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.


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?


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:

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.

Oh...y'know. No reason.

Just a thought.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Legal Notes from the Airsoft Coup

Anderson and Deeks have a long digression at Lawfare on the latest stabile genius foreign policy chess move between sorta-kinda-the-U.S. and the Maduro government in Venezuela and, specifically, did it roll over into the "Neutrality Act" of 1795 (18 U.S.C. § 960), which says:
"Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
The pithiest description of the Trump Administration is "malevolence mitigated by incompetence" and that as much as anything surely describes this opera bouffe' "coup".
Obviously the part of this we'll probably never know (or won't until the clearance expires in a quarter century, assuming it ever does) is the degree to which the U.S. government was involved. The principle of the Neutrality Act is that it is illegal for a private citizen or citizens of the U.S. to take actions that might lead the nation into war with a foreign nation. But...if the U.S. government did authorize this clusterfuck, then it's no longer illegal under U.S. law. The Trumpkins deny any involvement because, duh, fail, of course they would whether they greenlit this thing or not.

My question would be...does that "authorization" extend to what might be called "guilty knowledge"? Can silence imply consent or even "authorization - without explicit authorization? Assuming that the administration knew this "coup" was in train - and since the knucklehead mercenary CEO publicly announced it (cunning move, there, Clausewitz...) it is difficult to believe they did not - and deliberately did nothing to forestall it...does that provide the mercs with implicit "authorization"? Certainly it would provide the US intelligence agencies plausible deniability. Sure, we knew. So what? Not our business. Oh, wait, it worked? Sweet! Welcome, our new Venezuelan buddies!

Once again, the difficulty is separating the incompetence from the malevolence from the pure goofy "WTF?" with these people.
Somewhere in Hell William Walker sneers in bitter contempt...

Friday, May 8, 2020

1919 vs 2020?

Well worth reading discussion of the similarities and differences between the current pandemic and the previous one here.
"It’s really remarkable to me that the flu of a century killed 675,000 Americans out of a population of 110 million, meaning that roughly works out to the 2.2 million upper range guess of projections for COVID-19 by proportion of the population. And yet, the cultural response to it was primarily to shrug our collective shoulders and get on with our lives. It wasn’t total ignorance that created that situation. Some communities did engage in effective quarantining, for instance, and there were real death rate differentials between them. But to my knowledge anyway, sports weren’t cancelled. The World Series went on as normal (and quite famously in 1919!). There was no effective government response at the federal level."
One point I will take issue with, however, is this:
"Basically, what has changed is us. We see ourselves as something closer to immortal today." (emphasis mine) "The only two health crises even close to the flu between then and now were polio and HIV and those are very different types of events. Polio’s transformation into something much more powerful than in the past definitely scared lots and lots and lots of people, but what could you really do? AIDS certainly frightened many, but it was also classified as gay cancer early on and Reagan was happy to let them all die until his buddy Rock Hudson fell to the disease.

We have a culture of immortality. That’s not a bad thing. Science has advanced so far. We think we can protect ourselves from the outside world through eating and exercise and medicine. To an extent, we can. Even though COVID-19 has hit very old people in nursing homes and those with co-morbidities much harder than most people, it’s seen as an unimaginable tragedy to lose these people in a way that the deaths of thousands upon thousands of young parents and workers was not a century ago. To an extent, this is a reminder that human beings are incredibly fragile animals who have bodies where germs and bacteria pass in and out of all the time. We just don’t think about it. Our seeming indifference to climate change is related to this as well. We simply think we will figure it out, just like we figured out polio or the ozone layer or how to make a good television comedy."
I think this confuses correlation with causation.

Yes, we do think we'll "figure it out". But that's because we are accustomed to the - when you think about it - astounding advances in medical practice over the past century.

I mean...the docs in 1919 understood the germ theory of disease and the nature of influenza. They weren't stupid. They did what they could.


At the time inoculation and vaccination was just beginning to become widespread. The notion that "oh, sure, we'll get a vaccine for that" was not just remote, it was nearly unthinkable in many cases. People died all the time from diseases we've more-or-less removed from our experience; typhus, cholera, diphtheria, measles, smallpox. That simply doesn't happen anymore.

So it's not that we "see ourselves as...immortal" or have a "culture of immortality". It's that we have internalized that what is going to kill us is a heart attack, or cancer, or an auto accident, or a random nutter with a firearm. The notion that a simple contagious disease - a sort of superflu - can kill or maim us?

THAT's insane. That's fucking creepy. That's...something that shouldn't be happening.

So we ARE not really treating this plague the way we did a century ago, but not because WE'VE changed.

It's because our fundamental baseline for medical competence and medical success has changed.

We don't expect we're going to die of cholera anymore.

So we're really pissed off and really frustrated and really afraid that this thing has become, despite all our knowledge and skills and learning, the pestilence that stalks in the darkness

Friday, May 1, 2020

O tempora, o mores!

Bearing arms against the Republic, 1864:
The U.S. government's response, 1864:
Bearing arms against the Republic, 2020:
The U.S. government's response, 2020:
We live in sadly diminished times.

Update 5/11: As noted in the comments, I think the obvious problem here is that the rebels and traitors are seeing a lot more Buchanan (if not more Jeff Davis...) than Sherman in the federal government's responses and they are thereby emboldened:
“We need a good old fashioned lynch mob to storm the Capitol, drag her tyrannical ass out onto the street and string her up as our forefathers would have,” John Campbell Sr. wrote in a group called “People of Michigan vs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” which had nearly 9,000 members as of Monday morning.

Steve Doxsie had the same idea: “Drag that tyrant governor out to the front lawn. Fit her for a noose.”

“Either President Trump sends in the troops or there is going to be a midnight lynching in Lansing soon,” Michael Smith chimed in.

Others suggested she be shot, beaten, or beheaded.

“Plain and simple she needs to eat lead and send a statement to the rest of the democrats that they are next,” James Greena, of Fennville, wrote.

Chris Rozman said, “She needs her ass beat. Most of these politicians need a good ass whooping. Just. Punch there lights out.”

When someone suggested the guillotine, Thomas Michael Lamphere responded, “Good ol’ fashioned bullets work better, but I like the enthusiasm.”

“Wonder how long till she’s hit with a shotgun blast,” Chris Parrish wrote.

Matthew Woodruff had another idea: “Can we please just take up a collection for an assassin to put that woman from Michigan down,” he asked.
With these knuckleheads I'm not sure that even fear would be the beginning of wisdom. These are deeply,aggressively stupid people.

But the prospect of giving it a try sure seems increasingly attractive.