Category Archive 'Disasters'
17 Dec 2022

Bad News


World’s Largest Cylindrical Aquarium Bursts With 1,500 Tropical Fish Inside. link

A 50-foot tall, 264,000-gallon aquarium containing around 1,500 tropical fish burst in the German hotel in the capital of Berlin on Friday, sending fish and water through the lobby and onto the street, along with all sorts of hotel debris – from bellhop trolleys to twisted lamps.

According to police, the aquarium – known as the AquaDom, exploded early in the morning. Two people injured by glass shards were taken to a local hospital. Around 100 firefighters arrived on scene, which is currently under investigation.

Firefighters? Should they have called the coast guard?

The incident caused “incredible maritime damage,” according to the police, who noted that the aquarium held around 100 species of tropical fish.

15 Nov 2022

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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The NY Post profiles the FTX founder/genius.

Biden’s second-biggest donor, cryptocurrency billionaire wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried, a k a SBF, saw his business file for bankruptcy days after the election, but not before pumping $40 million into the Democratic Party to spend on “get-out-the-vote” and other shadowy ballot-harvesting mechanics for the midterms.

The shambolic 30-year-old whiz kid, once said to have been worth $16 billion, had spent $10 million helping get Biden elected in 2020.

SBF’s mother, Stanford law professor Barbara Fried, also is co-founder of left-wing political action committee Mind The Gap, which has raised a reported $140 million to help Democrats win elections through the same “get-out-the-vote” grift.

A more unlikely billionaire you could not find — and of course his money was built on thin air. A math genius with poor social skills, SBF reportedly lived in a “polycule” — a polyamorous relationship with multiple people — in a luxury penthouse with about 10 co-workers in the tax haven of the Bahamas, where his collapsed crypto exchange FTX was headquartered.

Otherwise, he was sleeping on beanbags in his office, eating vegan fries and, according to his own Twitter feed, popping amphetamines and sleeping pills to regulate his chaotic sleeping habits.

Now Reuters is reporting that between $1 billion and $2 billion of customer funds have vanished from FTX, conveniently after the Democrats safely spent his money.

At last report, SBF and his mysterious co-founder, Gary Wang, were being held “under supervision” by Bahamian authorities after reportedly planning to flee to Dubai, according to fintech publication Cointelegraph.

It is a stunning fall to earth. The financial media and big investors have feted the young billionaire as a saint who shunned earthly pleasures like Lamborghinis and Rolexes, but lived only to give away all his money and make the world a better place.

He was the most famous millennial adherent of a cult known as “Effective Altruism,” which originated at Oxford University, found fertile ground in Silicon Valley — and now has gone down in flames along with him.

EA is a disguised form of socialism, because all the “good” that is done just happens to match up perfectly with the left’s obsessions, whether climate change, social justice, equity, banning meat or his favorite, “pandemic preparedness.”

In a Nas Daily online video, an awkward Bankman-Fried was featured this year as a role model of altruism for young people: “Sam is not a traditional billionaire because he believes in the concept of ‘earn to give’ … Next decade he will probably give away more than $10 million … He wants to get rich in order to impact the world and change it.”


Caroline Ellison, Ellison, the close business associate and confirmed ex-girlfriend of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, tweeted last year:

09 Nov 2022

That Sucked!


Andrew Bloody Sullivan actually came out for Republicans this time. And did it help?

Ha! The democrats nominated a drooling tattooed skinhead with a billy goat beard who campaigned in a hoodie for the Senate in my home state, and he won. I feel like Job.

Jim Geraghty sums up the debacle pretty well.

Well, that was awful. The much-touted red wave felt more like a red splash in a kiddie pool.

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You It Was an Okay Night for Republicans

No excuses, Republicans. Everyone thought you had just about the ideal issue environment for a midterm election, and the exit polls verified it. Seven in ten voters said they were “dissatisfied” or “angry” with the state of the country. Around three-quarters of voters nationally characterized the state of the economy as “poor” or “not good,” and the same amount said that inflation has caused them severe or moderate hardship. About two-thirds said that gas prices have been causing them hardship. You had parents livid about the learning loss in schools because of the long closures for Covid-19 and inappropriate materials in the curriculum. You had an unpopular president, who was such a liability that Democrats couldn’t let him go anywhere near a swing state.

And the nation, deeply dissatisfied with the way the Democrats were running things, looked at what the GOP offered as the alternative and concluded, “Nope, I’ll stick with what the Democrats are giving me” in a lot of key places.


07 Feb 2022

It Couldn’t Happen to a Better Network

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Emerald Robinson is unsympathetic, looking on as CNN craters.

here have been so many scandals recently at America’s least favorite cable news network CNN that it’s hard to remember them all — they’ve multiplied like the ex-husbands of the Kardashian clan. Who can keep up with all the jokes now? Just take the most recent one: the forced resignation of CNN’s president Jeff Zucker. The first scandal is that not one, but two women were interested in being romantically involved with Jeff Zucker — who could be described, generously, as the least attractive man in the Eastern Seaboard. (I’ve been unable to confirm whether both women were legally blind when they met Zucker.)

The second scandal is that the woman who was romantically linked with Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, was not only romantically involved with Zucker for a decade but that the pair were personally involved in PR crisis management for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This included “calling him to do news segments with his brother Chris Cuomo and even coaching him on what to say during his infamous COVID briefings” according to the New York Post.

Why was the top executive of a cable news network coaching an elected official? Perhaps because his girlfriend had previously been the communications director for Governor Cuomo? Perhaps because Governor Cuomo’s brother hosted a nightly news program for CNN? Perhaps because CNN has always operated as the cable news wing of the Democrat Party under Zucker’s direction? In terms of ethical violations at CNN, we are spoiled for choice.

Let’s not forget the scale of the scandal that Zucker and Gollust were aiding and abetting Andrew Cuomo to escape: he had ordered that COVID patients should be placed into New York nursing homes. (There’s absolutely no reason to do that unless you want to spread the disease to the elderly.) Then Cuomo and his team intentionally withheld nursing home death data during the Trump Administration. In other words, Zucker and Gollust helped Governor Cuomo’s cover-up of COVID-19 nursing home deaths while ostensibly employed by CNN to inform the public of such cover-ups. It’s hard to imagine a more serious ethical breach at a media outlet.

What was the reaction, you ask, of CNN’s staff to Jeff Zucker’s resignation and the serious ethical breaches behind it? They all got together for a staff meeting and defended Zucker of course. (We know this because most of them leaked details to other media outlets like the New York Times.) This might be surprising to anyone who thought people like Brian Stelter and Jake Tapper and Don Lemon were actually journalists and not just a motley crew of misfits that were hired by Zucker over the years. Did anyone really trust these people to give them information anymore? Since CNN has lost 90% of its audience, the answer to that question is a resounding no.


26 Aug 2021


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17 Aug 2021

Unsuccessful Escape


15 Aug 2021

Why Afghanistan Fell So Quickly

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Afghan soldiers surrendering.

Yaroslav Trofimov, in the Wall Street Journal, explains that Biden withdrew the air support too soon that is essential for the supply and defense of the US-style Afghan military we created and trained.

You can’t defeat superior numbers of less effectively armed troops unless you can keep the food, water, ammunition, and medical supplies coming in, and unless you can clobber human wave attack with air support. Take that support away and you lose.

This spectacular failure stemmed from built-in flaws of the Afghan military compounded by strategic blundering of the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The Taliban, meanwhile, took advantage of the U.S.-sponsored peace talks to deceive Kabul about their intentions as they prepared and executed a lighting offensive.

The Afghan army fighting alongside American troops was molded to match the way the Americans operate. The U.S. military, the world’s most advanced, relies heavily on combining ground operations with air power, using aircraft to resupply outposts, strike targets, ferry the wounded, and collect reconnaissance and intelligence.

In the wake of President Biden’s withdrawal decision, the U.S. pulled its air support, intelligence and contractors servicing Afghanistan’s planes and helicopters. That meant the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore. The same happened with another failed American effort, the South Vietnamese army in the 1970s, said retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, who commanded the U.S.-led coalition’s mission to train Afghan forces in 2011-2013.

“There is always a tendency to use the model you know, which is your own model,” said Gen. Bolger, who now teaches history at North Carolina State University. “When you build an army like that, and it’s meant to be a partner with a sophisticated force like the Americans, you can’t pull the Americans out all of a sudden, because then they lose the day-to-day assistance that they need,” he said.


28 Jan 2020

1940s Chicago

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17 Jul 2019

Elmer Keith’s Ka-BOOM!

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28 Jun 2019

“Star Citizen:” $300 Million in Funding, Still No Game

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These were sold last year for $1650 each.

Forbes tells us all about Star Citizen, a video game that attracted $300 million in Crowd-Funding, but still may never be completed.

It’s October 2018 and 2,000 video game fanatics are jammed into Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts to get a glimpse of Star Citizen, the sprawling online multiplayer game being made by legendary designer Chris Roberts. Most of the people here helped to pay for the game’s development—on average, $200 each, although some backers have given thousands. An epic sci-fi fantasy, Star Citizen was supposed to be finished in 2014. But after seven years of work, no one—least of all Roberts—has a clue as to when it will be done. But despite the disappointments and delays, this crowd is cheering for Roberts. They roar as the 50-year-old Englishman jumps onto the stage and a big screen lights up with the latest test version of Star Citizen.

The demo starts small: Seeing through the eyes of the in-game character, the player wakes up in his living quarters, gets up and brews a cup of coffee. Applause quickly turns to laughter when the game promptly crashes. While his underlings scramble to get the demo running again, a practiced Roberts smoothly fills minutes of dead air by screening a commercial for the Kraken, a massive war machine spaceship. Eventually the Kraken, like all the starships that Roberts sells, will be playable in Star Citizen. At least that’s the hope. But for $1,650 it could be yours, right away.

“Some days, I wish I could be like . . . ‘You’re not going to see anything until it’s beautiful,’ ” Roberts later says at his Los Angeles studio. “A lot of times we’ll show stuff and literally say, ‘Now, this is rough.’ ”

What’s really rough is the current state of Star Citizen. The company Roberts cofounded, Cloud Imperium Games, has raised $288 million to bring the PC game to life along with its companion, an offline single-player action game called Squadron 42. Of this haul, $242 million has been contributed by about 1.1 million fans, who have either bought digital toys like the Kraken or given cash online. Excluding cryptocurrencies, that makes Star Citizen far and away the biggest crowdfunded project ever.

Rough playable modes—alphas, not betas—are used to raise hopes and illustrate work being done. And Roberts has enticed gamers with a steady stream of hype, including promising a vast, playable universe with “100 star systems.” But most of the money is gone, and the game is still far from finished. At the end of 2017, for example, Roberts was down to just $14 million in the bank. He has since raised more money. Those 100 star systems? He has not completed a single one. So far he has two mostly finished planets, nine moons and an asteroid.

This is not fraud—Roberts really is working on a game—but it is incompetence and mismanagement on a galactic scale. The heedless waste is fueled by easy money raised through crowdfunding, a Wild West territory nearly free of regulators and rules. Creatives are in charge here, not profit-driven bean counters or deadline-enforcing suits. Federal bureaucrats and state lawyers have intervened only in a few egregious situations where there was little effort to make good and a lot of the money was pocketed by the promoters. Many high-profile crowdfunded projects, like the Pebble smartwatch ($43.4 million raised) and the Ouya video game console ($8.6 million), have failed miserably.

If you don’t play video games, you probably have never heard of Roberts. But in the world of consoles and controllers, he is Keith Richards: an aging rock star who can still get fans to reach into their pockets. Roberts first gained fame with his early 1990s hit Wing Commander, a space combat series that grossed over $400 million and featured Hollywood stars like Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell. He followed that success by starting his own studio, Digital Anvil, with Microsoft as an investor. There, he spent years working on Freelancer, a spiritual successor to Wing Commander, which was eventually released years behind schedule and was far from a blockbuster. Roberts also dabbled in Hollywood, spending tens of millions on a movie version of Wing Commander that he directed himself and that was a critical and commercial flop.

Forbes spoke to 20 people who used to work for Cloud Imperium, many of whom depict Roberts as a micromanager and poor steward of resources. They describe the work environment as chaotic.

“As the money rolled in, what I consider to be some of [Roberts’] old bad habits popped up—not being super-focused,” says Mark Day, a producer on Wing Commander IV who runs a company that was contracted to do work on Star Citizen in 2013 and 2014. “It had got out of hand, in my opinion. The promises being made—call it feature creep, call it whatever it is—now we can do this, now we can do that. I was shocked.”

“There is a plan. Don’t worry—it’s not complete madness,” Roberts insists.

But what Roberts has stirred up does seem crazy. Star Citizen seems destined to be the most expensive video game ever made—and it might never be finished. To keep funding it and the 537 employees Cloud Imperium has working in five offices around the world, Roberts constantly needs to raise more money because he is constantly burning through cash.

This is not fraud—Roberts really is working on a game—but it is incompetence and mismanagement on a galactic scale. …

“There’s no two ways about it, man. Star Citizen is nuts,” says Jesse Schell, a prominent game developer and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “This thing is unusual in about five dimensions. . . . It is very rare to be doing game development for seven years—that’s not how it works. That’s not normal at all.”


Boy! That this story take me back to the old days at SPI back in the late 1970s. I can tell you that high intelligence and self-discipline do not necessarily go together, and that long hours and complete obsession can lead to dissociation from reality. We certainly never spent millions on any game, let alone $500 million, but there were definitely some games where development went on, and on, and on, like Achilles and the tortoise, never quite arriving at completion.

16 Apr 2019

Good News

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The Crown of Thorns

Many of the most important treasures of the Cathedral of Notre Dame were saved.

The facade and the two front bell towers survived as did the three Rose Windows over the main portals dating back to the 13th Century.

Apparently, the Great Organ was also saved.

Both what is purported to be the original Crown of Thorns worn by Christ during the Crucifixion and the tunic worn by St. Louis when he delivered the Crown to Paris in 1238 were also saved.

Apparently, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, entered the burning cathedral and personally saved both the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns, passing them out of danger via a human chain.


And much of what has been lost was not as old as one might have supposed.

J. Duncan Barry explains:

Bear in mind that the “real” — or near-original ”modern” state of — Notre Dame was significantly defaced during the iconoclastic spasm wrought by the French Revolution.

What we see today is largely the result of the highly controversial theories of architect-scholar-architectural restoration advocate E.-E. Violet-le-Duc — as executed by Ballu in the middle of the 19th century.

Today’s cathedral is as much symbol of these historical layers as it is an artifact.

I would even argue that the symbolic quality of this event already FAR surpasses the physical and *actual* damage — which appears to me to be a fire that started in the wooden substructure of the flèche [the tower that collapsed –jdz], a NON-original, 19th-century design put up to “improve” on the original. It was put in place when Lincoln was running for President.

But this “new” appendage carries with it all prior incarnations of the earlier variations of the flèche, as well as the Divine significance it carries as the tectonic marker of the crossing of the cruciform ground plan. It is a real thing, but it is as a carrier of meaning that gives it such power over our thoughts about the building and its place in the way our species has conceptualized our role in creation.

The symbolic aura is precisely what drives our visceral reaction: we respond to an image that is freighted with emotion.

The symbol has become more real than the object.

20 Aug 2016

Obama and the Louisiana Flood

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