Category Archive 'Disasters'
20 Aug 2016

Obama and the Louisiana Flood

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06 Jul 2016

America Needs a Drink


A few of these and Hillary & Trump won’t matter so much.

Kevin Williamson offers some consoling thoughts as the country goes down the toilet.

[I]n the 2016 presidential election: The Democrats are offering a corrupt, lifelong machine politician who just narrowly avoided indictment with the help of a remarkably solicitous FBI; short of a rebellion in Cleveland, the Republicans are set to offer one of that Democratic crook’s friends and financial patrons, a semiliterate aspiring strongman whose greatest contribution to public life has been a stint as a game-show host. We are being given a choice between gonorrhea and syphilis.

If there is a silver lining in that ugly cumulonimbus mess, it is this: The country probably will muddle through, just as it usually does. Things will go on very much as they have in the past, and the things that are dramatically different will be things that we are not thinking about very much right now. And that will provide us with an opportunity to learn something important: Yes, it matters who the president is, but not as much as we think. It matters what the character of our government is and who we entrust to run it, but not as much as we think. Jackass A or Jackass B will do his or her worst, to be sure, and the damage will be both real and painful, but America will go on, because America doesn’t actually need these jackasses as much as Americans think.

I can face adversity as well as the next man, myself, but I do think that getting this electoral choice after eight years of Obama is piling on.

05 Jul 2016

No Small Disaster

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Holman W. Jenkins Jr. recognizes that Donald Trump is a shrewdly calculating utilitarian who is in it for himself. What, he wonders, will happen if Trump decides at some point that he cannot win?

Before they gather in Cleveland for their convention, it’s not too soon for Republicans to begin thinking about what exactly a Donald Trump defeat might be like.

As with his now-documented habit of charitable promises that seldom materialize, Mr. Trump never intended to endanger a sizable part of his personal wealth to fund a presidential campaign. That means he’ll continue to campaign on the cheap, by saying incendiary things and having them transmitted by the free media. Expect more speeches like the protectionist-cum-conspiracy theory speeches in suburban Pittsburgh on Tuesday and New Hampshire on Thursday, even if such diatribes frighten major donors and mainstream Republicans and make life harder for down-ticket Republican candidates in the fall. …

Here resides the problem all along for those hoping for a Trump-to-the-middle move. Such moves are expensive. Base-broadening campaigns require lots of paid TV to reach non-engaged voters and Trump skeptics, pummeling them with reassuring images suggesting that a Trump presidency would be OK.

Mr. Trump not only is unwilling or unable to finance such a campaign. He evidently is unwilling to do what’s necessary to entice GOP donors to finance it on his behalf. This means GOP officeholders seeking re-election can expect a constant headwind of inflammatory Trump statements designed to stimulate the free media coverage that his asset-lite campaign requires. Republican candidates up and down the ballot therefore become unwilling sharers of a high-risk Trump electoral wager, a gamble more likely to end in a Hillary landslide than a Trump White House.

The more intriguing question concerns what happens if Mr. Trump decides he can’t win and no longer is willing to throw good money after bad. Unless they were born on a turnip truck yesterday, campaign vendors will be the first to figure it out. Look for them quickly to cut off services rather than get stiffed in the inevitable Trump campaign bankruptcy filing.

Mr. Trump’s harsher Republican critics are kidding themselves to think Mr. Trump is crazy or unstable and will suffer a breakdown. More likely, he will simply and coldbloodedly toss the ball to the GOP, saying, in effect, “If you want to pay for some events or TV, I’m available. Otherwise I’m done.” The GOP would then have to shoulder the dual burden of propping up a minimally respectable Trump campaign while also distancing its down-ballot candidates from Mr. Trump so they might survive.

And that’s the optimistic scenario. Mr. Trump has learned the value of audacity. He might well decide to cover his retreat and preserve his amour propre with a flurry of lawsuits and conspiracy theories about a “rigged” election.

He’s already begun putting narrative flesh on these bones. He speaks of “crooked Hillary” and increasingly of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton’s philanthropy, and what he calls the Clintons’ “politics of personal profit and theft.” In his trade speeches, he portrays the Clintons as members of a nefarious global elite that has enriched itself while foisting impoverishing trade deals on the U.S. middle class.

He perhaps will throw in a few suggestions that foreign governments hold hidden leverage over Hillary because of her hacked, illegal email server. He’ll mention Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

Republicans can also expect to be a target of his accusations. He doesn’t need to be plausible, just tell a story that justifies his own stance that he didn’t lose, the other side cheated, “Washington elites” conspired against him, etc.

If the Trump endgame is destined to go this way, Republicans should hope it does so early, ideally before the convention is even over. To date, Mr. Trump continues to tease top GOPers and conservatives with the idea that he may yet come their way, turn his formidable talents to advancing conservative causes. This merciless exploiting of Republican romantics has begun to seem like something out of “The Blue Angel” or Lucy with the football.

07 Jun 2016

The Seine Is Rising

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The Seine is rising, and Paris is on flood alert.

09 May 2016

Another Lost Orson Welles Masterpiece Resurfaces

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Josh Karp, in Vanity Fair, recounts the story of another never-finished Orson Welles masterpiece film, The Other Side of the Wind. Imagine a film about a troubled director in which Orson Welles collaborated with both John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich. What could possibly go wrong?

In early 1970, director Orson Welles returned to Hollywood after more than a decade in Europe, and later that year he began work on his innovative comeback movie—The Other Side of the Wind.

The movie was the story of a legendary director named Jake Hannaford, who returns to Hollywood from years of semi-exile in Europe with plans to complete work on his own innovative comeback movie—also entitled The Other Side of the Wind.

Welles said it wasn’t autobiographical.

The story line of The Other Side of the Wind was supposed to take place during a single day. At one point, Welles intended to shoot it in eight weeks. Instead, it took six years, and the film remains unfinished nearly four decades later.

Based on a script Welles revised nightly, the film was financed principally by the Shah of Iran’s brother-in-law and offered possibly one last shot at topping Citizen Kane. The making of The Other Side of the Wind began as a tale of art imitating life, but ultimately morphed into life imitating art, on a set where it sometimes became difficult to tell the difference between the movie and real life.

During production many people asked Welles what his movie was all about. To his star, John Huston, he once replied, “It’s a film about a bastard director…. It’s about us, John. It’s a film about us.”

20 Apr 2016

“It was Midnight on the Sea, the Band was Playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee'”

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Watch the Titanic go down in real time.


Needless to say, Jamie Brockett’s Legend of the Titanic (though amusing) is not really at all factual.

11 Mar 2016

Lots of People Want to

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22 Jan 2016

Excitement on the Job

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From Facebook: Railroad Worker sees right-of-way washed out, April, 2011, Sudbury-Timmons region, Canadian National Railway line.

05 Oct 2015

Heavy Rain in South Carolina

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09 Aug 2015

Donald Trump Self Destructs in Debate Aftermath

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Donald Trump was always looked upon as a dubious presidential candidate, seemingly lacking in judgement, depth, and gravitas. But Trump decidedly surprised everyone by demonstrating unexpected abilities to debate effectively, to address issues, and to create a case for his candidacy based on opposition to conventional American politics, professional politicians, and political correctness.

He surged in the (very, very early) polls, by being entertaining, and –more importantly– by cleverly framing himself as the opponent of the same political establishment which much of America absolutely loathes and detests.

Serious conservative commentators and the GOP establishment were appalled, but people like me thought Trump was making some good points. He never really seemed all that likely to won the nomination, but in the meantime he did seem to be driving Republican politics in the right kind of anti-Washington, anti-business-as-usual direction. And, heck! if by some miracle, Trump actually won, he’d be bound to be better than Obama.

Well, lo and behold, all it took was the first official GOP debate on Fox News to do in the Trump candidacy. Curiously, Trump really actually did do just fine in the debate itself. But he began to self-destruct as soon as it was over.

Two excellent posts by Stuart Schneiderman:

8/7: On the Republican Debate:

The moderators are professional journalists. No one should have been surprised that they acquitted themselves as such. The leftist slander of Fox journalists as Republican toadies is so entrenched that people are surprised when they act professionally. No one should be.

Some conservative commentators criticized the Fox moderators for their tough questioning, but nearly all of the candidates were prepared to address them. The overall quality of the Republican candidates is exceptional; unfortunately, they are, for now, being overshadowed by Trump.

In New York Magazine Gabriel Sherman wrote about the conflict between Trump and Fox News:

    Having spent the past six weeks rhetorically slashing at his Republican rivals, it makes perfect sense that Donald Trump would eventually run out of targets and find himself in a war with the party’s media arm: Fox News. At the GOP primary debate Thursday night in Cleveland, Trump’s on-stage clashes with the Fox moderators, and his post-debate complaints about the network’s treatment of him, were among the most talked about storylines to emerge from the Quicken Loans Arena.

If your take-away from the debate is that the moderators were not very nice to you, you do not look like a winner. You look like a whiner.

Read the whole thing.


8/8 Still Defending Trump?:

Megyn Kelly’s first question in Thursday’s debate ostensibly addressed Trump’s insulting remarks about women. …

Kelly was asking whether Trump had the temperament to be president. Did he have the strength of character to be calm and collected under fire? Could he handle a crisis without flying off on a rant? Could he deal with foreign leaders when he could not impose his will on them?

The answer did not lie in his words, but in his behavior. Especially, in his continuing post-debate attacks on Megyn Kelly.

Now we know that the great Donald became undone when faced with big, bad Megyn Kelly. Keep in mind, as long as Trump is leading the Republican candidates in the polls, whatever he says reflects on the Republican Party.

Clearly, Kelly got to him. She got under his skin. She provoked an appalling rant, which did not subside after Trump got some rest.

Yesterday on CNN, Trump said this:

    But, certainly, I don’t have a lot of respect for Megyn Kelly, she’s a lightweight. And she came out there reading her little script, and trying to be tough and be sharp. And when you meet her, you realize she’s not very tough, and she’s not very sharp. She’s zippo.

Kelly might not have been very tough, but she was tough enough to threaten the Donald. If he cannot deal with someone who is a “zippo”–presumably, he was talking about the lighters– how could he deal with someone of substance. He was so threatened and so disarmed that he started lashing out, irrationally. I suspect that no woman has ever addressed him with such disrespect. As is his wont, Trump responded with a disgracefully indecent remark:

    And you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever, but she was, in my opinion, she was off base.

When you can’t answer the question, you attack the messenger. It is not a sign of toughness or of strength. It signals weakness. It shows that Trump can be easily manipulated. Those who think that Trump is a tower of strength should revise their opinions. Trump is more bluster than strength; more boasting than leadership. One should be able to tell the difference.

Read the whole thing.


Ed Driscoll, at Instapundit, collects negative conclusions on Trump’s potential presidential performance from conservatives.

[Roger Simon thinks foreign adversaries would easily roll The Donald:]

    Here’s how I would imagine they would handle Trump. They would love him to death, treat him like the king of the world, the genius at deal-making, ask him for advice on everything from golf courses to hospital maintenance, and if he got suspicious, love him even more, say great things about how rich he is, what a wonderful plane he has, ask for a tour, get pictures with him for People and Der Spiegel… then, after he feels like he’s been just the perfect president and has settled everything, that’s maybe six months, snatch the Baltic states (Russia), explode your bomb (Iran), move in on practically everything west of Honolulu (China) and look the other way when ISIS blows up three shopping malls in Dallas.

    What would Donald do about it? Say “You’re fired”? Brag about his money? I’m not optimistic.

And when it comes to domestic matters, as libertarian blogger “Popehat” tweets, “Consider the way Trump and his supporters speak of perceived enemies. Now, give them control of the IRS and Justice Department.”

So a looming disaster on public policy, a thin-skinned vindictive man with control over the IRS and the Justice Department, a core base of voters who view him in a near messianic light, a Fox News hater, and a man who has made common cause over the years with Bill, Hillary, Harry Reid, and the late Ted Kennedy. Trump really is the Bizarro World version of Obama.


Krauthammer: “He’s running as a tough guy. …[He was] going to stare down Putin, and now he says that he was treated not nicely by three Fox News anchors.”

19 Nov 2014

750 Year Old Polish Oak Tree, “The Brave Oak,” Burned by Vandal

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Dąb Chrobry, “the Brave Oak” in 1967.

An ancient oak tree, known as “the Brave Oak,” growing near the nature reserve Buczyna Szprotawska in Lower Silesian Forests around Piotrowice was damaged yesterday by fire. It was most likely deliberately set on fire from the inside. The tree germinated around 1250 and was the largest surviving Polish oak tree, the third largest in Central Europe. Centuries ago,it marked the border between two Polish principalities.

The spread of its crown was approximately 52.5′ (16 m). It was approximately 92′(28 m) high and had a trunk circumference of 33′ (10.10 m). Its diameter at breast height was 10 1/2′ (321 cm).

Polish news reports asked openly: “What kind of smoldering anger must a man have to do something like that?”

Acorns from the Brave Oak were blessed by Pope John Paul II, April 28, 2004, during a pilgrimage to the Vatican by Polish foresters. The nursery in Poverty bred from them 500 seedlings which were distributed all over the country. Its offspring are consequently known as “Papal oaks.” So seedlings survive, and “the royal oak will not perish forever.” Approximately, 500 “papal oaks” in Poland are trees from the acorns of the Brave Oak.

The tree was declared a natural monument on March 24, 1967, though it was also protected by law before WWII. Its age is estimated at approx. 760 years (germinated approx. 1250 years).

Polish Wikipedia article

Hat tip to Kaj Malachowski.

16 Nov 2014

Andy Baxter Riding With the Berkeley Hunt

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

17 Oct 2014

Great London Beer Flood of 1814

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Zythophile remembers today the victims of the London Beer Flood which occurred 200 years ago today:

Wherever you are at 5.30pm this evening, please stop a moment and raise a thought – a glass, too, if you have one, preferably of porter – to Hannah Banfield, aged four years and four months; Eleanor Cooper, 14, a pub servant; Elizabeth Smith, 27, the wife of a bricklayer; Mary Mulvey, 30, and her son by a previous marriage, Thomas Murry (sic), aged three; Sarah Bates, aged three years and five months; Ann Saville, 60; and Catharine Butler, a widow aged 65. All eight died 200 years ago today, victims of the Great London Beer Flood, when a huge vat filled with maturing porter fell apart at Henry Meux’s Horse Shoe brewery at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road, and more than 570 tons of beer crashed through the brewery’s back wall and out into the slums behind in a vast wave at least 15 feet high, flooding streets and cellars and smashing into buildings, in at least one case knocking people from a first-floor room. It could have been worse: the vat that broke was actually one of the smallest of 70 or so at the brewery, and contained just under 3,600 barrels of beer, while the largest vat at the brewery held 18,000 barrels. In addition, if the vat had burst an hour or so later, the men of the district would have been home from work, and the buildings behind the brewery, all in multiple occupancy, with one family to a room, would have been much fuller when the tsunami of porter hit them.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.

31 Aug 2014

These Days, Not Such a Wonderful Life

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A Facebook friend of Glenn Reynolds recently argued that, life under the leadership of Barack Obama, is a lot like the vision of Pottersville George Bailey was shown by the angel Clarence.

Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseam.

All that was in the future just one year ago.

What is happening now is basically America’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The President of the United States — supported to an exceptional extent by an electorate both uncomprehending and untrusting of the outside world — is Clarence the Angel, and he’s showing us what the world would be like if we’d never been born, Unsurprisingly, Bedford Falls is now Pottersville, and it’s a terrible place. Unfortunately we do not get to revert to the tolerable if modest status quo at the end of the lesson: George Bailey will eventually have to shell the town and retake it street by street from Old Man Potter’s Spetsnaz.

But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come. It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.

Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.

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