as useful and non-partisan as the 9/11 Commission), but here are a few lessons that seem solid enough to go with now:

1. Don’t build your city below sea level: If you do, sooner or later it will flood. Better levees, pumps, etc. will put that day off, but not prevent it.

2. Order evacuations early: You hate to have false alarms, but as Brendan Loy noted earlier, even 48 hours in advance is really too late if you want to get everyone out.

3. Have — and use — a plan for evacuating people who can’t get out on their own: New Orleans apparently had a plan, but didn’t use it. All those flooded buses could have gotten people out. Except that there would have had to have been somewhere to take them, so:

4. Have an emergency relocation plan: Cities should have designated places, far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be accessible, to evacuate people to. Of course, this takes coordination, so:

5. Make critical infrastructure survivable: I think that one of the key failures was the collapse of the New Orleans Police Department’s radio system. Here’s the story on why:

Infrastructure needs to be robust and bomb-proof. I will be running the Camano Island node of the weekly state-wide emergency net this coming Tuesday (I do it once/month; the net is every week) Even if. ESPECIALLY IF there is no emergency. Practice, practice, practice.

That way, when the shit does hit the fan, our actions will be second nature.

Not surprised - this is Amtrak after all

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Our crumbling infrastructure - dams

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Associated Press has been covering this very well recently. First a highlight on California and now this on our dams:

AP: At least 1,680 dams across the US pose potential risk
On a cold morning last March, Kenny Angel got a frantic knock on his door. Two workers from a utility company in northern Nebraska had come with a stark warning: Get out of your house.

Just a little over a quarter-mile upstream, the 92-year-old Spencer Dam was straining to contain the swollen, ice-covered Niobrara River after an unusually intense snow and rainstorm. The workers had tried but failed to force open the dam’s frozen wooden spillway gates. So, fearing the worst, they fled in their truck, stopping to warn Angel before driving away without him.

Minutes later, the dam came crashing down, unleashing a wave of water carrying ice chunks the size of cars. Angel’s home was wiped away; his body was never found.

State inspectors had given the dam a “fair” rating less than a year earlier. Until it failed, it looked little different from thousands of others across the U.S. — and that could portend a problem.

A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition, and in equally dangerous locations. They loom over homes, businesses, highways or entire communities that could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold.

A review of federal data and reports obtained under state open records laws identified 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The actual number is almost certainly higher: Some states declined to provide condition ratings for their dams, claiming exemptions to public record requests. Others simply haven’t rated all their dams due to lack of funding, staffing or authority to do so.

Much much more at the site. Sobering. Associated Press also has an interactive tool here. but it is taking a long time to load. I will try again later this afternoon.

I love pigs

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Friendly, intelligent and... BACON - from The Telegraph:

High on the hog - wild boar dig up and destroy £17,000 worth of cocaine stashed in forest in Tuscany
Wild boar in Italy have no shortage of enemies, from farmers and vineyard owners to motorists, but to that long list can now be added drug dealers.

A gang of dealers in Tuscany was left aghast after discovering that a stash of valuable cocaine they had carefully buried in the woods had been dug up by a herd of snuffling wild pigs.

With their powerful snouts, the boar managed to rip open the waterproof packages in which the cocaine was kept, scattering around €20,000 (£17,000) worth of the white powder across the forest floor.

The unusual drug “bust” came to light when police tapped the telephones of a suspected drug trafficking gang - an Italian and three Albanians.

One of the men was recorded furiously reporting the loss of the cocaine to a fellow gang member, telling him the drugs were ruined.

It is not known what became of the boars or what effect the cocaine had on them.

Pigs are routinely trained and used to sniff out truffles. Maybe they can be an alternative to drug-sniffing dogs.

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If this was my front door, I would be staying home today - uggghhhhh...

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