Friday, March 14, 2014

Hawaii "Ill-Prepared" For Disasters AKA We Are Responsible For Our Own Safety

So what else is new?

Just because this is the most geographically isolated major city on the planet shouldn't push our beloved elected leaders to take responsibility for taking care of the proles, nor any reason for them to hammer it into we Noble Proles' heads that we are responsible for our own safety during and after a disaster.

I missed a conference this week on disaster preparedness in Hawaii, but it looks like there was little which isn't already fairly obvious.

Bill Thomas, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Services Center said before the conference that:
The Hawaiian Islands are generally ill-prepared to respond to vulnerabilities like floods, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, pandemics and hurricanes, or the coastal erosion, subsidence and ecological change that threatens its coasts...

"Our aging infrastructure is coastal. Our food and energy supply is challenging. What happens if the harbor goes down?".
Good question. I'd say we would be in deep kim chee.

Allison Schaefers has more in the Honolulu Star Advertiser's pre-conference story, but it is behind a paywall.Here, if you can.

I went to a Disaster Preparedness Fair in Waialua last Saturday. It was interesting to see, but not sure it will have much impact on our prepping.

It was set up by the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, which did not appear to have made much effort to include any actual vendors. The only profit seeking company there was Simpson Strong Ties (they make hurricane/earthquake clips to hold a house together). Other than that all the groups were either government or the Red Cross.

I thought that was a real shame as people who were interested enough to go to the fair would have benefited from having the local vendors available to sell supplies and gear, or at least to hand out flyers and demo what they have available.

I did write an email later to Be Ready, a local store which specializes in disaster prep gear, and sent them a copy of the email flyer I got, suggesting they contact HDEM about future fairs. Hard to believe they weren't involved because they seem to be the only specialist company here.

One of the pamphlets I picked up turned out to be excellent: "Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards" by Dennis Hwang & Darren Okimoto, published by the UH Sea Grant College Program. They made a big effort to make a useful, Hawaii-specific, guide to prepping for hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis, and had a good section dispelling myths about why people should not be bothered. I hadn't known before that between 1819 and 1975 we had damaging tsunamis on average every 6 years, nor that hurricanes doing damage hit about every 15 years. I knew they were real problems, but not the actual frequencies.

The great section of the pamphlet was on how to upgrade a house to withstand winds and earthquakes. Lots of good, clear instructions on the various options, both commercial and do it yourself. The guys who researched and wrote it should be proud.

I talked with the rep from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, and he reinforced what I had gotten from them via email last fall: Our water system is highly vulnerable. I had found out that they don't have enough emergency generators to power the system, but now I learned that the emergency generators total four. For a system which is the sole provider of drinking water for over 900,000 people who cannot drive 75 miles to some place which does have water. They may be able to provide water trucks which people can walk or drive to with buckets. May. Shades of "American Blackout".

I was told last fall that the system pumps and the generators they do have may not survive because they are not in hurricane proof buildings, and Saturday the rep agreed that if a lot of houses are destroyed, the laterals would be snapped off and leaking, so the system could not be refilled until the cut off valves were dug out and closed. What happens when the water has been off for four days? People start dying. Swimming pools would be really important. Yeah.

I think the best thing BWS could do is put a warning in every monthly water bill. "We cannot guarantee you will have water after a hurricane. You need to take responsibility. A three day supply is not enough."

Honolulu Fire Department had a booth and I had a good talk with a couple of their guys. We got talking about hurricane preps and they were adamant that "people need to take responsibility for themselves because we are not going to be there to help." They will be too busy with the biggest problems to help with smaller ones, even if the phone system works.

I mentioned that an acquaintance had been one of the responders to Hurricane Katrina and had come back absolutely freaked by what he saw. I started telling the firemen that he had said "Everybody needs food", they nodded, "water", they nodded, "a chainsaw", they nodded, and "a 12 gauge shotgun." At the "shotgun" one of them practically exploded in agreement. Said "No one is going to be there to protect your family or your supplies. No One. YOU have to take responsibility for your own protection. YOU." He could not have been any more clear. I don't know if that is the official policy of the HFD (probably not), but it sure was his.

I mentioned our 55 gallon water barrel and he wanted to know where he could get one. A real shame Be Ready wasn't there.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Pincushion Man: Good vs Evil

The characters are a bit cartoonish, and it is less scary than when I was 4, but it works.

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Anthony Burgess's 'A Clockwork Orange'

It has been many years since I first read Anthony Burgess's 'A Clockwork Orange'. I was off at summer camp the summer before either 7th or eighth grade, and it did make some impression on me.

I just looked it up on Amazon and looked at the comments. One of them included the question "is being good truly good if it is not by choice?" to which I had to reply:
I first read Clockwork Orange back in 1965, when I was 12. It did make an impression.

This may be the core question of the book for the philosophical types who live in gentle territories.

However, the question for the rest of us is "What may I do to make sure this murdering little gang rapist doesn't gang rape MY wife/daughter/sister/friend/neighbor/utter stranger to death?"

In my book, the only proper answer: Damn near anything it takes. I don't care about Alex's upbringing, the unfairness of his society, the nihilistic influence of his friends, or the purity of his joy in kicking victims to death or raping them to death. I care no more about Alex's wants, needs, hopes, and fears than I do for Hitler's or Stalins. Why he is a sadistic, murderous monster matters not a whit to me: Explaining his perversion does not excuse his actions or make them acceptable. The only thing I care about is making sure he stops, and if brainwashing works, fine. If it doesn't, kill him.

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Stanford University Metadata Study: Lots of Personal Information Revealed

Jonathan Mayer, a graduate student leading the project, wrote...

“We did not anticipate finding much evidence one way or the other, however, since the MetaPhone participant population is small, and participants only provide a few months of phone activity on average. We were wrong. We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more, using solely phone metadata.”
The 'more" include a likely abortion, preparations to grow illegal drugs, and relapsing multiple sclerosis.

Indiana University law professor Fred Cate is quoted as saying of the study:
“It highlights three key points. First, that the key part of the NSA’s argument—we weren’t collecting sensitive information so what is the bother?—is factually wrong. Second, that the NSA and the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] Court failed to think this through; after all, it only takes a little common sense to realize that sweeping up all numbers called will inevitably reveal sensitive information. Of course the record of every call made and received is going to implicate privacy. And third, it lays bare the fallacy of the Supreme Court’s mind-numbingly broad wording of the third-party doctrine in an age of big data: just because I reveal data for one purpose—to make a phone call—does not mean that I have no legitimate interest in that information, especially when combined with other data points about me.”
More here, here, and here.

My question: If large amounts of sensitive data are not revealed by metadata searches, why would the NSA perform metadata searches?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Emily Miller on Pro-Gun Police

Ronald Noble, Interpol’s secretary-general, made a surprisingly honest statement last October about the horrific multiday terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Colorado, if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?”...

...(I)t was a tectonic shift in the gun rights movement when Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in January that legal gun owners can deter violent crime and that people with concealed-carry permits contributed to crime going down in his city last year.

Chief Craig spent almost 30 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was indoctrinated with the belief that taking guns away from good people was the answer to crime.
His beliefs shifted, though, after becoming chief of police in Portland, Me., where the number of carry permit holders was high and crime was extremely low.

More here.

ABC News has more on Secretary-General Noble's comments here. I have seen very little follow up on it though.

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Randy Barnett On ObamaCare Originating In The Senate

ObamaCare is a revenue raising tax law, which under the Constitution MUST originate in the House of Representatives.

Barnett argues that it clearly did not, thus:
a court must address whether the mere preservation of a House bill number suffices to make the Senate bill an “amendment” to a House bill. Note well: if the use of “shell bills” are held to be sufficient to satisfy Art. I, sec 7, then the Origination Clause ceases entirely to operate and becomes part of what I call the “lost Constitution.” No way did the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act originate in the House before it was amended in the Senate. If judges cannot make this assessment, then they might as well hang up their robes.

There is no need in this case to decide how much of a House bill must be retained before we don’t consider what the Senate did to have been an “amendment.” At least some is a good enough answer for now. Nor does the fact that the House failed to defend their prerogatives change the analysis. As courts have long held, the power-limiting requirements of the Constitution are there to protect the People, not members of Congress. Some partisan faction putting a legislative victory over the requirements of the Constitution is what the Constitution is there to stop, and why we pay money for an independent judiciary to enforce it.

Judges too are the agents of the sovereign People; and the sovereign People are not the same as a majority of the 535 persons who comprise Congress. On this question, the courts should not defer to Congress, and neither should law professors defer to the courts. Revenue bills “shall” originate in the House of Representatives, but the Affordable Care Act did not. As constitutional questions go, this is about as easy as it gets.
It may be easy, but as we all know, the complex thinkers understand that phrases like "shall not be infringed" clearly mean "of course we can make it a felony."

To such complex and wise people, the Constitution means anything which is convenient.

I won't hold my breath waiting for deference to the actual Constitution.

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