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Houston: what are the long-term consequences?

This is an open-ended question.

Forget Donald Trump; Trump will almost certainly be gone by 2020 and quite possibly by 2018. (In fact, any comments which mention him will be deleted unless they have a very good point to make about the effect of flooding on Houston. You have been warned.)

What I'm interested in chewing over is the effect of losing a major city—the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States—to a weather event that is already the worst in 800 years (with, potentially, worse to come) and flooding due to rainfall that will almost certainly exceed 100 centimetres in a week.

What happens next? Lessons in flood defenses and disaster mitigation? Changes to urban planning regimes? A major economic crisis (I'm guessing they just lost the Port of Houston, the busiest port in the USA in terms of foreign tonnage and second-busiest by overall tonnage, not to mention Houston's economy having a GDP on the order of $450Bn). Mass homelessness and destitution is a no-brainer: is this also going to destabilize the secondary insurance markets? What are the global consequences, outside the USA?

Tell me what happens next. Let's compare notes.



In the short term I expect a very well funded (dis)information campaign to ensure that everyone knows that summer storms have ABSOLUTLY NOTHING to do with increasing temperatures. There are no ice caps in Texas etc.

Longer term we have had New Orleans, now Houston. Traditionally it takes a third event for people to take note.


You mean Sandy in 2012 wasn't bad enough? Or Ike in 2008?

The stand against the (highly likely, alas) disinformation campaign you posit has got to link all these and the rest together, with special notes as to their increasing frequency and intensity, with the phrase "irrespective of what's causing them, they're happening" used frequently.

Anyone appealing to Baby Cheeses Rice needs to be pointed here - IF $DEITY_MODE = YHWH, THEN UN|JUST = "fucked".


Fun fact. ISS ground based operational support is based in Houston.

So far mission critical staff are still on site. But access is challenging at best.


I'm seeing a figure (on twitter) of 6.8 million people displaced by Harvey, compared to 1M displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

That's 2% of the US population, and I'm going to guess that a lot of them won't ever be going back to their previous homes: they'll resettle elsewhere or have to build new homes.

How salvageable are typical American (largely timber and wallboard) homes after total submergence? Because this is looking like a trillion dollar real estate bill to me on top of the $1.5Bn/day GDP loss while this event is ongoing.

In other words ... that North Korean nuclear ICBM strike Donald Trump was getting worked up about? The economic fallout from this storm is likely worse.


A lot of Canadian bitumen (unrefined tar sands) goes to refineries in New Orleans and Houston for export. If Houston refineries are wiped out, it will significantly impact the Canadian oil industry. Alberta might even try building a local refinery.

The transportation network for unrefined crude is at capacity in Canada. If export to the south shuts down, it will added to the political pressure to approve or fast-track pipelines east or west from Alberta. The current Prime Minister ran on a platform of approving some pipelines and blocking others. The political capital to block pipelines may evaporate.


Katrina led to a permanent displacement of a chunk of the New Orleans population (Some of them, as it so happens, had gone to Houston).

I expect that will happen to Houston, and that will have strong local economic impacts that will take a decade or more to play out.

Typical American homes, post submergence, are not terribly salvagable. Blighted neighborhoods a la Katrina and the Ninth Ward are definitely going to be in poorer areas of Houston.

When average people think of the "important cities", Northerners just don't think of Houston, but the closing of the port, even if its for a short period, will have lots of nasty knock on effects for global prices of oil and gasoline, since that's its stock in trade.


Is it that bad ? suggests waaaaay list that ~7M displaced. Only a few tens of K. In no way has a major city been "lost" ?


I think the determining factor is how many trips around the coastline hurricanes are going to take.

In the new climate, where the jet-stream (more) often gets stuck in wavenumber-6 configuration, the chances of a hurricane bouncing off and maybe even going back to sea for another go, like Harvey seems to be doing, the entire north coast of the Mexican Gulf is held at risk.

In principle, a "Great Red Spot" scenario is not out of the question, for instance where a hurricane repeatedly bounces of the persistent high and devastates the coast from west to east in 100-200 mile increments, until it retires in northern Florida.


What would it take to disrupt a hurricane? Could you just drop a couple of Daisy Cutters or a MOAB into it, or would those be insignificant?


I'm not sure I'm going to go with a BBC round-up report summarizing talking points from a press conference held by a FEMA administrator whose duty is to prevent panic.

The 6.8M is people affected rather than displaced; it's still enormous, and I'm betting that FEMA's 30,000 temporarily housed is the tip of a very large iceberg.


Not sure where on twitter you're getting your news, but they're being pretty hyperbolic. New Orleans only even had a population of 500,000 when Katrina hit, (650 when you add surrounding cities) not all of whom had to leave or did leave. It was a major hit to the city- population dropped to <400k in the city- but the port actually, well, it's still there. The city still has infrastructure problems, but it had them before too- its problem was that the city was poor, and most of the flooded areas were where poor people lived, so reconstruction was not smooth or even.

Houston on the other hand, would have a hard time having 6.8 million people displaced when that's the population of the entire metro area, not all of which is under water. Houston also has the massive benefit of being rich, and it's a center for oil and gas refining, e.g. a good chunk of the income is generated by complexes owned by incredibly rich companies who can easily afford to rebuild/have a major incentive to do so quickly.

It's going to be a big economic hit, and the city and its people are going to have problems. But even still, it's a long way from "losing the 4th biggest city in America", except perhaps in a "what if" sense.


More on the economic impact: Economy prepares to see 'multibillion-dollar loss' (Houston Chronicle).


agh, that should have been "It was a major hit to the city- population dropped to less than 400k- but the port is still there. The city has infrastructure problems (and did beforehand as well) but it's also a rather poor city, and a lot of the worst-flooded areas were poor. As a result, reconstruction was uneven and slow." in the first paragraph.


What would it take to disrupt a hurricane? Could you just drop a couple of Daisy Cutters or a MOAB into it, or would those be insignificant?

Hurricanes are bigger than you think. In 24 hours, a Cat 1 hurricane dissipates about as much heat energy as 200 megatons of nuclear weapons, i.e. roughly a thousand of the warheads mounted on US Minuteman and Trident missiles. (Assuming 200Kt yield — they're adjustable up and down a fair bit.)


Presumably this is going to have a major knock on effect on the insurance industry. There must be strategic planners out there already calculating the expiration of the very concept of home insurance and the managed wind down of domestic business. The threat of widespread destruction of critical infrastructure and large swathes of housing stock is going to inevitably lead to major state intervention as private insurers either go bankrupt, sink in legal mire or run for the hills. The Insurance bubble may even end up rivalling the carbon bubble in terms of global economic impact.


This is an interesting thread on the flood situation in Houston.


"What would it take to disrupt a hurricane? Could you just drop a couple of Daisy Cutters or a MOAB into it, or would those be insignificant?"

That 1) wouldn't be anything like big enough for what you seem to be suggesting, but 2) Would also be more likely to just make things worse. You're adding energy, and such storm systems run on that energy.

At least some cursory research went into this (talking about tornadoes, but I believe the principle will be the same):


A big storm hit on the others side of the world around the same time, right? I can't find a reference because Houston has flooded my feeds.

There will be direct political implications in the US, but leaving those aside, this may add much needed urgency to global efforts to adapt to climate change. Limiting the change is still up for grabs.

Insurance companies may increase their efforts to lobby for state-level and union-level action to mitigate against the coming storms. Military planners will not only dust off the 'Noah Protocols' for their big costal cites, but start to direct funds to preparing for Houston-level emergencies. Building codes might be adjusted in rich countries to be better at recovering from flooding.

I wonder if this will prompt the US to shift troops on active duty into domestic nation-building. Clearly the states and fed have not been able to manage and maintain local infrastructure. What if the Generals and Admirals see this as a time to put America First from a man-vs-nature point of view?


What is the current lasting impact in areas of Pakistan affected by the 2010 floods? I've been trying to look in to it but the global attention span about non-Western disasters means I'm not finding a lot of discussion in a cursory search. I know there are differences in what that recovery looks like based on levels of development and infrastructure, but my sense is that was a lasting disaster of at least comparable scale...


This hurricane just slammed the biggest petroleum-refining center in the US economy. Maybe it's Gaia's immune-system responding to our fossil-fuel folly.

But to answer your question, a lot of cities need to be moved a few meters uphill. And we have a crisis of chronic underemployment. Eventually, even US state and federal governments will put the two together.


I think the response partially depends on the death toll, which I fear will be shocking and the sorting out of why the response was so feeble. Why did the city wait so long to open up the convention center? Why did they not move food and water into community centers and other places on higher ground? Why does the city of Houston or Harris County have so few boats (flat-bottomed aluminum boats with small motors for rescue? As a Cajun from SE Texas, this seems to me a no-brainer. These folks have organized themselves and want to help like they have already in Louisiana. La Cajun Navy.

The developing narrative to maintain the status quo that I see on American media (Fox News, CNN, the Weather Channel) is that officials are insisting that this was an anomalous event (500 year, 800 year, 1000 year whatever) and that evacuation was not possible due to the sheer number of people involved, which is true. Therefore, nothing could be done except for people to stay in place and then pick them off of roofs as need be. Over six million people in Texas will be infuriated with this argument.

Again, as a native SE Texan, I believe that they were hoping that the forecast models were wrong and that Hurricane Harvey wouldn't be as bad as predicted. This would happen often in the past. Forecast tracks would be off, hurricanes would suddenly lose strength right before landfall, or the eye of hurricane would cause only localized damage and then swiftly move away. Forecasting has gotten a heck of a lot better, it seems, at least for the kind of weather event that Harvey is, and the excuse will ring resoundingly hollow.

Economically, most of my relatives in SE Texas are in SE Texas, and they almost all work directly in the oil industry (operators at oil refineries, workers on oil rigs, salesmen of products to oil workers, insurer people in the local area). The whole Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Port Arthur was built and depends on the oil industry (of course this extends over into Louisiana too), and while this area is an unspoken de facto environmental sacrifice zone (that part of the Texas coast used to be like Florida and was a tourist destination in the late 19th & early 20th century before the Spindletop oil strike), it has provided well-paying jobs, some of which are seemingly the few good union jobs left in the USA. The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union is still strong, and these are jobs one can get right out of high school and you could retire at 55 with a really nice pension with the caveat that you and your relatives might die of obscure cancers due to the high carcinogenic load (in the past 5 years my stepmother and an uncle died of obscure brain and lung cancers respectively).

But with the number of people totally screwed, I think that the deregulated and no-zoning economic miracle of Texas which made Texas exempt from the pain of the Great Recession will be over. This isn't a fatal industrial accident due to deregulation and the gutting of the EPA. Trump's great infrastructure plan will now the rebuilding of the Texas coast, at least enough to get the refineries and the support industries up and running again.

Politically, the fallout will be immense. Trump won Texas handily, but the blame will be laid at his and the Texas Republican Party's feet. I expect, however, that there will be a massive voter suppression of the people displaced by Harvey. Hillary won Harris County in 2016 (54% to Trump's 41%), and it will be easy to keep the displaced people off the voter rolls. Depending on how the Democratic Party plays it, they could win Ted Cruz's seat, if the voter suppression can be overcome, but the Democratic Party seemingly can't get over rehashing the 2016 election. Pro-regulation and stronger government voices may prevail.

I don't know where the displaced people will go. Houston and Beaumont took in a significant number of Katrina refugees. Atlanta, which is where I live now, did too. However, we're in a housing bubble in urban areas in the USA, and there's really no readily available housing stock here in Atlanta. This may also puncture the stock market bubble too.

If Houston is THE oil city in Texas, then maybe it was fated to shrink as oil becomes less and less important. Perhaps this will hasten the process.


There's plenty that should be done (zoning, planning, preparedness), but I predict that (apart from some local politicians that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time), nothing will fundamentally change. The Americans don't like a strong government and won't push for major investments.

Insurance rates will go up (meaning less people will be insured), though.


There is precedent - The Raising of Chicago

They lifted half a city block on Lake Street, between Clark Street and LaSalle Street; a solid masonry row of shops, offices, printeries, etc., 320 feet (98 m) long, comprising brick and stone buildings, some four stories high, some five, having a footprint taking up almost one acre (4,000 m2) of space, and an estimated all in weight including hanging sidewalks of thirty five thousand tons. Businesses operating out of these premises were not closed down for the lifting; as the buildings were being raised, people came, went, shopped and worked in them as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. In five days the entire assembly was elevated 4 feet 8 inches (1.42 m) in the air by a team consisting of six hundred men using six thousand jackscrews, ready for new foundation walls to be built underneath.


I think I'll go reread Chairman Sterling's Distraction and Heavy Weather. Some of it may feel dated by now, especially some of the science, but I always appreciate his takes on mid- and post-collapse US.


Re: What are the global consequences, outside the USA?

We'd have to look at the proportion of coastal cities worldwide, and their impact on global communications and commerce, which will be HUGE. It's not just hurricanes and typhoons, look at the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. I haven't seen anything on a link between climate change and seismic activity, but the effects of both have and will have a massive impact on coastal cities.

Given that we're likely to go well past a 2 degree Centigrade average global temperature rise, with subsequent ice cap melting and weather pattern disruption, we are probably going to lose, or have major impacts on, some major ports worldwide, plus the transportation, energy, and food networks that flow through them. If I were king I'd at least be working on a plan to relocate or harden those facilities as much as I could afford.

I doubt we've "lost" Houston permanently, but the recovery costs will be tremendous, and the impacts will last for years. The effects on poorer areas could be permanent.


Houston is going to have a bit of a diaspora, mostly to the other large Texan cities but probably also to places like Oklahoma City, Kansas City and St. Louis. Those who own land will end up coming back pretty quickly since a large amount (all?) of their wealth is tied up in land. The poor will likely stay wherever they are temporarily evacuated too, much like happened after Katrina when many ended up in Houston.

Houses with flood insurance will be rebuilt. Houston has a long history of flooding, I expect they'll rebuild pretty quickly. The rebuilding will look a lot like what happened in Calgary after the 2013 flooding there. Houses will stripped back to the studs with everything else being replaced. I'm sure contractors across the US are loading the tracks and heading south as we speak.

For those without flood insurance, I expect the federal government will assume its traditional role as backstop of the American economy. Money will be found, bills passed, checks written, and houses will get rebuilt. And because the GOP controls everything, taxes won't even go up: we'll either acquire more debt or cut stuff when no one is looking.

This won't change Houston's building codes or lack of zoning at all. That would go entirely against the Texan mindset, so it will all get rebuilt exactly as it was, ready to be destroyed again. For previous examples search for "jersey shore sandy."

The energy facilities in Houston will be repaired or rebuilt quickly. This probably pushes oil and gas prices back towards a more sane level, which in the end will only help the oil companies. Higher priced oil will also help stabilize the petrocracies in the Middle East.

Insurance companies will be fine: they had been facing a long stretch with no major disasters forcing their rates down. This will give them an excuse raise them. Most of this damage is flood, so it won't be cover by them anyway.

The biggest apparent affect for most Americans will be when they see their local sports team playing an away game versus a Houston team that's actually happening in Austin or Dallas.


Oh look, a piece on American dysfunction. I regret to inform our gracious host that this will probably not have the significant long-term consequences that it might appear to at first glance. Several reasons:

Insurance: Understand that in the U.S. homeowners insurance NEVER covers damage from flooding. If you want that coverage, you have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy which is (ultimately, in several convoluted ways depending on your jurisdiction) backed by the federal government. This means two things. First, the commercial insurance companies will be OK. Most damage caused by the actual hurricane in the form of wind was in isolated areas between Houston and Corpus Cristi. The property isn't worth that much, and the private insurers all purchase reinsurance for large-scale disasters like this. They'll have a bad year or two, but they'll be fine in the long run. Second, because flood insurance is sold as a separate policy, generally only fairly well-off people purchase it. (You are required to purchase it if you are in an area designated by FEMA as being vulnerable to 100-year floods. FEMA's maps are famously out-of-date, and the result is that only a very small portion of homeowners that will have actually flooded this time will carry flood insurance because they are forced to in order to get a mortgage. It's optional for everyone else.) What this means is that the federal government will pay out a large amount on flood policies, but ultimately most of that money will go to middle- and upper-class households. They will rebuild, and the poor will be squeezed out.

The Poor: Part of what happened with Katrina is that FEMA ultimately relocated a lot of people who couldn't flee on their own to other cities. (Ironically, Houston was the number 1 destination for FEMA relocations. Something like 500,000 people came to Houston after Katrina.) This will happen again (expect a lot to go to Dallas/Ft. Worth), and like Katrina there will be promises made that those who are relocated can go back when the housing stock rebounds. Also, like Katrina, that won't happen. The poor get shuffled around, and they typically just stay wherever they land. Even for those that remain, they will find themselves competing for rental housing with the well-off, and rent prices will spike. This will further displace the poor to other cities.

The Well-off: Understand that Houston has had massive flooding before. It's built on swamp and prairie land, and the huge amount of development in Houston over the last 20 years has been poorly managed in terms of flood control. (You really must read two articles to understand Houston flooding: ProPublica's "Hell and High Water" and A Guardian article published two months ago that predicted exactly what is happening now The city floods, and those who can (via flood insurance mostly) rebuild. That will happen again. There will be an initial spike in housing process for homes that did not flood (a small number at this point), and then everyone will get back to buying their 4 bedroom 3 bath McMansion because it's in a good school district, this is where my job is, and we can afford the insurance. Long-term you may see a trend of people not wanting to move to Houston, but that will be years in the making.

Business: The number one business in Houston is oil and oil-related industries (refining, shipping, oil field services, etc.). That business is there because of proximity to the Houston Ship Channel. Here I disagree with Charlie; I don't think the port is lost. The ProPublica report mentioned above makes it clear that the port is vulnerable to storm surge, not inland flooding. Harvey hit well south of Houston, and so the ship channel is not going to see the type of storm surge needed to cause the port to be lost. The refineries and shipping facilities will shut down for while, but we saw that with Katrina. Other businesses in the Houston area may decide in the long-term that the potential disruption is too great and they will relocate, but again, this will be a long-term gradual trend. Oil-related businesses will stay, and they spend too much money to be ignored. (In fact this may be a boon to Big Oil. Oil companies will complain long and hard that Harvey is killing them and what they really need is relaxed regulations that allow them to rebuild in other places less vulnerable to hurricanes since it is almost impossible under current rules to build a new refinery. Given our current administration, I expect that they will get their wish.)

Politics: I don't expect much change here, either. If you believe in climate change (I do), this is a spectacular display of its potential destructiveness. If you think it's a hoax, then this was just another storm and we'll rebuild. The one thing to note is that we haven't really seen what the federal government's response is going to be yet. The storm is still ongoing, so all you're seeing is first responders, who are local and state assets. FEMA comes in later. If FEMA really screws this up, there could be enough pushback politically to swing Texas away from the Republicans, which would be a big deal.

In short yes, this is a tremendous disaster. It will be catastrophic for Houston's poor, and it will significantly affect everyone else. It may lead to a long-term decline in Houston's appeal as a business center. But the port is still there, Big Oil will remain, and politics is too entrenched for me to expect much in the way change.


It's not just the shoreside facilities, the U.N. estimates 90 percent of global trade is carried by sea. How much harder will maritime trade be when we're at the mercy of stormier seas and disrupted ocean currents? Many African countries have only one major port; if that's severely damaged, their imports and exports are hosed.


Umm, just no. The Department of Defense is good at a lot of things; nation-building is demonstrably NOT one of them, nor is it something any general or admiral wants to do. We're much better at breaking things than building them.

That doesn't mean the politicians won't have the same idea (PLEASE don't ask them to!), but the outcome is not going to be effective or efficient. The U.S. government agency closest to the task is FEMA, but they're focused on crisis response. There is no U.S. Department of Infrastructure.


The point about the insurance industry is; what happens when one of these hits the US every year? When major industrial facilities, skyscrapers and critical infrastructure are destroyed on an annual basis? When homes in coastal cities globally become uninsurable against the greatest hazard they face?


Honestly, it's still too early to tell. According to various sources, we're only at the halfway point. Granted, these storms lose strength over time but everything is still super-saturated. And, there is even a chance of getting a "zombie hurricane" (which sounds like something more up Bob and Mo's alley), where Harvey wanders back into the gulf, regains some strength, and then comes back for a second bite. Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers are planning to do a controlled release of water from nearby reservoirs to take pressure off of the dams. This is going to raise the groundwater in certain areas for months. More places in the Houston Metro area are now saying to evacuate if you can, but also admit that finding a way out may be tricky.

Another thing to consider - the city of Houston is bigger than the whole state of Rhode Island and if you count the surrounding areas that are flooded, it's as big as Connecticut. Houston sprawls like a cyberpunk city, eating nearby towns as it expands. It's a huge area that's affected, just counting Houston and not the larger area.

As for the obvious comparison to Katrina - I had family from New Orleans evacuate here, and they stayed for six weeks or so before they could go back, and they both had the resources to evacuate and most of them were lucky enough to not sustain serious damage. And if you go to New Orleans now (12 years later), there are still places that haven't rebuilt. This is going to suck for Houston for a very long time.

And, to add insult to injury, our beloved legislature recently passed a law that'll make it more difficult for people to get their insurance companies to pay out unless they submit their claims in writing before September 1. Because that sounds easy.


One interesting question is when/if a nightmare scenario such as this Bloomberg article materializes. TL;DR: due to the increased risk of "extreme weather events" banks stop selling mortgages in coastal, hurricane-risk cities. This has a swift and decisive impact on property prices, impacting local and state budgets in a couple of years, and the regional economy soon after. Population changes (the rich rush out, the poor pour in) further exacerbate the problem, leading to a slow death spiral over 5-10 years. An interesting (though not critical) side-note is at what speed does this contagion spread (if a small regional bank stops selling 30-year mortgages in a small part of the Florida Atlantic coast, how quickly afterwards major banks stop selling 15-year loans in Houston?).


In the short term, I'm surprised at watching a slow-motion trainwreck. The stories on all the major services (NYT, WaPo, BBC) last time I looked wre still focusing on the rescues and human stories. I have not (yet) seen a single story looking at the broader economic effect of turning off one of the US's major source of gasoline. (To be fair, the ExxonMobile shutdown of Bayport did get a one line mention).

Longer term there are two ways it could play out.

Positive outcome. New development rules designed to deal with the reality of elevated sea levels and greater likelihood of storms, and acceptance by the population and the establishment that this is the way it is. An example. Hurricane Andrew (Aug 1992) changed the mindset in Florida towords hurricane preparedness. Losing 60,000 homes, mostly in two towns (Florida City and Homestead) can have that effect. The building codes were revised based on scientific research into why buildings fail. Everyone in the state now takes hurricane warnings seriously. June 1st, all the media run hurricane preparedness 101. When I ran a lab in South Florida one of my team had the job of monitoring storms, and we had the forecast map on the side of a server rack. The preparations when a Hurricane Watch (your 48 hour warning) is announced are a bit of a drag, but you don't mess about, and as a rule hurricanes don't kill people in Florida anymore. The people living on the ocean-front barrier islands in South Florida are relatively well-off, so they can afford to secure the storm shutters and go visit friends. The local police are very good about closing the bridges so you know your property will be secure. Contrast this with the casualty levels from hurricanes in most parts of the Carribean - apart from Cuba, which seems to have effective civil defence.

Negative option. Take no notice and carry on. La la la. Another example, also from Florida. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 which killed around 408 people in the Florida Keys. The culpability of the authorities for the death toll in 1935 took a while to come to light. Ignoring warnings, failing to make preparations. After the 1935 storm, the authorities tried to lay the blame on the dead, many of whom were US Veterans, when the negligence of the Federal Emergence Relief Administration (FERA) was a major factor. The whole affair was eerily foreshadowing of Hurricane Karatina.

Whatever you think of the oil industry, it is not run by idiots. I expect to see Exxon and co pushing to ensure that the port and refinery infrastructure along the Texas/Louisiana coast is secured against a similar future event. Now, I don't know how many people are needed to operate that infrastructure.


How salvageable are typical American (largely timber and wallboard) homes after total submergence? Because this is looking like a trillion dollar real estate bill to me on top of the $1.5Bn/day GDP loss while this event is ongoing.

I'm not an expert, but I did volunteer cleanup work after Katrina and the Louisiana flooding last year, so I'll do until one comes along.

As a general rule, most low-income single-family housing is salvageable under certain conditions. If the water stands for no more than a reasonable amount of time (perhaps a week, as a rough guide), if the structure is opened up to allow air movement and at least a good chuck of the internal walls are punctured to limit black mold and mildew growth (it doesn't have to be neat, but just punching some holes near floor level makes a huge difference) shortly after the water subsides, and if the structure was in reasonably good shape beforehand, you can typically go through within the next few months and square up the sheetrock at a common level (4 feet, unless the water line is higher), spray for mold, and replace flooring and lower walls. That this activity is done while most of your belongings are in a pile out by the street waiting for pickup tends to mean that it only happens in a certain band of economic health. I'm not currently optimistic about these conditions holding up in Houston; most of the post-Katrina restoration work was along the just-as-hard-hit-but-easier-get-in-and-out-of areas in Mississippi, for example.


I'm not 100% sure what to expect out of it, but I will note that a sizable percentage of US petroleum processing (I've seen figures as high as 60%) is located both in Houston and more critically in low-lying areas at risk of a storm surge. In the short term I expect to see actual gas shortages.

What that will do to an increasingly transport-based retail economy (I work for Amazon, although not for the giant-shopping-mall side) I don't know, but I expect to see knock-on effects on delivery costs and retail availability as a consequence.


I recommend the New York Times coverage to get an accurate view of what's really happening.

I think at this point the biggest question is whether the levees on the Brazos will hold or not. So far, this isn't really a city-killing disaster. Thousands, not millions displaced, and the impact on petroleum looks like it'll be pretty small.


This is the most likely scenario for any significant changes. Homeowners in Florida and on the Gulf coast already have a hard time finding and/or affording homeowners insurance. (After Katrina, friends of ours on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain had their homeowners premiums quadruple. And they said they felt lucky to get the policy.) Things are better now because we've had 10+ years with no major hurricanes hitting the southeast, but at some point insurers and finance companies will not put their capital at risk.


I know you said not to mention Trump, but this is actually an opportunity for him and his government; they can get out of the whole stupid "build a wall along the border" thing, and put the resources into building flood defences instead. This will appease Trump's supporters in the construction industry, who I suspect are behind the silly idea, and actually gain him some support from the public, which he is desperately going to need before long.

Of course it probably won't work in the long term, but it will be seen as Doing Something, which is a big plus for short term political goals.


Blind Waves by Stephen Gould is set around a near-future Houston that is mostly underwater. Most people live in floating cities in the gulf. It's a fun read.


Two thoughts that have been circulating on the Texas-centric parts of my social media.

1) Flood insurance is extremely not common: "In a snapshot of Texas' high-risk coastal counties, Harris County had the highest number of NFIP policies — 240,350 as of August 2016 — but had about 1.6 million housing units at that time, the institute reports." (Dallas Morning News)

2) The Texas Lege back in May revised the law that controls insurance claims significantly--and no, it's not in favor of the consumer. IANAL, but the Texas public policy folk who've read the law's text (Legiscan) are yelling at everyone they know to file preliminary written claims nownownow rather than wait until after September 1st. Yes, the September 1st that is in three days.


Houstonian here, just want to add some info...

I am surprised how well power, water and network infrastructure has held up. I'm about a block away from the new extent of Buffalo Bayou, and still have power, land-based internet, cellular voice and data, clean drinking water and sewer. We lost all of that for a week during Hurricane Ike some 8 years back with far less flooding. My mother in the Houston suburbs has water in her house but still has power and data. The toilets are gurgling, and she's drinking bottled water, but she can contact me with no problems.


FYI, Houston is the fifth largest metro area in the US. Dallas is bigger with 7.3 million people


I'd like to challenge the post's assumptions.

Houston is not going to be lost.

The pictures in the news are somewhat misleading - there are many flooded buildings but MOST buildings are not flooded (yet). Heck, most buildings still have electricity and sewer.

But the flooded buildings are write-offs, they can't be recovered. The waterlogged wooden walls will rot in a matter of months in Texan climate.


Nothing will happen.

I think posters here misunderstand the scale here. We are seeing some flooding of the Houston area yes. But the Houston area is positively massive. Most of it is fine. Neighbors are taking shifts keeping the storm drains cleared. They have had 3 similar scale floods since 2000 alone. Certain areas are indeed fucked, but most of them are fine. The worst pictures of the roads are that bad because by design the Houston roads are meant to pool water and flood.

It will be some disaster porn, and there will be finger pointing about should we have evacuated, some partisan nonsense, and the talking heads will tut about there not being anyone running the show in the executive branch (most of FEMA is still empty).

And we will keep whistling past the graveyard.


"I think that the deregulated and no-zoning economic miracle of Texas which made Texas exempt from the pain of the Great Recession"

Is that really what people in Texas think about the recent crisis?

I've read a fair bit about it. And there are typically three things to which Texas' relative resilience to the housing debt crisis are ascribed, in order of importance:

1) Unusually strong mortgage regulation at the state level which was left over from the S&L crisis, of which Texas was the epicenter. Much like Canada, and much unlike the rest of the US and most of the world mortgage lending was still quite cautious in Texas due to government rules.

2) Little land use regulation and the fact that much of Texas was just starting to exit the 'car based sprawl works great' development phase, so building new houses on open land was easier/cheaper than in many places and prices didn't spike as much.

3) Participation in the natural gas and fracking booms, which were still heating up as the crisis hit. Kind of a natural stimulus spending program was going on. Basically Texas sells the shovels for those industries, even though the actual production was elsewhere. Note San Francisco and some other cities were similarly somewhat insulated by the tech industry.

3) Higher than usual property taxes, which are a weak break on property speculation. The opposite of California with its bizarrely bubble encouraging and low property taxes.

So zoning and land use are in there, but the most important factor was actually unusually strong regulation in exactly the sector that got into trouble. Additional factors are a tax system with higher than normal property taxes, and a random countervailing boom.


“Longer term we have had New Orleans, now Houston. Traditionally it takes a third event for people to take note.”

Tropical Storm Harvey is now heading back out into the Gulf of Mexico and will travel the coast into Louisiana. New Orleans will see heavy rainfall before the end of the week.

Here in Austin, Texas we’ve received about ~10 inches of rain with a couple of more inches forecasted. Austin was just inside the outer band of Harvey when it came inland. Everything east towards Houston received the heavier rain. Temperatures dropped from 100s F down to the 70s F.

The flooded region in southeast Texas is said to be the size of Lake Michigan, that’s enormous. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began to release water from the Addicks and Barker dams this morning to prevent more flooding of the Houston metropolitan area. There are still thousands of people trapped in their flooded homes.


Wild SFnal level speculations only, as I've never personally experienced a hurricane.

1- US crude oil price spike - the perfect excuse for OPEC but esp. for Putin to come to the rescue everywhere else on the planet with cheaper, more reliable oil delivery until the new Canada-US inland oil pipeline is completed in 10 yrs' time. And, a whole bunch of folks with US oil futures will pocket a ton of money.

2- The Pentagon will present slews of PPT charts in their next round of begging-for-funds showing the rapid increase in military deployments to assist civilians because of the sharp increase in 'natural disasters'.* However because the requested increased military spending budget is not for toys that go BOOM! or target people-not-like-us, all three GOP-held gov't branches will say 'NO!!!'. (* A few charts will even reference very advanced stats modelling provided by experts from various globally esteemed US orgs. Unfortunately, despite presenters' attempts at simplifying the explanations, the conclusions will remain over attendees heads because the two sides have fundamentally different definitions of the terms 'theory' and 'model'.)

3- Meanwhile, US oil corps will ask for and receive billions in funding to build oil storage, processing, etc. off-shore. Their PPT charts will have one graph showing that the more profit they make, the greater America becomes. Once built, oil companies will insist that because their operations are located off-shore, they are tax exempt - and the money they received was a gift and not a loan. Laborers will be increasingly sourced from Mexico and Central America to save on labor costs so that oil industry related unemployment will spike in the US. Panama banks will enjoy their fastest growth in decades.

4- Modular collapsible circular residential building made from water-resistant plastics is first tried/tested in climate refugee 'tent cities'. 'Abuse of natural disaster funds - major scandal' headlines on rt-wing media because almost half of the refugees take these structures home to store them in their garages/backyards for the next hurricane. These structures are dual-purpose as they can be flipped over and used as coracles to ride out storms.

5- Bush family sells their Chapel Hill home because there's just too much (climate refugee) traffic across their acreage as thousands move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the current POTUS refuses to increase their SS allowance or to pay for the 12 foot high electrified barbed wire fence round their property that their security head insists they need.

6- Auto salvagers/wreckers and thieves have a field day as no one is looking at what happens to the tens of thousands of unclaimed, deserted (esp. high-demand) vehicles. Expect an increase in neighboring ports traffic heading away from the US followed by a glut of really cheap cars in the Eastern bloc as well as parts of Asia and Africa. US auto makers do some marketing research and discover that there's a growing market for floating cars with well-insulated (against water) engines.


That sounds like rather an underestimate, when you consider that a single PIRA bombing (Baltic Exchange) killed one person, injured forty, but caused £800 million of damage.

This is an interesting article on the economic damage caused by other mechanisms (i.e. terrorism) but I think is relevant...


There is no U.S. Department of Infrastructure.

Isn't the US Army Corps of Engineers a close approximation (i.e. Hoover Dam, New Orleans levees, etc, etc)?


Here is the red cross guide on repairing a flooded house:

Looks to be what Boyd Nation wrote.

Seems like a lot of them are likely to be repairable, but it won't be cheap and it will take a while. Redoing a lot of electrical, heating, cooling, appliances, interior walls, possibly floors.

Flooding by rainwater is kind of the best case. Relatively clean water than was moving slowly.


Given that there will probably be a lot of derelict properties in southern Texas, are we likely to see more illegal drug production and smuggling there?


Re: Insurance claims - reliable 'before' maps

Google Earth maps could be heroes in providing 'before' pix for at least any claims related to exterior damage. And if the exteriors are badly damaged, adjusters can usually provide a good estimate of likely interior damage.

Quite a few businesses I've used provided firm quotes based on Google maps/pix of the property and structures. (Roofer, solar, paving, etc.)


Like they did with Chicago when they put in it's sewer system? That might work.


My opinion

  • The reaction that people have towards this storm will depend on the casualty rate. Hurricane Ike killed 211 people (I'm assuming that the 16 missing are dead) and caused $37.5 billion in damage. Hurricane Sandy killed 233 people and caused $75 billion in damage. In contrast, Hurricane Katrina killed up to 1836 and caused $108 billion in damage.

    So my belief is that if the death toll is below 500, this storm will remain as significant as Hurricane Ike for Houston. A tragedy to be sure, but life goes on.

  • The oil infrastructure will be damaged, but it will be quickly rebuilt. Hurricane Katrina didn't change the oil industry's use of New Orleans (the oil industry didn't care about most of the area destroyed).

  • This will be used to promote suburban sprawl and to demonize walkable communities and fuel-efficient cars. I know it should to the opposite, but that's Texas. They'll say that having an SUV or pickup truck saves your life the same way having a gun does.

  • Politically, the right has learned the lessons of Katrina: blame the nearest Democrat. The mayor of Houston is an African-American Democrat. They'll say that the dead are the fault of the Democrats for not evacuating. Before the storm, Governor Abbott told people to disregard the mayor and evacuate.


    Note that redstate is a conservative blog for evangelical voters. They're not part of the alt-right in that they supported Ted Cruz in the primary and still hate Trump for the way he treated Ted Cruz.


    Insurance won't cancel home coverage, they'll just split off flood & storm damage the way they did earthquake insurance in California (don't know about elsewhere).

    Then they'll raise the rates on flood & storm coverage until they're guaranteed a profit. Some of them will drain the til during periods of calm, and then go bankrupt when you try to collect, but most of them will say "we're onto a winner here" and just have unreasonably high rates.

    OTOH, do realize that wide scale disasters are a real problem for insurance. They need to hold onto a huge bankroll to pay of for rare events that are wide scale, but that huge bankroll is a tempting target for raiders. That's the main reason California got into trouble for awhile. The state had a huge bankroll being saved for future expenses, and a bunch of short-sighted exploiters raided it. Then the disaster happened. (Not the one being saved for, admittedly.)

    So you can expect people to continue to be short-sighted, and that any attempt to save to cover a disaster will fail. (Over time, raiders always show up.) Money has to be spent in present time (though present can be "within 5 years" if dedication if present). Remember, the administration is going to change, and every new administration is going to have different priorities. Also, people discount future rewards, and don't remember things that hurt other people. (Those who lost everything in Houston won't be in positions of power.)


    Re: Flooring

    Haven't completely read that guide which seems to discuss structural damage in some depth.

    There's another fly in this ointment ...

    NAFTA talks have just started. One of the perennial sticking points between the US and Canada has been soft wood lumber. Given that lumber is necessary for most residential buildings esp. after flooding, that the real hurricane season has just started, and the huge number of fires in BC's primary lumber region*, rebuilding will probably be more expensive and take a lot longer.

    • Unable to locate total acreage consumed by fires to-date for 2017 in BC but this map suggests at least 15% of the province is affected.

    Guessing that Home Depot shares will go up.


    The problem with "moving the cities uphill" is that all the land is already owned by someone. A secondary problem is that cities tend to be built on the best farmland, which tends to be flat. So there often won't be that much "uphill" to move to. But the real problem is that all the land is owned by someone, and to just abandon your property is not only expensive, it subjects you to lawsuits for maintaining an attractive nuisance.

    Now if the government moves in and condemns the low-lying land, people are going to demand unreasonable prices. (That's the main reason highway routes are secret until the land's been bought.) And the people on the uphill land are not likely to be willing to sell.

    The government should, however, cancel all governmentally funded flood insurance for new construction (and include re-building after a disaster in that cancellation). Even this would raise howls of protest from wealthy and powerful people, but probably sufficiently fewer that they could get away with it.

    There are also problems with zoning, and that's local government rather than federal. Moving the cities uphill is a lot easier to say than to do.

    is this also going to destabilize the secondary insurance markets?

    I don't think so. Insurance and reinsurance is global and there is a lot of capital to draw on. Insurers will take a hit but not a bad one.

    I see little change in oil and gasoline spot and futures prices. The market seems sanguine. Someone with real market experience could comment with some authority.

    Although it may be the "broken windows fallacy", with underemployment and a slow growth economy, construction should increase as repairs and rebuilds become important.

    Houston area is about 2.7-3% of the US economy. Loss of that economy in total would wipe out any growth in US GDP unless construction and repair offset that (which I doubt). How much is lost will depend on the extent of the flooding and how much business is disrupted.

    I don't see any global impact at all, other than re-arguing that more violent hurricanes are expected with global warming.

    The human cost in disrupted lives should be the main concern, just as after Katrina and Sandy.


    How salvageable are typical American (largely timber and wallboard) homes after total submergence?

    If you rip out the wallboard before rot sets into the timber, good. Starting with a foundation and framing cuts out a large chunk of the base cost of the house. Around here (we are ground zero for rehabs and tear downs) if the foundation is decent and will fit the economic model for a new house you keep it. If the outside framing works you keep it. At sometimes you keep many of the inside walls. At least the framing.

    But if you wait too long you will wind up with mold growing into the framing too deep to clean and then you have a mess.

    If the water line is only part way up the walls you'll see the drywall (wall board) ripped out to just above that point and just replaced up to that point. A bigger expense can be electrical. Most outlets in the US are about 20-30cm off the floor so they all get to be replaced. If the wiring isn't too old (plastic coated and grounded) then you get to keep it and just replace the outlets. If really old wiring then you have to decide how much of the drywall to try and save as you replace all the wiring as the older cloth based coverings absorb water plus it likely doesn't meet current safety codes.


    The melting of the ice caps will yield a global redistribution of stress as the weight of the ice lifts off one place and is added (as water) in another place. This means you should expect increases in earthquakes and volcanism, though not necessarily in the traditional places. And since ice is a lot lighter than stone this will probably be less than when two continental plates collide.

    OTOH, North America is still rising after the melting from the last ice age. This isn't something that's going to happen quickly.


    An unfortunate truth is that news photos are always misleading, and intentionally so. This isn't (usually) because of a political agenda, it's because news depends on entertainment value, so they carefully edit (crop and pick angles, AFAICT they don't actually fake anything) it to be exciting. And they're in competition with Hollywood's fiction.

    I've been at a few events that got covered, and though a couple of them were actually major disasters, they were no where even approaching the scale of disaster the "photographic coverage" made them appear.


    In many of the places being discussed, flood insurance is already split out -- partially for risk isolation, and partially due to government subsidies. So, yeah, expect that to expand. Also expect the GOP to continue their work of preventing consumers from actually being prevented (see, for latest example, Texas House Bill 1774).


    Re: Salvaging homes ... labor availability & expertise

    As a home-owner, I'd be concerned about how quickly I could get a reliable contractor. Most would probably have been booked well in advance and/or work mostly on cosmetic renos. Since I wouldn't be confident about how to tell what is or isn't reparable, I'd surf youtube for local contractors and building pros who can demonstrate their expertise via videos.


    Hurricanes have two main methods of destruction. Wind and rain. For a mostly wind even look at Andrew in south Florida 20 years ago. This is a rain event.

    In the US, for most all practical situations, the consumer insurance industry does not do flood insurance. Even if a company sells it the policy is almost in all cases back stopped by the US government's flood insurance program. So the insurance company is just a sales and claims agent for the coverage.

    Again, this even is basically a rain event. So 99% of the damage is from flooding. So the insurance industry will not be affected. Profits will likely go up as they handle the claims and bill the feds for the hassle.

    As to the federal program, well. It has never been operated to have premiums cover actual costs. Every time Congress acts like they will raise rates to cover actual costs an election cycle gets in the way and it doesn't happen. So between FEMA "unexpected" costs and flood policy payouts, the US federal debt will grow.


    Africa will get more used US clothes. There is already a huge market for such. Much of what is donated to thrift stores in the US is bought up by wholesalers who containerize it and ship it to Africa where merchants there buy it by the pound/ton and sell it is markets.

    And just like many other huge natural disasters, people in the unaffected areas of the US will rummage through their closets, donate what they haven't worn for a while (maybe a long while) and flood the donated clothing market with trainloads of clothes that no one wants. So off to Africa. And most of those people will go out and buy new cloths they really don't need to replace the ones they gave away. Thus helping the economies of Viet Nam and similar places.

    This volume of such is huge. I just read where one country in Africa is planing a ban importing used clothes to help jump start their local clothing industries.


    Here's another prophetic ProPublica story on Houston:

    What I see happening in the future is more regulation of impervious cover, which prevents the ground from soaking up the rain, and instead shunts it into the water system directly.


    As to losing the city. Naw. Not going to happen.

    We should have used Katrina to start abandoning everything south of Old River Control Structure. But nope. So the feds (me and other taxpayers) will spend zillions forever to keep a sinking city and river delta from being flooded. No matter how hard the Mississippi keeps trying.

    And someday the Mississippi will win. And it will be ugly.


    WITHOUT having read any intervening comments - just Charlie @ the top ... This ultra-strong hurricane is amlst certainly ties to GW. So. Are the right of the Repubs ( including DT ) actually going to acknowledege that GW exists, or are they going to SHOUT LOUDER, with their fingers in their ears ... & do nothing?

    I will now read & comment on the intervening posts, OK?


    I think, as do most commetators, that nothing will happen at all ... until we get "number three" - then all hell will cut loose. { I note that Harvey now appears to be going out-to-sea to pick up more energy for another go - interesting! }


    Trying to tie a single weather even to GW is very hard to do. We have records of nasty huge hurricanes going back to 1500 or so.

    You have to get into frequencies of events, decades long tracking, and, OMG, statistics to make the point.

    And then it's not a binary switch. It's a trend on a gentle slope.

    NC had a huge hurricane back in the 50s. Then nothing until 89 and 94. Then a rash in the early 2000s and nothing much since. Well Mathew was a rain even but was an outlier in terms of frequency. Did GW suppress them for us for the last 10 years?


    Re: #6: Yes, there is already a huge market shipping used cars form the U.S. to Africa. Go to any car auction for car totaled by an insurer and you'll see most are sold in lots for shipment overseas. FIL was an auto body guy and my wife always drove rebuilt cars. He doesn't rebuilt any more because he says the auction prices are too high. We just sold our last rebuilt car (a Toyota) to a guy who splits his time between the U.S. and Europe looking for Toyota and Mercedes to ship to Africa. So yes, lots of flooded cars being shipped over and fixed up to run.


    I'm seeing a figure (on twitter) of 6.8 million people displaced by Harvey, compared to 1M displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

    I've been following it on National Public Radio, and I think the 6.8 million people number is the population of the entire Texas Gulf Coast that would have had to be moved if the Governments had ordered a mandatory evacuation.

    Houston and its suburbs have a population of 2.303 million persons.

    I'm seeing reports that 30,000 persons have been displaced so far, and that's for the entire Texas Gulf Coast from Beaumont down to Corpus Christi. That number is sure to grow, but it's not in the millions.

    I've heard on the news that the Port of Houston itself is in a bit better shape than the rest of the City of Houston. I've also heard that the majority of the refineries were shut down in good order & did not suffer significant storm damage, which suggests they may be back in operation sooner, rather than later.

    The worst of the flooding appears to be in suburbs that were built on 100 year and 200 year flood plains. They were expecting the 100 year flood plains to flood out, but the flooding in the 200 year flood plains took 'em by surprise.

    One of the problems appears to be that the flooding is so deep that National Guard trucks can't get through to rescue people, so they're having to rely on boats & helicopters and the government doesn't own enough boats.

    But it also appears that enough locals are pitching in to make a difference. Unlike New Orleans in 2005, these are fairly affluent neighborhoods under water & a lot of the people living there own personal pleasure boats.


    Say again? POTUS quote: “It’s going to be a very streamlined process, and by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it.”

    What 'environmental safeguards'?


    What he said.

    I'll add that unlike New Orleans, Houston is a growing economic area. Many of the people in New Orleans were still there either from the sunk cost fallacy or because they could not pay the fixed cost of moving. Once they were forced to move, there weren't that many economic reasons to return.

    That does not apply to Houston.


    I've been thinking the same thing.

    IMHO there will be no arguments over Global Warming when this Hurricane Season is over, because if Harvey does go out to sea and rebound, it will be perfectly positioned to CLOBBER New Orleans, not to mention whatever else is coming down the pike!

    It's worth noting that hurricanes thrive on hot water, and the Gulf of Mexico is currently as hot as it has ever been. In the worst-case scenario, we could actually see multiple hurricanes in the Gulf all bouncing off high-pressure zones. Let me further note that in Southern California we're getting 100-degree-plus temperatures due to the same high pressure zone which is currently holding Harvey in place, so we're currently looking at a 1,000,000 square mile "zone of suckiness" generated by Global Warming with Houston as the most miserable place of all and zones of lesser suck radiating out as far as Central California.

    My admittedly optimistic conclusion is that fifty-million rednecks are going to have a come-to-Jesus moment on climate change in the next couple months.


    Not really on topic, but perhaps an interesting information resource: The National Weather Service radar site includes a "Storm Total Precipitation" option which shows, as you might guess, a map of total storm precipitation derived by integrating radar precipitation rate measurements.

    On accuracy of prediction: I'm in San Antonio, and on August 24 we were getting warned of 6-18 inches. The rain is now past, the sun is out, and the rain gauge on our deck is showing a little less than 1.5 inches.


    Houston will get rebuilt. This time.

    As Hobar Mallow once (paraphrased) said it takes a long time to exhaust the resources of a first class planet

    The question is will it get rebuilt before the next one hits?

    The other question is what role this will play in the evolving narrative in global warming ?

    Hard evidence is mounting in the middle of the red zone


    The article is correct. This had been announced a while ago and had the bad fortune to have gone into effect just before Harvey. However, it only controls infrastructure (i.e public) development, not private construction. In the U.S. flood control restrictions on private development are generally done at the local level, though infrastructure improvements are often designed to spur on private development.


    San Fransisco was rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake. I doubt that this hurricane is as destructive. But there is a question: how do you rebuild to better withstand the next, perhaps worse, hurricane?

    The Wren library, part of Trinity College Cambridge, is a nice example of flood resistant architecture. It needs to be, it is right beside the river Cam. I'm hoping my link shows the cloister underneath the library. It is on pillars. When the Cam floods the water goes underneath and floods Nevile's Court but the books remain dry.

    If memory serves, they wanted more storage space, so they added a basement, completely sealed. What happens when they forget to close the water tight doors at ground level? Does the basement flood? If I recall correctly, there is no access at ground level. If you want to go down into the basement you go up one flight of stairs to the library, then down two flights of stairs to the basement.

    I predict that as hurricanes get worse, housing will gradually shift to bunkers on stilts. Actually, those steel roller blinds seem to have stopped ram raids on shops, they seem to be really strong. So the "bunkers" will still have big picture windows, they will just be set back a foot to leave room for the built in roller blinds to come down.

    So you lower the blinds and sit out the hurricane and the floods on the first floor. What about your car. Its probably electric and will be destroyed if it gets submerged. But when you take your car in for its MOT the garage raises it up on an electric ramp. I foresee the two story garage, containing a cheap, slow raise lift, so you can keep your car above the flood water.

    Ground floor retail space is going to lose its value. You cannot shift all you stock with only a days notice. But American retail parks are half car park, half retail space. If you put the retail space on stilts customer car parking can go underneath. That halves the land needed, recouping some of the expense of stilts. Come the flood, the stock is dry on the upper floor and the customers have gone home and parked their cars in two story garages.

    If long term means ~100 years, I expect Houston to look different, but to just shrug and carry on.


    There is no U.S. Department of Infrastructure.

    Isn't the US Army Corps of Engineers a close approximation (i.e. Hoover Dam, New Orleans levees, etc, etc)?

    The majority of civilian infrastructure is not controlled or supported by the Corps of Engineers.


    Um, this isn't over, despite people still believing sites such as Space City Weather (hint: they've been wrong since they predicted only 10" water, and continue to be wrong).

    GFS / EUR models are showing a good potential for a second land fall close enough to Houston to increase the rainfall by ~20-40% on top of what's already fallen. NWS just released an advisory for an additional 15-25"/a> Twitter, NWS, 28th Aug, 2017 - about 4hrs ago.

    Dickenson, Sienna Plantation, Fort Bend County LIDS all just got (last 30mins) mandatory evacuation orders. (And yes, Sienna Plantation is Sugar Land).

    The Reddit live thread ( here) just released a video of Lake Conroe TX Dam releasing 73,000 cubic foot/sec (like, about an hour or two ago, they've had to open it up) and other dams are increasing even while being bled (Addicks in particular: if you need to check, it's over 104' and rising - use this USGS one link instead of the local one to prevent Ddos'ing it).

    Note: this isn't fear mongering, it's a real time assessment of what's happening.

    For oil, 22% loss of production. Market knows it can get oil from Asia (etc), so price rise will be domestic gas rather than oil. Patrick DeHaan (twitter) from Gasbuddy has been touting ~20-25% rasises in domestic prices to various media outlets.

    Harvey is already estimated to have dropped the largest volume of water of any hurricane in this region (3.6 Mississippi's) topping Hurricane Beulah, 1967 - so an additional 20" will be interesting. 20" might push this into levee breakages, at which point the entire response model changes.

    This might be (since it's a much wealthier area than Orleans) one of those mythic "all come together" moments for the Nation; which is what is being pushed at the moment.

    In a more general sense, it all depends on the next two days - if 20" happens, then stuff will start to go badly wrong in a slow snowball (hurricanes are usually "wham, bam, blam"). People are good at short-sharp-shocks and accepting the new reality afterwards (it's called Shock n Awe / The Shock Doctrine for a reason).

    Slow snowballs resulting in mass misery for weeks and months? Tends to change long term opinions (FEMA is already focusing on house reclamation plans).


    Re: Suburban sprawl

    Participated in a town planning meeting 10+ years ago about this. The town hired a consulting firm whose study (conducted among current town residents) results indicated that suburbs can be transformed into livable 'small towns/cities' when they have a well-defined 'downtown' core and other significant municipal areas, walkability, and many splashes of green spaces which are always at the top of the residents'/home buyers' lists. Downtown core usually includes some large notable architecture - typically gov't or comparable public offices alongside higher end/priced products and services so that the downtown is both a location and a destination. High-rises (residential condos or business offices, hotels) are also good for identifying the downtown core. Walkability includes pedestrian-friendly wide sidewalks, green streetscaping and sufficient lighting, allowing for indoor businesses (cafes) to naturally flow outdoors and provide even more ambiance. Another key feature is the 5-minute-walk rule for accessing daily key needs (food, transit, schools, etc.). This means few/no cul-de-sacs. Instead everything is laid out in a grid which helps traffic flow. The 5-minute-walk rule also helps define neighborhoods since the more time residents spend outside mixing with their neighbors, the likelier that neighborhood identity and participation emerges. Many post-WW2 NA suburbs lack all of the above.

    This consulting firm has done work in several countries and based on pre-post real estate values where their recommendations have been implemented, it seems they know what they're doing.


    "On accuracy of prediction: I'm in San Antonio, and on August 24 we were getting warned of 6-18 inches. The rain is now past, the sun is out, and the rain gauge on our deck is showing a little less than 1.5 inches."

    Guess it depends on where the heavy rainfall actually fell. I do recall looking at Wunderground radar Friday evening and noticing parts of Bexar county getting some very heavy rain. I'm in Austin, we got 8-10 inches of rain over the weekend (more @ 47).


    Thanks. I guess the intracoastal waterway is heavily monitored, but there's a lot of oilrig traffic it would be relatively easy to disappear into.


    During future floods the cars all drive themselves to higher ground.

    This creates a new type of disaster, the "car stampede".


    This sunk cost and no reasons to go back meme...New Orleans Jazz is/was a living tradition, but it was not necessarily a profitable tradition. That is, a lot of musicians learned their music by listening, participating in the community.

    I haven't checked recently, but I suspect that since it was the working, and poor, classes that had the strongest musical traditions, but also was the hardest hit by Katrina, the jazz scene has declined.

    This concern with money over the life of a community is part of the problem not the solution. New Orleans is getting expensive? Junk it! (of course, if they would just stop destroying the Delta, it wouldn't be as expensive)

    My hometown of San Francisco, never mind the greater Bay Area has been changed from a living, multi-class, multi-industrial city into a damn theme park, or Disneyland for the 20%. Silicon Valley for the top 5%.

    More in line with the post, is it climate change that is the true problem, or is it the concentration of wealth and the use of it to further crapify the government and the economy that is the problem?


    Regarding home salvageability, it depends on how old the home is, how many corners were cut in its construction, its elevation, and how long it remains flooded. The most basic answer which ignores nearly all of that is for any home which floods even an inch or two will have its resale value significantly impaired due to concerns over mold. The inflated health concerns means even the smallest recorded quantity of mold in a structure will cause it to be treated much in the same way that a flood damaged car is considered damaged goods.

    Setting the perceptions over mold aside, houses built since the early (and especially mid) 2000's can likely be written off. Wherever there was flooding then pretty much everything on the first floor of the house, including flooring, furniture, and floor standing appliance are now trash. I doubt there are many real basements in that part of Texas, but you can expect those to be ruined as well. Similarly, unless the roof was respectively made to resist a mid-grade hurricane then the costs to repair the roof is likely on par with the cost of a new roof, all the insulation will be ruined, wiring beyond salvage, and an attic/ ceiling mounted air handler is toast. To the extent that the roof presents itself as intact it may not have done an excellent job of keeping water from being forced in ruining from above what was not destroyed from below.

    Unlike in older northeastern construction where the interior walls are hand laid plaster over a wire mesh, modern homes (more so modern southern homes) have interior walls made almost exclusively of wood framing (much of which is not even weight bearing) sandwiched between paper-backed, water soluble gypsum board that is covered in home interior grade paint. Running between the walls are wiring, sometimes pipes, and maybe pink fiberglass insulation. Stagnant water just eats this stuff. During the last housing bubble, home interior were thrown together as quickly and cheaply as possible just so long as there was central air conditioning, "wood" cabinets with granite counter tops, and large tile flooring. I would not expect anything above code and quite frequently to be less than code but passed with a waiver.

    In some hurricane prone states, the exterior walls are almost all treated cinder block or concrete block, like an exoskeleton. Those frames will weather the storm and flood just fine barring a falling tree or the roof being ripped off. I remember reading about lawsuits in Florida over bubble period built Mcmansions where only the first floor was concrete and the second floor was wood and those homes did not fare so well. In Texas, the state with almost no zoning and minimal construction rules? ha. ha. ha.

    Some states / counties / cities also require single family homes to be built on an elevation compared to the local street. In my area, all the homes are about 1-2 meters above street level, which helps with both drainage and prevents some flooding. Again though... Texas.

    All of this will also apply to some degree or another for multi-family homes such as row houses, condos, and apartments.

    The real killer will be all the denied insurance claims. Flooding, hurricanes, and/or wind coverage are often separate policy riders and are not mandatory, with the exception mortgage companies requiring homes in federally designated flood zones to have flood coverage. Unless a homeowner has all the extra policy bits, expect a denial. If there is wind coverage then it's all flood damage. Flood coverage only? then it was all wind based damage. Just ask slimeball former senator Trent Lott about his post-Katrina insurance coverage experience.


    FEMA could get another go around from recently appointed deputy chief of staff at the White House, one Kirstjen Nielsen who, over a decade ago, was an instrumental failure as the senior director for preparedness and response at the White House Security Council in the lead up to Katrina.


    As a few others have noted, another consequence (mostly orthogonal to political consequences, that in part depend on how bad the damage ends up being and how badly our RNG-mode POTUS reacts and whether the media give him a "acting presidential" pass) is likely (one hopes) to be renewed debate, notably in Texas and other gulf (Red) states, about climate change significantly increasing the probability of storms like this. I see that Michael Mann did an educational post yesterday (links!). facebook for anyone who avoids it: "What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane #Harvey?"... Sea surface temperatures in the area where Harvey intensified were 0.5-1C warmer than current-day average temperatures, which translates to 1-1.5C warmer than the 'average' temperatures a few decades ago. That means 3-5% more moisture in the atmosphere. ... Not only are the surface waters of the Gulf unusually warm right now, but there is a deep layer of warm water that Harvey was able to feed upon when it intensified at near record pace as it neared the coast. Human-caused warming is penetrating down into the ocean warming not just the surface but creating deeper layers of warm water in the Gulf and elsewhere.


    My insurance company used the excuse of a lack of frequent hurricanes to raise rates. There must be a big one coming soon and bond rates are still low so we're raising the cost of your policy.


    There's an important difference between Houston and New Orleans. In New Orleans, the levees gave way. That meant that anything under water stayed underwater for an extended period, maybe months in some cases. That hugely increased the cost of repair/refurb, and hugely increased the duration of displacements. In Houston the water will probably be gone in a few days, which means things like electrical wiring and the upright supports don't need to be replaced. That means a lot of folks will be able to move back into their home and live in them while they're being repaired. Yeah, it's going to be hugely disruptive - but probably less so than Katrina despite Houston being so much bigger.


    Re: '... 1-1.5C warmer than the 'average' temperatures a few decades ago. '

    Big mistake when scientists use Celsius (metric) when 99.9% of the population they're talking to only use Fahrenheit.



    While I don't want to be the cockroach in the soup, this is like arguing what a dice roll will mean when the dice are still bouncing around the table. We're lacking too much information to do more than bloviate.

    Okay fine, bloviation away: I don't know how the extent of damage (once it's finished happening) will map onto Houston's increasing ethnic diversity, but if it affects some groups more than others and forces said groups to move elsewhere, Harvey will make Houston more homogeneous.

    Otherwise, I agree with Teenyman's assessment. There's a lot of mischief that can and will happen as insurance is or is not paid out, redlining that might or might not happen during rebuilding, banks claiming mortgages they don't actually have the papers for, and so forth. That's going to be hard to spot in the first few years, but it will be the long lasting effect.

    At the national level? Well, a bunch of Texas Republicans voted against a bill to help clean up after Superstorm Sandy, so I'd expect payback from the democrats. The way it will be phrased is the same thing one of the Texas Representatives said. Basically, he thought that New York needed emergency relief, but that the long-term package was "bloated," which is why he didn't vote for it. I suspect that any relief package sent through Congress will be "carefully scrutizined" and probably voted against as "bloated" by democrats.

    Now, if I were a vengeful and petty person with a lot of power, I'd wait for the flood waters to recede and then take the Houston Planning Commission and all the bureaucrats working for them (able-bodied or not), give them ten pairs of rubber gloves, dust masks, and wellies, and make them spend a solid week helping the worst-off people clean up. Without exceptions, unless someone's confined to an electrical wheelchair that keeps shorting out. If they can't shovel, they can hold trash bags open. These asshats* need to see first hand what it looks like when they screw up. In fact, I'd volunteer planners from every metropolitan area to go down and shovel shit for a week, in any disaster, as part of the training for their jobs. It's not that I hate planners, it's that they don't understand their jobs. They're sort of like airplane designers who never fly. They need to see what failure looks like in an impactful way so that they're more incentivized to do a better job with little things like enforcing zoning codes and asking uncomfortable questions of well-heeled developers who have been schmoozing with their bosses. Hopefully the flashbacks will develop their spines.

    *I'm sure they're wonderful people when you actually know them. That's not the problem.


    There's an important difference between Houston and New Orleans. In New Orleans, the levees gave way. That meant that anything under water stayed underwater for an extended period, maybe months in some cases.

    Just posted accurate data showing that with +20" rainfalls, levees will prob (+/- 70%) fail, inc. major dam.

    Just posted that Houston event is not over.

    And you wonder why you get the mystical stuff, it has about as much chance as being listened to.


    This looks to be about 20% worse than Tropical Storm Allison which I lived through and I guess nobody outside of Houston has ever heard of? My guess is things will be 80% back to normal by about 6 weeks from now.


    Oh, and if you want some more storm-based giggles, watch the development of an area of instability off Manzanillo Mexico. It's forecast as possibly organizing into a tropical storm over the next week and heading up to Baja. If it angles just right, it can either go up through Sonora to dump on Phoenix, or possibly (1000:1 odds) hook Northwest into the ocean, turn east into Southern California, and dump some rain where I am in San Diego. Might be wet here for Labor Day, and it takes a lot less for us to flood than hit Houston.


    I'll try being optimistic for a change: The mid-term consequences will be that a lot of coastal cities and cities in hurricane corridors will learn a lesson from the New Orleans/Houston 1-2 punch and significantly up their games in terms of disaster preparedness. This will cost many millions up-front and save many billions long-term. We won't be able to stop such disasters from happening, but we'll be able to mitigate them and minimize the human cost. It would be nice if this were mandated on a national scale, but... well...

    Longer-term, I see the United Nations realizing that the logistics involved in saving millions of people in developing nations that don't have a world-class disaster-response infrastructure will be impossible. Instead, they'll start looking for ways to get a concerted global effort going to start moving large vulnerable populations now, proactively, rather than waiting for the disasters to occur and then realizing we can't move these populations. Where to move all these people is a proof left to the student. Siberia should be a nice residential area, post-global-warming, right?

    Realistically rather than optimistically? Nice weather we've been having, huh? Yes, I am dreaming in technicolor. Why do you ask?

    On a related note, we've been having ongoing flooding problems here in Montreal most of the summer because (i) we're an island and (ii) the relentless rains have raised water levels to historic levels and (iii) waterfront property is a lovely place to build only so long as it doesn't flood. It's more of a slow sub-sub-apocalypse than the Houston kind of disaster. Rather than banning all construction on flood plains* or saying "build wherever you want but we're not spending a dime saving your dumb ass if it's a floodplain", the local government is squabbling over complex formulas for reimbursement that won't do anything to solve the problem and will ensure it reoccurs.

    • Defined based on whatever flood-return frequency you want. This is where you need a committee of experienced geographers, actuaries, and risk-management professionals to put their heads together.

    . The worst of the flooding occurred in Houston, Texas, where over 35 inches (890 mm) of rain fell.

    Fifty inches of rain would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record, the National Weather Service announced Sunday.

    "The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before," NWS Weather Prediction Center posted on Twitter. "Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days." NWS, 27th Gu 2017.

    This is the old "Global Warming ain't so bad" issue all over again.

    42oC - Hot!

    50oC - All plant life cannot exist anymore!

    35" rain - major flooding, costing ~$9bil

    50" rain - all your major water infrastructure just collapsed, levees broke and oops!

    Qualitative and Quantitative phase change states / thresholds.

    The amount of irony experienced watching 'Science Minded Males' make these basic mistakes is... Well. It'd be funny if people weren't going to die because of it.


    Your link is borked Try this - note the arches & empty space underneath!


    "I'd expect payback from the democrats"

    That's a 'both sides' argument. Very bad look these days.

    Obstructing a disaster relief package is historically rare. The modern Republican party has changed that. But only the Republican party. Voting against disaster relief for blue states is just more red meat for the base. Delaying Zika virus response funding by tacking on wishlist items from the religious right.

    Democrats will, indeed, do a pretty mediocre job of pointing out how cynical the republican opposition to funding Sandy recovery was, and how it reveals the modern hateful heart of Republican ideology. But they will overwhelmingly vote for the funding.

    It will pass by a huge margin. (barring a poison pill from republicans)

    People like Cruz will make cynical excuses. Many others will say 'both sides'. Some of them will keep voting R, comforted by the 'both sides' argument.


    So it's a cloister? Was that intentional? It must have been, I suppose.


    Houston and its suburbs have a population of 2.303 million persons.

    According to the US Census, the Houston MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is estimated to have a 2016 population of about 6.7 million people.

    The city of Houston ( sans suburbs ) is about 2.2 million.

    As of noon today, the reported death toll is 5.

    Houston is nick-named "the bayou city". It floods "all the time". This looks like a 3 sigma event ( or so ) however. Hurricane Carla in 1961 was pretty bad ... the population then was a fraction of what it is now, though.

    The whole metro area is "in the flood plain". (I think the highest point in the metro area is 45 feet ASL. ) We used to joke that Houston floods whenever there is a heavy dew, or whenever 3 drunks spit at the same time.

    Many 10s of thousands of construction workers are in their pickup trucks driving to Houston from all over the country "as we speak".


    a single PIRA bombing (Baltic Exchange) killed one person, injured forty, but caused £800 million of damage.

    Wikipedia says 3 dead, 91 injured, and £800 million worth of damage


    Hopefully you're right. However, if the Democrats can paste the "bad business deal" on the Republicans, all the while insisting that they'll pay for something else that's a "good deal," then it will give them cover for voting no.


    A minor nit ...

    I don't know what source you are using for population

    claims Dallas-Fort Wort at 4 and Houston at 5.

    There are several competing MSA lists.


    Hurricane Carla:

    Carla produced heavy rainfall in Texas, peaking at 17.48 inches (444 mm) in Bay City. Other significant precipitation totals include 16.49 inches (419 mm) at Scholes International Airport at Galveston, 14.94 inches (379 mm) in Downtown Galveston, 13.05 inches (331 mm) in Wharton, 12.55 inches (319 mm) in Liberty, 12.47 inches (317 mm) in Dickinson, 11.81 inches (300 mm) in Flatonia, 10.59 inches (269 mm) in Columbus, 8.75 inches (222 mm) in Halletsville, and 8.9 inches (230 mm) in Smithville.[11]

    I'm rather baffled at this response so far.

    Hey - 50 years ago there was a hurricane that dropped 1/3rd of the rainfall onto the same area that had X million less people and Y million less concreted areas.

    Totes the same!

    No, really: filing this under "Blue / Gold Dress" syndrome and tracking it [All over the web, no really. Also see: How Nazis get into power]


    Um, It's worth following the news out of Bangladesh. They've got a refugee crisis on their border with Myanmar (due to Buddhist persecution of Muslims in the latter), and meanwhile they're facing a border fence on the Indian side of their border with India, and there's so much smuggling and illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India that Indian Border Security Force have a shoot on sight policy that's apparently a tad controversial. The IBSF also get into skirmishes with the Bangladesh Border Guards.

    Anyway, I'm not too sanguine about mass migration of climate refugees at the moment. But we can hope for something to change.


    We're not baffled. Given the number of bots on twitter, the faux naievety of the media, and the long term propaganda campaigns by fossil fuel interests, those are totally argument winning statements to a certion section of the population and a lot of the media.


    You are still 'both siding'.

    The Democrats won't want to vote no because they are an ordinary political party that tries to solve problems.


    Years ago did some boating in Fort Myers (Florida) a couple of days after a hurricane passed through. When we arrived at night the docks were still below water making boarding and loading the boat an adventure because we could see fish swimming over the docks and feel some of them pass through our legs. (Small sharks are regulars at this marina and the smaller sharks could easily swim over the dock.) Our vacation condo was also interesting: it had a golf course complete with sand traps, a little stream and alligators. One alligator 8+ feet long decided to charge after something in the middle of the golf course moments after we went in for drinks in the fully enclosed lanai. Wondering whether Texans will have similar anecdotes.

    Could be money in weather-adventure vacations.


    Heteromeles noted: "Anyway, I'm not too sanguine about mass migration of climate refugees at the moment."

    Perhaps you missed my line "Yes, I am dreaming in technicolor. Why do you ask?" Not to mention, "Where to move all these people is a proof left to the student. Siberia should be a nice residential area, post-global-warming, right?" G

    To be clear, vastly improved disaster preparedness on a local level and global-scale plans for dealing humanely with climate change refugees are things I would love to see. We could make a very good start at solving both problems if we were willing to make the effort. Do I think we're going to do make that effort? Not a chance. The political will isn't there, and the logistics of the problem are intimidating. As a case in point, here in Quebec, we're having a miniature cross-border refugee crisis. As many as 380 Haitians per day have been walking across the Canada-U.S. border just down the road from my uncle, fleeing what they fear will be mass deportation from the U.S. Our government is struggling hard to find accommodations for all these people, having recently brought in close to 50K Syrian refugees in 2016 and still trying to get them up to speed. Now imagine the problem with hundreds of millions of people. It ain't pretty.


    In the sense that they're an ultra-right-wing-Capitalist-military-imperialist-funded-by-Corporations party who happen to think that happy cows are better than militant cows and that Wars are a Good Thing[tm].

    Then yep, they're a Political Party.

    I mean: they're not a political party I'd expect to be anything but fringe in a civilized society, but there we go. And no: not joking. And no, no "both siding" - the Other ones are just howling voids of emotional greed and hate strapped onto a faux-Cross. So, hey. No, we do not do "both siding".

    But you're both fucking abuman rotting corpses who sit giggling on the top of a pyramid made of skulls.

    And if @M3 levels small fry like Twitter & Alphabet don't take off the shackles, you're gonna see some real fireworks. I mean, it's getting embarrassing: the Mirror hasn't even shattered yet and you're unable to run even the least complicated Company, Country or Ideology.

    We See You.


    Then you should work on your reading comprehension.

    Ponder for a moment the difference between "bad" and "3 sigma event". This difference isn't subtle.

    Filing this under ... why am I wasting my time responding to Miss Line Noise ?


    You're right. As bad as the Democratic Party is they still want to have some effective government.

    Also cutting off aid can backfire. If I recall correctly, after the last couple of semi serious California earthquakes in '87 the Republicans made some noise about paying for rebuilding California again. People should not live in disaster prone area. Then along came one of those oh-my-gawd flooding events that still can happen on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Again. People should not live in disaster prone areas, right? Naw, the previous naysayers started yelling for help.


    No, I get it.

    I also get you were making fun of the slew of propaganda equivalences.

    I'm making fun of the entire conceptual framework you're still working under.

    Sigma 6 - 'cause that's what Business MBA teaches, right?


    Hint: it's post #101.

    Filing this under ... why am I wasting my time responding to Miss Line Noise?

    The irony, of course, is you didn't bother to read the prior post and understand it.


    Enjoy rotting in a dead Empire and not being able to fix any of it.


    um, err ... not sure about this

    I don't know if that will make much difference, since the new regulations Obama imposed had not gone into effect.

    OTOH ...


    slew of propaganda equivalences

    You're too subtle for me.

    entire conceptual framework

    Postulating that someone as dull-witted and brutish as I even has a conceptual framework is asserting facts not in evidence.

    Why, most people question what my first language is, because is certainly can't be English. I can barely put one word in front of another.

    Business MBA

    Now that's a low blow. :-)

    And I lived thru that 6 Sigma corporate conceptual delusion shit, paid a lot of good money to therapists to block it out of my memory, and I don't thank you for bringing it (back) up.


    Now that's a low blow. :-)

    Well, yes. We have claws.

    Host is actually asking at what level Sigma X event does society Y decide plan Z is really not sensible and so decides to scrap their past planning knowledge and start afresh. Since Host is Scottish, c.f. Council Housing in Scotland, 1950-70. Which, you know, took a World War.

    I mean, that turned out to be a terrible idea, but when it launched it was actually an attractive, humane and socially progressive alternative to slums (and Host detests certain urban UK areas, for good reason).

    In America, Suburbs and Highways are intrinsically linked (with some really awful racial overtones), and this hasn't been challenged for 50+ years.

    The question he's asking is: at what Sigma level does this change? (c.f. Could Songdo be the world’s smartest city? World Finance, Jan 2014 - puff piece, just to centre the discussion).

    Or, at least, that's what I think he's asking.


    (He's also asking about knock-on effects, but that's going to take until Thursday / Friday to actually start mapping out. Very fuzzy levels of probability here - and there's lots of people frantically modelling as we speak: some of the more outlier models are looking at QE Bond destabilization and so on)


    In re possible West Coast storms--promises, promises. I live in an area where most of the smoke from various fires in Northern California, Southern Oregon, and parts of Central Oregon has decided to vacation. If the damn thing puts out all those fires, I'm kind of for it right now.


    Well, I'm back. Mainly due to the topic. Please don't be too hard on me.

    I'm a Houston resident and currently displaced from Houston proper, to a southern suburb named Missouri City. We basically moved from fire to frying pan.

    I'm trying like Hell to line up a rental house or apartment for my family and myself before it goes crazy. Oh yeah, renter and one that believes if I ever say "It can't happen to me/here" I really should take out insurance against the event happening. So, we ought to be OK in the long run.

    So, on to Charlie's questions from someone in the middle of this.

    What happens next?

    Major economic disruption in a big way as Houston goes off line effectively, followed by stimulus as there is a lot of rebuilding.

    Lessons in flood defenses and disaster mitigation?

    Maybe. What did Churchill say about us "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." I expect a lot of floundering and trying engineering solutions over planning.

    Changes to urban planning regimes?

    See above.

    Is this also going to destabilize the secondary insurance markets?

    Uncertain. Flood insurance is federally backed, so no market as far as I understand things.

    What are the global consequences, outside the USA?

    Dunno. What does Chairman Bruce say?

    More later. Food first.


    Assuming Houston is actually lost which seems unlikely in the next few years, I'm kinda pondering how that might happen. I think most likely is "more of the same" - this storm bounces back and forth, is replaced by a similar storm which bounces back and forth, while also damaging surrounding coastline. Eventually there's enough damage, and it's obvious enough that the damage will keep happening, that even the most determined can't pretend (or afford to pretend) that "normal" will resume shortly.

    I think what we'd see is an "island port" where the oil infrastructure ends up walled off and possibly below sea level as a semi-permanent thing. Like the Thames Barrier or the Zuider Zee system. Then connected to the less floodprone area by a couple of causeways that have pipelines and roads on them, and maybe even rail. No passenger rail, obviously, freight rail for the "bituminous rock" from Canada.

    The money will stay in the area, moving just far enough to be away from where they think the problem is. I don't know the area, but there will be something meeting the high enough, close enough, far enough and affordable enough that it can be obtained and turned into a new "oil city". It may even be the other end of the Dallas-Houston fast passenger rail fantasy.

    For the serfs it's likely to mean that the high-paying oil jobs are enough to let them keep their jobs by using their wages to rebuy/rebuild. Those not fortunate enough to be serfs will suffer as cheap housing disappears and the services that remain become expensive. Large parts will look like the oil towns in Alaska/Manitoba/Western Australia - third world parts of first world countries with islands of wealth.


    To Charlie's original question, what are the long term consequences? Nothing, absolutely nothing is the answer, the US has completely lost the ability to do joined up writing and planning when it comes to such things As a resident of the NYC tri-state area, after Irene and Sandy (which were bad but by no means worst case scenarios based on previous historic hurricanes) no long term response planning or coordinated thinking will occur. And as others have noted, even relatively shallow flooding will trash American residential construction, my parents in law will finally move back into their rebuilt sandy trashed house next week.


    Montreal ... Rather than banning all construction on flood plains* or saying "build wherever you want but we're not spending a dime saving your dumb ass if it's a floodplain", the local government is squabbling over complex formulas for reimbursement that won't do anything to solve the problem and will ensure it reoccurs.

    So what is the difference between Canada and the US on such issues?

    Money wants waterfront properties.

    Money expects to be bailed out (subsidized insurance or whatever) when it floods.

    Money wants laissez faire capitalism.

    Money wants poor people who made a bad decision to suck it up.

    Except when it doesn't.


    claims Dallas-Fort Wort at 4 and Houston at 5. There are several competing MSA lists.

    How about this. They are both huge and growing like watered and fertilized weeds.

    (I spend about 10% of my time in the Dallas area.)



    Only in comparison. Maybe. Sort of. Kind of.


    Then along came one of those oh-my-gawd flooding events that still can happen on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Again. People should not live in disaster prone areas, right? Naw, the previous naysayers started yelling for help.

    I grew up in far western KY. (Look at Google Maps for interesting river lines and remember that the state borders were based on the river at one point in time.)

    I think it was in the last big flood that near there they COE wanted to blow a levee to relive flooding by allowing the river to widen out by a mile or few to the next levee. The farms in the "to be flooded" zone were known by the people there that this was an option written into their deeds and agreed to by blood signatures at all relevant points in time.

    You could hear the screams of protest on the other side of the Atlantic.


    To be clear, vastly improved disaster preparedness on a local level and global-scale plans for dealing humanely with climate change refugees are things I would love to see. We could make a very good start at solving both problems if we were willing to make the effort. Do I think we're going to do make that effort? Not a chance. The political will isn't there, and the logistics of the problem are intimidating. As a case in point, here in Quebec, we're having a miniature cross-border refugee crisis. As many as 380 Haitians per day have been walking across the Canada-U.S. border just down the road from my uncle, fleeing what they fear will be mass deportation from the U.S. Our government is struggling hard to find accommodations for all these people, having recently brought in close to 50K Syrian refugees in 2016 and still trying to get them up to speed. Now imagine the problem with hundreds of millions of people. It ain't pretty.

    Nation-state? What is this nation-state concept of which you speak? You can't control your borders, protect or serve either your residents or the refugees that you seek to protect, and you appear to be interested only in the continuity of your government. Tell me again about this nation-state, this democracy of yours...

    It's interesting to try to find historical parallels for this: the Age of Migrations? The Mongols? Of course there's nothing of a similar scale in human history.


    I wish I could mock them, but I can't really.

    My thirty five million plus fellow Californians ignore the inevitability of The Big One. It's not on anyone's mind, but certainly anyone who has grown up in California has felt an earthquake and knows one of any size could hit anytime. The odds are almost zero that one will happen at any particular time, but the Bay Area is overdue, and it will happen.

    So someday Lotta's Fountain will some new visiting survivors of another quake now that the survivors of the 1906 quake have all died.


    Houston in 2017 may be history repeating itself - the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (prior to the hurricane-naming procedure) completely devastated Galveston, with storm surges that completely over-washed the island and killed 6-8K people. It also completely rewrote the power centers of the area, as investors subsequently fled Galveston for Houston, leading to the rise of Houston as an economic force.

    Might we see a similar shift in Texas after Harvey? Probably not as complete as the 1900 shift, given the more intricate economic interlocking present in today's global-scale power structures. The outcome will likely be dependent on the duration of the outages and the ability of relatively nearby areas to take over the missing activities previously centered in Houston. It will be interesting to see which of the other coastal areas benefits from the offsetting of business/trade....


    We're not suddenly going to lose Houston to this flooding. It's relatively localized, and cities have recovered from far worse. Think of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 or the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Most of Houston is still up and running just fine. That said, I do think because of continuing sea-level rise, we are headed for a lot more flooding world-wide, and near-miss events like this are the heralds of a coming political transformation.

    I suspect there is a tipping point in our future on the issue of climate change and what should be done about it. Right now we are aware of the problem but agonizing about what to do about it, because the problem seems remote and anything that will make a real difference is costly and inconvenient. But at some point as the effects grow more severe, things will click and suddenly a problem will become an emergency in the eyes of the citizenry, and then even hard things will be politically possible.

    The tipping point event just might be the loss of a major first-world city to flooding. Miami is a good candidate; the city is very low-lying, and because it is standing on porous rock, traditional means of mitigation like seawalls and dikes won't work. If you want real action on climate change mitigation, pray for the Second Evacuation of Miami to happen sooner rather than later and for not too many people to be hurt in the process.


    Except Texan (politicians) refused help to NY after Sandy & some people are looking for revenge - served well-chilled ....


    Meanwhile In other news Japan is technically at war with DPRK Security-Council this PM ... the PRC must be holding their collective heads-in-hands, wondering what the fuck to do now, though ....


    Note that unlike New Orleans, Houston is mostly about 10m above sea level. The issue is that it's flat, so the water can't drain away.

    Latest forecasts: the storm's track has moved eastward a little, so Louisiana will be hit with 6 to 10" of additional rain, but Houston won't get much less than it would have if the storm centre had moved directly over it, as was predicted a couple of days ago. There's still 10" to 20" (250 to 500mm) of additional rain forecast for the Houston area over the next few days.

    The good news is that despite moving back out to sea, the storm isn't expected to intensify or reform as a hurricane:


    "Nothing, absolutely nothing is the answer, the US has completely lost the ability to do joined up writing"

    Yep, that's my reading of it too. Facts, no matter how glaring make not the slightest difference. Any pointing out of the obvious facts will be seen as trading on people's misery for political points and be even further discounted.

    I've been dragged kicking and screaming to the realisation that people's opinions have literally nothing to do with the world around them. I've changed my ideas on this subject (from the idea that a careful and well reasoned laying out of the facts would sway anyone) but I'm clearly in the tiny minority.

    On other news... There's 5 people dead in Texas. A google search on "Indian Flood" comes back with the story that there are 200 Indian students trapped by floods in Texas...

    That's despite floods on the same day killing 1200 in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It appears from what I can see that Aljazeera is the only foreign news outlet covering the Indian floods.


    Oh and as per the link from Anemone in #84, the lake that overflows at 108 ft has just (as of 30 minutes ago) passed 107 ft. So it has risen about 3 feet in the last 10 hours or so. So in the next 3 hours or so it will start releasing about 75 000 acre feet of water per day. Which if I've got my conversions right, is about 1000 cubic metres per second. Straight into suburban Houston.


    A way is found to cope that does not overturn the existing social order, while paying lip-service to the country's ideals.


    For what it's worth, "Hurricane Katrina displaced more than 400,000 people from the New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to a Census Bureau report to be released today, one of the most comprehensive looks at the hurricane-induced migration." Jun 7, 2006 - Washington Post

    "Damages from Harvey, the hurricane and tropical storm ravaging Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, are estimated to be well below those from major storms that have hit New Orleans and New York, according to Hannover Re on Monday. Hannover Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers, said that insured losses for Katrina in 2005 were around $80 billion, while losses for Sandy in 2012 were $36 billion. 'We are far from Katrina and Sandy in magnitude in the case of Hurricane Harvey,' a spokeswoman for the company said."

    "More than 200,000 homes sit in the tropical storm's path, according to analytics firm CoreLogic's estimate on Friday. Rebuilding those homes after the storm could cost up to $40 billion, the firm estimates. The Houston metropolitan area would bear more than half of the rebuilding costs: It's one of the most densely populated areas in the country, with more than 6.5 million residents. Most homes in Harvey's path don't have flood insurance, leaving owners with limited options if they need to rebuild their homes after the storm. Only 15% of homes in Harris Country, which includes Houston, have flood insurance, according to figures from the National Flood Insurance Program. "

    Which is to say, I suppose, that nobody wants to lower their share price by admitting the full cost.

    One thing that will happen is that flood insurance will be a hot political issue, in that the government scheme - which is the only one that'll take on real risk - is going bankrupt now and will need to be given new funding if it is to survive; and many Republicans have reservations about the entire concept of insurance, seeing it as Communistic (most voted against aid for Sandy, for example).


    update; Cardiff Garcia Early estimates of Harvey’s economic impact

    Given that the rains have not yet ended, these first estimates of Harvey’s potential macroeconomic impact should be accepted cautiously. In no particular order:

    1) From the RBC commodity strategy team, a look at the potential effect on the oil market (our bolding throughout):

    The impact of a storm of such magnitude and trajectory is fluid and has wide ranging implications for the oil market. While several regional refineries have reported no substantial damage from the storm, assessments of oil refineries and infrastructure are ongoing and the impact of the storm could be felt long after its passing in the event of extensive damage. At initial glance, the development is bearish for crude oil from a demand perspective given that some 2 mb/d of refining capacity remains shut. This has, tangentially, also spurred a knee jerk price spike higher for refined products. Prompt month gasoline cracks have surged 25% since last Wednesday’s close en route to multi-year highs. The Texan Gulf Coast comprises nearly 27% of total US refining capacity. Further details surrounding the status of localized refineries will dictate the extent and tenor to which refined product prices remain elevated. US Production Impact While pockets of the Eagle Ford and US offshore production has been curtailed or suspended for preventative measures, hurricanes are not as bullish from a supply disruption standpoint as in years past. A decade ago, prior to the US shale revolution, the Gulf of Mexico made up a larger percentage of total US oil production (closer to 30% vs current levels near 15%). Simply put, there are fewer barrels at risk from an aggregate percentage of US production. In fact, many US offshore Gulf of Mexico barrels have been exported to Asia this year. While it is premature to rule out damage to elements impacting production, a growing source of US crude imports have come from Canada rather than waterborne routes.

    And additional thoughts from RBC on the implications for global supply chains:

    The headline focus, and rightfully so, has been centered on the humanitarian aspect of the storm within the US, but Harvey’s influence stretches beyond PADD 3 [America’s Gulf Coast region] given that the Gulf is the primary provider of gasoline and distillate into South and Central America. Any hiccup in refined product exports is materially disruptive to the supply chain given the dependency of Latin American countries on US shipments. Refineries in places like Mexico and Venezuela have been running at abysmal rates with utilization nearing 50%. Mexico in particular takes over half of total US gasoline exports. Disruption risk does not end with the Americas given that the US is sizable exporter of diesel to Western Europe. 2) JP Morgan economists estimate the storm’s impact on the US expansion:

    Sources within the insurance industry as well as J.P. Morgan’s insurance industry research team estimate that the physical damage will be in the $10-$20 billion range. This would put Harvey in the top ten costliest storms, but still well below the $159 billion estimated damage from Katrina. The midpoint of the $10-$20 billion range is about 0.1%-pt of GDP. Total damage, and total rebuilding, should be greater than this amount, as invariably there will be uninsured losses that will be repaired. Even taking this into account, we believe the overall impact on GDP in Q3 and Q4 will be quite small, consistent with the historical experience. … Hurricanes can disrupt economic activity—which subtracts from GDP—and they can destroy capital—which over time will support the flow of GDP as the stock of capital is rebuilt. The disruptive aspect of hurricanes sometimes simply shifts activity from one period to another; this seems most likely the case for goods production and consumption. For example, any lost retail spending during the storm will probably be made up in later periods. … Disrupted activity in service-producing sectors, in contrast, may represent real foregone activity not made up later; since services cannot be inventoried, it is harder to smooth consumption over different time periods. In any event, the output and income generated by service-producing sectors is still poorly measured in the US, and we are not convinced we would see the adverse effect of disrupted service-producing activity in the monthly or quarterly data used to estimate GDP. … For simplicity, we focus on the Houston metropolitan area given its relative importance in terms of output, but acknowledge that other areas were also affected by Harvey. The Houston metropolitan area accounted for about $500bn output in 2015. This is undoubtedly a meaningful figure—this level of output was close to the total output of Norway as a whole and made the Houston area the fourth largest metropolitan area in terms of output for that year. But we should remember that US GDP was $18tr that year, with less than 3% of that total coming from the Houston area.

    3) Goldman Sachs economists peg the losses a bit higher than JP Morgan’s:

    Preliminary estimates suggest property damages in the range of $30 billion, which would make Harvey the 9th largest since World War II in terms of domestic property damage. These estimates are tentative, however, and considerable uncertainty remains. Property losses will not be directly visible in most economic indicators, but major hurricanes in the past have been associated with a temporary slowdown in retail sales, construction spending, and industrial production, as well as a pickup in jobless claims. However, GDP effects are ambiguous, as the level of economic activity typically returns to its previous trend—or even somewhat above—reflecting a boost from rebuilding efforts and a catch-up in economic activity displaced during the hurricane. One additional consideration is the importance of the energy sector in the regions currently affected. Our commodities team estimates that Harvey has already shut down over 16.5% of US refining capacity, and we estimate that disruptions in the energy sector could directly reduce Q3 GDP growth by as much as 0.2pp. 4) Deutsche Bank economists also estimate the hit from reduced exports:

    Our findings indicate that in the short-term, the most visible impacts will likely be to exports and industrial production. … . To be sure, some of the negative hit to growth will likely be offset by a boost to construction spending as rebuilding efforts get under way. Hence, this unfortunate event will not likely affect the overall trajectory of the economy or monetary policy. …[w]hen assessing the impact on US real GDP from the Hurricane Harvey, the ports of Houston and Port Arthur are most easily identifiable. As the figure below shows, the quarter-over-quarter change in exports of petroleum/coal products and oil/gas extracts from Texas are highly correlated with those at the national level. This is not surprising since the former accounted for 56.8% of the latter last quarter. At the same time, the Port Arthur refining complex is the largest in the US and the second largest in the world, which is why Texas was responsible for 20.7% of chemicals exports in Q2.


    Don't think it's Trinity, but one of the Colleges along the river had a new library area built under the gardens as a sealed box. It is important that the weight of books stored in it doesn't change much as it is now floating on the surrounding water table.

    River management has come on a bit since Wren's day and flooding usually only occurs downstream these days, some small blocks of flats being planned for the old Pye/Phillips sports ground hastily gained a half floor offset when the site flooded around 2010.


    That's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Dallas and Fort Worth are two separate cities with some built up areas in between. Lumping them together requires a construct called a "Consolidated" MSA.

    The correct comparison between Dallas and Houston is by city size, in which case Dallas comes out as the THIRD largest city in Texas, after Houston and San Antonio.


    Martin @50: "Isn't the US Army Corps of Engineers a close approximation (i.e. Hoover Dam, New Orleans levees, etc, etc)?"

    It is, to a limited extent. USACE has responsibilities nationwide for flood control and major water infrastructure (dams, canals, flood control projects), but not ports or industrial infrastructure, nor for non-hydro power infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security has a portfolio to work with industry to lessen its vulnerability to hostile acts, both physical and cyber, and FEMA is to work with industry and state and local governments to increase preparations for catastrophes, both natural and manmade. You can read the FEMA National Response Framework here.

    It is important to note that, in our historical and ongoing worship of unbridled capitalism, most of the productive infrastructure in the U.S. is privately owned and managed, including power generation and distribution, ports, fossil fuel extraction, refining, and distribution, and transportation save for roads and airports. The U.S. Federal government can cooperate and suggest, but has limited ability to compel privately owned infrastructure to harden facilities against vulnerabilities.


    I've changed my ideas on this subject (from the idea that a careful and well reasoned laying out of the facts would sway anyone) but I'm clearly in the tiny minority.

    After the discussion about how those of us in cold climates should merely switch off our power for 16 hours a day, and cover the difference by building a large tank of molten salt at 500C+ into the middle of our living areas...

    ;) ...did you consider looking in the mirror as a data point? ;)


    re. flooding of Houston:

    An interesting historical example from Iceland might have some relevance. Back in 1973, Eldfell erupted and started regurgitating lava onto one of Iceland's major fishing ports. Icelanders being nothing if not stubborn, they decided not to give up their port without a fight. They begged, borrowed, bought, or stole seemingly every marine-grade pump in the north Atlantic* and spent months pumping cold seawater onto the lava. And by damn, they beat it to a standstill! If you visit Iceland, Heimaey is a really beautiful place (among many other beautiful places in Iceland) to spend the day, and the lava flow is something to see.

    • Exaggeration for dramatic effect.


    So I can see a thriving market in urban-scale pumping facilities for coastal or near-coastal regions developing as maritime storms increase in frequency and intensity.


    Give a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day. Engulf him in a deluge of 500 degree molten salt and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


    Bond rates are a huge driver of insurance premiums. And hey, they were right. A big one was coming soon.


    We live in a world where theology is an actual subject taught at accredited universities. Expecting evidence and logic to be persuasive is unduly optimistic.


    Just for fun I opened the app on my phone yesterday and looked in the Houston area. Multiple listings that had been updated in the last 24 hours. They know what's coming. (And good luck.)


    [I]Montreal ... Rather than banning all construction on flood plains* or saying "build wherever you want but we're not spending a dime saving your dumb ass if it's a floodplain", the local government is squabbling over complex formulas for reimbursement that won't do anything to solve the problem and will ensure it reoccurs.

    So what is the difference between Canada and the US on such issues?[/I]

    Montreal is at the bottom of the St. Lawrence Seaway which decided to share the pain and hold back water throughout the entire Great Lakes in order to mitigate the flooding in Montreal and environs. Based on flood reports from elsewhere, the hydro-electric dam operators also held back more water during spring run-off on the Ottawa River and other major tributaries to the St. Lawrence.

    We like to think that the complex web of land use planning, flood zone identification, construction specifications and water management conducted by local and provincial government in Canada protects us from similar flooding. In Ontario, the provincial government created Conservation Authorities to do most of that following the 1954 Hurricane Hazel. Much of that planning and control depends on identification of low frequency / high severity storms (100 year storms) and planning for management of the rainfall. Currently, Hurricane Hazel is the 100 year storm for Southern Ontario. The 2013 flash flood in Toronto (~$850M Cdn damage) and 2015 Warren, Michigan flood were short, intense rainfall events unlike Hurricane Hazel. There has been debate for some time about re-defining the 100-year storm but that leaves a legacy of under-designed infrastructure.

    As for dealing with future storm events, Texas could copy Winnipeg, Manitoba and build a floodway for Houston [url=]Red River Floodway[/url]. The seasonal flood control on the Red River require international cooperation and often deliberate sacrifice of rural properties / smaller communities in order to protect Winnipeg. At the time, only the Panama Canal was a larger civil project.


    There's nothing inherently wrong with cul-de-sacs, provided that they have pedestrian/cycle paths linking the dead ends. They naturally cut down traffic volumes, and promote a social cohesion amongst neighbours, which grid patterns with through streets don't.
    What they usually suffer from is an inability to support high density housing due to odd shaped properties and a lack of on-street parking for all residences now that families own more than one car.
    They are also a very inefficient design for rapidly growing populations, and take up a sizeable amount of space. In many countries that is an acceptable tradeoff - the odd shaped spaces can also be used for local parks etc while the regular ones get higher density housing.

    Good suburban design /= good urban design.


    Rahm Emanuel once said "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

    GOP leadership in the Senate and the House is signaling that Trump's infrastructure bill has to take a backseat to tax reform...which means it's dead in the water.

    If this administration has any common sense left they'd very publicly announce a new infrastructure bill, starting with rebuilding and rescuing Houston and dare Congress not to pass it.

    The one thing Trump does very well is build.


    Re: 'Texas could copy Winnipeg, Manitoba...'

    Please provide one instance where post-WW2 US acknowledged copying anything first done by some other country and saying outright that their reason for doing so was that the other's approach worked better.

    Seriously: not at all the right sales pitch for this particular audience. The Lone Star State has a history of doing it alone to the point of threatening separation from the Union and is currently the home of two GW-denying former Presidents.


    Buying the EE Canberra & buying the Hawker Harrier?


    Hah! The Trump Organization is much more a marketing and licensing business than it is a construction company. The one thing Trump does well is market Trump. He's about as likely to build something as I am to pick up a rifle to defeat Vladimir Putin.


    We live in a world where theology is an actual subject taught at accredited universities. Expecting evidence and logic to be persuasive is unduly optimistic.
    Like the course I took at the University of Michigan where the professor ruthlessly graded down those tho neglected evidence and logic as part of the discussion.

    Teaching of theology isn't the problem, any more than teaching Xtianity or Islam or fill-in-the-blank is the problem. The problem is giving accreditation to universities that are nothing more than diploma mills for the credulous.


    Thanks for the Eldfell link, a fascinating story. As for:

    So I can see a thriving market in urban-scale pumping facilities for coastal or near-coastal regions developing as maritime storms increase in frequency and intensity
    I'm assuming it's satirical, as with one of my neighbors whose innundated lawn was flooding his basement. He couldn't understand why his sump pump wasn't helping when it pumped water back onto the lawn.

    To be more factual w/r/t Houston, I've seen news reports that part of the problem is the storm surge, which (ta-da!) has acted as a dam and is significantly slowing the rate at which water drains away. Did someone say Galveston? Funny thing, when you do things that cause the barrier islands to sink they stop being barriers.

    Global warming is almost certainly a cause of the intensity of the storm. But its effects are exacerbated by urban sprawl, paving of former drainage, etc, etc, etc. These, IMHO, contribute to the effect being so devastating.


    I know a professor in Houston who got flooded out in 2015. He still hadn't had his house lifted and repaired before this hit.


    Trump does market himself well. And having worked for a major brokerage firm here in NYC that was heavily involved helping Trump finance several large pieces of property in NYC, I know the man is a freaking genius when it comes to mastering all the details of building in this bureaucracy-clogged mess. Whether he can juggle NK, Houston and possible impeachment charges remains to be seen, but if infrastructure becomes a top priority in America Trump will shine. Which is why both parties won't let him get a crack at it.


    Re: 'EE Canberra & Hawker Harrier'

    You're right ... the US is okay with importing war tech.


    I think to myself "is something happening in Houston?" I think about the analysis of how the media works to addict us and make us nervous which you and other people have written. I feel glad that I no longer follow the news (and never followed TV and other 'breaking news updated every 5 minutes' media) and go back to my books and the lovely August air. Those are the consequences for my future which the flooding in Houston has on me.


    Actually some of the flooding here reminds me of the Brisbane floods of 2010/11, when a lot of areas a rather long way from the river flooded when the river rose and backflowed out the stormwater drains. That was a lot of water up-country though rather than a rain event on the city itself.

    A similar thing seems to have happened here, where the stormwater system was at capacity, so any lower lying area promptly became an overflow area, regardless of the intentions.


    Sean ... you raise an important issue that will have long lasting consequences. Disaster/compassion fatigue is real. When you're feeling overwhelmed, tuning-out is a normal survival response. Downside is that this leads to a skew where only the less and less compassionate stay tuned into the news thus driving the news ratings.

    Charlie: We need more comedy!


    Resident of the affected area reporting in.

    The port was shut down for a few days because the water flow made navigation risky. Other than that, the port will be up and running by the morning of the 30th for sure. The Captain of the Port (that's a pretty sweet job title) alerted the plants and terminals that safety inspections prior to allowing traffic will begin today.

    The really scary thing for the Houston area is that loosely regulated Land development (cf. neighborhoods built in floodplains and right up against reservoirs) has significantly damaged our flood tolerance. We've always relied on large tracts of undeveloped land to soak up excess rain. Now those areas are covered in homes, roads, and mattress shops. In a move remarkably similar to what we've done with our petrochemical industry, we've sacrificed safety for growth.

    The disaster also highlights decades of neglecting critical infrastructure because of the cost of improvements. What is the cost of a rooftop rescue or a fireman carrying a child through waist deep water? I assure you the value outweighs the cost.

    I hope that the future of Houston will involve correcting some of our mistakes. New Orleans has been forced to make changes that will mitigate future Katrinae and will be better for it a generation or two down the road. I hope we will do the same.

    If there are questions our you'd like further discussion I can be reached at gmail by this username.


    One of the follow-on effects of this flood in Houston is going to be more bridges falling down hundreds or thousands of miles away in places like Minneapolis.

    Thanks to the wild and wacky structure of American infrastructure funding and politics, there's a limited (very slightly elastic) budget for severe maintenance and replacement of failing structures. A major discrete disaster (such as Houston now, Katrina/New Orleans, etc.) sucks away everything that doesn't already have contracts signed, because thanks in part to Constitutional strictures limiting the amount of time for which an appropriation can be made we don't keep much in the way of a reserve fund. (It may have made sense in the 18th century, in the face of the way the upper classes in Europe "voted" themselves the right to siphon personal funds off of government, but then we didn't have a conception of "public goods" at the time, either.)

    I pointed to the bridge in Minneapolis very specifically because that particular collapse was a specific side effect of past disasters. The money for inspections (let alone emergency repair or even replacement) had been initially allocated prior to one of the Gulf of Mexico hurricanes — I vaguely recall 2002, it may have been a different year — but not appropriated and not contracted. That money was taken away for disaster relief and not replenished, the project was never reinitiated, and... see,

    One can easily point out that this is somewhat the same everywhere, in that a disaster at point A always has follow-on effects on "routine" work at point B. The US system, though, exacerbates it and insulates it from later attention. And what it says about future projects — however necessary — is also unfavorable; "rebuilding Houston" is going to take priority over "relieving traffic congestion and limiting pollution in California's San Francisco-Los Angeles corridor," meaning that more fog-based disasters on I5 near Fresno will be forthcoming...


    Granted, "war stuff" - 5.56 rifles for the USMC, 5.56 and 7.62 belt-fed MGs for USMC, all of their service pistols, the 81 and 120mm mortars, 120mm tank gun, 155mm towed artillery, towed array and periscope handling for their submarines, most of their ejector seats, angled flight decks and mirror landing systems on their aircraft carriers, the T-45 Goshawk... (the single most popular US police pistol is Austrian, and the Coast Guard are flying European helicopters)

    Copying the Soviets by using mixed-gas atmosphere in space capsules, rather than the Mercury / Gemini / Apollo 1 pure O2 approach?

    Mobile telephony, and switching to the European GSM standard from the original AMPS?

    Although the US stuck with that rubbish NTSC colour TV standard, and then stuck with NIH for the move to digital TV...


    Heteromeles @ 107:

    Hopefully you're right. However, if the Democrats can paste the "bad business deal" on the Republicans, all the while insisting that they'll pay for something else that's a "good deal," then it will give them cover for voting no.

    Except that the Democrats don't really want to vote no. I'm sure they'd like to extract the maximum amount of schadenfreude from the Texas Republicans, but they won't want to take it out on the PEOPLE of Texas. Perhaps the Democrats can propose an amendment to the relief bill requiring Texas Republicans to forego their Congressional salaries until the cost is paid back?

    Greg Tingey @ 136:

    Except Texan (politicians) refused help to NY after Sandy & some people are looking for revenge - served well-chilled ....

    So far, MOST of the criticism I've seen about this has come from Republicans in those states affected by Sandy; Peter King in New York and Chris Christie in New Jersey particularly.


    Meanwhile In other news Japan is technically at war with DPRK Security-Council this PM ... the PRC must be holding their collective heads-in-hands, wondering what the fuck to do now, though ....

    This is one of those situations where the best response the U.S. could make is for Trump to STFU and let Japan sort it out with China. If anything needs to be said, the Sec Def should have a quiet word with Japan to reassure them we've got their back.


    Re: Mobile telephony?

    Not to derail from Charlie's topic ... but the bits I've read suggest that Bell Labs, AT&T and other US concerns contributed enormously to this tech up to the mid-80s when cellular really started to take off and further domestic market gains seemed limited thereby reducing research budgets/efforts. However, by this time, cellular was only starting to grow elsewhere which (possibly) realizing its likely reach and importance prompted the Europeans to examine and organize this tech from a global perspective. This suggests that the US looked only at the US market while Europe looked further when making strategic business decisions. (Doesn't sound right: US tech giants not thinking in terms of total global market potential.)

    Hmmm ... This may actually lead back to the topic because now I'm wondering about European experience with epic flooding. Specifically, The Netherlands and its centuries old history of flood control. BTW, looks like the Dutch already have a plan in place to address anticipated GW-caused sea level rises. This could probably be adapted to the US.


    Several things: 1. I expect the US Army Corps of Engineers to be begging for more money, and they'll be in Houston. 2. The insurance companies will hurt - consider that businesses, esp. large businesses, like the oil industry, will certainly have water/flood coverage. And homeowners... it'll be the owners of more expensive houses making claims. 3. I would expect relocations in TX, or into LA and further east. Oklahoma? I don't think so - lack of jobs. I was just reading something the other day about OK becoming a failed state, its economy failing. 4. I can just see the Orange One claiming that building new seawalls around Houston is part of his border wall (ya gotta worry about them arrrrgh, landings by invaders from mexico...)

    And personally, I'm concerned - my late wife's sister, b-i-l, and one of their daughters and her husband live about an hour sw of Houston, maybe 10m as the seagull flies, from the coast. They were staying in their home, as of Sat... but I looked earlier, and if I read the map right, they're in a now mandatory evacuation area.


    One thing that will happen is that flood insurance will be a hot political issue, in that the government scheme - which is the only one that'll take on real risk - is going bankrupt now and will need to be given new funding if it is to survive; and many Republicans have reservations about the entire concept of insurance, seeing it as Communistic (most voted against aid for Sandy, for example).

    I don't really understand this because Federal Flood Insurance benefits the Republican "base".


    Oh, talking of which ... Charlie: We need more comedy! Well there's this: Larff? I nearly wet meself!


    The one thing Trump does very well is build..

    I don't think gaudy is what's called for here. And I don't think Texas needs the Trump touch for rebuilding.


    Its a particle ... no its a wave.

    They're both correct, just in different contexts.

    However, I don't think that using a population figure for an incorporated city and purposefully excluding the 5+ million people living in the surburbs of that city (however loosely you care to define 'suburb') is particularly useful when pondering the effects of a rain storm.

    The flooding doesn't stop at the city line.

    There's not really a perfect metric, alas, but incorporated city limits is a particularly poor one, IMO.


    Steve Simmons wondered about my suggestion of a thriving market in urban-scale pumping facilities: "I'm assuming it's satirical, as with one of my neighbors whose innundated lawn was flooding his basement. He couldn't understand why his sump pump wasn't helping when it pumped water back onto the lawn."

    Not satirical at all. I initially thought of treating this as another scam in the context of a previous blog post, but in the end, decided to be serious. It would take serious engineering (very large pump systems and probably canal construction), but it's not impossible. Whether it's economical depends on the markup on the engineering cost, the size of the system required, and the values at risk.

    For this kind of pumping to be practical, you'd need a careful analysis of the local topography: specifically, you need to pump the water somewhere that it won't return to the flooded area faster than it drains away. That somewhere may be difficult to find. In theory, you could even pump the water directly uphill of the flooded area if (and it's a big if) the water will drain back downhill more slowly than it is leaving the flooded area (i.e., net water input < net water output). Not efficient or desirable, but feasible. Ideally, you want to pump the water cross-slope or even into an adjacent non-flooded watershed so the water doesn't return to the flooded area.

    The Chinese seem to be doing some interesting work with restoring depleted aquifers using flood water (haven't seen published studies yet, just passing references to this work) and have been testing a pilot project for running floodwaters though dune fields* to clean the water (mechanical filtration) and store it for future use during dry periods (e.g., aquaculture, crop irrigation). Similar things should be possible in many flood-prone areas.

    • One of the ironies of extremely arid areas is that they often receive most of their rainfall in a small number of intense pulses, leading to flash floods. Yet during the rest of the year, the water is a precious resource. So the trick is to turn it from a peril into a resource. Maybe Houston could use some of that oil expertise to pipeline** the water to Arizona's golf courses, Las Vegas' resorts, and California?

    ** Very Pratchettian, footnoting a footnote. Wonder whether you'd have protestors fearing water spills from the pipeline?


    On another front ... Texas has a law going into effect on Friday that limits Texas residents ability to sue insurance companies when they feel the company has stiffed them on a weather related claim.


    Also to consider is a nationwide shortage of construction workers. Between a booming economy luring them into other industries and a concerted effort to persuade foreign nationals to leave, things may take longer and cost more to replace than people realize. (Source is a Forbes article from April 2017 which I can't persuade my phone to copypasta.)


    with some built up areas in between

    Interesting phrase.

    I regularly move about in this area and it is more built up than 90% of the US. One day I realized I was on a SEVEN LANES in one direction stretch of road in the middle of that area. And that road fills up at least 10 times a week.

    And what grassland there is left is rapidly being covered by warehouses and apartment complexes. Plus the occasional strip mall.

    A better description is two very major cities separated by a very mostly urban but not built tall area.


    Something I've often wondered: those models appear to be stagnated in 20th C thinking, and/or for public consumption only. (Then again - they're probably using current data only, not things like - if Addick's fails, what does that cost? etc).

    Anyhow, apart from environmental concerns (someone (?DuPont?) has had an aerosol leak but it's being hush-hushed as we speak[0]), let alone the already huge issue of benzenes and nasties[1] that are all over Houston's soil (and what does water do but spread them?), mosquitoes with zika, fire ants becoming a huge meta-swarm and ICE officials having deported all the cheap labor in the construction market... A moment of black comedy, before the Storm lands in Port Arthur and things start once more:

    It was unclear why the destroyer was not able to see the building and take evasive action, or why it was over 20 miles inland and trying to navigate through a major metropolitan area.

    Navy officials say they are planning a number of PowerPoint trainings related to urban maritime navigation.

    Navy destroyer collides with building in downtown Houston Duffleblog 29th Aug. (Note: Duffel Blog is satire)

    If you want really black humor: Houston apparently has no (as in zero) zoning Laws or regulations. As in, it's literally impossible to prevent building in flood zones, middle of reservoirs etc.

    Meta-update: There's been only two levee breakages (not over-slip, actual breaks) and three bridge collapses (one major, two minor) so far. Kind thoughts to Americans, rubbing the genie for you.

    [0] No links due to libel, but it has passed the vague rumor stage on social media, and it's getting 'cleaned' quite aggressively, which lends to the 'more than likely' phrase.

    [1] Double Jeopardy in Houston: Acute and Chronic Chemical Exposures Pose Disproportionate Risks for Marginalized Communities CSD, 2016, PDF


    Sigh, I really am cursed with bad timing.

    Urgent: Barker Res. will crest @ 104 ft = several ft of h2o in homes.FBC is sending boats now- call 281-238-6185 & place white flag outside Commissioner Meyers, 11:21 AM - 29 Aug 2017

    #FORTBEND NEEDS BOATS. If u have a boat & can help w/ area near #BarkerReservoir (btwn 1093 & Westheimer -EAST of 99) 📞281-238-6185 #Harvey Commissioner Meyers, 11:29 AM - 29 Aug 2017

    Barker is the dam next to Addick, and has had a broken sensor for a while now.

    You can pretty much scrub those models from the Finance guys - those areas are still listed as "voluntary" evacuation.


    That's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Dallas and Fort Worth are two separate cities with some built up areas in between. Lumping them together requires a construct called a "Consolidated" MSA.

    No problem. And, it's combined statistical area (CSA), not consolidated.

    Estimated populations as of 2016:

    Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK Combined Statistical Area - 7,673,305 Houston-The Woodlands, TX Combined Statistical Area - 6,972,374



    To cover [0], ExxonMobil refineries are damaged in Hurricane Harvey, releasing hazardous pollutants Texas Tribune / The Washington Post Aug. 29, 2017 1:27 PM

    Story released after my comment, and there's certainly a couple of companies who need to release data to come, but it's now on the official record as happened.


    Anyhow. To answer the question: if and only if the rich get flooded. So far, the majority of the flooding has been in industrial / lower income housing. All the mansions to the north are safe with no flooding (unless Conroe goes, but not likely due to rains only forcasted for 2-6" now, which was a stroke of luck, they're going down due to releases:

    203.76 Feet MSL

    Tuesday, August 29, 2017 12:32:00 PM Level is 2.76 feet above full pool of 201.00

    VLake Conroe Water Level Lakes Online - using a data source not critical to anything).

    Some thoughts (culled from around the place):

    This is a really good argument for Net Neutrality - social media etc have helped co-ordination, information spread and general morale (and put out of lot of rumors etc)

    Mould / Zika are going to be interesting ones coming up in September.

    Like agriculture, can construction survive ICE etc seeking to purge the grey market areas (illegal workers etc)? A hunch: probably not.

    Having asked someone with Finance knowledge, apparently even the Central Banks don't know what to do about Bonds / QE etc. The rather longer answer was basically: All at once or it all breaks, Japan doesn't want to stop, USA was unwinding, China is doing its own thing and EU is likely to push for Brexit Squish if it starts turning bad. If you were cynical, you'd imagine that Brexiters are using this as weaponry or something.

    US Media had two highlights: everyone loved the no-nonsense factual reporting and two minor Stars were born, both women. One a roving reporter, the other a blonde lady who appeared to be as high as a kite on a round-table set up. I'll let you track down sources.

    Environmental cost? Probably bad in long term cancers etc, these always get buried and off-loaded onto the poor. Let alone once people start looking at what all those toxins getting flushed into the bay are doing.


    But, records broken and (touch wood) very little loss of life etc (all bets off if Addick / Barker fail) but it appears the worst is over. Engineers: if confined to doing their own areas of expertise, actually useful. So: hey, spend $1 trillion and Climate Change might not be so bad in the richest country in the world.

    Unicorn? All records broken so far.


    I live in New Orleans. Much if not most of the low wage cleanup and construction work after Katrina was performed by illegals from Mexico and the rest of Central America. US currently already has a shortage of construction workers both skilled and unskilled. This is going to create more tension over the whole "wall" business.

    The Federal flood insurance program has taken several big hits recently and this is going to blow it deeply into the red and require more funding just as we hit the budget process.

    A recurring issue with Federal flood policies has been repeated payoffs to people who rebuild already flooded properties again and again and keep collecting. How many times have we paid to rebuild the same beach front properties?

    The rate tables have been based on out of date flood maps, but you know gathering climate data is a no-no.

    Even without debating the thing that must not be named (i.e. climate), this is still classic governing and politics 101.


    Is there a likelihood that this will be used as a means of ethnic cleansing in Houston, given Charlottesville and similar? Lots of people will be displaced; only some of them will come back.


    I suggest to reread The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein - it partly deals with the aftershocks of Kathrina. The same will likely happen here, probably worse.

    I wonder how FEMA fits into the "Breitbard/Ayn Rand" mind - isn't that help by the evil government?


    Is there a likelihood that this will be used as a means of ethnic cleansing in Houston, given Charlottesville and similar? Lots of people will be displaced; only some of them will come back. I'll defer to any Texans (as noted above, they live in a land of no zoning), but very roughly a common effect is some sorting by ability to absorb personal economic hits. Assets (wealth), relatives with assets, insurance, government assistance can all help. Government assistance could be malignantly manipulated perhaps, but such manipulation would carry political risks; many critical eyes will be watching. Disaster disparities and differential recovery in New Orleans (2010) suggests that it is rather complicated (just barely skimmed; refs look useful too): However, there is a more nuanced story, which suggests that it is neighborhoods in the mid-range of social vulnerability where recovery is lagging. While private resources and government programs help groups in the high and low categories of social vulnerability, the middle group shows the slowest rates of recovery.

    ... and lots of other points and details.

    (Anemônê Duraþrór, impressively rapid and broad tracking of this disaster. Just wanted to say it.)


    Re: 'The rate tables have been based on out of date flood maps, but you know gathering climate data is a no-no.'

    Maybe not ...

    Was looking for an accurate up-to-date topological map and found this. Looks like a reliable rain/water data source for this event. Mentions types of measurements taken/monitored, apps for water info, and media contact info re: scientist interviews.


    'Reporters: Do you want to interview USGS scientists as they measure flooding? Please contact Jennifer LaVista or Lynne Fahlquist.

    U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring record flooding in parts of south-central Texas following intense rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey.


    The Texas Water on The Go application is an easy way to for mobile users to access water information nearby. The USGS Texas Water Dashboard and accompanying Twitter feeds, @USGSTexasFlood and @USGSTexasRain, are available at your fingertips on your desktop, smartphone or other mobile device to quickly provide water and weather information for your area.'


    The long term consequence of Houston is that we're badly fucked.

    The link above leads to a NASA map which shows the wetness/dryness of the atmosphere above the southwestern area of the U.S. Note the phallus in the upper right corner.

    We're fucked. Thank you. Game over!


    Unlike some of the commenters here, I don't claim to be non-human. I'm as subject to human foibles as the next human.

    However, if you're going to characterise my stubbornness over a subject, characterise it right.

    I wasn't suggesting a plan to "merely switch off our power for 16 hours a day", it was a plan to keep the power on for 8 hours a day.

    The alternative I gave was in response to a plan to turn it off altogether and abandon everywhere above about latitude 40 degrees, along with all high energy civilisation. The original plan (to which I offered an alternative) also included a voluntary reduction in population of about 90%, presumably Logan's Run style. If you'd rather the originally suggested plan, that's your perfect right.

    Note also that I AGREED several times that my plan would not be implemented. Indeed I actually said when I initially proposed not requiring the population of Britain to kill themselves for the good of the planet:

    75 "We could easily have a high technology civilisation and have a habitable planet at the same time. We won't of course..."

    I went on to say in #112 "But as I said before, this will not happen. It's cheap, would obviously work with current off the shelf tech, allow us to have a high energy, high wealth civilisation, give us more free time, shorter working hours, more jobs, less income inequality and a livable planet. No-one would stand for that sort of thing." You may disagree that it would obviously work with off the shelf technology (ie self cleaning oven technology that operates at these exact temperatures) but you can't say that I stuck to my guns and said it would be adopted.

    119 "but as I said several times, it's pretty obviously not going to be done." 130 "It's all doable. (but it won't be done)" 158 "People would rather take option 3 [mass suicide, abandon Britain] than my suggestion of 3a, [Home high temperature stored heat for cooking, hot water and space heating] and you prove that to be true. 221 "But as I've said many times, and which Paws4 has more than amply demonstrated, this will not happen. An attempt to keep the power on for 8 hours a day will not be seen as an attempt to keep the power on, but rather as a plot to turn the power off for 16 hours a day."

    I think we can add your name to the proof that a plot to keep the power on for 8 hours and avoid killing everyone in Britain will be seen as a plot to turn the power off for 16 hours.



    Indeed, Brisbane gets severe flooding every few decades, but people continue to build and live in the flood zones. I'm astonished at how much new development has gone up on the flood plain of the Brisbane River. Those buildings will get flooded, the basements will fill, the cars and generators and internet nodes will be destroyed, and flood levels will cover the ground and first floors, and possibly the second too. See the flood level markers on the Regatta Hotel. 2011, the water covered the ground storey and half way up the first. The Regatta's base is already about 8m above the river's mean level. And there have been worse floods, 1893, and there are anecdotes recorded from aboriginals in the 1800s about floods that went even higher.

    Sea level rise is going to make the problem worse, of course.

    People just forget what could happen. Lots of houses backing onto highly flammable forests too. Nice to have trees around, except when they're burning.

    I've heard people express similar opinions, like, they bought in a flood zone to have a river view, they should wear the flood risk too. Now consider the cigarette smokers. No-one can now say they don't know the risks - so do we turn them away from hospitals when their smoking makes them sick? You can't, but they get triaged to lesser priority because their conditions are viewed as self-inflicted and avoidable.

    Society has to look after its dumb people too. Maybe it's better to try to help them make better choices before the flood, rather than help them after.


    "Also to consider is a nationwide shortage of construction workers. Between a booming economy luring them into other industries and a concerted effort to persuade foreign nationals to leave, things may take longer and cost more to replace than people realize. (Source is a Forbes article from April 2017 which I can't persuade my phone to copypasta.)"

    That's going to really bite hard, because this is where you need a huge surge of workers for a few months.


    I think that having to deal with recurring droughts, floods, fires, serious air pollution and earthquakes, all while having to find, store, and move the water needed for tens of millions of people and most of the crops, sometimes all at once :-) has given California a better understanding of the need for infrastructure including the entire political establishment.

    Texas seems to not have to needed to. Lucky them?

    Even libertarians in California would probably think you crazy if you suggested dropping earthquake safety laws or not have the State worry about supplying water. It seems to me too many "conservatives" and "libertarians" are not really conservative or libertarian. They just want to do what they want to do, which is usually just to make money, and to Hell with everything else. The ideology just justifies it. Spoiled little man-children.


    There is not a real worker shortage.

    Much of the country still hasn't recovered from 2008, there is still widespread unemployment, and some companies still claim that even matching the (inflation adjusted) 1968 federal minimum wage of just under $11 as too high. If you add productivity growth it would be at least $15 per hour. You could even make a credible argument for ~$20 although I don't agree with it. These are all minimum wage numbers.

    Perhaps if construction companies would pay the same scale, safety rules, and give the same training they used to do when unions were still around? There might be more available workers. But that's Communist. Nah, let's just hire undocumented labor, and screw them and Americans too. It the glorious Free Market at work.

    Trump's Great Wall is nonsense but are reasons for its support.


    Yes and no. Well, mostly no. Nineteenth Century California got its ass kicked repeatedly for about 50 years by a combination of normal giant decadal floods in the Sacramento Valley, exacerbated by the truly massive amounts of sediment the industrial gold mines had washed into the rivers (for those who don't know, look up gold mining with a monitor: they basically diverted creeks into oversized fire hose nozzles, washed hillsides apart, sorted out the gold and dumped the sediments into the river, such that for awhile, the banks of parts of the Sacramento were largely mine spoils and were actually higher than the surrounding land was, as was the river).

    Anyway, California tried a lot of laissez faire/free market approaches to dealing with the monster floods, failed, and finally turned to the big government response after about 50 years. This was also when the US government was in its dam-building frenzy, so the combination of dams, aqueducts, levies and bypasses made the Sacramento Valley a bit safer (although if you saw the Oroville Dam damage last winter or the shallow flood pics, it's not entirely tamed).

    Once they had all that excess water kicking around, various bright bulbs got the idea of irrigating the previously dry San Joaquin Valley to the south, temporarily turning it into a paradise, until it started salting up. Now as we're getting drier, the southern valley farmers have turned to massive groundwater extraction to try to keep up production.

    Anyway, we joke that California's been terraformed (notice that Ray Bradbury and Kim Stanley Robinson are both native southern Californians--there's something in the water that makes you think about what it would be like to live on Mars here). We try to keep things regulated, just because it's worked for us so far. It won't forever.

    Meanwhile, Texans have been equally busy damming and so forth (everyone was) but with less topography, their dams are less useful. They've also been busily pumping the Ogallala aquifer in West Texas (etc.) dry at a furious rate, growing wheat, and using that wheat as a US foreign policy tool (which means that we keep people from getting into famines so they don't either migrate here or start a war we need to get involved in). The Ogallala aquifer will be dry in a few decades, as was intended from when they started mining it. A few decades ago they seriously studied creating multiple (six?) nuclear plants to power a truly massive canal and pump system to move water across Texas from the Mississippi River to the Ogallala area, just to keep growing wheat. No, it's not cost effective to pump huge amounts of water thousands of feet up to grow wheat, but that didn't stop people from floating the idea and commissioning studies.

    Anyway, Texas doesn't do much in the way of regulation, California does a lot, and both are set up to have their agricultural sectors rapidly down-size this century, with all sorts of messy follow-on effects. While I'm a pro-regulation Californian (mostly because I'm pro-biodiversity), I'm at a bit of a loss to say who did a better or worse job at governance.


    USGS 08073000 Addicks Res nr Addicks, TX stopped updating for several hours. It's now updated as of 21:00 CDT. The pressure and radar measurements which had been diverging are now the same at 108.91 ft. The top of the embankment is 108 ft. The curve seems to be flattening out at. Which may be because less water is flowing in or more is flowing out or both.


    Anyway, Texas doesn't do much in the way of regulation, California does a lot, and both are set up to have their agricultural sectors rapidly down-size this century, with all sorts of messy follow-on effects.

    WTF? I know nothing Texas agriculture although I have read they were using up the aquifer too quickly. Why is California's set to go away? It's an extremely important part of the state's economy.

    Although with all those almond trees planted by large investors, and watered by their very deep wells...


    The simple answer is that the water is over-promised for what is actually delivered. Worse, soils in much of the San Joaquin are salty (they are old sea bed), so you need more water to flush the salt away, or really sophisticated water management. Third problem is that, until about two years ago, we had the same water rules as Syria, which was that the water under a person's land was theirs for the taking. Aquifers don't work that way, so the result is that people race to drain aquifers before their neighbors can (it's an "I drink your milk shake" situation. It's entirely possible to manage aquifers using commons or other group strategies, but if history plays out, it's going to take 10-20 years for the groundwater basin committees to sort themselves out and the suits to resolve in favor of working solution--in most places.

    Add in that the big farm owners are now mostly multinationals rather than families, some of the families need to have special cutouts in their shirts for their shark fins and gills, and there are rumors of arrogant mismanagement in certain west valley big districts, and you get a situation where it's going to be difficult/impossible for farming to keep going at its current levels statewide.

    Anyway, the bottom line is neither technocratic nor laissez faire management are perfect, and when you combine either with power games, incomplete information, cowardice in the face of wicked problems, a changing climate, and a lot of randomness, shit happens.


    SFReader #166: Yes, one thing that I have noticed is that trying to follow international news or join a side in foreign politics steals energy that I could use to be involved in local politics and help people in my town. The US and British media are never going to be interested in either, so its up to me.

    The world is always going to be full of people who want you to be outraged about what someone you never met said somewhere you never visited, or swear they can foretell the future. Part of growing up in a world with mass media is learning to ignore them.


    Been watching the Christchurch earthquake rebuild here in New Zealand. Lots to say about that. Let's pick one:

    What about suburbs in the wrong place?

    In Chch the govt red-stickered the houses and bought out the owners, voluntarily, at pre-quake valuations. The cost was absurdly high! Really!

    But Houston has lots of such suburbs. The cost to the govt would be ridiculous. But if not then what? You gonna rebuild and repair there? That's what your insurance pays for. The whole system is set up to pay you to repair and rebuild - not to pay you to declare the land worthless, walk away and buy another piece of land.

    The whole damn world has lots of such suburbs. You build on a flood plain in Queensland, or Texas, or Cornwall, get flooded, rebuild with the insurance money, rinse and repeat.

    That last bit is a killer. Currently in most western nations, the govt is insurer of last resort for flooding, or regulates to require that private insurers cover flood damage.

    It's all very well to say "that's unsustainable", but that's not going to stop it being true. I don't know what will stop it being true that my taxes and insurance payments are covering the cost of morons build on the coast and in flood plains, or how we transition from here to there.


    Horribly true I have (very breifly) had arguments with USSA "libertarians" who say that we don't need food safety lwas, & impure/adulterate foods can "be dealt with in the courts" - presumably by rich people hiring lawyers. How do people get this insane? I mean, both we & the US ( & almost everywhere else) tried this in the C18th & it dodn't work - why would it work now?

    Loopy, the lot of them




    The only reason hardcore libertarians is because of such laws. Plenty of books and documentaries on the situation just before the Pure Food and Drug Act. You have to try hard not to see any of it. Cocaine for children's medicine, toys made of lead, makeup with lead, chalk added to milk, sawdust in bread, arsenic based products sold over OTC. Afterwards there still was items like lead based paint, radium dials done by radium girls, radium flavored drinking water, leaded gasoline, drug store x-ray machines (Here, I thought Mom was pulling my leg!)

    Yes sir, I'm sure we don't need such nonsense as product safety laws. (Insert stupendous eye roll)

    Actually I'm more surprised any of our parents lived to have us.


    " I've heard people express similar opinions, like, they bought in a flood zone to have a river view, they should wear the flood risk too. Now consider the cigarette smokers. No-one can now say they don't know the risks - so do we turn them away from hospitals when their smoking makes them sick? "

    Of course they should wear the flood risk! Or if they don't want to, they should pay market rates on insurance against those risks!

    There are two, and only two, sane approaches.

  • Society (govt) bails you out if it goes wrong, in return for which society (govt) gets to regulate the hell of out it to try and stop it going wrong. Which may mean saying "you can't build there, or rebuild there" for some values of "there".

  • It can be unregulated but if you lose your money/house, then you lose your money/house.

  • The only way to get developers to stop putting subdivisions on flood plains is to either regulate against it, or stop subsidizing it by having the real estate developer make money because the govt is covering the risks on the properties.

    Alas, I don't think we're going to be sane. With climate change coming we're still going to build more on coastal and flood-prone areas, because the incentives involved are perverse. In 100 years time people just won't be able to figure out why our society was so incredibly bloody stupid as to do that.

    (As an aside: the theory is that the banking industry follows (1) - govt insures depositors, but in return govt gets to regulate the banks.)

    (Final aside: healthcare is special, in many ways. Being willing to let you go bankrupt is not the same as letting you die. Not a fair analogy.)


    "Actually I'm more surprised any of our parents lived to have us."

    In 1870 Massachusetts 28% of children didn't live to 20. Enteric diseases (salmonella, etc) killed about half of them.

    I expect everyone in my kid's class in school to live to reach 20. Food Safety Laws rock!


    Houston redux: Don't know anything about the geography (topography, distribution of "bare" land) and climate (rainfall patterns) of Houston, but it seems like it might be a candidate for a little ecological engineering. Specifically, geography and climate permitting, it might be a good location for the creation of large areas of wetland. Such areas can literally work as sponges for soaking up floodwaters, and they're much less expensive to create and manage than the giga-pumps I suggested earlier. Also more complex, so they're less well understood as an "engineering" solution.

    If Houson has a pronounced dry season, I can see wetlands being integrated with sewage treatment: in dry weather, grey water and treated sewage are released into the wetlands to keep them alive and to "clean" the water; in rainy weather and when floods are predicted, the sewage is diverted to secondary treatment facilities to allow water levels to fall in the wetlands, and then the flood waters are diverted into the wetlands. Again, no specific papers I can cite, but I've seen many descriptions of this kind of design in the literature.

    Given the state of Texas' reservoirs (thanks for the description, Heteromeles), developing long-term plans to divert future floods to recharge the aquifer seems like something geologists should be investigating.


    BTW, the Gov't of Mexico has offered help to Texas re: Harvey. US/DT has yet to respond.

    'Neighbors help neighbors.'


    Trump, will tell the "mexies" to fuck off, because he's an arrogant cocky bastard.

    On the same theme ..

    Kim is trying to provoke the dimwit Trump to react with a "surgical" military strike & then demand ( as by treaty) Chinese aid in a war with the US, which the US can't then win .... Trump is pushy-&-stupid enough to fall for it, too!


    Eh, actual swamps probably dont have enough economic payout to be viable, but sure, you could probably just replant the catchment basin in fruit and nut trees and that would moderate runoff quite considerably. Especially if that is a priority.


    Idea re: Who pays & how to pay for mitigating damage from future hurricanes, storm surges, etc.

    A few background facts/assumptions first:

    1- Home sales seem to be pretty consistently high across the US with home prices going up all the time - regardless of what the house sitting on it looks like. (Current Texas home prices are dirt cheap compared with most of US.)

    'Texas home values have gone up 6.5% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.3% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Texas is $119. The median price of homes currently listed in Texas is $269,950. The median rent price in Texas is $1,500.' - Source: Zillow

    2- Home sale/resale is now the standard - very few people are live their entire lives in the home they were born in. Cities with large industrial (oil, finance), research/medical and university populations (i.e., MD Anderson, Baylor) probably have even higher real estate churn.

    3- There are three fundamental types of buildings and/or land users: gov't, commerce, resident. All three benefit from whatever land they are on and/or use.

    4- It takes about 10-15 years to design and build a large enough system as per Dutch experience. Although the Dutch are also seriously into oil, no idea whether they may also have any useful advice about all those nasty chemical leakages that are only now being talked about.


    Using the Dutch experience plus 10%-15%, provide a rough estimate of how a similar plan would cost. Allocate the cost on a per sq ft basis because it's the footprint of the project that drives costs.

    Immediately slap on a universal land usage contribution payable into the project fund. Refineries, and other hard/dirty industries would be assessed on current market values for the land they occupy. (If disputed, then their land should be valued at at least 3x residential - after all they're pumping black gold out of it.)

    Residential/commercial properties would have a fixed amount ($20 - $30 thousand) immediately added to whatever the current market price for that house/property is. The moment that the property is sold, the project gets that amount. This means that the $20-$30 thou would be amortized over whatever the mortgage life is and that the banks holding the mortgages are also players. This will continue until the full cost of the project has been funded. Which also means that if a particular property gets sold and resold 10 times over 10 years, it will have contributed each time. People have no issue about making money when they buy/sell homes, it would be hypocritical to not use the same scheme to offset massive civic costs. For the gripers: What would your home be worth 10 years from now once it's rotted and/or underwater?

    Renters would have a $20-30 per month increase for the next 10 years as of every new lease signed and that amount would be immediately paid into the project fund. Total amount would be based on land usage. So the cost per rental unit could be even less.

    The reason for amortizing over 10-15 years is that what you mostly need is a reliable stream of funding (cash flow) over the course of the project. Houston has a lot going for it, its current population is reasonably well-to-do, and such a project could even bring in more residents to help defray costs. Might even become a major tourist draw.

    There is a definite cost advantage for higher density, higher-built structures immediately and for the future. No idea how hurricane-proof high rises are currently or can be in the future, but having fewer people at immediate risk of drowning is a pretty good idea.

    Once the project is complete, it will need serious maintenance. The 'land-usage contribution' could be reduced, but only if there's a sufficient reserves fund. Include a hands-off clause, i.e., these funds can never ever ever be used for anything else, that would pass SCOTUS scrutiny if challenged (as it probably would be). Anyone attempting to do so, would be subject to serious jail time for massive embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, endangering the community, etc.


    Houston and its suburbs have a population of 2.303 million persons.

    No. The City of Houston itself is the 4th largest city in the US after NYC, LA and Chicago. The defined Metro Status area (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land,TX) is 6.772 million, 5th largest (after NYC metro, the LA Basin, Chicagoland, and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.) This includes cities like Galveston and Baytown as well as the Houston suburbs.


    Given the state of Texas' reservoirs (thanks for the description, Heteromeles), developing long-term plans to divert future floods to recharge the aquifer seems like something geologists should be investigating.

    Already being done in San Antonio and at least considered for other places in the state:


    Libertidiots. And they're all frauds. If they were not, they would have been roasting Trump from the time he announced he was running, being that he breaks contracts as his standard.

    And they are unhappy with the Gubmint having the exclusive use of force (as opposed to who, the drunk? the ammosexual?), but figure contract disputes can be handled by the courts. (And who's going to enforce the rulings?)

    The final word on that is from a photo from somewhere in Africa that I saw, maybe 10 years ago: why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge?


    I have read that, at the time of George III (aka the American Revolution), one out of seven children grew up to have kids of their own. 1870 was just when Lister and his compatriots were fighting to get doctors to be sanitary.

    We've come a long way, baby... and the result is massive overpopulation, since we're still reproducing at a rate suitable for losing most....

    Though the birth rate is going down, just not fast enough.


    Do. Not. Believe Zillow. They lie (and I can prove it). They are for people & companies who flip houses to make money.

    Data: when I was forced to sell my house in Chicago, the end of '02, my honest real estate agent did her due diligence, so I knew that I was selling at market value. Some years later, I looked at Zillow's numbers, and they claimed it was worth 20% or 25% more than I asked. Bull.

    Data: I looked up the house I currently own, and Zillow claims it's a lot larger, in square footage, than my legal documentation says it is.

    They LIE.

    On the other hand, when I was looking in '11, I found Redfin to be reasonably honest.


    Allen Thomson noted: "Already being done in San Antonio and at least considered for other places in the state"

    Cool! Thanks for providing the favorable reality check.


    "rebuilding Houston" is going to take priority over "relieving traffic congestion and limiting pollution in California's San Francisco-Los Angeles corridor," meaning that more fog-based disasters on I5 near Fresno will be forthcoming...

    Speaking of fog-based disasters, have they made any progress identifying what caused the Beachy Head chemical haze?


    I just drove the whole Central Valley, from Lebec to Mt. Shasta, on the way to Oregon to watch the eclipse, and even at my level of understanding the issues it was clear that they were doing damn-near everything wrong, particularly on the southern end of things, from giant sprinklers for their farms that sent as much water into the air as onto the plants... the beginnings of a desert in the southern end of the valley, open-air canals in the hundred-degree heat... then you get to the northern end of things and everything sort of makes sense because there's enough water and the land isn't turning into a desert.

    I remember making the drive 20-30 years ago and the southern end was green as soon as you got down the pass, but the land apparently won't support that anymore.

    I don't have your education or grasp of the issues, but I brief glance out the car window every few minutes was enough to confirm that your view is pretty much correct.

    BTW, I'm about 130 pages into "Cadillac Desert" right now. It's a great book.


    Re: San Antonio - flood waters/reservoirs

    Assuming such environmental initiatives are allowed to continue ...


    'On 18 August, three days before the NASEM committee working on the study was due to meet in a Kentucky mining town, the DOI ordered a stop to the study, with immediate effect.'

    Think it's time for scientists to speak out.


    Re: San Antonio flood water aquifer storage:

    Yeah, they've at least been trying. Just how it will all turn out is TBD.

    A slightly dated infomercial from the operator: Necessary regulations(*) regarding withdrawal from San Antonio's principal water source, the Edwards Aquifer, played an important part in justifying the project.

    (*) Perhaps that means "externality capturing regulations".


    Charlie: We need more comedy! Well there's this: Larff? I nearly wet meself!

    There are quite a few preachers around who should brush up on Matthew 25:40-45


    Re: Real estate prices

    Thanks, good to know. BTW, one of The Economist [paywalled] articles I saw on house prices in the US used Zillow data.

    There's good data here on types of housing in Houston. Did not expect so many mobile homes including the few thousand not anchored or tied down in any way. Really - during a hurricane with massive storm surge and deluges of rain? Surprised no photos of flotillas heading into the Gulf.


    Kim is trying to provoke the dimwit Trump to react with a "surgical" military strike & then demand (as by treaty) Chinese aid in a war with the US, which the US can't then win ....

    Alternatively, he's locked in an internal battle; and the pronouncements are primarily for internal consumption, as a race to the looniest in order to maintain the support of the key personalities within the regime (or at least to paint them into a corner where he sees himself as the only one who has a chance of keeping them from the front of a bullet-scarred wall).

    Geopolitically, the Chinese may be looking to avoid a situation where the Japanese are pushed into a situation where domestic political opinion demands that they expand their armed, sorry self-defence forces.

    We don't know how close things are to breakdown inside the regime (look how fast Romania fell - did it fall, or did key internal players read the tea leaves and give it a quick push? Did the Securitate get purged or just melt away?)

    We don't know how close the Chinese are to identifying more rational factions who are able to arrange a plane crash / accident on the mortar range for the Dear/Beloved/Chubbiest Leader while he was bravely inspecting the stout and loyal defenders of the DPRK on the front line of their struggle against the aggressive Southern hordes.

    I'm hoping for another Romania, I'll accept a tragic accident, and I note that it's General Mattis making the "diplomacy is a good thing" noises within the US Cabinet.

    Still, at least Bannon has been defenestrated...


    To me, the Kim nuclear strategy seems more like the strategy used by a skunk or maybe a porcupine: "I can't stop you if you decide to come after me, but I'll make you regret it".

    To continue mixing metaphors, Kim may be crazy, but he's crazy like a fox. G It's hard to imagine that he wants a nuclear war with anyone, let alone Trump, since he knows he'll lose. And there's really no upside potential. I'm also reasonably confident the Chinese have quietly told him that treaty or no treaty, North Korea will stand alone if it tries to nuke anyone. Or that a "regrettable accident" will happen, leading to Chinese-style democracy in North Korea.


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that China has treaties with North Korea, so if South Korea and/or the US attack, they will come to the defense of the North. These ties go back to WW II and likely before, when the Korean Communists were the only anti-Japanese force in Korea and fought on the side of the Communist Chinese against the Japanese.

    On the other side, there's only an truce between North and South Korea, so we're all technically at war. Both North and South Korea have promised that, if attacked, the other's capitol is toast, and both apparently have ample means to accomplish this goal.

    So far as the stability of the Kim regime goes, that apparently depends in large part on being at war with the US, otherwise the austerities are hard to justify. Indeed, if there was some way to say, "oh you sillies, we haven't been at war with you in 60 years," in a believable way, then that would destabilize the North Koreans as much as anything else, IMHO. Unfortunately, things like the DMZ give the lie to any such gesture by the US.

    What to do? Well, keeping the North Korean people from starving during their fairly frequent crop failures is a good start, since they might decide they have nothing left to lose by invading if they're too desperate. Smuggling in pop culture is another useful tactic, as is decreasing the fecal foehn that's coming out of our Distractor In Chief. If he's going to beat the war drums, we should be dancing to them, not marching.

    The other thing to realize is that North Korea is mountainous, and the people are quite used to gathering wild foods (see crop failure above). Invading North Korea is a bit similar to invading Afghanistan, with the small exception that the Chinese Army will be part of the defense. North Korean-style mountains extend well into China, so they would be fighting on something closely resembling their home turf. In other words, there's no winning strategy for conflict here.


    Re: '... tragic accident, ...'

    When does Cheney send out invites for duck season?


    There has been screaming about Louisiana's disappearing delta and how that is destroying, or threatening to, umpteen towns, communities, the fishing industry, and New Orleans itself for around forty years. They know how to slow, halt, or reverse the delta's shrinking depending on how much resources they are willing to use. That takes careful long term planning, raising taxes, actually enforcing the anti-erosion laws they already have, and time. But all this would cut into the oil, gas, and chemical companies' profits, and require more regulations, and since TPTB are all focused on this quarter and the next election instead of how great the Delta will be in thirty years...

    I half expect that after Miami and everything south of the Everglades goes under, New Orleans and half of Louisiana will follow.


    Well after all that writing I didn't start or end with...I don't expect Texas to do anything like creating wetlands when the State next door won't the fairly obvious steps of maintaining its existing wetlands...


    Re: 'What to do about NK?'

    China cut off all its NK coal imports earlier this year - a significant blow to the NK economy.

    DT claims to love coal. The US can offer to buy NK coal as part of upcoming TPP final negotiations* provided the other countries within TPP allow NK to join. How much coal gets sent to the US is irrelevant: only the pix/headlines matter. DT could claim that NK coal is much cheaper than Penn State coal, therefore a better business deal for Americans. Too bad, so sad to Penn miners who will have to remain unemployed because they're not trying hard enough to find some other meaningful employment.

    Environment loses, but DT can claim 'huuge win' for the US and world peace. (Hell -- he might after the fact even claim a win for the US environment.)

    *Most of the TPP terms apparently have been set but no one interviewed has mentioned any specifics.


    I type this acknowledging that there's still 2+ mil people undergoing a massive crises (30%+ of the entire of the area had some kind of flooding), so excuse any lack of empathy.

    Since Houston has avoided the worst case scenario (Conroe cascade, Lake Houston Dam, loss of airport / entire port - and yep, that was one of the things behind-the-scenes was being sweated over, check for desperate attempts to get NW Houston rain gauge measurements), Port Arthur just got hit extremely badly. In real terms, most of the town is gone - the Mayor reported 100% flooding.

    Industrial impacts:

    Motiva shuts Port Arthur Texas refinery due to flooding CNBC 29th Aug 2017 - since then the site has flooded.

    Golden Pass LNG and Sabine Pass LNG are most likely totaled - they were being built up & this will make Russia very happy.

    Those three are at least ~$12 bil of lost investment, depending on damage. LNG facilities & Motiva are down - the question being how badly.

    The Port (despite what someone claimed above) remains closed - and will do throughout the 31st / weekend (reports are it will re-open Tuesday earliest: With Rain Lessening In Houston, Airports And Ports Begin Opening NPR, Aug 30th 2017). The airport has re-opened, the down cost being only $77mil or so.

    Housing: looking at $40-80bil. Houston got extremely lucky in that the planners of 1940 + 70 years of unchecked growth just about held on. (Crossed fingers - Conroe was venting 73k cfs and Houston Lake dam 363k cfs and that hasn't quite worked itself out of the system yet: If you think that's hyperbole: 375,000cfs going over Lake Houston Dam spillway or 168 million gallons per min #houwx #hounews #txwx Jeff Lindner Meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, 29th Aug, 2017 - that still has to make its way down to the Port).

    So, a conservative estimate is around $90 bil (And that's a seriously conservative estimate which Banks love: Finance guys should feel bad). If the worst case had happened (airport / port gone, resulting damage, Addick / Barker gone etc) this would immediately have been in the $300+ bil zone.

    Knock-on effects? Still looking at it - the water is still working its way out. Oh, and there's probably another big one coming next week: IRMA.

    I'm not going to outline what potentially just happened, as IRMA (very very small chance) and potential heavy rains early next week (5"?) could tip this back over the line from "ugly SF story" into "actual huge disaster".

    Now to spare a thought for the 16+ mil in Nepal, India, Bangladesh etc.


    Oh, and there's about to be a big badda boom:

    Richard Rowe, chief executive officer of Arkema's North America unit, told reporters that chemicals on the site will catch fire and explode if they are not properly cooled. Arkema expects that to happen within the next six days as temperatures rise. He said the company has no way to prevent that because the plant is swamped by about 6 feet (1.83 m) of water due to flooding from Harvey, which came ashore in Texas last week as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. "Materials could now explode and cause a subsequent and intense fire. The high water that exists on site, and the lack of power, leave us with no way to prevent it," Rowe said. He said he believes a fire would be "largely sustained on our site but we are trying to be conservative."

    Arkema expects chemical fire at flooded Texas plant CNBC, 30th Aug 2017.

    So, start adding up for contamination.


    Sorry, that's Reuters.

    Cosby produces liquid organic peroxides. Big Badda Boom.


    Vanity Fair reports that pre-Harvey the GOP was considering taking $1B for Two-Scoop's border wall from FEMA's budget. Probably dead now but it is depressing to see Congress exhibiting the same morals as drunken freshmen on a scavenger hunt.

    For amusement purposes only, The Independent or whatever you call it reports that the home of Tony Perkins was flooded by Harvey. You may recall Mr. Perkins as the arse-wipe who has repeatedly claimed that hurricanes are the fist of an angry God expressing His displeasure with nasty queers. Sadly the article didn't manage to probe the kinds of kinks Mr. Perkins submits to in order to have earned a "Biblical" style flood.


    Poking at it with google scholar, I see that there is a lot of varied literature (including a few books) about Houston's lack of zoning. (There's some libertarian/pushback context that would take time to understand, and (Texas!) property law is very much not my thing.)

    This one seems to be representative: Four Land Use Vignettes from Unzoned Houston (2012) Houston is so sprawling and discontinuous that neighborhoods are hard to identify and identify with. The political process is so dominated by real estate and business interests that there is no legitimate procedure whereby homeowners can protect their greatest investment. Anything that identifies, protects, and reinforces community - that essential quality of human existence - is useful in a sprawling urban amoeba such as Houston. But few, if any, Houston practices are worth exporting to other cities.

    This one is more to the immediate point, about local politics: Municipal Leadership of Climate Adaptation Negotiations: Effective Tools and Strategies in Houston and Fort Lauderdale 9 Jan 2017 In particular the section "Negotiating Flood Control in Houston". In the aftermath of the election, four powerful opposition groups challenged the fee, stalling its enactment. The city's eleven school districts demanded exemption as public entities, arguing that the costs of compliance were onerous. Harris County officials also objected, as did railway companies, whose tracks crisscrossed the city. Most importantly, an influential coalition of churches declared that the fee was a tax and claimed exemptions as religious institutions (Parker 2016a, 2016b).

    Anyway, this is a very long way of asking any Texans about their personal experiences with lack of zoning.


    since we're still reproducing at a rate suitable for losing most.... Actually we are not, or not in the developed, educated world.

    As usual, religious leaders & religious belief are still pushing overpopulation. [ Exception: Persia, I think ]

    The population-increase is decreasing, just too slowly, at present.


    Either a ship releasing shite & hoping not to be dtetcted, or an old ammo-dump venting ... But don't ask me which ... [ It has gorn 'orribly quiet on that one, hasn't it? ]


    Actually, it's probably both Trying to get the US to fuck up & get PRC support AND fighting off the internal loonies ( I mean, they're ALL loonies, but you get my drift!)

    See also "H" @ 227.

    Actually,John Brunner had the right idea - suitably updated it would require the PRC to fly fighter cover with the US running the heavy-lift airdrops of food & tools to the N. You also have to agree, beforehand, that no US troops go N of the parallel, or only as observers & accompanied by PRC in charge ....


    See ALSO Large quantities of Peroxides - nice!


    How often are we told that Fukashima was a one off. No-one else would be silly enough to place explosion preventing backup generators low to the ground where they could flood. Anyone who had, would of course be moving them quick smart now that the lesson has been so forcefully applied.



    Different regulatory environments. Ordinary chemical plants are mundane, therefore safe.

    Losing track of eight tonnes of hydrogen fluoride near a major city is less newsworthy than a few grams of fission fragments.


    My impression is that "suits" are only interested in important lessons if they're suitable as a blunt instrument for self promotion.


    CBS News reports on the shortage of construction labor in Texas. It says that before Harvey, shortages added a month and a half to the construction time of a home. Also shortages of skilled labor in commercial construction -- the folks who build and repair roads, bridges, chemical plants, etc. And Donny has a notoriously short attention span.

    Texas is screwed for a while. On the plus side, windfall profits for the oil companies! Whoopie!!!


    Re: Explosions, smoke ... Arkema

    The Arkema-Americas website is down. Wanted to read their statement. Below is off the CTV (Canadian) site.

    'Gregory Bull, Emily Schmall and Reese Dunklin, The Associated Press

    CROSBY, Texas -- A Houston-area chemical plant that lost power after Harvey engulfed the area in floods was rocked by fires and two explosions early Thursday, but local authorities said the resulting smoke presented "no danger to the community at all."

    Arkema Inc. said in a statement on its website that the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the plant in Crosby, about 25 miles (40 kilometres) northeast of Houston, at about 2 a.m.'

    For those needing a break from bad news: new research paper in this week's Science about carbon nanotubes that can purify water much faster than even Mother Nature.


    'Scientists, including those from Northeastern University in the US, developed carbon nanotube pores that can exclude salt from seawater. The team found that water permeability in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with diameters of 0.8 nanometre significantly exceeds that of wider carbon nanotubes.'


    For those needing a break from bad news:

    Um, the news so far has been quite the opposite. The death toll, which is tragic, is probably in the low triple digits, if it even breaks that. If Conroe / Houston / Addicks & Barker had gone, well: not so low.

    No major levee or dams broke. A lot were pushed to their limit, but no major lapses. A win for engineers.

    The economic cost is about a third of what it could have been. Business industry breathes small sigh of relief. And so on.

    Harvey is a very fortuitous disaster in many ways. (Well, apart from that super-Church who locked people out then were forced to do a 180o with social media pressure: big shame there. And who knows? Most importantly, an influential coalition of churches declared that the fee was a tax and claimed exemptions as religious institutions (Parker 2016a, 2016b). - the outcome could break the rather pernicious grip the mega-Churches have on Houston politics. But that would take a bit more than luck).

    Why fortuitous? 'Cause everyone gets to spot where things need changing without a total break-down. Now - taking up that chance? Different matter entirely, of course.


    A) Social Media is now being actively shaped / pressured and a narrative built. It's quite impressive to watch it happen. There were small attempts to weaponize fear (the dams have broken!! the chemical plant contains phosphene / ammonia!!) but over-all minimal.

    B) You're in the wrong-trouser-leg-of-Time. Models are getting to be useless:

    Yet, even accounting for those differences, it's still difficult to nail down how much any hurricane, especially one as complex as Harvey, will cost, said Chuck Watson, a geophysical hazards modeler with Enki Research. Watson's firm calculates risks and costs of hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. They give a middle-of-the-road estimate for Harvey costs at anywhere from $48 to $75 billion[1].

    "Harvey has just been a miserable storm to try to forecast because the traditional forecast models just don't work for this storm," Watson said. "There's only a couple of computer models in the world that do a halfway decent job, and depending on the assumptions that you use, you can get a wide range."

    Hurricane Harvey: How Many Billions of Dollars in Damage Will Historic Storm Cost? NBC News, 30th Aug, 2017

    Now there's an outcome that will put the cat amongst the pigeons: when everyone realizes (well, more than 2008) that all those clever models run by Finance and Insurance industries are, well: 20th Century relics. As a larger outcome, that's an interesting one.

    C) Chemical Plant explosion: Arkema CEO refuses to release Tier ll chemical report to press! An explosion will release this chemical into water supply. Vapors toxic💥💀💥 "Venture Capital" on Twitter, 30th Aug 2017 - both the industry and the people who re-wrote the safety laws allowing companies to not divulge data in emergencies should (in a just world) be feeling a little nervous at this point.

    They got lucky: Arkema plant isn't going to go up like the West Fertilizer Company. But Arkema has significant ties to Koch industries in that they're both part of the same fertilizer lobbying group: oops. Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg Abbott Dallas News, July 2014

    Potential fall-out could be large; depends.

    Anyhow. Time to reset my Mind. Been a long road.

    "Tykhe, beginning and end for mankind, you sit in Sophia's seat and give honour to mortal deeds; from you comes more good than evil, grace shines about your gold wing, and what the scale of your balance gives is the happiest; you see a way out of the impasse in troubles, and you bring bright light in darkness, you most excellent of gods."

    [1] $90 bil was a very rough number, but let's see who gets closer to the correct figure. Want to bet?


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that China has treaties with North Korea, so if South Korea and/or the US attack, they will come to the defense of the North. These ties go back to WW II and likely before, when the Korean Communists were the only anti-Japanese force in Korea and fought on the side of the Communist Chinese against the Japanese.

    The Chinese recently announced they would come to North Korea's aid if the U.S. or South Korea attacked the North.

    They also warned North Korea that if THEY attack the U.S. or South Korea, they're on their own. China doesn't want a united Korea under South Korean control on their border, but if Kim STARTS a war and loses, I think they would grudgingly accept it; especially if Trump had sense enough to go through the UN (which he doesn't).

    The danger here is that IL Douche-bag doesn't have sense enough not to jump every time Kim yanks on his chain. Trump can't seem to figure out that every tweet in response to Kim's provocations makes Kim look bigger and makes Trump look smaller. Kim keeps daring Trump to "knock this chip off my shoulder" and I'm afraid Trump is stupid enough to do it.

    The U.S. response should be to quietly reassure South Korea and Japan that the U.S. will fulfill its commitments to both nations if they are attacked. And use the UN to keep the pressure on China to throttle North Korea's beligerance.


    Oh, and there's about to be a big badda boom:

    Arkema expects chemical fire at flooded Texas plant CNBC, 30th Aug 2017.

    ... and the news just keeps on getting better and better

    Yesterday Irma was a tropical storm. Today it's a Cat 2 hurricane & expected to be at least Cat 3 by the end of the day.


    Yes Kim Jong Haircut is gambling that DT is arrogant & stupid enough to start a war ... Except the US military are screaming NO! ... And the PRC really don't want to get involved, unless really pushed, either. Could this be the scenario for DT's removal on insanity-grounds?


    Re: 'Models are getting to be useless'

    Maybe because their models are too heavily weighted toward historic (pre-1990s) data?

    Will be interesting to see what the insurance co's submit to gov'ts and customers as their best guesses of where the problem sources/future necessary fixes are to mitigate huge premium increases and whether this will be available for review by citizens/media/academia. Then wait to see how a large a 'performance bonus' insurance CEOs pocket for 2017-2018. Propose that CEO PB be the gov't-handout-to-industry-scam-detection-litmus-test based on previous history.


    About the watering, are you sure? Mostly, when I've driven past huge farms being watered, the machines are spraying it down, or at worst, at an angle down.

    Israeli-style watering is still nothing they know about.


    About Harvey, Mumbai is hit about as hard, I think, bot the coverage is so insufficient. More people died.

    On the other hand, how about some very cheerful political news?

    Trump & co are toast. Seriously. They're going to either wind up in jail, or in a foreign country with no extradition treaty.

    This is based on today's news that Mueller is working with the New York State AG. AND they haven't decided yet ("it'll be a while") where to file charges. Two notes for non-USans: first, the NY AG is the one who went after Trump "University", and got a multi-million dollar settlement. He does NOT like Trump. Second, and most important, is the fact that neither the President nor Congress can do anything to quash a state investigation, nor pardon state criminal charges. And NY does NOT like Trump.... Let's see, did they close Sing Sing, nope.


    Re: Cal irrigation

    See starting pg 30 for current irrigation methods used - very wasteful overall. There's also an analysis of best types of crops for that region, water usage by crop, etc. Most irrigation methods are above ground: but the higher the temp, the faster the water evaporates. And Cal is experiencing very high temps. Trench irrigation is another favorite and it relies on gravity to disperse the water through the field which means a lot of water will just soak straight down and bypass plant roots. Then there are various types of aerosol/spray methods which basically throw water into the air.

    IIRC, Israel pioneered drip irrigation which uses much less water overall. This system has recently been picked up in South America (esp. Paraguay) following a few years of severe drought.


    Anyway, this is a very long way of asking any Texans about their personal experiences with lack of zoning.

    Texans in general live, for better or worse, in cities with somewhat standard zoning regulations. Houston is a bit of a special case.


    Social media played a major role in current rescue efforts. Probably might be even more important in the future. Lots of potential to centralize and harmonize communications so that people with specific needs are quickly matched to the appropriate resources. The article below shows the variety of rescue calls made and their origins.

    A few years back I was in the audience at a presentation discussing plans in the event of a massive power outage. One plan referred to Toronto which had suffered a series of power outages in winter and early spring one year. The presentation mentioned that the City and electrical power authorities got together to see if they could identify and map residents who would be in most need of rescue/help. This info would probably have to be also shared with EMT services (fire, police, ambulance), hospitals, and public buildings in the event of a mass evacuation/relocation. No idea whether such a plan was actually put in place. However, think that such a plan as well as having the fire/EMT depts at the center and coordinating would probably be successful since both these services consistently score top marks for public trust/confidence.


    I think people very much do know about Israeli style drip irrigation in California (I've got it in my yard, although we're starting to go back to rainbirds for watering native landscapes because there's higher mortality with drip, for various complicated reasons that don't have much to do with agriculture).

    One problem, in general, is cost. A farm is supposed to make money and feed people, and so you've got to get the cost of putting in and maintaining the drip system below what you're going to get paid for your crop, or you'll go out of business. Drip doesn't work for things like wheat (want to water each separate wheat plant?) but it's okay for some trees.

    Another problem (perhaps) is water rights, in that water rights were assigned in the 19th Century on a first come, first served basis. The first farmers in a watershed have the first rights to get water out of their local reservoir, and so on. This doesn't necessarily incentivize farmers with great water rights to save much water, but the people at the bottom of the totem pole have to be water efficient, to the degree that they even get water after everyone else has taken their share.

    A third problem is salinity, which is something that can affect native plants. Drip's great at putting water right next to a root, but done carelessly, it can also lead to a salt build up right in the root zone. The nice thing about sprinklers is that the salts end up everywhere (leaves, stems, soil), and a lot of that gets blown off rather than concentrating. It's less water efficient in the short term, but sometimes better for plant survivorship, and you've got to look at your overall goals.


    Could this be the scenario for DT's removal on insanity-grounds?

    Probably not.


    Good point: I can just see the headlines, where DT pays for the development of North Korean nukes by buying huge amounts of their coal. I'm sure the South Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Russians (aka North Korea's neighbors) would be thrilled by that solution, but you're correct, it's the kind of thing he might conceivably do.

    I'd also note that the late Nixon informal protocols seem to be applied to Trump. When Nixon was close to impeachment and right before he quit, a couple of people in the cabinet quietly formed a pact to stop him from doing something stupid, like starting a nuclear war, in a fit of depression. It appears that similar checks are appearing on Trump's power. For instance, I have a sneaking suspicion that if Trump tries to launch a unilateral attack on North Korea or anyone else, the Pentagon will insist on referring the matter to Congress to make sure war is formally declared, and only once a declaration of war has passed both houses will they follow Trump's order, and maybe not even then.*

    Note that the Secretary of Defense has basically frozen Trump's order to remove transgender people from the military pending studies and such, just as the Secretary of State said that "Trump speaks for himself," when referring to his remarks after Charlottesville. While I don't particularly like either of these two men (or their politics), it appears that, unlike some of Trump's cabinet, they're placing their duty to the country above loyalty to Trump. If that's what they're doing, I applaud them for it.

    *Oh yeah, we'll do soooo well under martial law. Getting back to SFF for a minute, has anyone posited the military takeover of the US because the executive and the Congress were so hopelessly corrupt, and the Judiciary was so overwhelmed, that only the military's refusal to follow orders and thereby doom the world keep WW III from happening?


    As an alternative to expensive irrigation systems, it's also worth considering "mulching", which involves covering the soil surface to avoid losses of water to evaporation. This only works for row crops, since you want the mulch to remain undisturbed by subsequent plowing or harrowing; if you cover all the soil, the mulch is mixed with the soil and lost. A common solution in arid environments is to use small gravel. I recall reading a few years ago that round (spherical) gravel of a certain size provides an additional benefit: it loses heat fast, becoming cooler than the surrounding air after sunset, so water in the air condenses on the rocks and trickles into the soil. (Couldn't find this in a quick Google, and I've got a ton of work still to do today. My recollection is that it was also an Israeli technique.)

    Plastic film is also used as a mulch, but it's more expensive because it wears out and has to be replaced. It also heats the soil more than gravel, thus is best used in cooler climates, where the warmed soil increases plant growth.

    Another option is "no-till cultivation", in which the soil surface and associated vegetation is left intact. In effect, you drill small holes and plant in those holes without affecting the surrounding soil. This shows quite a bit of promise, but because you're dealing with a living system instead of "dead" soil with no plant cover, it's much harder to do it right and control the weeds. But particularly in soils that have biological crusts at the surface, it's an important water-conservation option.

    OK, now back to a really, really turgid article on remote sensing. Sigh.


    Is DT our Commodus? Or are we further back & he is Sulla? [ Except that Sulla was a purely-military leader, & DT is anything but that. ]


    *Oh yeah, we'll do soooo well under martial law. Getting back to SFF for a minute, has anyone posited the military takeover of the US because the executive and the Congress were so hopelessly corrupt, and the Judiciary was so overwhelmed, that only the military's refusal to follow orders and thereby doom the world keep WW III from happening?

    Maybe "The General's President" by John Dalmas.

    It's been almost 30 years since I read it, but IIRC, it had the U.S. military becoming the government by default when the civilian establishment fell apart.


    I came late to this thread, so I'll just make a comment and post some links.

    The Founding Fathers set up a system of government that would function even if every single elected official was a criminal, because most of them were and have been. Most people have forgotten that. Trump is just more obvious than most.

    BTW, A century ago, it was perfectly legal to pay Senators directly to do what you wanted. They passed a series of laws that made it illegal, forcing those payments underground.

    • Watch these two episodes in 2020 hindsight.

    This episode was before the election, about white working class America voting for Trump.

    J.D. Vance "Hillbilly Elegy"

    This was after the election and before he was sworn in.


    This is an old George Carlin rant about Republicans.

    The Truth About Republicans by George Carlin

    Concerning Houston. They will do a NOVA episode on Harvey the same way they did on Katrina. They will find that it was corruption and greed that kept them from building an adequate flood control system. They built sub-divisions in areas that were intended as flood relief zones when they had to let water out of dams. Those areas should have been parkland, with trees, picnic areas, walkways, etc..., rather than houses. It was blatant watching the BBC news when families that went in to get property were told to evacuate again because the dams were releasing water again. Those people interviewed were black, hispanic, not white.

    Houston basically tripled in size since the last hurricane that hit, and all that growth was built based on greed not planning. Houston is where decades ago they built whole sub-divisions using wood shingle roofs that went up in a firestorm. Nothing they do surprises me.


    Hmmm. The reviews of that one are...interesting.

    What I'm thinking here is not that I'm pro-military or anti-military, precisely. And it's something that might make a good novel for a certain discerning type of novelist.

    If the military takes over the civilian government, it will be because the military values the continued existence of the US even if elected officials do not. It therefore rebuffs attempts to elect incompetent politicians or sub-minimal government zealots, ultimately by the military taking power as it would in a Continuity of Government (CoG) crisis (which they actually have plans for). While this is normally the stuff of tinfoil hats and black helicopter conspiracy theories, it's theoretically possible. If the executive branch alpha team (the existing elected officials) prove incapable of doing their job (normally this would be caused by a nuclear or terrorist strike), then the CoG ops (primarily through FEMA and DoD) turn to the Bravo and possibly Charlie teams (who should have been designated...) to look for responsible civilian leadership to make the necessary decisions (normally, which missiles to launch), so that the country doesn't fall apart (right).

    In the normal course of things (like the largely speculative nuclear war that CoG is designed around, where enough civilians survive to make the US more than a theoretical construct), CoG basically runs a minimal version of the US executive branch until the crisis is past. Congress and the courts don't (AFAIK) have plans for their own survival, so it's assumed that the executive branch will run under martial law until the legislative and judicial branches can be reconstituted by elections and appointments.

    I can imagine the military using CoG plans to retool itself as the functioning part of the US Executive Branch, in part because that's where DT has been trying to take it, sort of. I can further imagine them creating a functioning cabinet that's made up entirely of retired military personnel (again, we're more there than not right now). I can also imagine them being very much for military business as usual, which means no to nuclear war (deterrence and MAD are fine), but yes to the existing military-industrial complex.

    The point line here is that this isn't about the military being heroic or villainous, but about it being a big bureaucracy that favors the status quo, and one that is able to function after its civilian overlords are taken out by a combination of bribery and dirty tricks. What will they do to protect the Union? The problem is that while the military has some tolerance of diversity within its ranks, it's not so good at tolerating dissent, and there's going to be A LOT of dissent to martial law within the US, even if it's well-intentioned and designed to keep the country from failing. What happens next is basically novelist territory. Hopefully.


    It's great schadenfreude, but that incident was from last summer's flooding, not from Harvey. Check the article date.


    The United States could easily fall into a real civil war, if the Pentagon did not both have a really, really good reason for the coup and explained exactly what, why, and how...and immediately returned all control back to whoever would be next in succession.

    One the most important reasons that we still have an effectivish government with legitimate authority is because the military. Is. Always. Subordinate. To. The. Civil. Authority. And the has also always been the belief, mostly true, that if someone lost this time, next time they might win. If the military takes over, not so much.

    Despite the massive military and nearly paramilitary flavor of too much of our police, it is the belief of our nation in the legitimacy of its authority, not how powerful it is.

    Oh yeah, we might get an instant Great Depression II also.


    I didn't keep a record, but of the 3-5 examples of watering I observed, most were super-sized "rain bird" types of sprinklers.


    Here in Australia so many people are keen to ditch our constitutional monarchy and replace it with the USSA's system.

    'cause it's soooo much better to have a military coup and civil war when the government of the day falls in a heap than just have the Governor General dissolve Parliament and call a general election...


    This was an episode of the Newshour this evening that makes my point about Houston. They only mention a few storms in the past couple of decades, failing to mention Carla in 1961 that scared everybody. They voted down zoning changes in 1962, and have kept avoiding the problem ever since.

    If they had started doing proper flood control from Carla to now, Harvey would have simply been another storm, not a disaster that they will ask us to help rebuild to the tune of $100 billion. They did it to themselves.

    Hurricane Harvey leaves Houston with Texas-sized problems

    I hope NOVA starts with Carla and shows step by step what they failed to do. Sadly, I suspect they won't find any expert to talk about that, since the Professor that pointed out that Katrina was due to corruption, not Global Warming, got fired for saying that.

    The other problem, is that idiot Al Gore will use Harvey to promote his sequel to the Inconvenient Truth, when this has nothing to do with Global Warming, and everything to do with greed and corruption.


    "...failing to mention Carla in 1961 that scared everybody. They voted down zoning changes in 1962, and have kept avoiding the problem ever since."

    Well this is it... I've avoided commenting on this thread until now because I don't know what local conditions exist that might result in a difference in the long-term outcome. But there are now enough comments like this from people who do know something about it that I reckon my initial gut feeling is true: the answer to Charlie's question of "what will change as a result of this event" is most likely "bugger all that you'd notice". Because that is what people do, the world over: whenever the local flavour of natural disaster hits, once it's stopped happening they just come back and carry on as before, hoping it won't happen again and figuring that even if it does, it isn't that much of a big deal, because we're still here, right?


    About Harvey, Mumbai is hit about as hard, I think, bot the coverage is so insufficient. More people died.

    About coverage. First off CNN and it's kin are TV based. Without video there's not much for them to do but read an AP report.

    But then again I watched it covered about 30 hours ago. Live CNN while over the Atlantic.

    Again, news coverage is about advertising and viewers. That's been made very clear this morning looking at a local Dublin newspaper. I've yet to see Houston or Mumbai mentioned.


    Heteromeles noted: "What I'm thinking here is not that I'm pro-military or anti-military, precisely."

    Fully agree. Like any huge organization, a national military will have the full range of humanity well-represented, from the noble and laudable to the downright scary. The question about a military coup always comes down to this: Which subset of that wide spectrum of humanity takes the reins afterwards?

    fwiw, I've known a handful of soldiers over the year, ranging from the lowest of the low up to navy commanders. The ones I've known have been more conservative than I prefer, but were still men I respected and admired. YMMV. But I'm encouraged that the American military seems to be successfully walking the fine line between obeying their leader and resisting his loonier notions.


    About Harvey, Mumbai is hit about as hard, I think, bot the coverage is so insufficient. More people died.

    About coverage. First off CNN and it's kin are TV based. Without video there's not much for them to do but read an AP report.

    And second, CNN and its kin are US based and cover mainly local affairs. You'd have to watch an international news channel in order to get informed about things outside the US.

    And in my humble point of view there exists only one international-ish news channel, namely Al Jazeera. All the rest of them are far too much focussed on US affairs. That includes 'CNN International' as well as 'BBC World' (which is a little better than the former, but still has a long way to go towards a non first-world-centered perspective like Al Jazeera has had since its beginnings).


    I read The General's President ages ago. I recall it being a power fantasy ("If only I could do exactly what I wanted, all of the country's problems would be solved in 6 months or less!") To the author's (faint) credit, the dictator/president resigned after the crisis was past & things went back to the much-improved-normal.

    If you go back farther, there is Seven Days in May, published in 1962. Set in the distant future-year of 1972, it's about a military coup in the USA being narrowly averted. I recall that it was somewhat amusing, but time had marched on, and the OTL 1972 was pretty different technologically and socially than the fictional 1972.


    Could this be one reason the Saudi dictators are so keen to get Al-Jez shut down? ( Apart from second-hand US pressure, as well, of course? )


    You could always watch 'Russia Today'. It definitely toes the Party Line, as it were, but it's a good way to challenge your thinking.

    Granted, after watching it I feel much like I do after watching Fox News...


    Or, as I realized this morning, there's Starship Troopers and possibly The Forever War.

    One thing that people may have missed is that there's now a whole history, Garrett Graff's Raven Rock (Amazon Link). Fun stuff, although he doesn't go into what the Obama administration did for Continuity of Government (CoG) in the wake of 9/11 (the only time CoG was activated was during 9/11, and it largely failed to work as designed. It's been rewritten since, but that stuff's mostly secret for obvious reasons). At this point, I'm guessing that the CoG lines of succession are in a shambles, given the current administration's inability to staff up to working levels even in the DoD. However, CoG works like any disaster plan, in that stuff stays on the shelf for potential use until it's actually thrown out. For example, bits of it apparently depend on memos written by the Kennedy Administration (Graff's FOIA request to see them was denied on national security grounds). What this means is that if the Trump administration shatters, and neither Paul Ryan nor Orrin Hatch (or Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer) can take charge, then power devolves screamingly through the cabinet (past Ben Carson and Betsy De Vos), to, um, someone who may not know that they're slated to become president because DT's White House never got around to that part of their work (likely it would be some governor or governors. This is where the governmental crisis/civil war could start).

    If the CoG chains of succession are in shambles and there's no effective civilian leadership, this is where I can see the military stepping in, with a bunch of retired generals ostensibly leading the charge, to form a minimally functioning executive branch, running under the martial laws proposed by CoG, to keep the country going while they appealed to states to elect a new legislative branch and possibly tried to figure out how to appoint responsible judges to fill the huge number of vacancies (to their JAG sense of the word responsible). While I don't think it would trigger an organized civil war immediately, I'm certain it would trigger armed insurrections across the country, as there are armed, if small, secession groups out there even now (SPLC article link).

    The other interesting issue is that if it turns out any democracy can get hacked thanks to a combination of the internet (it appears that Kenya may be the latest victim) and the power of billionaires to buy themselves incompetent politicians, then we get into the unpleasant situation where functional alternatives to civilization shattering involve things like a military-based coup to support the continuity of the US government, and/or someone breaking the Internet to make it harder to destroy the world through cyberwar. We're not there now, but we may well be there in 10 years or less. Now I'll take off this damned tinfoil hat and go figure out how to keep my new electric car from being hacked.


    Re: 'If the CoG chains of succession are in shambles and there's no effective civilian leadership, ...'

    Haven't kept up with DT's (lack of) Fed Gov't Depts appointments but feel that the senior civil service bureaucrats would probably be far likelier than the military to step in as pro tem gov't ... supported by the military. Gov't is mostly boring day-to-day stuff anyways with a side of complicated paperwork. IMO, given the opportunity, civil servants would quickly edit the existing often contradictory rules (starting with the IRS) and do a much better job than elected pols.


    Re: 'Long term consequences' ... a factoid with a dash of SF musing

    Guess who's moving into your local seaside neighborhood! Never saw the movie 'The Blob' but this might have inspired it. The thing really does look like a brain. Note that this article has no direct link to Harvey but given GW is global it's not that far fetched as a consequence.


    'If you don’t want to be freaked out, think of it as a peeled giant lychee fruit that can grow to the size of a deflated basketball. For those who aren’t queasy, let your thoughts turn to what a brain or kidney might look like if it had evolved under water.

    Only one scientific journal mentions bryozoan found in British Columbia, and that was in the Gulf Islands, the society says. More recently, a bryozoan was chanced upon in Lake Okanagan.

    “They’re a colony of tiny organisms that like to hang out together,” Stormont says. “They have a very ancient lineage that hasn’t changed for hundreds of thousands of years.”'

    Add the recentish find of that communal group-hugging octopus species that can survive after giving birth and this could be another sign/omen that land dwellers are facing extinction not just from climate but also from possibly spurred to faster evolution sea creatures who've had quite enough of us, and good riddance!


    I'm not specialist on CoG, I just read Raven Rock recently so it's fresh in my head. My impression is that the lines of succession are about what you'd think, from cabinet secretary to his second in command, etc. As I understand it (and this is where I might be wrong) a lot of these are the 600-odd people that the administration is supposed to appoint. The bureaucrats are there to be the system, not to run it.

    In any case, you need CoG to deal with issues like resolving disputes, allocating resources, and interacting with other agencies and with the command structure above them. We need experts up and down the chain, providing institutional knowledge, expertise, and critical relationships with suppliers and colleagues. Still, you need someone at the top who can speak with authority.

    To use an example, if the IRS had no appointed commissioner, would you pay taxes to the commissioner that, say, the IRS bureaucracy elected from within its ranks? To pick a real and nasty example, there's no one heading preparations for the 2020 census, which will determine how political districts get redrawn, among many other things. Would you trust them to self-organize, and thereby determine the political map of the US? Who's side would they be on, do you have any idea?


    Hmmm. The reviews of that one are...interesting.

    What I'm thinking here is not that I'm pro-military or anti-military, precisely. And it's something that might make a good novel for a certain discerning type of novelist.

    Yeah, but it's the closest I could remember to meeting your initial criteria.

    I don't think the military has Continuity of Government plans the way you're thinking about them, as much as the military are the vehicle the Executive Branch & Congress have chosen as custodians for the nuts & bolts to carry out their plans.

    The military's planning focuses on how to get the civilian leadership to their appointed "secret" redoubts; how to protect them once they're in there; which civilian government officials are NEXT IN LINE to take charge if the TOP leadership doesn't make it and how they will carry out the orders of that civilian leadership if/when CoG goes into effect.

    The military are actually quite proud of the fact that all of their CoG "plans" rely on having civilian "leadership" in charge telling them what to do. They just don't much like having civilians trying to tell them HOW to do it. They want the civilian government to give them their orders and then get out of the way while they get on with the job.

    I think you're putting too much vain hope in the military to take over the government and put things right if Trump goes off the deep end. The Constitution places that responsibility on Congress, with additional responsibility (via the 25th Amendment) on the Vice President and the Cabinet. The military ain't gonna' take over unilaterally if Congres et al won't do their jobs. In that case, we're fucked!


    You need to understand that there are two very different Al Jazeera stations. There is Al Jazeera English, which hired about half of the top western foreign correspondents and is providing a very well regarded international news service to the world.
    And then there is Al Jazeera Arabic, which is the original station set up by Qatar to promote their views to the world alongside international content. It has long been highly critical of certain affairs in many of the neighbouring gulf states, while being quiet about Qatar itself. It also famously was willing to broadcast footage from many organisations proscribed in the west such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Al-Qaeda. There is only probably around 30% crossover in content between the two stations, they have very different aims.

    And Qatar follows a similar but different view of Salafist Islam to Saudi Arabia, generally a more tolerant one, if that can be said of a fundamentalist religion. That's one of the key drivers between them, they are effectively the two main factions of Wahabbist thought.

    It says all you need to know that Saudi Arabia has established its own rival broadcasting setup Al Arabiya in Dubai that also transmits in Persian and Urdu, to make sure to cover the majority of the Islamic world.


    Re: Trust civil service?

    Yes - and here's why:

    FYI - this act has been challenged yet remains upheld by SCOTUS.


    US military's role during natural disasters: Where are the drones?

    Anyone watching or reading the news knows that drones are being increasingly used by the US military. A few years back, OGH even had a topic on their future usage. Drone tech has probably advanced since then to the point that a pizza chain (Domino's*) has gone on record saying they're about to start using drones for their deliveries.

    Many of the worst affected folks during Harvey were physically not able to get out of their neighborhoods as seen in a CNN photo showing a bunch of seniors trapped in their wheelchairs as water levels reached their chests awaiting rescue. Such and other housebound and bedridden folk probably also need daily meds - apart from food, clean water, energy and news. Drones can do this, so why not use them for peaceful S&R operations? Drones could also help coordinate S&R if they're equipped with appropriate tech: IR for night-time scanning for heat signatures, sonar for identifying bodies, mobile phone (with GPS) 2-way see&talk for directly linking folk with EMT/rescue teams as well as providing exact search locations. Larger drones could drop off emergency supplies: meds, batteries, chlorine pills for water purification, etc. There are probably many other uses that drones are or can be designed to provide. So, where are the drones?

    *Domino's wasted a perfect opportunity to show some leadership in civic responsibility, not to mention globally launch their new gadget. Shame on them!


    Yes and no. I'm pretty sure that the DoD, FEMA, and other agencies have copies of various plans, since they implement them. Facilities like Raven Rock, Cheyenne Mountain, and whatever that new base they're building is called are under agency control, and I'm quite sure they have ways of determining who is in the chain of command. Because of this, they're custodians of the system, especially if those same documents are sitting in utter disarray in the White House and elsewhere.

    While I agree that the US military subordinates itself to the civilian government and that this is a very good thing, what I'm playing with here is a wicked question: what does the military do if its only choices are to follow orders or to save the county? The current form of that question is what the DoD does if Trump unilaterally orders a nuclear strike without provocation and without Congress passing an act of war. Do they follow his orders, knowing that they are almost certainly dooming the US to be destroyed by the counterstrikes? Or do they disobey orders and stand court martial, but save the country by their disobedience? I'm sure some of them are thinking about this right now.

    I'd also point out, again, this is a novelist's territory, not a prepper's fantasy and certainly not a prediction. What I'm wondering is what happens if the executive branch, through some combination of ineptitude, a small-government ethos, outside hacking and/or regulatory capture, becomes utterly unable to govern? It's a wicked question again: at what point do people linked to the DoD implement existing CoG plans as a way to try to save the Union? Yes, it would be totally illegal, but that's what makes it a wicked question. I don't want them to do it either, but it's sort of like choosing to serve Nyarlathotep* or Cthulhu if you value your continued existence.

    In any case, I don't think the military will save us from Trump. The State of New York might, but we'll still get stuck with Tuppence running the place, and that won't be much better.

    (For a WTF moment: my spellchecker wanted to correct Nyarlathotep to Charlottesville. Why...?)


    With respect to CoG ...

    One of the things I've wondered about 9/11 is WHY George W Bush was left sitting there in that classroom like a bump on a log listening to them read about the pet goat. Especially in light of the administration's many conflicting explanations for his peripatetic peregrination around the country on his way back to Washington (inability to organize fighter escorts [true] and hijacked aircraft intended to ram Air Force One [false]).

    It has always bothered me.

    Recently, I read that before Donald Rumsfeld became Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, he was Ford's Chief of Staff in the White House and Dick Cheney was his deputy, succeeding Rumsfeld as Chief of Staff. While there, both worked on Continuity of Government during their tenure. Cheney again worked on CoG during his tenure as the elder George Bush's Secretary of Defense.

    Cheney took an unusually active role for a Vice President in George W Bush's administration. I've concluded that on the morning of 9/11 Cheney and Rumsfeld put their CoG plan into effect and decided to leave President Bush “twisting slowly, slowly in the wind”.

    They deliberately shut him out.


    Your phrase here, that the US could easily fall into civil war, bot me thinking.

    With a war, you have sides. And armies. Now, I see the uS Army, and, um, er, the United Branch Dildonians? The American Nazi Party? NONE of the nasties has shown more than a 40Watt appliance bulb level of brightness or ability, much less "ok, you're in charge, not me...." Look at the GOP in charge of the government, and they can't pass things, because the neoConfederate "Freedom" Caucus wants one thing, and do not understand that a government has to be compromise. For a lot of them, it's "my way or the highway".

    To paraphrase a very early Bill Cosby routing, Capt'n Army capt'n, this is Capt'n Militia Capt'n, Capt'n Militia Capt'n, this is Capt'n Army captain. Ok, we're going to toss the coin, Capt'n Army capt'n, make the call... heads it is.Ok, Capt'n Militia capt'n, you get to circle in your compound, with all your men, and alll the weapons and ammunition you have, while Capt'n Army capt'n gets to come down the hill at you with divisions of army, with tanks, artillary, and air support.

    (The original was Cap'n Custer, this is Cap'n Sittin' Bull.)


    There are several things here. 1) You have bought into all the drone hype, like a good little sheeple, when they aren't anywhere near as amazing, brilliant and useful as they like you to think they are. 2) The drones are abroad, killing people 3) Why waste them on civilians? 4) Being the military, their drones are set up for killing people. Search and rescue oriented drones require different sensors, software and suchlike, and are still rather expensive.
    5) Cost, see the lack of money in the USA, such that the police departments steal from the public in order to boost their funds, and there are massive problems with homelessness and poor people and lack of public services.


    20th century Turkey's experience of the military as preserver of a certain kind of state might relate...


    What I expect would happen, speaking as an employee of a federal contractor (civilian sector), is that someone would be nominated to the p0sition of "acting ", and would run things until there was an official one appointed.

    Datum: my "acting Director" has been "acting" for, I think close to 15 years (I've only been here 8).

    And about the military and the bureaucracy... I'm anti-military (I was eligible for a free trip, courtesy of Uncle, to Southeast Asia for fun'n'games, until I convinced them they really didn't want me), but I suspect a lot of folks in the military, and I know a lot of folks, civilian sector, and even in the intel community (I have this on genuinely good authority from someone close to me in the NSA) that a lot of folks both understand the meaning and MEAN their Oath of Office.

    And for you folks on the other side of the Pond, that is to "uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States", not, as Trumpolini seems to think to himself.

    Meanwhile, with all three HUUUUGGGEEE news stories yesterday, I think I'll share the picture in my head today: It's the top of Trump Tower, in NYC. Over there's the Empire State Building. Trump's on the roof of the tower. Melania's in a slinky white nightgwon, lying on the roof, and there are these half a dozen biplanes (with names like Mueller, NYAG, and IRS) firing their machine guns at Trump.....


    No, "The General's President" involved ONE general (from the Joint Chief of Staff) selecting a president and him being legally approved via an existing emergency process. Including having the outgoing president appoint him as VP prior to voluntarily "resigning for medical reasons".

    It is true that this "president" was pretty much a dictator, because congress had voted him such emergency powers. The main point of the book was criticism of lots of dysfunctional procedures in the current government. Lots of time his suggested alternative was plausibly better, but often they were dangerous because they depended on too much centralized authority all up and down the chain. You might find one honorable man, but to depend in an entire chain of them is too dangerous. Historically wherever oversight of authority is weak vile pattens of behavior have dominated.


    Re: 'You have bought into all the drone hype ... when they aren't anywhere near as amazing, brilliant and useful as they like you to think they are.'

    So Domino's, Amazon and a bunch of other highly motivated for-profit orgs are stupid for getting into drones? We'll know soon enough.


    I think you confused matters by starting with a mention of the US military. Anyway, to the point, here's an axios article from today with a few tidbits: How drones are being deployed after Harvey Commercial drones are being used to quickly scope out damage, map 3-D views of the flood zone and help with rescue efforts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Drone inspectors: Outside of disaster recovery, one of the fastest-growing uses for commercial drones is to inspect infrastructure, property and equipment. That's how companies and local government officials are putting drones to use, especially in badly flooded areas that are still too dangerous for people to venture into.


    Here's an interesting consequence, that will have some worldwide effect: Hurricane Harvey has endangered the supply of the world's most important chemical They mean ethylene, and so are a bit hyperbolic in the headline. (This was known a few days ago, just been filtering through the media.)


    One of the things I always liked in the "Twilight 2000" universe was that after the limited nuclear war the chain of succession got so borked up that the US ended up with two quasi legit governments (military and civilian) . Rather then directly leading to civial war there was an odd period of quasi Cold War followed by eventual unification


    Most of that sort of story is a form of free marketing hype. You should know this.


    Speaking of failures of democracy, you may be thinking "it can't happen here". But yes, it really can, and for evidence, I offer you the following, which occurred within the lifetime of (probably) most readers of this blog, including me:

    This ended in a typically Canadian manner, with normalcy returning quite quickly as such things go. I'm not sanguine that things would wrap up so neatly in the current reality of the U.S. I suppose it would depend on what precipitated the political crisis (e.g., which particular terrorist group was involved).


    ...drone hype, like a good little sheeple

    Whenever someone uses the word "sheeple", my opinion of them drops significantly. My mental picture moves to "wears dungarees", "listens to angry thrash metal", and "probably thinks a mullet is a cool hairstyle".

    Being the military, their drones are set up for killing people.

    That comment... proves a level of ignorance about the subject. The vast majority of UAVs in US service are unarmed, and used for reconnaissance. Take a look at the types mentioned here:

    You'll notice that of the thousands of vehicles listed, only a few hundred are actually armed.

    The theme you'll notice among all of them is "infra-red" and "night vision" because their job is to see "the other side of the hill". Spotting an ambush is on a par with "spotting an injured person" - and a lot harder than "finding a group of people who are trying to find shelter and actively want to be found".

    If you're trying to move across flooded areas with restricted lines of sight (no hills, lots of low buildings), vehicle movement is awkward, boat movement is awkward, foot movement is awkward - having small UAVs that can operate day or night, able to find where the people are / where the workable routes are, is likely to save an immense amount of time and trouble.

    Other useful kit has been brought in by the USMC - I saw some pictures of a column of LVTP-7 moving towards Houston...


    Whenever someone uses the word "sheeple", I think of this xkcd cartoon:


    Well, if Trump tweets "Just watch me!" we'll know where it's heading… :-/


    "Can't happen here..."

    Chesty Puller was a very famous US Marine General. Not especially a nice person. But in the mid-thirties, some industrialists in the US really didn't like what FDR was doing... and actually talked to him about a real, honest-to-Ghu coup.

    Wrong person. He did, in fact, believe his Oath of Office... and testified to Congress about that incident.

    Come on, let us keep some small modicum of hope.....


    Re: 'form of free marketing hype'

    Acknowledge that some is hype. Fortunately there's also this:


    'A local fire department and county emergency management officials are operating drones to check for any damage to local roads, bridges, underpasses, water treatment plants, and other infrastructure that may need immediate repairs.

    State environmental quality officials are flying drones to understand the impacts of flooding and drainage, and cell tower operators are conducting damage assessments of their structures and associated ground equipment. An operator supporting a number of different insurance companies has started on damage assessments of residences and businesses to speed up the claims process.'


    Chesty Puller was a very famous US Marine General. Not especially a nice person. But in the mid-thirties, some industrialists in the US really didn't like what FDR was doing... and actually talked to him about a real, honest-to-Ghu coup.

    Right idea, wrong marine general. I think you meant Smedley Butler:

    My understanding is that the coup plotters were not sufficiently careful in selecting a military man to be the front man for the coup, because Butler voted for FDR.


    Butler was publicly on the left of the political spectrum* before the plot, which does make one wonder how much homework they did when selecting him.

    "War is a racket" is well worth the read. Not much seems to have changed, except that the 'ordinary fellow' seems more tolerant of the profiteers.

    *As it stood at the time; the whole spectrum seems to have shifted rightwards since then.


    Best I can determine, what's left of the "eye" of former hurricane, now Tropical Depression Harvey is currently (7:00pm EDT, 01 Sep 2017) located somewhere over central Kentucky near the Tennessee border, more or less north of Nashville, headed towards Nova Scotia and dropping a shit-pot load of rain on either side of its track.

    Some far outlying rain bands have just passed over Raleigh, NC. It came down like a cow pissin' on a flat rock for an hour or so, but seems like it's mostly passed on now. Spawned a couple of small tornadoes, but doesn't look to have dropped enough rain to cause any lingering flooding.

    Most people don't think about Hurricane Camille much anymore, but it was the only known hurricane to hit the U.S. as a Category 5. Oddly enough, Camille killed 143 people along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but it killed 153 in Nelson County Virginia. The overwhelming majority of deaths were from blunt force trauma from torrential rain causing debris avalanches.

    We ain't out of the woods yet. Harvey is liable to cause as much damage inland as it has already in Texas.


    I can never remember the Professor's name who got fired for speaking truth to power, so I tracked down the NOVA episode and looked at the transcript.

    Ivor van Heerden

    The NOVA episode is on YouTube:

    The Storm that Drowned a City PBS

    Website and transcript.

    Storm That Drowned a City PBS Airdate: November 22, 2005

    These are the Frontline videos.

    • Watch the first episode and you will see why everybody swarmed Houston, this time. Notice how it was Carla and other hurricanes in the 60s that started FEMA.

    The other two episodes hurt too much to watch.

    Katrina, 10 Years Later: Three Documentaries to Watch AUGUST 26, 2015


    Speak to me of Elite Panic. I saw it after Katrina, and it happened after other major disasters.

    So, how have our elites been panicking after Harvey?


    Re: Docs

    Haven't watched/read everything yet, but appreciate your efforts. Did a search on Ivor van Heerden to get more info/understanding and found this video which seems to touch on several themes already raised here:

    Missouri State University Published on Jun 22, 2012

    'Dr. Ivor van Heerden - The inside story from one Louisiana scientist (1:11:49)

    Dr. Ivor van Heerden presented "The inside story from one Louisiana scientist" at the 2012 Public Affairs Conference: Culture of Connectivity. As former deputy director of Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center, Dr. Ivor van Heerden was one of several experts to presciently predict the disastrous consequences — including catastrophic levee failure — upon South Louisiana. Author of the tell-all, "The Storm: What Went Wrong In Katrina and Why — The Inside Story From One Louisiana Scientist," Dr. van Heerden shares his knowledge and experiences while addressing the theme of socio-environmental connectivity.'


    It's the stupidity that's likely to cause it, or at least feed the avalanche. I do not think many people are thinking "how do we start a war to overthrow the government?" It is too many people spending a lot of time and and money wrecking the place (laws, rules, customs, beliefs) for fun and profit, with the rest often blaming the victims for the criminals' actions.

    Also civil wars are not always massed armies, or ,if they are, they often start small then go worse. The American Revolution, the American Civil War, the Chinese Civil War, or the mass street fights of the Wiemar Republic Admittedly we are not up to armored cars, machine guns, howitzers, or Molotov Cocktails yet. :-)

    Wait a bit. I might wonderfully wrong and there will be no war, but I would be shocked if violence near the levels of the late 1960s to 1970s doesn't occur.


    And as biplanes swoop down on Trump Tower, David Carradine climbs the Chrysler building to discover that Q - The Winged Serpent has woken from its slumber.


    Now compeltely neutered by the very-convenioent fake (?) "coup" staged recently, giving the Goatfucker full control for his own form of fascism .... Also a warning for the US?



    Unfortunately, or fortunately: ( Depending upon how long a view one takes & how much human misery & death now, as opposed to later is a "good" or"bad" thing, um .... ) Harvey was either too little or not strong enough. As many seem to think here, nothing significant will happen & it will require TWO more Katrina's before anything is done. I found the van Heerden piece v interesting

    BLP3 The "elites" are very smug, because Harvey wasn't another Katrina, no dams / levees collapsed, merely many thousands washed out & ruined. Business as normal, spend the money on a Mexican wall, etc. It'll have to get ( ?much? ) worse before it gets better.

    [ Which is, of copurse a marxist trope, isn't it, oh dear. ]


    How long before some of the people named here have convenient accidents, I wonder? Trouble is, if Trump goes we =get Pence as POTUS - which might, actually be worse for the US ( We would probabky not get a war with the DPRK / PRC however )


    Speaking of the Houston flooding:

    Science: it works, bitches!

    Footnote to my post on the October crisis: To be clear, I was focusing on the imposition of martial law, not an actual coup. So it's not a really good parallel for the full discussion of continuation of governance. But who'd expect martial law in left-leaning peacenik Canada, my dear native land?

    Science: it works, bitches!

    Indeed. Unfortunately, someone didn't seem to have heeded their own advice:

    The scientist who raised the alarm a year ago watched the waters rise and eventually force him out of his own flooded house.

    I hope he was at least well prepared.

    I wonder if his insurers have grounds to reject any claims he made, if he predicted the disaster and then failed to prepare appropriately ;-)


    Re: The Independent as a news source

    After reading the article you linked, checked who owns this online newspaper: very interesting CV esp. for these times. So interesting in fact, that its reliability/impartiality more than iffy.


    I think what we're looking at (if it happens) is the sort of low intensity civil war where two sides, often organized on a city-to-city or even neighborhood-to-neighborhood basis, go after each other (or what they imagine to be each other) on a 3-5 murders a week basis, with lots of wreckage to infrastructure (because someone out there must be reading John Robb.) I'd imagine it starting because the KKK-types decide to have a race war, or maybe antifa brings a couple semi-automatic weapons to an alt-right rally and mounts them in a second story window above a park,* and then our idiot-in-chief cheers the wrong side and/or arrests the wrong people, then declares martial law.

    • Consider the huntin-and-fishin' truck-owning guy with flannel shirts and an Arkansas drawl. Is he a right-wing racist, even though he never said anything to you about politics? In this kind of war, assumptions rule.

    ** I'd love to see this happen, but with shotgun shells filled with rock-salt. Give the alt-right a taste of war without killing anyone or even injuring them very badly. I think the cowards would lose their taste for confrontation very quickly. When force needs to be used, it should be measured with an eye-dropper.


    That's a fairly clear article about what Trump is suspected of. I wonder if it indicates that the Russian side of things has more than one faction.


    It's a little worse than that:

    Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel has taken a stake of between 25% and 50% in Independent Digital News and Media, the holding company of the Independent, according to filings at Companies House.

    It is not clear if Abuljadayel has bought the stake from another shareholder or if the holding company issued new shares to him, a move that would dilute the shareholdings of all other investors. Either way, Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Indpdendent’s parent company, ESI Media, has seen his shareholding fall below 50%. Justin Byam Shaw, the chair of ESI, also retains a significant stake.

    Saudi investor buys significant stake in the Independent Guardian, 29th July, 2017

    Lededev / The Independent have had ties to various anti-Putin propaganda outfits (such as the Ukranian Medusa); Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel is connected to various heavy financial elements:

    Oryx Regional Private Equity Fund is a strategic partner in HC. Oryx Fund is a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia(NCB) managed by NCB Capital, the largest investment bank in Saudi Arabia and a leader in addressing the region’s most significant economic and capital markets issues.

    HC Securities & Investment: Corporate Profile 2016 HC Doc, PDF, auto-download so Host's software might nuke the link

    Oryx acquires 30 pct of HC Eygpt Daily News, 2007

    The Independent has also been extremely quick to capitalize on 3rd party linking (e.g. to Reddit) for traffic.

    At the moment, file under: "Stories that you might not see elsewhere, titles are often click-baity, will certainly have an angle that's often anti-Putin and/or in the interests of (liberalish) SA factions".

    As long as you read with sense it's fine; it's certainly riling up bot farms on Reddit, which is always worth while.


    Re: The Independent as a news source

    After reading the article you linked, checked who owns this online newspaper: very interesting CV esp. for these times. So interesting in fact, that its reliability/impartiality more than iffy.

    Whether Lebedev is left, right or off in the stratosphere somewhere there's nothing really partisan in the story. It's simply a recap of items previously reported by more than one news outlet.

    Besides, does anyone actually read the Independent? It's not on Hacker's list.


    Well, if Trump tweets "Just watch me!" we'll know where it's heading… :-/

    Maybe we'll get lucky and that tweet will be preceded by one that says "Here, hold my beer ...


    "Besides, does anyone actually read the Independent? It's not on Hacker's list."

    It didn't exist then.

    Come to that, it doesn't really exist now. It went pop a year or two ago, and there's only a website left.


    Sounds like Bosnia-Herzegovona, where a lot of that sort of thing happened .... And yes. Lebedev does NOT lurve Mr Putin.... But, of course he's baissed, same as the Torygraph & the Grauniad


    Sounds like Bosnia-Herzegovona, where a lot of that sort of thing happened

    They are frequently the worst kind of wars:

    "PRESS RELEASE: The White Liberation Army of South-Eastern St. Louis today archived a glorious victory against the race-traitor "white" management (wake up sheeple!) of the St. Louis Ice Cream Sales Company by executing the driver of an Ice Cream truck which turned off the corner of Sixth Street into our territory. The driver, a greasy, non-white Liberal Communist race-intruder from one of the Mud-People countries to the South of our White Homeland, turned on a musical device in his attempt to lure children of Multiple Races to mix together while purchasing ice cream from his truck. The Mud-Person truck driver was guilty not only of intruding into our territory, but also of attempting to cause White Children to "form a line" behind children of Other Races, thus violating their constitutional rights, and also selling Ice Cream in which Chocolate and Vanilla flavors (races) were mixed together in an inappropriate fashion which encouraged Mixture of the Races."


    SFreader @308 said: 'Dr. Ivor van Heerden - The inside story from one Louisiana scientist (1:11:49)

    Beautiful. I need to get his book.


    Here's the documentary that he mentioned.

    The Big Uneasy (official) Harry Shearer's full-length 2010 documentary


    Re: '...if the holding company issued new shares to him, a move that would dilute the shareholdings of all other investors.'

    Of the impression that any 'new' share issues must be publicly declared. Ditto any employee/management stock options. Number and types of shares a company is allowed to offer is usually decided upon well in advance of their IPO. Stock exchanges, brokers, financial institutions would shut down any further trading on a company if new undeclared shares magically appeared.

    Most corporations issue only a fraction of the total number of shares that comprise total shares for that outfit. Stock splits are common and make the number of shares out in the market seem to go up. But this in no way affects what percent of total outstanding shares any one shareholder owns. Just makes the stock more attractive to certain segments and because the price per share drops proportionally with the stock split, it's a common strategy for driving up the total value of that corp because some stocks seem to have a best price range, i.e., everyone expects that stock to be somewhere around that price.

    Anyways - that's I heard way back.


    It's a model! - I thought an active nuke would have to be considerably larger than that ... OTOH, it is recorded that a magnitude 6.3 quake was recorded in the usual region for DPRK testing. Oh dear

    See also - BBC

    I thought an active nuke would have to be considerably larger than that ...

    There are certainly smaller pure-fission warheads (W54) and boosted fission warheads (W45) which are 50s-60s-era technology, so you might expect the norks to be able to replicate that.

    There are also proper two-stage thermonuclear warheads of similar size (probably smaller, though I'm not certain: W80) but these are 70s-80s-era stuff made by a rich, clever and experienced nuclear power and possibly not the sort of thing you rustle up in backwater kleptocracy, but you never know.

    The shape certainly seems to


    Huh. I have no idea what I started to write there, with that shape thing, before I wandered off to double check descriptions and look at boring photos of metal casings. Probably nothing useful or intersting.


    ... suggest a two-stage device? It's so suggestive I'm suspicious of it, TBH.


    Yeah, me too...

    Realistic miniaturised thermonuclear warhead! With spherical implosion secondary!! And wires going in the other end!!! Be the envy of all your friends!!!!

    (Contains small parts. Not suitable for children under 3 years. Appearance based on looking stuff up on the internet. Paint and glue not included. Visit for the complete "Fat Dictator" range and other types o' dong.)

    ... suggest a two-stage device? It's so suggestive I'm suspicious of it, TBH.

    Yeah, I don't think that the good old teller-ulam design actually requires a radiation case like that. The US device rumoured to have a peanut-shaped radiation case was apparently noteworthy enough that the fact it was peanut shaped was remarked upon (and again, the output of an experienced nuclear weapons program that had already made thermonuclear weapons). Not a lot of data to extrapolate upon, but there you go.

    That aside, if it were a fake, I wonder why they bothered making it so weird looking. All the pictures I can find of modern-ish nuclear weapon innards are just boring cylindrical things. Surely they could have hired a competent film prop maker if they wanted to make something that looked like a nuclear bomb.


    Yeah, but then people would be all "Ooooh, [i]anyone[/i] can make a cylindrical thing!" Now they can do the "Juche is superior or at least as-good-but-different".

    My guess is they can't do thermonuclear yet; just getting their fission devices to work properly. Deterrence is what they're after, IMO, and the appearance of something blatantly two-stage would play into that exactly.


    Much more detail on various sections of the Beeb web-site, now. There are, in fact, suggestions that it's a model/replica, but also that it's quite possible that they do actually have a more powerful atomic-explosive, even if it's not a genuine "H-bomb".

    Very destabilising, as it puts the PRC & Xi Jin-Ping in a very difficult position.

    I'm trying (as usual) to think of an historical parallel - & coming up blank, which is most unusual. Not even Cuba 1962 ( which I remember, all too well ) is similar - & then "we" had leaders who were prepared to compromise: JFK & Nikita K.


    IMO it's a credible model of what a conservative initial attempt at making a two-stage bomb would look like. Compare the pictures in , which might have served as a point of departure for the designers. They could have taken the general idea for a design shown there and backed off to something simpler that they could be reasonably confident would work. Or it cold be a Potemkin bomb, but the 6.3 magnitude test should give pause in accepting that hypothesis.

    Note the cut-away RV picture in the background that shows the bomb, unlike modern US designs, doesn't hug the inner mold line of the RV. That leads to a fatter RV than one would wish.


    No, "The General's President" involved ONE general (from the Joint Chief of Staff) selecting a president and him being legally approved via an existing emergency process. Including having the outgoing president appoint him as VP prior to voluntarily "resigning for medical reasons".

    “Getting back to SFF for a minute, has anyone posited the military takeover of the US because the executive and the Congress were so hopelessly corrupt, and the Judiciary was so overwhelmed, that only the military's refusal to follow orders and thereby doom the world keep WW III from happening?”

    As I wrote previously, it's been almost 30 years since I read it. I don't insist on it, but it's the only SFF novel I could think of that came close to answering the question.


    Commercial drones are being used to quickly scope out damage, map 3-D views of the flood zone and help with rescue efforts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

    Drone inspectors: Outside of disaster recovery, one of the fastest-growing uses for commercial drones is to inspect infrastructure, property and equipment. That's how companies and local government officials are putting drones to use, especially in badly flooded areas that are still too dangerous for people to venture into.

    If memory serves, the first COMMERCIAL application for drones approved by the FAA was for Oil & Gas pipeline inspections.


    There are also proper two-stage thermonuclear warheads of similar size (probably smaller, though I'm not certain: W80) but these are 70s-80s-era stuff made by a rich, clever and experienced nuclear power and possibly not the sort of thing you rustle up in backwater kleptocracy, but you never know.

    The biggest hurdle appears to be just knowing it's possible to do something. The rest is engineering.

    Nor would it surprise me if North Korea had benefited from the work of Pakistan's A.Q. Khan.


    the work of Pakistan's A.Q. Khan. YUCK [ A Q Khan Makes E Teller look like a "Nice Guy" ... ]

    Also, wasn't Partition a good idea?

    Except that, M Jinnah insisted on it, & M K Ghandi, thought it might be less bad than forcing a unified India, but, even so, the death-toll at Partiton was ? 1 million-plus ? A N Other horrible equation - how many lives did Hiroshima & Nagasaki save? It's that sort of really nasty "problem" that no-one wants to go near.

    And we are coming up to another one? Which is less bad, right now? Which is less bad 10 years down the line & which one is less bad, in 150 years?

    Of course, you can easily get three different answers to those questions.

    The biggest hurdle appears to be just knowing it's possible to do something.

    Well, yes and no. The idea behind the teller-ulam bomb is pretty well known, and there's no reason why anyone who can get their hands on some weapons grade plutonium couldn't make one, with a few tests.

    The rest is engineering.

    Handwaving is not engineering. Thermonuclear weapons are 50s technology; compact missile warheads are somewhat more advanced, and developed with a little more secrecy so they aren't quite so easy to copy. (there's also the issue of missile engineering, and the huge difficulty in getting your CEP down enough that you can use dinky little missile warheads in a useful fashion. making nuclear bombs is hardly rocket science; delivering a warhead in working condition to a target is much, much harder)

    Do consider though that the norks don't actually need a working ICBM; they cannot possibly win any war with anyone; the folks at the top are unlikely to have swallowed their own propaganda. Having a missile that more or less works and the aftermath of a successful warhead test is more than enough of a threat for everyone in range, as you can see.


    Agree with all that, and so the question remains: what the fuck are they playing at? It's not like US vs SU where both players were roughly equal, it's like a human vs a wasp. For them to ever actually use a nuke is equivalent to committing national suicide. A threat that cannot be carried out without the extinction of the threatener is useless. (Honeybees are not comparable.) Whatever they might hope to achieve by doing it, they won't be around to see if it works. They simply have to know this, and know that everyone else knows it. To spend so much effort on something which not only can't be used, but which gets all the other nations cutting off your resources and figuring how best to knock you on the head before you do something really stupid, is not a rational way to behave. It's not uncommon for commentators to proclaim that no he's not a nut and yes he is rational, but it would be nice if they'd provide some evidence, because all I can see is someone throwing stones at a chained-up dog from just beyond its reach until it gets mad enough to break the chain.


    I din't really see why North Korean having a nuke is destabilising. Plenty of other countries have them.


    I've no real clue but I think it must be the psychology of the thing. In real terms the Norks conventional weapons are a far more real threat in most conceivable scenarios - basically they already have S Korea held to ransom with just their artillery.

    I can only suppose that the caché of having a nuke is what's driving them - I suspect they see it as the ultimate insurance policy against an American invasion. Suspect they have been heavily influenced by the words of A Q Khan noted above who believes the Pakistan program was essential to avoid becoming a Libya or Afghanistan. Perhaps the Norks share the same view?

    Ultimately I think it comes down to dick waving, though.


    the folks at the top are unlikely to have swallowed their own propaganda. REALLY? And how many examples, scattered through history have there been of exactly that mistake being made?

    guthrie @ 343 Yes, but all the other countres with nukes are either/both... Keeping them as a last resort ( Nemo me impune Lacessit ) or having them in a MAD standoff ( India - Pak ) DPRK are emphatically doing neither of those things - uh?

    gordycoale @ 344 - Probably


    I think the problem is that nobody understands what NK is going to do with a nuke which makes any sense geo-politically? Consider the nearby countries:

    Threaten Japan? Glass parking lot. Given the number of mountains in NK, it will be a multi-level parking lot, but there's no way the U.S. will let them threaten Japan.

    Nuke China? The only nearby nation which remotely resembles being an ally? If they do that they're done for. I'd even be inclined for the U.S. to help nuke NK if they attacked China, just to remind everyone that if you're crazy being nuclear doesn't help.

    Nuke South Korea? Glass parking lot.

    Threaten "The Rebellious Provinces?" Probable glass parking lot. Nobody wants to see what happens to the world's economy if South Korea gets nuked.

    Even if they weren't building nukes, everyone's already figured out that attacking NK doesn't make any sense; they've been digging in for sixty years and they've got a million cannons pointed at Seoul.

    So why do they want nukes? Oh, I get it, they must be crazy!

    Compare with Iran, which might use a nuke profitably to "protect the right of Shiites," annex the eastern portion of Iraq, conduct negotiations against Israel under threat of MAD, or give the Saudis a hard time next time they bomb a nearby country...

    I think what N. Korea really wants at this point is for someone to say "Hey, why don't we have a peace negotiation?" but the other sides (maybe even the S. Koreans) are all happy with the status quo ante for one reason or another (even now a U.S. president can't appear to be soft on communism) and don't want to put out the effort. The problem is that the N. Koreans aren't smart enough to drop hints that this is what they'd prefer, so it looks like an amazingly difficult uphill slog to everyone else.


    Presumably the alleged nuclear weapons are there to improve Kim's bargaining stance with surrounding nations. After all, if he doesn't like the bargain he's getting (normally with regards to things like food imports) he can now sell missile and nuke technology to ISIL, or Bannon, or some such.

    Remember, Kim runs in part on the Great Monster theory of statesmanship, and I suspect a goodly chunk of their economy runs on the principle that it's cheaper to appease Kim than it is to remove him. Right now, he's trying to make it more expensive to remove him.

    The only problem with this diagnosis is that Trump isn't very good at making government-level deals, it seems.


    ** I'd love to see this happen, but with shotgun shells filled with rock-salt. Give the alt-right a taste of war without killing anyone or even injuring them very badly. I think the cowards would lose their taste for confrontation very quickly. When force needs to be used, it should be measured with an eye-dropper.I

    It's worth remembering that the early Nazi marches were met by major physical opposition from the anti-fascists of the day. The newspapers then spun that into a campaign about how dangerous the anti-fascists were/OMG Communism will take over! and the Nazis became portrayed as the law-and-order party, because they were the ones apparently attacked, and leftists are always more dangerous than the far right.

    Because of that, I strongly advise against 12 gauge rock salt (or, as I've dreamed, flying a drone over one of those torch-lit rallies with a large bottle of very feminine perfume and an atomizer. Unfortunately, high alcohol perfume might combust...).

    Anyway, there are better ways to deal with White Supremacist marches. --Start a fund-raising campaign for the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, or whoever. Get people to pledge money based on how far the march goes and how many are involved (this has worked great in Germany). For example, people can pledge a penny (or a dollar) for every marcher who passes a certain line. Or whatever. Just make it so the more people march and the farther they march, the more money they raise for your favorite causes. --Cheer them on when they march. Tell them (loudly) how much money they're raising and for what cause. Yell to encourage them. I personally suggest something like: GO NAZIS GO! And use lots of drums to encourage them. And vuvuzelas. Of course it will be hard to hear anything they chant, yell, or scream, but that's the price of encouraging them to raise funds. I think it's worth it to encourage them to get to the end of their parade. Maybe they'll even come back, and you can raise more money!

    --Get a lot of clowns involved. Really. The more female and gender non-conforming clowns there are, the better. It helps even more if some of them have done this before.

    --Think about an impromptu celebration of The Hindu celebration of Holi right in front of the marchers, and possibly around them. Now, I strongly advise NOT including the white boys in such celebrations, as this would be considered assault. It's unfortunate that, since the celebration involves a huge paint powder and water gun battle, it's going to create a mess, especially if someone wearing white robes is unfortunate enough to be nearby. Still, we need to celebrate life. We can always offer to help the marchers take off their white hoods so that any damage can be photographically documented, and so that volunteers can scrub them off.

    Feel free to share this, incidentally.


    he can now sell missile and nuke technology to ISIL, or Bannon, or some such.

    I am somehow reminded of the putative plutonium production reactor Syria was building with North Korean help and got bombed by the Israelis back in 2007. AFAIK, its never been figured out just what that was supposed to be for. Who was going to get the bombs?


    FWIW, the twitter feed is helpful today, with useful links to other civilian nuclear arms control specialists. (For those of us without access/security clearances)

    Some interesting newish pressure that will be appliable to certain high-air-pollution countries. (Did not see this one coming, oops. :-) (Especially those where the leadership is OK with killing a few million people per year via air pollution in trade for growth, but might get excited about more potential money to be made from air cleanup.) Large Reductions in Solar Energy Production Due to Dust and Particulate Air Pollution Worldwide solar energy production is expected to increase more rapidly than any other energy source into the middle of this century, especially in regions that experience high levels of dust and/or anthropogenic particulate pollutants, including large areas of India, China, and the Arabian Peninsula. Here we combine field measurements and global modeling to estimate the influence of dust and PM related to anthropogenic sources (e.g., fossil and biomass fuel combustion) on solar electricity generation. Results indicate that solar energy production is currently reduced by ∼17–25% across these regions, with roughly equal contributions from ambient PM and PM deposited on photovoltaic surfaces.


    How early marches are you talking about? The nazi party was pretty weak and useless after the Munich Putsch, and only got going again as a tool of parts of the ruling class against the communists.


    I would say it makes perfect sense if you assume that Kim the Fat is more afraid of internal coup than of war with US. His entire power is based on the myth of the Great Protector Of The People, and he keeps upping the insanity because it is his life insurance policy. Any potential plotter knows he would have to assume the GPOTP mantle, and knows he will get removed in short order if he does not outdo Kim the Fat in bombast. I think Kim is making sure it is physically impossible for anyone in North Korea to outdo him.


    I was thinking more of Judge Perlman and Meyer Lasky, who had a rather odd and crooked relationship just before WWII, but that only works if we still think that America is America, and not travelling down a pre-fascist pants-leg of time...

    The other answer is perhaps to build a public database of racists, nazis, etc., but this is difficult given the possibility of false positives.


    It's worth noting, BTW, that Perlman calibrated the level of force to carefully exclude casualties and Lasky reluctantly agreed. Whether some of the really baduns got some careful, non-obvious extra attention later is probably not known...


    Apologies for the length of this, but I was in a hurry. :)

    The [why] is pretty simple, they're scared of the Americans kicking off round two of the Korean war thereby wiping out the glorious kingdom of the eternal leader (for reference see Stalin's similar concerns in the 1950s). And no they're not crazy, by their lights they're being very rational. To protect the leadership and party they need a credible deterrent against the most heavily armed nation in the worlds that has a track record of kicking ant heaps over.

    Slight side note, the Korean Peninsular war never stopped we just agreed to stop killing each other, hell the US/SK's don't even have to enact the standing SEATO arrangements, the UN Command is actually still operational, in fact there's still a RAAF GPCAPT rattling around on Okinawa, somewhere running the UN logistics tail. Legally speaking anyone who was in the last one is automatically a combatant party if it kicks off.

    The [what] they want to do is also pretty simple, they want to have a credible deterrence against their number one enemy, and that is simply not achieved by being able to vaporise Anchorage. They actually need to possess a credible existential threat to the US. But they don't have the industrial base to build hundreds of missiles and warheads in traditional counter value style. So what to do? Well the answer is build an EMP bomb. Strike the US with a high altitude multi-megaton bomb over the rockies and you will knockout communications links, power grids and IT infrastructure over most of the continental US. All without killing one American (at least at first). That means no phones, no power grid, no computers, NO internet, so just how long do you think the US would last? This gives NK a credible MAD capability, mission accomplished.

    Another sidenote. I've seen some guesstimates on the size of the T/U device being approximately 1 MT, but you need to factor in that that's a test yield, with a lead tamper fitted instead of a uranium one to keep the fission products down. So add another MT or so on to get the operational yield for a three stage weapon. For an EMP bomb doubling the yield significantly extends the radius of effect so strategically it's worthwhile. Note also NK media said directly a 'two stage device', hmmm.

    However I think the NK's have a) underestimated the US's basic ruthlessness b) under-estimated the US unwillingness to live with such a threat from what they view as an unstable state, and therefore c) totally underestimated the likelihood of the US considering a preemptive strike. Remember there's a window here between NK having a technical capability and then translating it into an actual operational force, just as there was in the early days of the Kennedy administration when the Soviets were playing catch up. So if the US has to choose between it's national interests including the safety of American citizens and the [possible] loss of some hundreds of thousands of South Koreans well, what do you think they'll decide?

    Executive summary, this year and the next or so is going to be very dangerous indeed.

    Paging Dr Strangelove to the Situation room, Dr Strangelove.



    This is the second, and last time I'll bother with warning the Americans about escalation tactics: next time, we just drown you. [No, really: if you think that Houston wasn't the uttermost skill balancing Chaos and Order on the flip of a coin, here's a fucking tip: YOU FUCKING APES ARE AMATEURS AT THIS SHIT).

    You have Accounts (that ceased to be active in 2013 within professional capacities) screaming nonsense like this:

    The Russians gave them an advanced nuke or nuke tech, probably through a resource in a former client state they'd like back as vassals to the Federation. They did it once with missile tech, now again with a hydrogen bomb. It doesn't matter if North Korea developed this in-house with help, or just got it off the shelf from a Russian connection, the assumption must be made they have the missile, the bomb and the re-entry vehicle.

    The purpose is to completely destabilize the Pacific powers, especially the USA and China, giving Russia a free hand in Europe and Central Asia and a hegemon North Korea is friendly to in the far east, a nice, safe third option to the USA and China to ally with.

    A) The Russians ceased aiding NK in the 1960's (I can dig up the data). B) Making a pretty big bang underground is Insurance Option #2 (NK has had plans for this for 20+ years - it doesn't actually take much, ffs, you could spend 10 years burying that amount of TNT and get a similar response) C) Russia has no interest in destabilizing the region, as any Rational Planner since [redacted] in the 70's knows that Russia fears China annexing Siberia more than it does US interference in the area. NK going "live" gives China cart blanche to "stabilize" the area, which will necessarily include NK annexation, .Ru losing Siberian assets and SK / Japan retaining their borders (due to, you know, America and fucking billions in weapon spending). D) I have just about run out of patience for fucking retarded little Americans and their Rainbow Ponies and their total inability to deal with reality.


    Fucking Apes.


    What you're actually seeing is the wind-down of an old play-book that is rapidly running out of steam. You know, that old one with Kissinger, Khrushchev and so on playing the balance of "mad, bad, dangerous third party / third world dictators" while running their agreed play-books in the background.

    The long term trends (having now bothered to map some of it, LNG - Plastics, DERP, OBVIOUS IS OBVIOUS) is that the USA lacks the necessary leadership and ideological structures to survive the 21st C.

    And yes: if you're not up to speed, causally, Houston hitting the 'perfect pitch' of a balanced Coin Edge was a clarion call for a whole lot of things.

    It was a fucking finesse.


    The poster of the above nonsense is 100% paid for anti-left, anti-alliance, anti-Non-Party bait. It's a zombie shell, owned, bought and sold. [FACT]


    And since I'm irritated.

    Go look up a Soviet doctrine about allowing NK access to certain weapons to be buried and discharged to give the illusion of a weapons program. Oh, I don't know. It's 1967, you'll find it in the archives of [redacted].

    There's a reason their mock-up looks like a peanut, it's because they didn't make it themselves, and they cannot make it themselves and the one in the ground [locked out of ever being able to be fired by various things] wasn't made by them.

    OH, and tritium:

    Pro-tip: you cannot discern the difference between a pure fission and boosted fission weapon in an underground test.



    And since I'm really pissed off with Apes:

    You can get the same effect using South African tech via Israel.

    Fusion boosting can also be used in gun-type weapons. The South Africans considered adding it to their fission bombs, which would have increased yield five-fold (from 20 kt to 100 kt). Since implosion does not occur in gun devices, it cannot contribute to fusion fuel compression. Instead some sort of piston arrangement might be used in which the kinetic energy of the bullet is harnessed by striking a static capsule.

    In fact, you could go full fucking retard and blame Israel for the NK nuclear program, tie in all the various loony-toons and start WWIII because Jesus Christ returned and she fucking hates you.


    Here endeth the lesson.


    However I think the NK's have a) underestimated the US's basic ruthlessness b) under-estimated the US unwillingness to live with such a threat from what they view as an unstable state, and therefore c) totally underestimated the likelihood of the US considering a preemptive strike.

    We have a winner.

    At this point the pressure for a preemptive strike has to be extraordinarily high, and whether Trump has it in him to resist that pressure... }-shrug-{ Personally, I live about fifteen miles from a U.S. Air Force base, in a town which is probably THE major transportation hub for traffic going to/from Southern California, and the N. Korean advances in nuclear technology aren't making me happy.

    I'm not ready to nuke anyone... yet. But I'll feel very disappointed if we don't kick off peace talks sometime very, very soon.


    Wait... 100kt yield with a double-tap seismic bounce... That... looks..... like ..... the North Korean Model... which...was... the... old... South...African....Israeli...model....two....bounce....means...double...explosion....


    No, but really.

    Underground chamber, ramping it up to 100kt? It's amazing how everyone forgets the various ways to do this. Especially with a double seismic bounce.

    Gabriel YT: Film, 3:13


    Ask Libya about how rational America is.


    North Korea's experiencing the worst drought since 2001.

    This is the other factor: possible failure of their corn and rice harvests. US looks like its corn harvest will be down 10-20%, and part of the US rice harvest just got messed with by Harvey, so I don't think the forecasts are accurate.

    There are a couple of ways that Kim can play this, at least following classic models: 1. Use the threat of war to get decent prices for rice and wheat from people who'd otherwise rather not deal with him. 2. Actually go to war to gain farmland in the South to feed his people (most of the farmland is in the south, while most of the minerals are in the north. Funny how it worked out with the distribution of tech.).

    Now, with Trump, we get the usual model of bs, bully, and settle. If he's following the model, he's now in the bully phase, and everyone will expect him to settle in a few weeks to ship some corn when it's available.

    Why might he not? Depends on what other crises are going on. If Trump's looking at a large packet of official papers that Mueller sent him via his personal lawyers, then he might be tempted to start a war to wag the dog and give him a martial law-ish reason to ignore Mueller's threat to his authority.

    That's the problem. It's rather more awkward that we've actually got a functioning declaration of war against North Korea, so AFAIK Congress can't stop him without actually passing a resolution (at which point they'll be criticized for appeasing a dictator).

    This is where I hope that if Trump gives the order to surprise-nuke North Korea, the officer receiving that order refuses to execute it without getting further guidance from his superiors and Congress. At that point, I might also hope that the 25th Amendment comes into play. Still, it depends quite a lot on whether the relevant military officers place their oath of service above their careers.

    The other problem is, of course, that China will retaliate if the US unilaterally attacks North Korea, so it's not the problem of a single Korean missile irradiating the North Pacific Garbage Patch, it's the rather larger threat of China starting WWIII. Now they've only got a few hundred warheads, but at least some of them are reportedly on submarines, so the US would get hit. We wouldn't get wiped out, but things would get ugly after that.


    "I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops! Uh, depending on the breaks."


    I wish your APE brains could grow up:

    Nuclear Testing 1945 - 1998 YT: Documentary, 14:24


    And Holy Fuck you can't even spot a low-tech underground injection.


    More seriously, having ignored the problem for so long any solution we come up with will be... substandard. Poor. A net loss regardless of whether you count it in terms of money, power, diplomatic influence, allies owing favors, whatever... We've waited too long and we don't have many options. Thus our panic. And our panic is not completely irrational; someone who doesn't seem sane to us now has an H-bomb.

    Capitulating in any form means showing weakness.

    Letting Kim go to war risks our reliability as an ally.

    Even token or "demonstration" use of any weapon risks an ugly Chinese or Russian reply. (Dropping a few "practice" missiles with a CEP measured in inches into the fountain of Kim's palace has a lot to recommend it.)

    Or maybe we could sell South Korea some nukes... there's an ugly scenario for you.

    Under the circumstances nuking NK doesn't seem like a bad option, (vomits) and I suspect you can find a couple analysts somewhere in DC who will give you a deniable (and hopefully correct) assessment that China doesn't care enough about NK to launch their nukes over the whole thing, but that would mean skating on awfully thin ice, plus the U.S. would have instant Rogue Nation status and the economic effects would be hell to endure.*)

    The real problem, as I see it, is that several very careful people are cranking through those options and their numbers right now, including a set of facts we're not allowed to know about, like, "what does Paul Ryan think," "how does Raytheon feel," and "who will take the fall for whatever we do" along with the analyst reports from the usual TLAs.**

    And depending on how those numbers look, maybe the General who receives those orders doesn't say no.

    • If it happens I'm going straight to Fry's and buying a dozen cheap laptops, then waiting six months to sell them on Ebay. If Ebay still exists.

    ** If "analyst reports from the usual TLAs" doesn't frighten you, consider what we learned (decades too late) about the CIA's point man in Vietnam and his assessment of Ho Chi Minh.


    I think what N. Korea really wants at this point is for someone to say "Hey, why don't we have a peace negotiation?" but the other sides (maybe even the S. Koreans) are all happy with the status quo ante for one reason or another (even now a U.S. president can't appear to be soft on communism) and don't want to put out the effort. The problem is that the N. Koreans aren't smart enough to drop hints that this is what they'd prefer, so it looks like an amazingly difficult uphill slog to everyone else.

    What North Korea wants is to reunite the peninsula under North Korean control; to eliminate South Korea. The end-game is to build up a nuclear arsenal that can threaten the U.S. & blackmail us into abandoning South Korea.


    Yep, that's 100% reality right there.

    Never mind the fact that in the Korean War, the USA eradicated 20-40% of all civilian population in North Korea via bombing.

    What North Korea wants is to reunite the peninsula under North Korean control; to eliminate South Korea. The end-game is to build up a nuclear arsenal that can threaten the U.S. & blackmail us into abandoning South Korea.

    Are you fucking retarded?

    SK has had the ability to wipe out NK since 1971.

    The bombing of Pyongyang was conducted as part of a gradual and sustained U.S. Air Force aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) during the Korean War. By the time of the armistice, 75 percent of Pyongyang's area was destroyed by the bombing campaign, which was part of a broader U.S. bombing effort throughout the country which cost the lives of nearly 3 million North Koreans by the time the war ended.[1]



    Nope, calling this right here: You're fucking psychotic little apes who attempt to re-write their little histories.


    Not happening in this Time Line, my little fucking psychotic Apes.


    Utter utter delusional cunts.


    Here's a Tip:

    HITLER: 6 Million Jews; 3-4 million Others STALIN: 10-12 million Germans, Eastern European Allies and Others via Gulags UNCLE SAM: 6-10 million Asian Chaps via direct fucking bombing


    No, you're not the good guys, and you're all psychotic.


    CIA intervention that created the Khmer Rouge:

    Holy fuck me.

    Burn your Minds out already: you're stupid, you're old, you're ignorant and you're racist.


    Our Kind do not go Mad. And we stand up to the worst psychic maelstrom you have to offer, munch on it, smile and then...


    I wouldn't bet too much on your fucking survival, little Hive Mind twats.


    And your little shit-head War Dog called Yaweh.

    Yeah, watch this space.

    Wargasm YT: Music, L7, 2:42.

    You're gonna shit bricks once you understand the Goddess who carved a finesse onto Houston.

    Causal Weapons: HI!


    Sorry, have to do this:

    This is MF, the "left liberal American Voice", something they're taking seriously:

    Russia sees themselves as the New Rome, the USA the New Carthage. Actual Russian lawmakers very close to the Kremlin have said as much. I will leave the panicking to those who are not yet out of evens. Also, they want Alaska back, right down to the California border. No I am not kidding.

    Of course Russia gave them nukes. As many as they need.

    Dude: do you even read Russian? Do you even know when NK / RU relations ended and why Kissinger was there?

    Now then, frequent readers: remember that whole set-up with Rome, Severus, Isamliscist bombers, the Intelligence Agencies and so on?


    Want the next big thing?

    Yeah, gonna be a big EMP time thang.

    That's how broken things are getting over there. All out of evens, and the evens are psychotic, and you're all fucking Apes.


    And Seven.

    Oh, I gotta lotta irate souls burning for revenge here. Practically burning out my synapses with ire.

    So, Seven, as in those IMF "Seven Years of Prosperity" of Lagrange (Prison ahoy) or for the USA post Eclipse?

    Nah, boys.

    A Goddess just pissed all over your reality and smiled at you while blowing up your industry.

    Freedom YT: Music, 3:56

    And if you think Loki and co are gonna fuck your causality up; well, that's your shitty little league of Human based Conceptual Higher Order Powers.

    Our Kind?


    Fuck right off with your limited bullshit, we're going to twist your DNA you fucking psychotic Apes.


    While looking around to see how consistent the recent DPRK underground explosion would be with a large-ish boosted fission device (yes, to varying degrees depending on yield), found this, which I was not aware of (ignorant American), Britain's Thermonuclear Bluff (1992). A full version can be found with a google search, probably not legal (and the TLD of the easily found one is a bit odd and religious looking; didn't dig, won't link.). And some newer work, including section 5 of The Development of Britain’s Megaton Warheads (MA thesis, Donald McIntyre, 2006) Anyone in the UK care to comment? The yield of Orange Herald was (deliberately) pretty high, 700KT+, and there are suggestions (a simple efficiency argument compared to an American device) that the boosting failed. McIntyre: The conclusion must be that here was no bluff, in the sense that there was no deliberate attempt to deceive. Most importantly, there was no attempt to deceive the Americans. There would be no point; the Americans were invited to take airborne samples and could deduce for themselves what was going on, and if the goal of close co-operation were to be achieved, any bluff would immediately be revealed once information started to be exchanged across the Atlantic. However, great political import was given to the achievement of a megaton explosion.

    Once there is full and enforced secrecy around a weapons program, subterfuge to various degrees becomes very possible and thus tempting. Deterrence is about perceptions of [ranges of] capabilities.

    Oh, and is a little stilted and odd in tone, but worth a skim IMO.

    AD, not sure what to make of that (first?) metafilter thread. Plenty of gormlessness, yes, but need to do a deep read. (Very ... tired.)


    Re: 'Even token or "demonstration" use of any weapon risks an ugly Chinese ...'

    This situation is so convoluted ...

    1- Think that DT is trying to egg PRC into action against NK. If the PRC reacts in any way against NK, DT will claim that this was in response to his urging. (DT wins.)

    2- If the PRC continues to do nothing because the missiles aren't pointed at them, then it's up to the rest of the Far East to get together as a separate alliance and intervene. Collectively although a smaller power than the PRC, they'd now be a significant entity. (Basically, take a page from the EU vs. Russia, or even vs. the US.) There's some incentive and rationale for this - the upcoming TPP. The TPP seems almost to be a set up for helping link all these countries together. (DT and PRC lose - DT is not interested in the TPP.)

    3- Then again, if the PRC decides to start pointing its own nukes at NK and orders NK to stop and desist and NK says no - then the PRC might feel justified in walking over and annexing NK. And if the PRC could persuade a handful of its neighbors to join them at this (a la the US-Afghanistan thing), then once NK has been annexed, neither the West nor Russia can grumble about it. Shortly after this, the PRC will need a pro-PRC Secretary General in the UN, preferably from what was not too long ago an abandoned-by-the-West backwater African country which now has some shiny brand new 21st infrastructure. No one will care what happens to the NKorean people because they'll probably be deliberately dispersed throughout China and quickly get lost in or absorbed into the population.

    4- Or, DT just wants someone, anyone to launch a missile at (not over) another country so that he can push that big red button. But there's a problem with the current BIG RED BUTTON/NK scenario: the warheads it activates point at Russia, and not at NK. Ooops!


    Oh trust me: You're not as tired as I am.

    Try 3 years of burning Mind: Order - Chaos, death of self and ingesting information on the outside, the inside, the ultraside and the neathside, every night a burning pyre of biological neurons dying, the self, the self, the outer and the inner worlds.

    While making jokes and predicting your shitty little futures.

    And I'm still shit hot. So fucking hot.

    And the best: P R O V E N : B U S T E D : LITTLE SHITTY HIVE MIND. If you're not careful, we'll ask the nasty ones to just come and fucking gut you.


    Bill: I'm really not in the mood here.

    The joke: It's a salt pillar. And I did it solo.

    That's worth about ~$500-700 on the open market.

    Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton Django Unchained Soundtrack - with Arabic subtitle


    Was looking for info on political boondoggles and found this. Anyone here familiar with this agency in terms of reliability? - ate_change


    Certainly that's what they want. (I want the Kruggerand Fairy to leave several pounds of gold bullion under my pillow.) The question is whether NK thinks they can get what they want, or whether they're willing to settle for ending the war and being able to crawl out from under their (atomic) rock?

    A couple years from now if the Juche Spirit requires that they launch a "demonstration of power" someplace in the Sea of Japan then demand the surrender of the "rebellious provinces" we're going to feel awfully stupid about not nuking them this morning. (Or about not opening peace talks... sigh.)

    Something which is really, really important to remember about WWII is how very isolated the Japanese High Command was prior to the war. Only Yamamoto had been to the U.S. and he alone appreciated the size of the U.S and how badly we could hurt the Japanese. I strongly suspect that the same kind of ignorance is at work amidst the N. Korean High Command.


    Yep, totally.

    That's why the leader of NK was educated in Switzerland. Or that loads of pirate DVDs are common there. You should probably look into Belarus.

    Something which is really, really important to remember about WWII is how very isolated the Japanese High Command was prior to the war.

    Which war?

    WWI? So isolated that they went to the WWI table and asked merely for a little recognition? And then got snubbed so hard they retreated into isolationism?

    First Sino-Japanese War? Second Sino-Japanese War?

    1914-1915. Japan joined World War I as the United Kingdom's ally under the terms of the alliance and captured German-occupied Tsingtao (Qingdao) in China Mainland. They also help Australia and New Zealand capture archipelagos like the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands.

    Or that bit where Japan attempted to go against the whole "Racial Superiority" thing?,_1919#Racial_equality_proposal

    Holy fuck you're actually this ignorant.


    How about this: The Chinese call the U.S. and say, "How about we take care of this N.K. problem for you, then we give up all claim to Taiwan?" An upstart is taken down and everyone wins. We hope.

    And the devil took him up on a high mountain...


    I'm not sure whether they retreated into isolationism, or whether the snub made it easier for the far right to take over. Anyway, we'll both agree that it was an avoidable mess, and the only people who had it worse were the Koreans and Manchurians (and probably various Pacific Islanders).

    My idiosyncratic take is that power's the worst addiction out there. At the very least, there seem to be some parallels between the people in power who suddenly realize there's not enough to keep their addiction (or sometimes themselves) alive and addicts going after their next hit, once the thrill is over.


    BEFORE replying to Troutwaxer .... Oh fuck

    356, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 80.

    Life's too short to trawl through this rambling bullshit, in case there is a faint signal in there - meanwhile, the rest of us are trying to hold a hopefuly-rational discussion about a very unpleasant subject.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Troutwaxer: Meanwhile - you are probably correct - except what happens if the Chinese, furious at loss of face ( which this test represents, & Kim Jong Haircut knows this - so why, again did he do it?) simply invade NK? It's possible - just.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Heteromeles @ 363: Yes - see also John Brunner: "Who steals my Purse"


    This: Under the circumstances nuking NK doesn't seem like a bad option, (vomits) And what did I say back @ # 340?

    It was this - very slightly altered for empahsis:

    "A N Other horrible equation - how many lives did Hiroshima & Nagasaki save? It's that sort of really nasty "problem" that no-one wants to go near. And we are coming up to another one? Because it looks like it. Which is less bad, right now? Which is less bad 10 years down the line & which one is less bad, in 150 years?

    Of course, you can easily get three different answers to each of those questions."

    Oh shit.

    Also, I have a horrible suspicion that JBS @ 387 may have a point - I do hope he's wrong, as NK was pretty-well-flattened last time around, with old conventional weapons


    A "Demonstration of Power" would ba an airburst nuclear explosion, yes? At which point, I think even the PRC would lose their rag & simply walk in ... We hope.


    Or something similar - like a demilitarised, neutral Korea - all of it. Except PAYING for that would be, um, expensive, Ostdeutschland still hasn't caught up, after 28 years [ Fuck me, is it that long past - where does the time go? ]

    A) The Russians ceased aiding NK in the 1960's (I can dig up the data).

    Someone's been selling rocket bits to the norks. They don't appear to have the skills to make an indigenous icbm, and the recent hwasong missiles have been quite a step up in capability and reliability.

    There are a limited number of sources for that sort of material. Where do you suppose they got it from?


    If Trump's looking at a large packet of official papers that Mueller sent him via his personal lawyers, then he might be tempted to start a war to wag the dog and give him a martial law-ish reason to ignore Mueller's threat to his authority.

    Well, Americans have form for rallying behind a President during a shooting war, so at one level that's a rational move.

    Back in the Aughties an acquaintance (who was a data analyst for a TLA) noted that there was a statistically significant correlation between terrorist alerts and Bush's poll standing. They said that you could predict a terrorist alert by looking at the polls — falling poll numbers meant a terrorist alert was more likely, and a terrorist alert gave Bush a bump in the polls.


    "Where do you suppose they got it from?"

    Pakistan. No mystery there. Whatever the situation may be wrt nuclear knowledge, when it comes to plain old missile technology it is well known that Pakistan helps NK out, to the extent that some NK missiles are just Pakistani ones with different writing on.


    And vice versa. The liquid fuelled Ghauri was a direct copy of the NK Rodong-1, but needed to be completely redesigned. It would be pretty unsurprising for the revised but now obsolete Ghauri II design to be sold back to NK.


    356, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 80

    In a nutshell: "Most humans are stupid, I am clever. The End."

    (Yes, there is other signal in there, but, well, finite life span and all of that.)


    found this, which I was not aware of (ignorant American), Britain's Thermonuclear Bluff (1992)...

    And some newer work, including section 5 of The Development of Britain’s Megaton Warheads (MA thesis, Donald McIntyre, 2006)

    Thank you for those. They're extremely interesting and contain considerably more detail about bomb design than I think could have gotten past American censors. The bits about spherical secondaries might even have relevance to the NK device/mock-up shown this weekend.

    After their ‘Super’ experience the Americans had learnt to rely on numerical computation of their weapon designs and therefore used a cylindrical secondary, since they were able to simulate the thermonuclear process in a cylinder where propagation was effectively one-dimensional. Mark recalls, however, that the British, who had no computers at Aldermaston to speak of, unveiled a spherical secondary.


    "Anyone in the UK care to comment?"

    Situation was that we were cheesed off about the US locking us out of their nuclear development after the war, when we'd not only had plenty of scientists in the Manhattan project but moreover had kicked the whole thing off in the first place with Tube Alloys. We wanted access to US knowledge to save us the hassle of doing it ourselves, and we wanted to demonstrate that we were nevertheless able to do it ourselves and therefore the question was only about resources for development rather than fundamental knowledge and ability. And we were running out of time by reason of the impending test ban. So our test devices were cobbled together in something of a rush and didn't work as well as could have been hoped, although they did work well enough to show that we basically knew what we were doing and so achieved the desired persuasive result.

    The "bluff" thing is just one of these things that won't go away despite being blatant bollocks. With open-air tests where anyone could pick up all the samples they wanted, any deception would have been impossible and nobody involved would fail to realise that. After all, it was already known how the Soviets were going about it from analysing just the muck that escaped their borders, never mind fresh raw samples right from the test site.

    It seems to have arisen out of a combination of inaccurate and scientifically ignorant reporting, and confusion generated by the persistent niggling and nit-picking over what constitutes "a true H-bomb" - a distinction which is really not particularly meaningful in the first place. The thing that strikes me about McIntyre's thesis is that he hasn't really twigged that either, and what he writes tends rather to perpetuate the confusion than resolve it.

    Fusion fraction of yield is a factor which is both misunderstood and largely irrelevant. The radiation implosion technique certainly makes it possible to derive most of the yield from fusion - the record, I think, is the Tsar Bomba as tested, at 97% - but that certainly isn't the standard outcome of using the technique. Ivy Mike's yield was only about a quarter fusion, and nearly all deployed so-called "H-bombs" get most of their yield from fission too.

    The importance of fusion in a bomb is not so much in producing energy as in producing fast neutrons. A fusion event produces only about a tenth of the energy of a fission event, but it delivers most of that energy in the form of the KE of neutrons. These energetic neutrons cause fission in the normally useless (for energy production) 238U, which is a useful material for a tamper because of its density, and becomes a free energy source once fusion neutrons are involved. Fusion neutrons also enhance the efficiency of a chain reaction in 235U or 239Pu, both by initiating new chains, and by generating a larger number of surplus neutrons in that initiatiory fission event than you get from fission induced by the less energetic fission neutrons (incidentally, AD is wrong about not being able to distinguish between boosted and unboosted fission tests; tritium is the most obvious marker of boosting, but the isotope mix of the fission fragments is different too.) The energy release from fusion is a bonus, but its principal value is that it enhances the efficiency of fission reactions you are getting anyway and enables fission reactions that you wouldn't otherwise get.

    The use of the term "fusion boosting" exclusively to describe the use of a few grams of D-T mix to enhance the efficiency of a fission device obscures the fact that it is a valid description of the operation of pretty well all bombs that use fusion. A so-called "H-bomb" is in nearly all cases a fusion-boosted fission device that obtains most of its yield from fission. Also, nearly all bombs do use fusion to enhance their fission yield, whether they are two-stage devices or not; few designs in service are fission-only.

    The value of the radiation implosion technique in respect of fusion is that it provides the pressures and temperatures needed to initiate large amounts of fusion, and enables you to use lithium deuteride to breed tritium in situ rather than having to supply it yourself. (Tritium is a pain because it has a short half-life so you need to keep replacing it, which in turn requires maintaining the reactor capacity to produce more of it as well as increasing the maintenance requirements of the bomb itself.) But that fusion is nearly always used to enable an even greater energy release from further fission.

    Radiation implosion also enables you to daisy-chain as many stages as you want, to produce a bang of unlimited size, although in practice two stages is all you ever need and nobody's ever gone beyond three.

    Radiation implosion doesn't have to involve fusion. It can also be used to set off a pure fission secondary, with greater efficiency than can be achieved with plain chemical-explosive implosion. But there is very rarely any advantage in doing this over simply making a single big fission stage.

    So, the important concepts are:

    • Fusion boosting as a means of obtaining more fission energy.
    • Radiation implosion as a means of initiating large amounts of fusion.

    What we were trying to demonstrate in the Grapple tests was that we knew how to do radiation implosion; that we understood the principle which is the basis of being able to produce a great big bang while keeping the bangy thing small and light enough to go on a missile. It was this principle that the Americans were trying to keep secret. Once we had shown we knew about it anyway, there was little point in continuing a policy which was largely justified on the grounds that we didn't.

    Incidentally, it is also inaccurate to suppose that the Alarm Clock design went out the window when radiation implosion was developed. Certainly it is an inefficient means of utilising fusion on its own. But it does work as the secondary of a radiation-implosion device, with the much higher pressures and temperatures available. When it became clear to the American effort that radiation implosion was the way to go, the design work that had been done on Alarm Clock was repurposed for Teller-Ulam secondaries. This point seems to be widely overlooked, and there is further confusion caused by the numerous bald statements that the TX14 two-stage bomb, which was also called "Alarm Clock", had "nothing to do" with the earlier design apart from the name. The truth appears to be more nuanced than is allowed for by the flatness of that statement.


    And Pigeon I'm surprised no-one has stamped hard on Pakistan as a result of all this ... A N other state with fuckwit-insane-religious-leadership-&-brainwashed people. Depressing, isn't it?

    See also my comments along the lines of: "would it have been "better" ( for certain values of ... ) to refuse partition & accept 4 million casualties, then, to save tens/hundreds of miliions later?


    Thanks for that. Your paragraph ... The importance of fusion in a bomb is not so much in producing energy as in producing fast neutrons. A fusion event produces only about a tenth of the energy of a fission event, but it delivers most of that energy in the form of the KE of neutrons. These energetic neutrons cause fission in the normally useless (for energy production) 238U, which is a useful material for a tamper because of its density, and becomes a free energy source once fusion neutrons are involved. Re-emphasises that the "H-bomb" is actually a fission/fusion/fission device, whic is usually carefully &/or ignorantly omitted form popular/journalistic representations, IIRC

    incidentally, AD is wrong What a suprise that was (!)


    (Be aware that the first one is mostly wrong/misleading.)

    Where did you get that last paragraph quote from? I can't find it in either of the two articles. But it does sound as if someone's misunderstood something. The bit about one-dimensional propagation in a cylinder can only refer to Teller's original "Super" idea, which was basically to set off a fission bomb at one end of a cylinder of fusion fuel and thereby initiate a longitudinal wave of fusion. Even back then it was pretty clear that it was never going to work, but Teller was something of a nut about it and kept insisting in reply to every objection that it would still work with a bit more gaffer tape. It was indeed extensively simulated, but even before they started simulating they'd already been able to calculate that it was pretty hopeless, and I get the feeling that much of the reason for bothering with the simulation was in the hope that it would finally get Teller to shut up about it.

    The implosion of a cylindrical secondary in a Teller-Ulam design (Ulam-Teller would be a better name) is two-dimensional, as long as you're not too close to the ends; it collapses in from the sides. A spherical secondary, of course, is a three-dimensional implosion. In both cases radial symmetry makes the computation easier. Much of the choice between the two comes down to mundane considerations like packaging.


    It seems to me to be the same general kind of situation as Ireland. Complicated, ancient, irrational, deadly, and next to impossible to do anything about without being significantly wrong whatever it is you do.


    I think everything will kick off when a Nork missile lands in/on US-Allied territory - including within the 12-mile limit.

    That will give Trump enough of a fig leaf to act - hopefully with a non-nuclear option but not betting on it.

    If anyone in the US has any sense they would have plans for a saturation tomahawk & bombing campaign on NK's artillery and a limited strike at any NK nuclear facility. If we are lucky it would all be conventional up to and including Moabs and possibly even precision strike conventionally armed ICBM's with China warned whilst they are in flight.

    Given Trump is in charge - all bets are off. I would guess an equal likelihood of a limited nuclear strike on the NK main Nuclear sites or possibly an EMP carefully calculated not to impact China or SK. (not sure this is geographically possible) - although whether an EMP would impact NK enough I don't know.


    Or maybe something awesome involving guidance systems. Imagine half-a-dozen missiles landing at the points of a geometric figure exactly 1 kilometer across... That would get the point across very neatly and the parameters of the threat would be obvious. Best yet, nobody could call the NK on any kind of a nuke treaty violation (not that they've signed any such treaty, but reporters can be dense and propagandistic sometimes.)


    Where did you get that last paragraph quote from?

    But it does sound as if someone's misunderstood something. The bit about one-dimensional propagation in a cylinder can only refer to Teller's original "Super" idea

    No, AIUI, it's actual x-ray ablation driven compression of a cylindrical fuel container, not the end-burning uncompressed Super concept. I don't know, but speculate that the one dimension referred to is the radius of the cylinder, not the length.


    Certainly that's what they want. (I want the Kruggerand Fairy to leave several pounds of gold bullion under my pillow.) The question is whether NK thinks they can get what they want, or whether they're willing to settle for ending the war and being able to crawl out from under their (atomic) rock?

    I think they believe they have a winning strategy that will give them what they want.


    I'm surprised no-one has stamped hard on Pakistan as a result of all this ...

    Well, you need to remember that the Pakistani bomb and delivery tech was developed in a frantic arms race with India - whichever got there first was intending to use it as a club to hold over the other. And India started first immediately after partition, with Pakistan intending to only have peaceful nuclear power until the wars of the 60s convinced them otherwise, alongside the loss of Bangladesh in '71.

    The other thing to remember is that neither country (nor Israel) has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, meaning there is technically nothing stopping them selling information other than their own conscience. North Korea was a signatory, but temporarily withdrew in the 90s, around the time of the tech transfers we are talking about, and permanently withdrew once it had its own program.

    I also suspect a lot of the Nuclear Weapons need of North Korea is defensive bluster - Libya surrendered all of its nuclear program and most of the chemical ones, and was fairly promptly invaded and torn apart by Nato. That's got to have rung alarm bells in Syria, NK, Iran, and any other states unpopular with the USA.


    Meanwhile Trump & his allies can win a war against some of their own people
    McCarthy, anyone?

    What? Did you really expect they would investigate neo-nazis, kkk, and other alt-right hate groups?

    After the government backed down from the standoff with Cliven Bundy and given the outcome of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trials?

    After the Charlottesvile police stood idly by while they beat up & murdered the peaceful, NON-Antifa protestors?


    A passing fam iliarity with Pakistan history would tell you someting. I am not an expert by any means, but it stands to reason that stamping on them now would be the best way to ensure that nukes find their way into the hand of islamic terrorists. Wheras at the moment, despite it being something of a dictatorship, the government is keeping a lid on that potential threat.


    "I think they believe they have a winning strategy...

    I think they believe that too.

    I suspect they're about to learn the difference between the hurt they can dish out and the hurt multiple First World nations (U.S., China, Japan, and S.K.) can dish out, possibly without even firing a shot. In the best case scenario there's a nasty economic response, in the worst-case scenario China decides to abrogate their mutual defense treaty and Trump fries them like an egg.

    I used to have a popularity problem as a kid, plus I was very large and strong, and sometimes other kids would challenge me to fights. If they were smaller than I was I'd frequently say "no," but every once in awhile I'd decide it was worthwhile to be the big kid that beat up the little kid, just because the little guy was a bad enough pain-in-the-ass...

    There's a calculus to the whole thing that I probably couldn't explain to you, but if you do it right people start to leave you alone and you gain some respect. Right now, N.K. is the smaller, younger kid who definitely needs to be stomped and everyone in the room understand this - and yes, it's pure Ape-Politics. The only question is how it will happen.

    Pakistan. No mystery there. Whatever the situation may be wrt nuclear knowledge, when it comes to plain old missile technology it is well known that Pakistan helps NK out, to the extent that some NK missiles are just Pakistani ones with different writing on.

    Whilst this is true for the much shorter range missiles, the hwasong is in another league. I note that pakistan have never demonstrated a rocket of similar capability; it isn't obvious that they have the capability to make an ICBM at this time. India managed it, but they're a lot bigger and a lot richer.

    Presumably you're not giving any credence to the rumours that the nork missile is driven by ukrainian engines provided by russians, then?


    This is where I have to disagree. As long as N.K. holds Seoul hostage and has Chinese backing nobody will invade them, plus they've had sixty years to dig in... imagine N. Vietnam on steroids, with a much higher level of personal paranoia about the invaders... Having the confidence to believe this is another matter, particularly when the U.S. right talks a lot about how you should be destroyed.

    The real shame of all this is that nobody has tried to hold real peace talks that I know of, and we declared our truce around 65 years ago. This is what happens when you let a situation rot for several decades and only react to the issues when there is a crisis.

    What's really needed is for China, the U.S., Japan, and S.K. to make the necessary combination of threats and reassurances to cause N.K. to come to the table.


    Greg Tingey @386 McCarthy, anyone?

    Sorry, Greg, but this is an old tactic of control, and to be expected. They have this down to a science. RAND corporation, anybody? I won't start that rant, nobody listens.

    In America, it is standard for the cops to go undercover in any group, Alt-right, Alt-left, Alt-whatever to create violence that they can then arrest people, so that they can appear functional to the populace they are supposed "to serve and protect". Many a "crime wave" was simply the cops keeping the population in fear so that they would support the cops.

    Just thinking about what goes on makes me weak and need to sit down.

    You have undercover local cops, undercover state cops, undercover FBI, undercover CIA who go in disguised as FBI since CIA is not allowed to act in country. Any and all of those groups will also pay informants that they control to do the work for them. This doesn't even mention the Ad agencies that you can hire to do some "street theater" and sock-puppets to control consensus.

    This is why you don't have millions of people take to the street here, they way they do in places like France. Regular people who want to express their support are scared off by the "violence" that occurs. Like I say, it's a science.

    BTW, In WWI the US had a department of propaganda called the "Committee on Public Information", that after the war was privatized and proliferated nation wide for the purposes of "deniability". Every Ad agency has contracts with business and government still doing the work of creating consensus.

    Wiki - Committee on Public Information

    Oops- In the time it took me to type the comment, JBS @403 already responded. Sorry for piling up on you.


    FYI - the US has repeatedly refused to participate in this treaty.

    The US has signed but not ratified, i.e., the same as not signing at all. Other holdouts (depending on which sources you check) include: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan plus a few other states.


    I think people may be confusing different treaties.

    Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968) - Non-signatory (India, Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan) Withdrawn (North Korea)

    Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963) - As of 2015, 126 states were party to the treaty, with 10 other states having signed but not deposited instruments of ratification. Sixty states have not signed the PTBT, including the nuclear states of China, France, and North Korea.

    Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017) - Not in force yet, and not likely to be.


    Oops, forgot your cited one, "Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty".


    India started first immediately after partition, with Pakistan intending to only have peaceful nuclear power until the wars of the 60s convinced them otherwise, alongside the loss of Bangladesh in '71.

    Just in case anyone is curious, those "wars of the 60s" all appear to have started with Pakistan invading India, and included the largest tank battle since WW2...

    Read up on Operation Gibraltar (War of 1965) and Operation Searchlight (War of 1971).

    If you want surreal, consider that the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 had British Generals commanding both sides, who remained in daily telephone contact in an attempt to minimise the destruction...


    Katrina and subsequent storms have established that, well, ports really don't need to be in port cities. Containerization and other automation measures have made it so the port of New Orleans needs a skeleton crew that can be supported by a large town. Same applies to Houston. Scattering the populations of those cities would do little to change how US ports operate. And one of the saving graces of the US is that we don't freak out at mass internal migrations. (At least not beyond snarky bumper stickers.)

    In fact, one of the most important port facilities in the US is in POrt Fourchon, which is tiny, which loads and unloads oil tankers, right at the mouth of the Mississippi.

    I think what these storms will do, however, as soon as one actually knocks out a port, is cause container shipping to scale back down for the sake of resilience. With sea levels rising and economic uncertainty, it's easier to build out some docks that you can, in fact, afford to lose to a storm, even if they can't unload a new Panamax ship. And if you do, you tell the personnel to evacuate, and move to a similar port the next town over, to resume work.


    That might be backwards. While you can get away with a small number of workers with big containers, you need a huge, relatively fixed set of infrastructure (docks, cranes, rail connections or truck yards). If these get messed up by a storm, it will take some work to reopen them. There's an argument that humans, albeit much more inefficient, are more flexible, and perhaps longshoremen working smaller boats would be more flexible in the face of an uncertainly rising ocean.

    Probably the intermediary is whatever the ACOE uses after the Marines establish a beachhead, to make a functioning port on a beach. Some parts of this might be useful for an installation if you know you're going to have to rebuild it every decade or so.

    In any case, it's normal to reroute bulk carriers in the event of strikes and natural disasters. The real problem is if when we start getting major land-based Antarctic ice sheets sliding into the water, with oceans around the world rising by a foot or more permanently. You can't really shift to the next port down the coast if every port gets inundated. The problem here is that we simply don't have the resources to rebuild everything at once. Getting the capacity to do massive global rebuilding (in terms of things like massive amounts of concrete and such) is going to get interesting.


    Just how much oil industry related rebuilding will Houston need to do if the world is already switching away and abandoning oil? Hopefully the Feds' money will be used for anything but oil because oil is on its way out. (Oil/Houston is the next iteration of coal/Pennsylvania.)

    Once oil becomes even less attractive and weather even more violent and unpredictable, the present massive worldwide shipping trade will also ratchet down. Physical transportation of goods is old-school when you have the tech and knowledge base to create almost any industry needed. Biggest barrier to doing this is the belief that true industrial success means having worldwide physical distribution.* If alternate energy becomes more mainstream, other industries will likely follow in abandoning increasingly expensive and unreliable global physical goods trade. And if GW continues getting worse, being able to go solo/self-sufficient will be necessary to help that nation survive during times that it will be cut off from outside resources.

    Either way, scaling back goods production in terms of total global share of market plus promoting greater diversity of manufacturing industries within a country would mitigate GW/fossil fuel energy linked goods shortages. Which would then translate into less likelihood of violent economic, political and social ripple effects.

    Wonder if Kim Jong-un ever saw The Mouse That Roared.

    • Okay, another major barrier to scaling down international trade is large-scale money laundering, fraud, and embezzlement.

    Speaking of oil, it seems that the North Sea oil production is reviving itself

    As for Houston, I don't expect it to have the fate of Charleston, WV. More likely, it will resemble Chicago or New York. When I lived there, I was told that Houston's wealth came from three sources: oil, medical (especially medical tourism for the super rich), and aerospace. I have also heard that it has a growing tech sector as well.



    @Host - the actual fall-out from Harvey is how quickly a rentier type economy collapses. You know, that whole thing about the poor people renting from slum lords and gosh, looks like their paltry cash streams just got fucked for the next six months.

    You just have to broaden this out a little.

    Ever Played Jenga? Dominoes? Ohhh Baby.


    Greg: You're a fool. A nice fool who dances around the Maypole, but fuck off right now. That attitude? Quickly transforming into something toxic to your other half.

    (incidentally, AD is wrong about not being able to distinguish between boosted and unboosted fission tests; tritium is the most obvious marker of boosting, but the isotope mix of the fission fragments is different too.)

    Oh, FFS are you all fucking children?





    No, really.

    Dead Men Walking.

    Bored of the insults and shitty inability to learn.

    Literal Corpses walking into the End Game.

    Happy to slap anything they don't understand with a Neigh Neigh Neigh ... oh we're fucking dead.

    Oh, and Greg: never, ever insult things you don't understand.

    Chances are, that Maypole Goddess is really not fucking amused by your total disrespect and might want your children's children as payment. No, really. You dance for that Goddess, know the price for your lack of respect means.

    Shame your grandchildren pay the price, eh?



    Y'all going to die slowly.

    Go watch a film: I'd advise: Córki dancingu

    Fuck me are you dead and your voices muted and the entire choir broken.


    Get fucked.


    Oh, and Greg?

    Remember all that "give her the Bob Treatment if she doesn't behave"?


    We're going to burn your Minds out.


    Holy Fuck are you as bad as the GOP and co.


    Anyhow, bored: IREM, we'll see.

    Oh, and FFS:

    The Tritium joke is about its half-life: shove it in a weapon, you've about 15-30 years before it's useless.


    Literally cannot deal with the stupid here.


    Oh, and if you want to be thrilled and shocked.

    UK Film recommendation: The Girl with All the Gifts.

    Mentioned a year or two ago. Bad, lazy book: actually a good film (Glenn Close acting well) .

    (Narrator: Yes, She did just prefigure that by a year or two)

    It has particular resonance to this audience.

    Hint: You're the Actual Zombies; dead old men.



    You don't even understand it. Or see it. Or react to it. You probably don't even play bridge.

    But we do.

    No, really. You've no idea.


    And before you type anymore boring trite shite, go watch the Polish film.

    It's... rather metaphorically enhanced weaponry for your year of your Dog 2017.

    Hint: we're on the side of the sea-foam and love.

    You don't want to meet the other ones.


    Finesse: the other half are itching just to break their bonds.


    Ignorant. Old. Minds. Unable. To. Learn. Dying. Soon.


    "The Mouse That Roared" was satire. And the political system of Grand Fenwick was moderately sane.


    More likely we'll redefine what a "good port" looks like, probably to something with cliffs and deep water, then we'll build piers that float (and go up and down pillars on rollers.) Finally, we'll rebuild the connector between the pier and road every fifty years or so.

    BTW, I'm about 175 pages into "Cadillac Desert" now. I'm beginning to find one water scam after another a little boring, but I think the book will be changing direction soon.


    Unfortunately, I agree with you. What surprises me is the openness & blatancy with which they are pursuing this obviously-wrong move. You'd have tought, after bus/school desegregation etc from the mid-50's onwards - the past 60 years in other words, they would have learnt that IT DOES NOT WORK. So why is a known-failed strategy being re-used?

    Or is thsi "simply" the Trump/utra-right simply "Doing it harder,because we weren't harsh enough last time" ??


    Trying to jerk my chain are you?

    I may often be mistaken, but I'm no fool, I DO NOT dance around a Maypole, ever & what attitude?

    I see you then resort to ALL_CAPS to insult the entire readership.

    419 - content-free 420 - more threats 421 - a Zombie film? Oh ffs! 422 - content-free - again

    Why do I, or anyone bother with this, because the rest of us are here for an intelligent & informed conversation, which A_D is not contributing to, in any way.


    Heh. I suspect NK is being amazingly rational. Assume they've noticed that they and Iran are the only designated enemies of the US without nuclear weapons currently standing. (Well, maybe Syria)

    Assume they've also noticed that 0% of nations with nuclear weapons have been invaded.

    This seems like a low-risk strategy. (Given that they've essentially deployed a conventional nuke in Seoul)

    Targets?? Well, I'd guess that once they have 10ish nuclear warheads mounted on ICBMs, about 5 will be earmarked for Japan, about 3 for China, and a few for use against conventional US forces. (Because nuking Tokoyo would probably not irritate China all that much.)

    When that is achieved, I expect that US media will stop preparing us for war and switch from monster characterization to hermit kingdom.

    While NK does have long-term goals that probably include annexing the south, they probably realize that, even with nukes, those goals are as achievable as getting back parts of Korea from China. On the other hand, getting the US to not invade? Perfectly doable.


    Rational? I suppose, but also very self-involved, because I don't think they were high enough on anyone's "todo" list, both because the U.S. (and everyone else) has gotten enough of what we want from SK, and because the NKs put up a tough fight, had Chinese backing, and were mainly dangerous to themselves. I think everyone assumed that after the cold war the NK dominos would fall, and when that didn't happen nobody cared enough to fix the problem. Thus we find ourselves facing a not-entirely-sane, dangerously isolated enemy with a "H" bomb.


    also very self-involved, because I don't think they were high enough on anyone's "todo" list
    One of Bush's "Axis Of Evil" got invaded; one subjected to the world's first known state deployment of a malicious worm, sanctions, threats of war; the third - in an ongoing war with the USA! - is supposed to think "nah, they don't care about us"?


    Not sure whether NK is rational - pretty sure your assessment of the targeting isn't.

    Firstly no way would they target the only partial friendly country towards them. One that could easily foment regime change regardless of whether a nuke is targeted at them.

    Secondly targeting Japan - seems almost as suicidal as targeting the States. Im not aware of anyone having targeted Japan in the past - given their history of the only recipient of a Nuclear attack - I would expect many countries to see that as beyond the pale.

    Thirdly I would expect any statement from NK confirming they have ICBM's targeted on the US to trigger an overwhelming pre-emptive response - if the world is lucky it won't be nuclear.


    I had a comment drafted on underground testing, but didn't post it because nuclear weapons (really) disturb me. Here's the relevant bit: And with underground tests where efforts are made to prevent venting and security is really tight (DPRK, multiple layers of secrecy), deliberately creating a lot of uncertainty is also an option, and there is no reason other than DPRK claims (discounting any US or Chinese intelligence) for civilians to believe that the test was of something deliverable by missile. [1] Basically, we don't know. Assuming no venting or other intelligence, all we know is the rough magnitude of the seismic event (including rough error bars), and guesses about the depth and geology. And it's a reasonable assumption that the NKs are entirely focused on deterrence, of American-driven regime change. (FWIW, I say give them that. There is no better alternative. Invigorate the focus on non-proliferation though.) [1] worth a skim, but it's guesswork ATM: FP article by Jeffrey Lewis

    Anyway, there *are* better ways to deal with White Supremacist marches. --Start a fund-raising campaign for the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, or whoever. Get people to pledge money based on how far the march goes and how many are involved (this has worked great in Germany).

    Wunsiedel, the town people always cite for this, had had attendance to the Rudolf Hess memorial Neo-Nazi rally drop by an order of magnitude before they did this (after they exhumed him, cremated him, and scattered the ashes at sea). IIRC (post Charlottesville the internet has totally filled up with "look how this town beat the Nazis!" stories, making rediscovering the figures on this downright impossible) the same numbers are attending Hess memorial marches this year as did the inaugural Rechts Gegen Rechts fundraiser.


    Re: 'I'm beginning to find one water scam after another a little boring, ...'

    Then you might be heartened to know that Nature is launching Clean Water, a new online open access journal. (There's a call out for papers.)

    Should be interesting to see what research is being conducted where, by whom, etc.


    'npj Clean Water is an online-only, open access journal publishing high-quality papers which report cutting-edge science, technology, application, policy and societal issues that contribute towards a more sustainable supply of clean water.'


    It does get better, with exciting descriptions of insane dam building and failure and various other things. The sheer volume of problems, corruption etc is of course a bit dull to get through, but hammers home how ethically, morally, socially and economically bankrupt the entire region is when it comes to water.


    Thirdly I would expect any statement from NK confirming they have ICBM's targeted on the US to trigger an overwhelming pre-emptive response - if the world is lucky it won't be nuclear.>/i>

    I agree with most of your assessment except for the last part. I don't expect a preemptive response to a North Korean claim to have an ICBM targeted on the U.S. In fact, IIRC, North Korea has already made such claims, weasel worded as they might be.

    If they make such a claim explicit, I expect you WILL see a strengthening of the U.S. military presence in South Korea, possibly even the redeployment of TACTICAL nuclear weapons there.

    OTOH, if North Korea actually LAUNCHED an ICBM that appeared to be on a trajectory to the United States, there would be retaliation, and I think it would probably escalate rapidly.

    I don't know how long the U.S. might wait to see if such a North Korean launch was a bluff, i.e. whether North Korea would destroy the missile in flight and claim it was only conducting a test.

    Either way, there would be hell to pay!


    NK: going through the posts, it struck me that western-educated Kim is being rational. The trouble is that Trump is not.

    As I heard a bit on the radio last night, we got them to stand down their nuclear program, and sold them food, under Clinton. Program aborted under W.

  • Any use of nukes on NK, as I've mentioned before, means fallout all over: PRC, Russia, SK....
  • PRC: we do not want to have NK drag us into a war. We have much bigger fish to fry.
  • Russia does not want any of this.
  • And so, Kim is doing what's worked many times before, both for NK and other countries: they do sanctions, you make credible threats, and you all sit down and make deals.

    Except Trump. Kim keeps thinking that it's got to be a game, that the Orange Doodie isn't actually that stupid/crazy. He gets a good one... and that IDIOT "congratulates" Kim on backing down... and makes no offers. So Kim figures he's got to up the threat. And, of course, we also have side issues of dick swinging, not just by Trump and Kim, but Kim's generals. If he backs down too much, he'll be weakened enough for a coup.

    And this idiot won't give him a way to make a deal.


    You are right. Thanks for correcting me - next time I mention it, maybe this will help me remember which general it was.


    I was hearing on the radio last night - stocks are way overvalued, and there needs to be a "correction".

    My take on the reason there hasn't been one yet (care for hurricane Irene, currently at Cat 5, and going up FL and into the South?) is that they're all afraid, and it's musical chairs played to the Wm Tell Overture (aka the Lone Ranger Overture), on a 33 played at 78.


    violence level of the 1960's and '70's? In the US? What violence level are you talking about? The (very few) bombings by SDS-affiliates, where exactly one person was killed (because he refused to evacuate when they called in their warning, as they only wanted to destroy property, not hurt people)? Or the four killed at Kent State? Or the police riot (that is the official designation given it by a federal commission afterwards) or Chicago?

    Please elaborate.

    And, btw, not only was I in the streets then, I was in Chicago. So tell me about "that level of violence".


    Ghu. Ghu... I can almost hear that, except that the right-wing, all-wrongs' pr is vastly less coherent than that. They all seem to have skipped or cheated on English class in jr. high through high school....


    The scary thing about Trump versus North Korea is the "sunk cost fallacy": the more emotional energy you invest in staking out a position, the harder it becomes to abandon it.

    Apart from the ethics of this solution (or lack thereof imhho), there's no practical way to invade or bomb North Korea. A dictator who feels they have nothing left to lose has no reason not to take as many other people down to hell with him. In this case, that means attacking South Korea using conventional forces (North Korea's huge artillery and troop build-up) and possibly Japan or a U.S. base in the west Pacific using one or more nuclear weapons.

    Trump seems unlikely to fall into the trap of attempting to push Kim that far. Not because he's smart enough to understand why this is a bad idea--he isn't--or because he cares a damn about the collateral damage--he doesn't--but rather because men he respects (generals et al. who have provent themselves capable of meeting his bluster and telling him the truth without flinching) will tell him not to do this or that they won't go along with this--as they did with the whole transgender issue.

    He can still over-rule them, but I don't think he's going to. Smartest thing he could do, and what he's likely to do because it's a no-brainer, is command his military to prepare plans A and B for eliminating North Korea militarily. By so doing, he can avoid taking action while still convincing the chicken hawks in his administration that he's taking decisive action. If he gets really lucky, China will solve the problem for him and he won't have to implement either plan.

    Of course, I could be entirely wrong about this. Sometimes brinksmanship ends badly for everyone, and this is one of those cases where I wouldn't rule out that outcome. If you're an American, call your elected representatives and ask them to support the bill that's being prepared to remove first-strike capability from the president's hands. Particularly if you're a Republican.


    Forgive me for any inaccuracies, as I'm neither American nor old enough to remember first-hand, but AIUI the Watts Riots weren't unique...

    Here's some incidents of civil unrest in the US, 1960-1969. It's not a short list...

    ...the ten days after the shooting of Dr. King were hardly peaceful. More US Army and US National Guard soldiers were called out in the US, than the peak number of British troop deployments in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles (i.e. Operation MOTORMAN).

    So I think it's fair to say "violence levels of the 1960s/70s".


    Anemônê Duraþrór @421 said: UK Film recommendation: The Girl with All the Gifts.

    I collect ELE films like that. Thanks...

    The Polish film "Lure" isn't available yet here in the US, but I will put it on my list.

    I don't know if you have mentioned this film before. I'm waiting for the price to drop.

    Evolution Official Trailer #1 (2016) Horror Movie HD

    wiki - Evolution (2015 film)


    Greg Tingey @425 said: What surprises me is the openness & blatancy with which they are pursuing this obviously-wrong move.

    I have not read the book yet, but FANTASYLAND by Kurt Andersen may explain how America was built on delusion. Reading the review, I suspect that he's right. HA!

    Fake News: It’s as American as George Washington’s Cherry Tree


    A dictator who feels they have nothing left to lose has no reason not to take as many other people down to hell with him Yeah well, Godwin / Adolf trying to kill all the remainig Germans,as well....

    Didn't know about that first-strike move - looks good to me!


    Except, as far as I can see, he carefully, ever so carefully omits the real reason for the "American Revolution" - to avoid the obvious-to-the-far-sighted comnsequences of the Mansfield Decision - so Geo Wash at al got to keep their slaves, they faked up a plausible "reason" for rebelling. Um....


    Hm. I wonder if the NK leadership has decided it can't afford to keep all those artillerymen on the SK border any more, and needs them to productive instead? That would be a pretty strong incentive to reduce the manpower - which is finally what nuclear weapons are about, after all.


    I don't know how long the U.S. might wait to see if such a North Korean launch was a bluff, i.e. whether North Korea would destroy the missile in flight and claim it was only conducting a test.

    A liquid fuel ICBM first stage burns about two minutes and the second stage a little less than three. IR early warning satellites would determine launch azimuth while the first stage was still burning and have the reentry/impact point fairly accurately determined when the second stage shut off.

    If the payload were headed for US territory, Mr. Trump would be presented with options for his due consideration, but I suspect that the DEFCON would go up automatically and that the submarines and bombers would receive "get ready" messages. (ICBMs don't seem very advisable for the NK case.)


    Ding, ding. You're right.

    NK already has a conventional deterrent. A very, very expensive deterrent. They have one of the largest standing armies, much larger than their economy can support. Compared to that, nuclear weapons are cheap.

    Plus, don't forget the side-benefit of an ICBM program: satellites and launch vehicles. A NK spy satellite has tremendous practical and propaganda value for Kim. Plus, they can't use the GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, etc. Look at all the benefits we get from our existing space programs.


    You might enjoy John Barnes' novel Mother of Storms


    I DO NOT dance around a Maypole

    Now that is interesting. We have on file that you're a Morris Dancer (with photo-graphical evidence). Or is there a sub-set of Morris Dancers who don't dance the Pole? Is this some byzantine split within the Morris Community no-one outside of the hallowed bells knows about?


    You can see 'The Lure' legally in the USA.

    Of course, there are many other ways to find it.

    I won't spoil it, but let's just say: the question of communication is central to the film, and sacrificing part of your being means you lose things... It's not very Disney.

    (And yes: both films are good and pertinent to the conversation. Not Zombies, it's Brain Fungus & Symbiotes again)


    One question on my mind is whether modern nations are so entangled with treaty obligations that a stupid act, like, say, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, is enough to start a shooting war among major powers. My sense right now is that we're not, in that it seems more profitable for the US, China, Russia, and the EU to try to support the growth of each other's military-industrial complexes (on a begger-thy-neighbor/reverse potlatch kind of game. Who's going bankrupt second after the USSR?) without actually engaging the MILs in full-on war with each other.

    As noted, brinksmanship can go awry in this situation.

    The other problem I keep noticing is that North Korea's likely to have a famine on its hands in a few months. Keeping all the North Korean's minds off that prospect by making them afraid they're going to get nuked might not be quite as stupid as it sounds, any more than using nuclear blackmail to get a better price for foreign corn or rice would be (especially since I'm not sure anyone's got a bumper crop with lots of surplus this year). On the latter point, it would be interesting in the extreme if it eventually turns out that all this bluster about international war is actually a cover for negotiating the price of corn in North Korea (as in "Pay full price, Mr. Kim. We're not scared of your nuke. Oh yeah, well? what if I've got two nukes, and they can hit your mainland?").


    It's all about QE, Bonds, Asset prices and unraveling the massive hyper-bomb the Financial World has created. That's what this is all really about. And no: looking into it, they don't have solutions.

    I could expand this, but it would scare people.

    If you're a Smart Person[tm], you'll look at those two films and synergize their meaning. Let's just say they're not actually about Zombies (fungus based or traditional) or Mermaids (Disney or otherwise). (You'll need some heavy doses of cultural understanding to parse 'The Lure' beyond the obvious levels: start with Soviet Occupation of Poland,