sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Madness

Global Warming

The climate warmed to melt the ice sheet that was miles thick. That ice age ended officially between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, depending on who you talk to. There have been mini-ice ages between then and now and nobody is sure what caused them. The progressive movement latched onto the idea that if the US paid trillions of dollars each year, that the weather would improve, while China, India, etc., pumped greenhouse gas into the atmosphere with reckless abandon - and volcanoes did the same. Complex Physics of Global Warming is worth review if you have an interest. 

Monsoon comes to Arizona in July and August, cooling the desert, driving up the relative humidity and killing the odd fool who doesn't understand what a flash flood is and camps in a dry wash. Some people attribute this weather pattern to something sinister. Others just counsel that one should get used to it since it happens every year.

Here at the White Wolf Mine, we're trying to get the hovel painted between the last snow storm (Memorial Day) and the onset of the monsoon. Getting this house completed has been an ordeal. I moved in on January 1. Things still are not complete. Heating and A/C people will be by the place today to fix what they didn't do correctly the first time.


The painting crew brought a boom down the logging road to calk and paint the higher portions of the structure.

Fredd asked about scaffolding, and normally, it would work. But the scaffolding would have to tie into the building to keep it attached and that would mean damaging the exterior in favor of scaffolding. 

Hong Kong (update)

Another large demonstration and march took place on 16 June after Hong Kong's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lam announced the government decided to suspend debate on the extradition amendments on the 15th. The citizens of Hong Kong are not amused and they are now calling for Lam's removal and installing a replacement who is not the pupped of Beijing (good luck with that).

Organizers claimed that Sunday’s demonstration and march were larger than those a week ago. No sources reported clashes or casualties

On 15 June, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the decision to suspend the amendments, announced hours earlier by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, an attempt to "listen more widely to the views of the community and restore calm to the community as soon as possible".

In public statements, the Chinese leaders continue to back the Hong Kong government. They are maintaining the pretense of autonomous decision-making and non-interference in Hong Kong’s affairs. Nobody is fooled, but there are issues of face involved.

With the crowds escalating demands and now calling for Lam’s resignation, the challenge of restoring stability becomes even more important and difficult. Communist leaders have limits to their tolerance of mass demonstrations that they did not organize.  They will not surrender to mob rule, even if a third of the city population is involved.

If Lam resigns or the city government makes more concessions, a harsh crackdown will follow to send a message. Chinese oligarchs in Beijing cannot afford to let Hong Kong’s exercise in popular democracy serve as an example of a mechanism for city populations in other Chinese cities to effect changes in laws, programs or policies with which they disagree. 

Historical Corner - for your review

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Sermonette

Father's Day Poll

Did you follow in your father's footsteps in terms of occupation?


Happy Father's Day

My father died a long time ago, but thoughts of him often attend me and of course, in a way he continues to live though me.

Here's a photo from 2000 with my wife, and my four girls, taken at San Francisco, before the place went to hell. Nineteen years later, there are also nine grandkids, and I've arranged for all of them to be at a pool party & BBQ in two weeks! It's like herding cats.

The Clock is Ticking

The US is behind Great Britain where free speech has been suppressed in favor if Islam.

Everyone has a Favorite

Either one makes a really nice Father's Day gift.

White Wolf Mine Update

There are still workmen here every day and they're bringing a 66' bucket lift to paint the higher parts of the hovel on the mountain side rather than the ridge side of the building. I had a grease fire in the kitchen and a different painter is coming in on Monday to paint the ceiling, which received some soot. The A/C people are also coming over because the new A/C doesn't work. I did all of the diagnostic work that I could and can't figure out why it didn't work. I didn't turn it on until -- yesterday. We've had the Forest Service going insane with proscribed burns and it's been very smoky here in the high country. They announced that their goals for burning and back burning and what they do have ended. After this, a fire is a regular wildfire, and not the government making everyone who lives or camps on the Mogollon Rim miserable.

The new motto for the White Wolf Mine:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Iranian Mischief

Ever since the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (fake news) dragged us into war in Viet Nam, I have looked at these predicates for war with a very jaundiced eye. You see, there is a tendency among Americans to trust their government, their leaders, and to follow somewhat blindly. So I always urge caution.

You've read about it in the news and I don't have much to offer beyond what is circulating. Two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman by Iran and the crews have been evacuated. .

Imagery showed one ship, the Front Altair, on fire, drifting and in danger of sinking. The other ship is the Kokuka Courageous, which is reported to be drifting.

The US released a video that the US says shows an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) boat alongside the Kokuka Courageous, removing an unexploded limpet mine before the tanker was attacked. 

The US Secretary of State said US intelligence pointed to Iran as being responsible for the attacks. 
"This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication," Pompeo said.
Assuming the identification of the boat in the video is accurate, this attack was the work of an element of the IRGC.

What should the US do?

Is it 'our fight'? No American ships, citizens or territory was involved and the oil was headed for Asia. National Security Advisor John Bolton is pushing for war with Iran. But the aggrieved nations are Norway (who leased the ship to a Taiwan firm) and Japan. Japanese Prime Minister was in Teheran holding talks with the Iranian Supreme Leader. Message sent and received.

If Japan wants oil, let them buy it from the USA. The same for Taiwan. We are now exporting energy, you know, and with Canada have by far the largest proven reserves on the planet.

And that applies to all nations that would rather not have their ships damaged/sunk by Iran. Just boycott Iranian oil. Buy from the USA. That will solve the problem and the US doesn't need to worry about a crazy, costly war.

Modern China

Social Credit Scoring

It's already in place in much of China and based upon discussions that I've had with people in major cities in China, the coercion is in place and it depending on where you stand, it works. The system ranks everyone based on their social credit. If you marry somebody that is not Han Chinese, your ranking drops. If you criticize the local or national government, that all-important ranking drops. And so forth.

As with private credit scores, a person's social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret. However playing games on the Internet too long, buying luxury items in excess (unless you're elite), a bad driving record, posting on social media, etc. will spike your score. And everyone knows that if you're part of the party elite, the rules do not apply.

Naturally. A bad social credit score can keep you from traveling on a train, restricting your travel outside of China, reducing your internet speed, banning you and your family from attending good schools, 17 people who refused to carry out military service last year were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies, Beijing News. You can't register to stay in a nice hotel, can't get better paying jobs, and being black listed publicly/socially shamed. There are also incidents reported where the government will take your dog from you because of your low score. Want a credit card, so sorry. Orwellian tactics are alive and well. Yet, it's the Red China blues for those who are not elite, and are subject to the often subjective social score.

Intentional Ramming

On June 9, a Chinese fishing boat struck and sank a Philippine fishing boat in the Spratly Islands. The Philippine boat sank off Reed Bank in the Spratly Islands, and the Chinese boat left the area without attempting to rescue 22 fishermen in the water. Typical behavior of the Navy of the People's Republic of China (all "civilian" Chinese fishing boats are part of the Chinese Navy).

A Vietnamese ship operating nearby rescued the Philippine crew.

The action most annoying to the Manila government is the Chinese abandonment of the Filipino fisherman in the sea. That establishes a preliminary basis for culpability, if not deliberation.

This year Chinese boats, coast guard ships and navy ships have become more aggressive in the Spratly Islands as US and allied ships have increased their freedom of navigation and other operations.

The Chinese fishing boats backed by coast guard or naval ships have driven Philippine fishing boats from Scarborough Shoal and other fishing grounds. A deliberate ramming is certainly not unprecedented. 

The Philippines are learning the disconnect between Chinese diplomatic entreaties and maritime practices. It's all part of the Long March, to make the world China.

Hong Kong

The Chief Executive closed Hong Kong government offices for the rest of the week. The Legislative Council has not yet announced when it will next attempt to convene a session to debate the extradition amendments.

Some demonstrators said they will return to the streeets to prevent that from taking place. The Civil Human Rights Front, one of the organizers, said it has applied for a demonstration permit for another mass rally on Sunday, the 16th.

China - Helping to Make Japan Great Again

A US and Japanese naval task group is operating in the South China Sea. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) aircraft-carrying destroyer, JS Izumo (DH-183), held a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea from 10 to 12 June. 

The USS Ronald Reagan, JS Izumo, JS Akebono (DD-108), and JS Murasame (DD-101) conducted communication checks, tactical maneuvering drills and liaison officer exchanges designed to address common maritime security priorities and enhance interoperability at sea.

An open source naval locator map placed the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the South China Sea, south of the Paracels, east of central Vietnam. The Chinese have not yet commented on this show of force.

The JS Izumo, at 27,000 tons, is the largest naval combatant in the JMSDF for now. However, the Japanese government has approved the construction of two full-size aircraft carriers. 

For most of the post-World War II era, no Asians, including the Japanese, sought the reconstitution of Japanese naval power. Chinese leaders were in the forefront in denouncing any Japanese military activity outside Japan, regularly reminding Japanese leaders to review their recent history and its outcome.  But China is working hard now to convince the Japanese that they need to build a navy to halt China's imperialism.

For a time, North Korea seemed like a primary driver in Japanese military development, after it test launched a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998. Despite Kim Jong Un’s aggressive missile test program in 2016 and 2017, the Chinese naval threat emerged to eclipse the North Koreans.

China is a bad neighbor, unless you want to be folded into the worker's paradise and ship your money along the Belt Road to China. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Big Trouble in Little China

The anti-extradition rally turned violent today (it's after midnight in Hong Kong as I write this). The South China Morning Post (SCMP) published a running blog with imagery of events in Hong Kong on the 13th. 

The protest gathered slowly and peacefully in the morning. The apparent trigger for more aggressive action was the arrival around noon of legislators at the Legislative Council building to debate the amendments to the Fugitive Offenses Ordinance and a related ordinance. Then things got nasty and the Hong Kong Police fired more than 150 tear gas canisters to disburse the protesters.

It's not just anti-extradition that is at stake, and hauling Hong Kong Chinese to mainland China and the tender mercies of the PRC that are at stake. It's the 'one country, two systems' philosophy. The Red Chinese have been trying to woo Taiwan into their orbit using means fair and foul, but THIS shows how the Beijing government handles dissent in "another system". 

Clashes with the riot police went on for about three hours in earnest. Authorities said 21 police officers were injured. Medical officials reported 72 civilians treated for injuries, two people were seriously injured.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang strongly denounced rumors that the People's Liberation Army will be deployed to clear the streets of Hong Kong.
“I can assure you that it is a groundless rumor designed to mislead the public and incite panic. Such heinous intention must be condemned,” Geng said. 
Will Taiwan accept the blandishments of Beijing now? Will they follow Hong Kong into the dragon's mouth with promises?

International judgment that the principle of “one country, two systems” has failed is coming. And this on the heels of economic woes in the worker's paradise.

Hong Kong belongs to communist China and the public disorders in Hong Kong are China’s internal affair. The implications of that seem lost or deliberately played down. The central leadership has very limited tolerance for public expressions of dissent.  Millions of people in Hong Kong are expected to return to the streets tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

An Assault on Academia

How many "professions" require specific instruction and how many could be handled by apprenticeships until the candidate reaches "journeyman" status. The law and medicine are two such areas which would streamline the pipeline to get qualified people in place. A test (bar exam, etc) could be administered to insure that standardized education is achieved. But do we need uber expensive schools? 

Kim Kardashian is going the apprentice route in California, which allows for that prior to a bar exam. Many licenses such as a private investigator license requires apprentice hours or on-the-job experience (such as police officer). 

Oh, but how academia would HOWL if that became the gold standard.

A Review of International News

Brief commentary on news tidbits that you might have missed.

Adventures in Norkland

The North Koreans are ruled by a God. Just ask the fat kid with the bad haircut. He will reassure you that he is at the very least 'a god'. At the same time, he is a prisoner of that near worship that drips like honey from the mouths of the people, his subjects, within the Hermit Kingdom. He cannot be seen to make the mistakes that lesser national leaders routinely make. Kim cannot be blamed for policy failures. (see The Man Who Would be King - Kipling)

Chairman Kim and his strategists have made preparations for a major change in strategy in 2020. North Korean statements indicate Kim personally is responsible for maintaining the outreach and conciliatory policy. The recent exchange of personal correspondence between Kim and the US President reinforces that judgment. President Trump recently reported that he received a "beautiful letter" from the fat little dictator.

North Koreans need relief from the UN Security Council sanctions and they can have that if they dismantle their nuclear weapons in a transparent and verifiable way. They also need to demobilize much of their land army and turn swords into plowshares. The problem with doing that is that they can't conquer South Korea if they do... And that's a key part of their national agenda (Long March)

Big Trouble in Little China (continued)

On 9 June, more than a million Hong Kong people rallied to protest amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, according to the organizers. The Civil Human Rights Front said the number of protestors totaled 1.03 million, doubling the number who protested in 2003 against Article 23 national security laws.

On 12 June, a second day of protests occurred in Hong Kong to accompany the start of the legislative debate over the bill. Many businesses were reported closed. Police used tear gas and water cannons to maintain order.

Hong Kong is semi-autonomous under the “one country, two systems” principle and has no extradition arrangement with China. The trigger is the extradition amendments, but the issue is Chinese erosion of Hong Kong’s limited sovereignty, including citizen rights not available elsewhere in China

The protestors want extradition amendments withdrawn or limited to countries in which the suspect would be tried under a criminal justice system that respects civil rights comparable to Hong Kong’s system. That would rule out mainland China. 

However, Chief Executive Lam is committed to enacting the amendments. She is under orders

PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to questions from the press, assuring them that the amendments will be enacted and will be law by 20 June. Hong Kong is under the iron boot of the communists in Beijing, and they don't care how displeased the public is. 

Under the new rules, political protestors in Hong Kong might be arrested and extradited to mainland China where criminal justice serves the ends of the Communist Party and the punishments for dissent are more draconian. 

For Hong Kong, the defenders of civil rights are waging a rear-guard action that they cannot win unless the communist government collapses. Trust in the city’s leadership to withstand political pressure from Beijing has declined again, but the communist mandarins in Beijing are moved by instability, not by distrust.

Greece and Turkey

Tension is rising offshore in Cyprus. Turkey's foreign ministry vowed a strong response to the issuance by Greek Cyprus of arrest warrants against the 25-member crew of a Turkish oil drilling ship off western Cyprus.

The Greek Cypriots claim the Turkish drillship is exploring in continental shelf areas that are in the Greek Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone. The Greek Cypriot administration is the Republic of Cyprus and is a member of the European Union.

Turkish officials and the government of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) claim that they also have rights to the resources. Turkey is the only state that recognized the TRNC. A thousand UN peacekeepers in UNFICYP maintain the buffer zone between the two halves of Cyprus. 

In February, ExxonMobil announced the discovery of a commercially exploitable gas field. The size of the field would make the Republic of Cyprus energy self-sufficient but would require it to construct a processing and distribution infrastructure, which Turkey already possesses. Turkey protested ExxonMobil’s license, which was issued by the Republic of Cyprus. Tension has been building ever since. In May, Turkey announced its intention to send a drillship to the new gas field.

Expect Turkey to resort to gunboat diplomacy.

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Discovery - so send "The Discovery"


Headline: Mysterious large mass discovered on Moon bewilders scientists: 'Whatever it is, wherever it came from'. (more here)
A large mass of unknown material has been discovered on the largest crater on the Moon,  and scientists aren't sure what it is. 
According to an April 2019 study published in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers believe the mass could contain metal from an asteroid that crashed into the Moon, which resulted in the aforementioned crater, known as the Lunar South Pole-Aitken basin.
"Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That's roughly how much unexpected mass we detected," lead author Dr. Peter James, said in a statement.
Ancient Alien theorists would disagree. So would Arthur C. Clark, famed science fiction author (RIP), were he still alive. Those who are a bit more enlightened would challenge Dr. Peter James and would ask him to re-read 2001: A Space Odyssey

There is a monolith under the surface of the moon and as soon as it is unearthed and sees sunlight, it blasts a message to the stars, and aliens will know that human's have arrived. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess. 

We will need to send a ship out there to investigate and because the crew is unreliable, we can create a computer and name it HAL. What could possibly go wrong?

We're a few years behind the curve because we should have a lunar base set up by now to deal with the coming discovery and shuttles back and forth should have been routine. But as disturbing as our tardy discovery is, art and science are still in sync.