Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ARkStorm: Changing Califonia Forever

I dwell in Doom & Gloom.
In 1861-62 two thirds of the Central Valley of California under water. Sacramento was completely flooded and the Capitol was moved to San Francisco for the duration. The USGS is as worried about a repeat storm like that as they are of a San Andreas earthquake. Both are certainties not too far in the future. The storm would cost three times the earthquake.

Australia and Brazil are experiencing storms of this level today.
What would the ARkStrorm damage look like. "In many cases flooding overwhelms the state’s flood-protection system, which is typically designed to resist 100- to 200-year runoffs. The Central Valley experiences hypothetical flooding 300 miles long and 20 or more miles wide. Serious flooding also occurs in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay area, and other coastal communities. Windspeeds in some places reach 125 miles per hour, hurricane-force winds. Across wider areas of the state, winds reach 60 miles per hour. Hundreds of landslides damage roads, highways, and homes.

Property damage exceeds $300 billion, most from flooding. Demand surge (an increase in labor rates and other repair costs after major natural disasters) could increase property losses by 20 percent. Agricultural losses and other costs to repair lifelines, dewater (drain) flooded islands, and repair damage from landslides, brings the total direct property loss to nearly $400 billion, of which $20 to $30 billion would be recoverable through public and commercial insurance. Power, water, sewer, and other lifelines experience damage that takes weeks or months to restore. Flooding evacuation could involve 1.5 million residents in the inland region and delta counties. Business interruption costs reach $325 billion in addition to the $400 property repair costs, meaning that an ARkStorm could cost on the order of $725 billion, which is nearly 3 times the loss deemed to be realistic by the ShakeOut authors for a severe southern California earthquake, an event with roughly the same annual occurrence probability."

I have wandered the Sacramento River delta and the San Francisco Bay area years ago and marveled at the tenuous hold the area had on stability. Since that time 2 million more people have built homes and businesses in the that valley alone. Climate change causing this? Nope, climate change will just make it come sooner and be worse.

If you are a geographer, planner, or dooms day dude read the full report here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Milice de Voluntaires de la Sécurité Nationale : Tonton Macoutes

Can you rob a people of even their poverty?

Yesterday , Jean-Claude “Baby Doc" Duvalier, the former dictator of Haiti returned from exile in France. Baby Docs daddy, Papa Doc, initiated a dictatorship of terror in Haiti in 1957. To carry out his wishes he created a secret police force composed of illiterate followers and Voodoo leaders, The Tonton Macoutes.

"The Haitians nicknamed this warlord-led goon squad the “Tonton Macoutes,” after the Creole translation of a common myth, about an “uncle” (Tonton) who kidnaps and punishes obstreperous kids by snaring them in a gunnysack (Macoute) and carrying them off to be consumed at breakfast. Consequently, these torturers, kidnapers and extortionists were feared not only by children, but also by the country’s general population, as well as by opposition members and business men not willing to make enforced pay-offs to the authorities. The militia consisted mostly of illiterate fanatics that were converted into ruthless zombie-like gunmen. Their straw hats, blue denim shirts, dark glasses and machetes remain indelibly etched in the minds of millions of Haitians.
Ever since its establishment, this brutal organization had free rein to act unreservedly, disregarding any ethical or civil rights of the citizenry that might interfere with its indiscriminate violence. They were not accountable to any state branch, court or elected body, but rather only to their leader, “Papa Doc.”"

When Baby Doc took over from Papa he was more focused on his playboy activities so he brought in the mix a new head of the Tonton Macoute. "Luckner Cambronne was a particularly fierce head of the “Tonton Macoutes” throughout the 1960’s and the beginning of the 1970’s, for two reasons: first, because he was considered perhaps the most powerful and influential man in Haiti during the transition from “Papa” to “Baby Doc,” and second, because of his unique brand of cruelty that enabled him to become very rich and earned him the nickname “Vampire of the Caribbean.”

When Baby Doc was disposed in 1986, the Tonton Macoute was the target of revenge and retribution by Haitians. But many of them are still alive and all have passed on their loyalty and beliefs down to their decedents. The Tonton Macoute lies in hibernation, Zombies ready to rise to fight again.

A Report on the Tonton Macoute can be found here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Enigma of Obscura Antiques and Oddities in Our Plastic World

This is not my friend Dolly.

There is a store in NYC. One to which I will not probably ever go. It is my kind of store. Truely, it speaks to me. My friend Dolly the Mize, was with me once when I bought a jar of long blond human hair at an "antique" store. She has made that one of her landmark stories when it comes to strange behavior. Of course I knew exactly why I needed a jar of long blond hair. I used it along with some pig-skin-rawhide to create realistic scalps to adorn my replica Comanche Spear and a Mandan Shield which had constructed from material as close to original as I could get. One scalp was srtung up on a little hoop of willow and the other 3 were folded and hung like decorations on the shield. After she had told my entire office staff about my purchase I had to, of course, take the finished "scalps" to the office and let people see the end products lest they think me too strange. I can not say they were well received.

So as you can see, when I saw this shop OBSCURA ANTIQUES & ODDITIES being advertised for a show on television I had to watch.

Here check out part of one episode yourself:

Click this >>>>Oddities Videos

I like the one about the stuffed four footed chicken that used her front claws to shoot marbles in a freak show. Their are several other on the site, They are all worth while, at least from my perspective they are.

Indulge & Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blog One, Year One, Decade Two, Century Twentyone

It has been eight years ago today that I retired after 27.5 years from one of the most contentious, asinine, egocentric, all consuming places of employment one might never think existed even in fiction. The first three years of retirement were very very lean. I had left work three years earlier than I had planned and was short a few dozen shekels every month. But I had to leave, I needed to leave, I was glad to leave. I left my most delicate projects in the most capable of hands. I picked them carefully for these tasks myself. They have performed most admirably. Those projects are still alive and thriving today. A total miracle it my world. My gratitude goes out to those who have kept these activities alive.

Now, eight years later I can go and do and be and not worry too much about the cost or debt. That too is a dang miracle. This past year has not been good in other ways. I discovered that old wounds can open after a very long time. Especially if they are wounds of the mind. I lost many friends through death and destruction this year. I lost others as they scurried away for trivial reasons and/or their ego needs. Good riddance to those. Many more voids have been created this year than I have been able to fill.

As I start this next decade I will continue to repair and recover. Although I have traded passion away to conquer anger and hate, I still have a lot to look towards, things to do, people to love, places to go, and curiosities to satisfy. No doubt I will do it slower and with more caution than even just two years ago, but do it I will.

I'm beginning to regain my sense of humor. I've got good children, a reasonable wife (generally speaking), OK cats, and an almost new red Chevy pickup truck. Life is good.
I smile.