sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Another Brexit

Before it was Scotland, it was Britain. From the first to the fifth centuries, the land beyond Hadrian's Wall (and Antonine's Wall) was part of the Roman Empire. It's remote location in the far western periphery meant that communications with the home office took time. As a result of that geographical situation, there were different Roman commanders who tried to arrange a BREXIT from Rome's dominion. 

During one of these events, in the late third century AD, Britain exited the Roman Empire for a period of around ten years. Because the separation lasted for so long, one can only ask whether it was the first BREXIT?

The Roman Empire in the third century was in a period of economic, political and social change, now known as the “Third Century Crisis” . The period saw intensified disturbances and incursions along its frontiers which drained military and economic resources. It was a period of inflation, coinage was devalued and the old elite order in Rome was being challenged, especially by the military. Since Julius Caesar's coup d'état, ambitious members of the military saw the possibility of a gold laurel around their brows.
Against this backdrop was born the short-lived breakaway Gallic Empire (260-274AD). It was formed out of territories in modern Germany, France, Spain and Britain under the leadership of the usurper Postumus. But Postumus was murdered in 269AD and the Gallic Empire didn’t last much longer without him. But following the rise in the power and influence of Carausius in the 280ADs, Britain again broke away from the Roman Empire – and this time alone.
Enter Carausius

Carausius may have been born in coastal Gallia Belgica, an area which corresponds roughly with Belgium today. He became a military commander and was appointed by the Emperor Maximian to assemble a fleet to help with the problem of piracy in the North Sea. 

The precise circumstances of his fall from favor with Emperor Maximian are lost to history but we do know that he ordered Carausius' death. Historical sources say that to escape death, Carausius made a rather ambitious move – and declared himself emperor in Britain in 286AD. In reality, this is likely to have been a long and gradual process of gaining support and influence, aided by Britain’s remote position on the edge of the empire and its growing dissatisfaction with the workings of Rome. Carausius couldn't have pulled this off without the support of subordinate commanders and influential citizens.

Carausius minted many coins for propaganda purposes, emphasising themes, such as local agriculture and wealth production, which would have been essential for Britain’s survival outside the Roman Empire. But Carausius’ position appears to have been fairly precarious and he was assassinated by his finance minister, Allectus, in 293AD who then also attempted to style himself emperor. (sic temper tiranus) Allectus was killed when Rome came calling to take the place back.

In 296AD Constantius Chlorus led the invasion and reconquered Britain, as “redditor lucis aeternae” (“restorer of the eternal light”) .

Growing discontent in Britain at the time contributed to the opportunism of Carausius, who perhaps successfully appealed to this disquiet. Using modern terms, Britain in the third century was an increasingly unequal society with large villas and townhouses – the grandiose and conspicuous homes of a tiny proportion of the population – appearing for the first time. Then, as now, it is possible that large numbers of people felt overlooked by the ruling “elite” and its links to a European power base. It is likely that convincing the military stationed in Britain was also an important factor.

The majority of the population in Britain are likely to have had fairly grim lives under Roman rule but whether their lives were better under Carausius seems unlikely and is difficult to pinpoint archaeologically. As a self-styled emperor, he would not have had any interest in the majority of the people of Britain. 

The broader Third Century Crisis did result in some substantial changes to the organization of the empire, including a reduction in the size of provinces and an increase in bureaucracy. These changes were unsuccessful. Britain fell out of the empire for good in 410AD and the Western Empire broke up soon after. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


I'm not going to belabor my decorating decisions in the den, but I received a couple of e-mails asking for more pictures beyond the snapshot of the picture of "Lee's Old Warhorse".

It's not a shrine to VF-111 (Sundowners), the venerable old squadron that saw service in World War 2, Korea and Vietnam, but it's a picture and a model aircraft (of the picture) with proper squadron markings.

You'll note that I do have a preference for mahogany tables with Italian marble tops. Mia culpa. I can't help it. There are things that I like and things that I don't and if it's going in my house it needs to be right. (right as I define the word)

VF-111 was a flamboyant squadron. Naval aviators are a swaggering, flamboyant bunch but even at that level, the squadron stood out. 

I don't think that it would be politically correct to decorate a helmet this way (left) today. Certainly not any more politically correct than a picture hanging of Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg. Political correctness demands that we re-write history to serve the particular sensibilities of a class of people that I prefer to avoid.

In any event, that's in the den.

There is also a bust of my grandfather, who raised me and who I adored. He was quite a guy and deserves a place of honor in the room.

I like being surrounded by these things in the den as I read or as I work. The den is now my office and headquarters of my diminutive empire, soon to be relocated from CA to AZ.

As I mentioned, the glory wall has been taken down, all of the hangings are wrapped in bubble wrap and then sealed away in storage boxes - to re-emerge at the White Wolf Mine.

The War of Northern Aggression

There is a brewing controversy here at the homestead with the place going up for sale. I'm getting push-back from Californians over this picture, hanging in my den.

It is "Lee's Old Warhorse" by Mort Kuntsler. AND it's been framed and hanging in my den for at least twenty years. Sensitive people apparently feel that it is an advocation of slavery and it-is-not. If I had a picture of a negro picking cotton, then they might have a point, but I don't.
From Kuntsler: On the morning of July 3rd, Longstreet and Lee rode the line out to the Confederate right. Some sporadic fire from the Hill's artillery broke out in front of Heth's division but died away shortly after noon. The artillery piece nearest to us is a bronze Napoleon. Next is another Napoleon firing. I have used the flame of the explosion to silhouette the artillery officer observing through his binoculars. 
With Lee and Longstreet, of course, are their respective staffs; officers, couriers, flag bearers, etc. Within this entourage, are some recognizable members of both staffs. Above Traveller's head, between the flag bearer and another soldier, is Lt. Col. Walter Taylor, one of Lee's closest aides throughout the war. Immediately to the left of Lee is Lt. Col. James Corely. Lt. Col. W.H. Stevens is to the left of Longstreet, looking at the two generals, watching and waiting. The staffs mingle with each other, conversing and waiting for the last decisions to be made for the final assault. 
The main artillery barrage would begin at 1:00 p.m. and last for two hours. The scene was set for Pickett's Charge!
Gen. Forrest
Furthermore my last house had photos of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Robert E. Lee hanging proudly in the parlor and an Indian family (red dot, not feather) bought the place. The house took one week to sell, which means that I'd priced it too low, but I didn't want to quibble since the new house that I live in now was ready to move into (I had it built too). 

Speed of sale notwithstanding, does a picture of Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg offend you - the blogging public?

If I had "Bury me in Southern Ground" playing in the background as you toured the house would it make you more or less likely to buy the place?

The house, staged for sale, doesn't include my I-love-me-wall of fame and the rest of the stuff that makes the place look like the Imperial War Museum. It's generic enough to appeal to the average person. I don't have gaudy tastes.

I'm dividing my time between the California residence and the WWM with a lot of my work taking the form of telephone calls while I'm on the road.  There's a 3D view of the plans that I've been walking through and it's one of those time wasters because I keep playing with it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dems Push Nuclear Option

We will see the Senate's rules changed again, completing the journey that corrupt Harry Reid (D-NV) started. There was a time when a qualified Supreme Court Justice could be confirmed by 60 votes without much trouble. That included Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan, confirmed under the Obama regime. That is no longer the case and it is a partisan war that will not serve the nation well.

The Dems revel in the present situation and I wonder if it will serve them well as they expect that it will - or whether the nation will continue to be disgusted with them?

Sticky World

A visitor from Space (think UFO and Illegal Space Alien who may or may not speak English as a second language) would doubtless find conditions on Earth to be different than they may have before they sent spies in and among us with human skins. Cars may not turn out to be the dominant life form with biological organisms seeing to their every need like parasites...etc. You get the point. The "take me to your leader" line doesn't work on a Ford pick up waiting patiently in line at Taco Bell.

This composite image shows an infrared view of Saturn's 
moon Titan from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, acquired during 
the mission's "T-114" flyby on Nov. 13, 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL
That also may be true of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, where the sands are "electrically charged." When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan's non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth -- they become resistant to further motion. They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth.

The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. 
J. S. Méndez Harper, G. D. McDonald, J. Dufek, M. J. Malaska, D. M. Burr, A. G. Hayes, J. McAdams, J. J. Wray. Electrification of sand on Titan and its influence on sediment transport. Nature Geoscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2921
"If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties," said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. "Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts."

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon's surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.

"These electrostatic forces increase frictional thresholds," said Josh Méndez Harper, a Georgia Tech geophysics and electrical engineering doctoral student who is the paper's lead author. "This makes the grains so sticky and cohesive that only heavy winds can move them. The prevailing winds aren't strong enough to shape the dunes."

To test particle flow under Titan-like conditions, the researchers built a small experiment in a modified pressure vessel in their Georgia Tech lab. They inserted grains of naphthalene and biphenyl -- two toxic, carbon and hydrogen bearing compounds believed to exist on Titan's surface -- into a small cylinder. Then they rotated the tube for 20 minutes in a dry, pure nitrogen environment (Titan's atmosphere is composed of 98 percent nitrogen). Afterwards, they measured the electric properties of each grain as it tumbled out of the tube.

"All of the particles charged well, and about 2 to 5 percent didn't come out of the tumbler," said Méndez Harper. "They clung to the inside and stuck together. When we did the same experiment with sand and volcanic ash using Earth-like conditions, all of it came out. Nothing stuck."

They don't hold together without water.
Earth sand does pick up electrical charge when it's moved, but the charges are smaller and dissipate quickly. That's one reason why you need water to keep sand together when building a sand castle. Not so with Titan.

"These non-silicate, granular materials can hold their electrostatic charges for days, weeks or months at a time under low-gravity conditions," said George McDonald, a graduate student in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who also co-authored the paper.

Visually, Titan is the object in the solar system most like Earth. Data gathered from multiple flybys by Cassini since 2005 have revealed large liquid lakes at the poles, as well as mountains, rivers and potentially volcanoes. However, instead of water-filled oceans and seas, they're composed of methane and ethane and are replenished by precipitation from hydrocarbon-filled clouds. Titan's surface pressure is a bit higher than our planet -- standing on Titan would feel similar to standing 15 feet underwater here on Earth.

"Titan's extreme physical environment requires scientists to think differently about what we've learned of Earth's granular dynamics," said Dufek. "Landforms are influenced by forces that aren't intuitive to us because those forces aren't so important on Earth. Titan is a strange, electrostatically sticky world."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Madness

Where is the Outrage?

The never-ending progressive rant about America building a border wall along its Southern Border hasn't been projected to other parts of the world where similar structures are being erected. Likewise, the People seems to object only to the US Border wall, as he hasn't torn down the walls around Vatican City. Thus Monday Madness focuses on another wall - because we can. Come on, Hollywood, let's hear you denounce Pakistan.

On 25 March, Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa announced that the Pakistan Army has begun building a fence along part of the northwestern border with Afghanistan to disrupt infiltration by Pakistani Taliban and other anti-government fighters from bases in Afghanistan

Fencing started in Bajaur and Mohmand districts. General Bajwa described both Bajaur and Mohmand as 'high threat zones' which was why, he said, they were being accorded priority in the plan. Banned groups that operate from Afghanistan in the area include Jamaat ul Ahrar and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Addressing troops deployed on the border in Mohmand and Orakzai districts on Saturday, General Bajwa said "technical surveillance means are also being deployed along the border besides regular air surveillance", according to a Pakistani military statement.

Officials also said that Pakistan is building 423 small forts along the 2,430km-long border with Afghanistan--roughly 6 kilometers from each other--for effective border patrolling and monitoring. More than 60 such forts have already been built.

Assuming Pakistan follows through with the plan, it finally looks serious about improving border security. Mohmand is where Jamaat ul-Ahrar terrorists from Afghanistan killed five Pakistani soldiers on 6 March. Mohmand and Bajaur are opposite Afghan provinces in which the Islamic State has a presence or operates.

According to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) web site, FATA is a tribal region in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the north and east, Baluchistan to the south and Afghanistan to the west. The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by various Pashtun tribes. FATA comprises seven tribal Agencies and six Frontier Regions. 

Fencing the border is a politically charged and provocative action because Afghanistan and Pakistan do not agree on the trace of the border. An Afghan politician said that Afghanistan will never allow Pakistan to build a border fence. 

The start of construction could lead to border clashes and has in the past. Last June, Pakistan closed the Torkham border crossing point, west of Peshawar, for construction improvements, including building a new gate. That led to a spike in tension and several days of cross border artillery shelling before the two sides agreed to talk.

Another agenda. Construction of a border fence also supports a government domestic agenda item to incorporate the seven tribal agencies into the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier Province). 

The agencies have local tribal administrations that are overseen by the office of the President of Pakistan in recognition of the historic autonomy of the Pashtun tribes in the border region. That freedom has included an open border in tribal homelands. The mainstreaming of the agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would impose tighter control of the tribes as well as alter traditional smuggling and travel practices. The Army’s fence will support the government’s agenda, but the Pashtuns are likely to resist.

What about Canada?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Sermonette

Damned, Horrible Lies

The mirror lies.

When I get up in the morning and look into it, I instinctively ask the question, asked by men since mirrors came into use, "who is that old b@stard?"

I was recently invited to Credenhill, England this coming summer to spend some time with old friends, many of whom I haven't seen in forty years since a secondment to the Brits when I was in the US Navy. My response was, "That's a filthy lie, it can't have been forty years."

Friends, the clock is a remorseless foe and in the end it will kill us all. The moral to this story is, "fight like you're the third monkey on the ramp up to the ark and it's starting to rain." The clock will still kill you, but you'll get your full measure.

It would be a Scandal if she was Black or a Muslim

Luckily for the Tulsa Police Department, she was white and apparently not a Muslim.

The moral to this story is that you can run, but you'll only die tired. 


I find the notion of "liberal preppers" to be absurd in the extreme. However their caches of supplies may be of use to the rest of us since they are likely to be easy prey. I saw a liberal discussing his concerns for a Trump Apocalypse on on a news program the other night and --- a liberal person prepping is like a fish riding a bicycle. It's as incredible and outlandish as somebody like Al Franken, a goofy, failed comedian, becoming a US Senator.


Once again, California made the list of the nation’s top “Judicial Hellholes,” according to the latest rankings of the “most unfair” civil litigation courts by the American Tort Reform Foundation.

On the plus side, California dropped to the No. 2 ranking after previously topping the “Judicial Hellhole” list in 2012, 2013 and 2015. It's incredible that there would be a state that would be worse than California. New York (as one would expect) is No. 3. Which state beat both The Golden State and the Big Apple as the penultimate worst? Missouri. 

ObamaCare Lives?

As crazy as it may seem to some of you, I think this situation is FUNNY. Now the Democrats will have to petition President Trump to save them from the crash of ObamaCare.

For all of the bluster and lies, all of the obstruction and all of the misery that Pelosi and her gang caused - and all of the laughter at the Republicans (gang that couldn't shoot straight), all indications are that they will work with the Republicans to find a way out.

Because as ObamaCare collapses completely, the Progs feel that the electorate will blame THEM. And the first duty of a politician is to get re-elected. I have no idea what the new American Healthcare Act will look like but Trump, the negotiator, will be called upon to broker a deal. 

Uncomfortable Politics

There are other whispers from the Capitol -- that President Obama did generate a situation using signals intercepts (wiretaps) to undermine the newly minted Trump Transition  -- for the purpose of undermining and delegitimizing his presidency. This puts the "party of tolerance" in a difficult position.

They can send their legions in the corrupt, lying, nasty, elite mainstream media to continue the attack, but will the attack backfire.

I realize that the progs are very slow on the uptake, but they've been wrong about EVERYTHING so far as it relates to President Trump. Some in the Donkey Party are worried that they need to dial down the rhetoric in case this ends up being something that shows Obama into prison, and his staff with him.