Friday, June 26, 2020

Vote by Mail


Everyone in the great state of Washington votes by mail.  Thank God our state capitol Olympia did away with the caucus system.  Ditto for Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, & Utah.  California allows everyone to vote by mail but also allows those who prefer to go to a polling place to vote.  No need to apply for a mail-in ballot, all registered voters get one.  No need to prove your inability to travel to the poll.  No need to prove you are out of state. 

There are checks in place to prevent fraud.  Sure, Junior can fraudulently vote for his senile parents.  But incidents like that are onesey-twoseys.  Large scale fraud is easy to spot via statistics, or by suspicious journalists or political analysts of any party.    Public election officials can easily prove or disprove fraud by checkin signatures. 

There is a system in place to insure secrecy & privacy of your vote.  It increases voter turnout.  It provides a legitimate backup record for recounts.  It lowers the expense to states and counties for holding elections.  What is not to like?

Reportedly two thirds of the country would prefer to vote by mail.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

86 degrees in the Arctic Circle yesterday.


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But I'm sure the real smart opposition will kochsplain it to us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Return of the Cannibal Plague Rats!

Beware rogue ravenous rats.

"That’s the latest coronavirus-tinged health warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the rodents that have been starved of restaurant leftovers these past two months make themselves known.

In a species evolutionarily adapted to resort to cannibalism during hard times, the CDC is warning of “unusual or aggressive rodent behavior” stemming from their lockdown starvation diet."

Oh My Fucking God.

This is...c'mon, it's been less than a decade since the LAST outbreak of Cannibal Plague Rats - on a boat! - but this time it's with Actual Plague.


So I'm calling it right here, right now, and you better damn well remember I did so because I want the credit when it actually happens:


"Cannibal Rats versus Murder Hornets! This Sunday on SYFY Channel!"

THIS is the sort of entertainment we need.

Acting 1SG Lawes reads the morning formation announcements

Comp-ney, Atten-shun!

At ease.

Okay, listen up. Coupla things here.

AT Platoon.

I understand that, as those fucking pizza commercials keep reminding us, we are in "trying times", by which I mean both this fucking plague AND the fact that in this training cycle y'all have been down to the anti-armor range twice a day every day for three goddamn weeks. But if I get one. More. Phone. Call. from Brigade whining "Why are your AT vehicles parked in the B-Lane?" I will make it my personal business to go down to Willy's Speedi-Tow, requisition one of their goddamn trucks, and personally snatch your asses up and drag you back down to the motor pool.

You know the rules. I know the rules. And, unfortunately, so do those fucking Karens up at Brigade. So load and unload most quick smart and then park in the goddamn motor pool and walk back to the company area. Sergeant Morrow, you and me, after this formation. Am I clear? Thank-yew.

Now.

I am led to understand that there are certain individuals in this formation who are sick and tired of all this Plague Year shit. Who want to unmask, who want to slink back to the fucking Lizard Lounge so their Jody asses can get busy with rando grass widows, not that I'm being judge-mental or anything. I am led to understand that this commotion is all about "freedom", and that "your fear doesn't trump my freedom" and, yes, I see what the fuck you did there.

Let me remind you people.

We are STILL in the fucking Plague Year.

I trust that you, being the out-stand-ing airborne soldiers that I know you are, are familiar with the means and methods for the battalion in defense outlined in chapter three of Army Techniques Publication Three-dash-twenty-one.

That being said, how would you assess the behavior of, say, Private Black, here, if he proudly announced that he had no intention of digging a fighting position, that he would not submit his freedom from overhead cover to your fear of getting blown to small bloody independent republics by enemy artillery fire, and that he, in fact, intended to exercise his right to walk around the main line of defense wearing a pink tulle' tutu drawing fire whilst y'all cowered fearfully in your holes?

Anyone?

Thank you, Specialist Echevarria!

Yes. You would call him, and correct me if I am misquoting you here, Specialist, a "brain-dead fucker of whom the best portion of which ran down his mother's leg". Yes, indeed.

There are things you are supposed to be afraid of, people. Things that the fear is telling you not to fuck with, because they will fuck you up. Enemy artillery. Non-alcoholic beer. Payday loans.

The Plague will fuck you up like a one-five-five HE round. You are not brave and free if you walk around while the rounds are impacting your position, people. You are being fucking stupid and endangering your fellow troopers and compromising your airborne mission.

I trust this will be the last I hear of this nonsense. Keep your fucking masks on, people. Keep your distance. That's good practice for GIs anyway; remember - every time you bunch up you invite Mister Grenade to your party, and Mister Grenade is not really your friend.

Finally. Medical platoon.

You will be doing yourselves, this organization, and the nation a massive solid if you will kindly transfer those two empty shipping crates from your loading dock where they have been standing proud since, like, the last fucking fiscal year, to their forever home in the dumpster.

I spoke to Private Black about this the last time I ran into him on the loading dock and, frankly, I am not sure that I completely buy his explanation that they are part of what I believe he described as a "living art project" of Sergeant Carter's. Feel free to correct me after this formation if I am being overly skeptical, Sergeant.

Good. That is all.

Comp-ney, Atten-shun!

Platoon sergeants, take charge.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Died in vain

I was talking about this with my Bride today. She said that she didn't see how it made a difference where, when, or how you died in war; whether you died storming the Normandy beach to crush Nazis or blown up by an exploding latrine while waiting for orders in the War of Jenkin's Ear.

I replied that it was all part of the implied bargain that we the troopers made when we raised our hands.

We promised to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies. With our lives, if it came to that.

They - the Constitution in the form of our People, our government, our Army, and our officers - promised to hoard those lives and ensure they were spent as frugally as humanly possible.

The Old Lie is one thing.

The Old Lie, when the lie is told as part of a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing?

That breaks the bargain.

And that got me thinking of how many bargains have been broken in the Plague Year.

So I posted this to my FB page today:
"Pandemic Timeline, Day 157: It suddenly seems utterly weird to be having a "day" about dead American soldiers when EVERY day hundreds and even thousands of Americans are dying all around us. Weird. And wrong."
And a dear friend immediately spoke up about his disgust that the federal government had decreed an official day of mourning with the national flags flown at half staff for the dead of COVID-19; "Couldn't have waited another few days to let us honor fallen soldiers?"

And I understand that. I do. I know he and his family have a very dear friend who was killed in Iraq, and I'm sure they still feel the pain of that loss.

Our dead are with us always.

But this was my reply:
"But these poor suffering bastards are dying for their country - in the sense that they're dying because of decisions their government made - as much as anybody who got killed at Bataan or Fallujah.

As an un-fallen soldier I'm as angry and grieved at these losses as I am about the lives we threw away in the Middle East or Vietnam. Even the rhetoric - "heroes" - is the same, whether we send GIs into the streets of Basra with hillbilly armor or nurses into the plague ward with homemade masks and re-used gloves.

I understand how you feel, my friend. But I'm too sick and too cynical to feel the outrage. Our country has decided that we are all expendable. So let the poor sods have their flag. We're all being driven into the minefield now."
And with that, I find that today I have nothing more to say.
Except, as always, this.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Briefing the Toddler

Apparently President Bone Spurs prefers to get his intelligence briefings from  a casino poobah, an 85-year-old golf partner from South Africa, and a house-painter turned talk show host.  He is too inattentive or disinterested.  Too short an attention span (the Ritalin maybe?).  Too wrapped up in irrelevant side issues.  Too narrow-minded and intolerant to reality or to any info that does not fit within his belief system.  Too untrustful of the IC that he sees as the borg or the deep state. Too lazy.  And too narcissistic.

Per the NY Times:
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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/21/us/politics/presidents-daily-brief-trump.html


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Blundering into the blast zone

Forty years ago yesterday (May 13, 1980) as Dick Waitt records in his 2014 work In the Path of Destruction, the Washington State Department of Emergency Management and other agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey were forced by public pressure to open up large portions of the forest lands around the then-unquiet Mount Saint Helens volcano that had been off-limits since the end of April.

(then-Governor Dixy Lee Ray had signed an order establishing a "red zone" around the volcano on 30 APR 1980 that turned out to be, in fact, grossly undersized - something like 50 of the 55 to 60 people who died in the eruption on 18 MAY were outside the original "red zone" - see below).
But that wasn't enough for the people who made their living in the woods, or who had cabins or houses near the volcano, or who just wanted to go back into the forest to mine or pick mushrooms or whatever.

Saturday, 17 MAY, something like 50 vehicles drove into the area that had been closed to bag up their stuff. The eruption took place at 8:32am, before the second planned caravan enetred the blast zone at ten, and since it was a Sunday the active logging tracts were empty.

Still, somewhere in the vicinity of 55 people were killed.

That ain't Pompeii...but, then, we knew more than they did back in the First Century, and knew how damn deadly dangerous these stratovolcanoes were. The volcanoligists of what eventually became Cascades Volcanoes Observatory warned the State of Washington that this monster could do all sorts of unpredictably deadly things. And the state government listened...until people grew bored and restless and demanded to "reopen" the woodlands around an actively erupting volcano. We learned a hard lesson about the power of convergent margin tectonics and nature in general.

As a geologist I find it kind of interesting to reflect on that, just at the moment.

Why?
Oh...y'know. No reason.

Just a thought.