Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soot clouds over Islam

Note: I had to bury this, but wanted it on the blog, so I just replaced an older article I never published.

CARL SAGAN RICHARD TURCO 1991 New Perspectives Quarterly

ITHACA, N.Y. - Oil is not only a chief cause of the war, not only fuel for the machinery of war, but also now a weapon of war. Now a vast oil spill, the largest in human history, is spreading through the Persian Gulf, threatening the ecology and desalinization plants of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

Before the war is over, pollution of this sort may attain a still more unprecedented scale. But there is a military use of oil that is still more ominous: massive injection of soot into the atmosphere. In the fall of 1990 Iraq announced that, under some unspecified circumstances, it was prepared to set fire to all 363 productive oil wells in Kuwait.

On Jan. 22, 1991, U.S. reconnaissance satellites detected plumes of dark, sooty smoke erupting from several refineries and wells in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait - perhaps a harbinger of the promised full conflagration. The smoke rose and was carried by the winds across the Persian Gulf to Iran, where some of it fell to the ground as "black rain. " The rest continued moving eastward.

What would happen if there were extensive petroleum fires in the war zone? Kuwaiti oil wells are, of course, not the only possible sources of soot. There are also wells, refineries and petroleum storage depots to burn in Iraq - some of which were reportedly on fire because of military action of the coalition allies - in Saudi Arabia, the other gulf Emirates and, if the war expands and old scores are settled, in Iran.

There is stored oil in ports, ships and pipelines. There are natural gas wells. And, of course, there are cities. We have calculated what might happen if only the active oil wells in Kuwait burned.

Smoke would be blown by the prevailing westerlies over Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and South China. The higher the smoke rises, the further east it is blown before it falls out or is rained out of the atmosphere.

Soot is very close to the darkest material known in nature.

Fine particles of soot absorb sunlight, warm up, and heat the surrounding air, which then expands and rises, carrying the suspended soot with it. This ability of soot to pull itself up is called self-lofting. It is predicted by the physics of the problem and has been demonstrated in experimental fires. As a result, there are plausible circumstances in which the soot from Kuwaiti fires would rise many kilometers into the air and be carried great distances across South Asia.

Capping an oil-well fire is a risky and difficult business. It takes the best teams in the world (and there are very few of them) a week to several weeks to do it. Quickly capping 363 oil well fires in a war zone is impossible.

The fires would burn out of control until they put themselves out. This, it is thought, would take months, and perhaps as long as a year. So, if these fires were set in winter, say, they might continue to burn through spring and summer at least. This is the growing season for many crops.

Soot would pour into the air at a certain rate and fall or be rained out of the air at a certain rate. The resulting steady-state amount of soot might well stretch over all of South Asia. In some circumstances, it could be carried around the world. Perhaps as much as 20 to 40 percent of the Northern Hemisphere might be covered by the pall.

Even if it only covered South Asia, the consequences could be dire. Beneath such a pall sunlight would be dimmed, temperatures lowered and droughts more frequent. Spring and summer frosts may be expected.

Agriculture is vulnerable. One night of below-freezing temperatures is enough to destroy the Asian rice crop. A temperature decline of only 3 or 4 degrees Celsius can destroy the Canadian and U.S. Midwest grain crop.

A real-world example can be found in the aftermath of the explosion of Mt. Tambora, an Indonesian volcano, in 1815. The two cases are not the same: Tambora injected a very large quantity of fine transparent particles into the stratosphere; Kuwaiti fires at their worst would inject much smaller amounts of much darker particles, but not to as high an altitude. However, the amount of sunlight that got through the Tambora cloud (which covered much of the Northern Hemisphere) and what we calculate from a massive Kuwaiti oil-fire pall are about the same.

The year 1816 was known variously as "the year without a summer," "poverty winter," "the year of the beggars," and in New England, "eighteen hundred-and-froze-to-death. " Traditional military wisdom holds that even remote contingencies must be taken into account if their consequences are serious enough. Since many of the nations most in danger are Islamic, perhaps Iraqi war planners might wish to reconsider torching the Kuwaiti oil fields - even as a gesture of defiance.

And coalition forces may want to avoid targeting large numbers of petroleum and natural gas facilities in Iraq.

Not only is the Gulf War being fought at least in part over oil - with more than a million uniformed young men and women from some 30 nations at risk because of it. The use of oil as a weapon can put vast numbers of civilians at risk. Add to this the pervasive local and regional pollution from the routine peacetime use of fossil fuels, and the extremely serious long-term danger of global warming from the same cause, as well as the risky dependence on foreign imports of oil, and it is reasonable to ask whether there are any alternatives.

Wouldn't many of the problems before us be avoided or mitigated if there were other energy sources we could use?

Nuclear reactors have, especially after Chernobyl, a wide range of real and perceived problems. But a world energy economy run substantially off solar energy and hydrogen fuel, for example, would generate no soot, no greenhouse gases, no local pollution and could hardly serve as a cause of war: sunlight is a widely available commodity.

These and many other technologies, more than competitive with oil when all costs are added in, could be developed.

But the U.S. government spends less on developing such alternative technologies in a year than the Gulf War costs in an hour.

With a slight adjustment of priorities, opportunities for the development of new industries would be immense. One lesson of the Gulf War, evident even at this early stage, is the need for industrialized nations to begin phasing out the world petroleum economy and phasing in cheaper, cleaner, safer alternatives.

Carl Sagan of Cornell University is a Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and creator of the "Cosmos" public television series.

Richard Turco of the University of California-Los Angeles is a recipient of the McArthur Prize Fellowship.

Gun Control in the Name of Good Diplomatic Relations: Why the Numbers Just Aren’t Adding Up

Not to underplay the devastation of the cartels on the rampage in Mexico, because it is bad (so bad that a friend and coworker with family in Michoacán asked how he could buy an AK-47 and smuggle it to his family there), but the violence seen along the border is going to be used as a jumping off point for gun control in the United States by this administration.

A new assault weapons ban, one with teeth this time that will avoid all the mistakes of the 1996 ASB as well as the UN Small Arms Treaty will be passed so that the Dear Leader can profess his willingness to work via multilateral structures to help our international allies.

The Media blitz is already upon us in this regard with the groundwork being laid that not only are we in the US responsible for the demand side for the Cartels products (which to be honest is partially true) but that we are also primarily responsible for the supply side of the firearms.

Enter the hazy and not so clear “statistic” that I am seeing more and more to justify this:


Mexican and US authorities have traced over 90 percent of the guns used by the cartels to American gun shops and shows, even though US laws forbid foreign nationals from buying fire arms.
USA Today

ATF acting director Michael Sullivan said investigators have traced 90 to 95% of the weapons found in Mexico to the U.S.
Washington Times

The State Department says firearms obtained in the United States account for more than 90 percent of Mexico's drug-related killings.
Everyone’s favorite assholes Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

As much as 90 percent of the assault weapons and other guns used by Mexican drug cartels are coming from the United States, fueling drug-related violence that is believed to have killed more than 7,000 people since January 2008, according to estimates by Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials. But the political obstacles to addressing the U.S.-to-Mexico weapons flow are dramatically underscored by Holder's experience in just the last few weeks.
And naturally, what compilation of questionable firearm related statistics and quotes would be complete without a quote from some douchebag democratic politician from San Francisco

"It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers, mayors, kidnap innocent people and do terrible things come from the United States," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at a hearing Tuesday. "I am appalled that you can buy a 50-caliber sniper weapon anywhere and it's not restricted to a federal firearms dealer - you can just buy it."
But what does this 90% really referring to? As you can see from the highlighted section there seems to be some confusion. Is it more than 90% or less than 90%? Is it 90% of all guns confiscated or 90% of all guns used in the commission of a crime? Is it 90% of all guns used to commit a murder (any murder) or just 90% of all guns used to murder innocent people?

According to the ATF, this 90% figure refers to 7,743 firearms found at crime scenes in 2008 that could be traced were traced to suppliers in the United States. To put this in perspective that means that 8604 guns that were take from crime scenes had identifiable markings that allowed law enforcement to trace their origins. Now, if we are to believe people like the esteemed Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-USSAistan), then only 8604 guns were confiscate in all of Mexico in 2008. Only 8604 guns confiscated in all of Mexico in 2008 ..... anyone else having a hard time swallowing that load of shit? More guns are seized in Chicago every year, and it has 1/40th population of Mexico (with similar firearms laws). Its especially difficult to buy considering that the same people pushing the 90% figure are also pushing the equally ridiculous claim that 2000 guns a day are being smuggled into Mexico from the Untied States, which by my math puts the total for 2008 at 730,000. If we extrapolate these “statistics” a bit further one could surmise that only 1% of all firearms smuggled into Mexico are used by the Cartels in their drug turf wars. Almost seems like the vast majority of American firearms going into Mexico are being used responsibly.

Aren’t statistics fun?

But like all political battlespace preparation, horseshit statistics and “facts” are just one element of the attack. They can also rely on the ignorance of the fifth estate.

For example

Lax gun laws and lax enforcement in the United States have made it easy for Mexican gunrunners to buy and transport everything from AK-47s to Stinger antiaircraft missiles, which then allows the cartels to use these high-powered weapons against rival gangs or against a military attack. More than 90 percent of the thousands of guns confiscated yearly in Mexico have been traced to US origin.
I must have missed the FIM-92's and AT4’s next to that Ruger 10-22 I just bought at Mega Sports. Damn it! Got to look closer next time. And it pretty obvious that Dicky McGee hasn’t bought a gun if he thinks that gun laws are lax, maybe lax by Khmer Rouge standards but pretty tough on an absolute basis.

And another:

Assault weapons made in China and Eastern Europe, resembling the AK-47, have become widely and cheaply available in the U.S. since Congress and the Bush administration refused to extend a ban on such weapons in 2004.
Really? I bought 4 Romanian AK-47’s in 2002 all for less than $1,000 total. How much cheaper and more widely available have they gotten? And clearly the RPG’s, grenades and machine guns that the cartels are now using are common wares at any Wal-Mart since the expiration of the assault weapon ban don’t cha know?

And Lastly

Some weapons seized from drug traffickers, such as grenades, are stolen from the Mexican military. But drug traffickers have little interest in weapons carried by the military, because they are of lower caliber than the semiautomatic weapons from the US, says Martin Gabriel Barron, a researcher at the National Criminal Sciences Institute in Mexico City. The semiautomatics are then often modified to fire like machine guns.
Let me see .... drug traffickers have little interest in Mexican military weapons (whose arsenal is nearly identical to the US military) and instead prefer to buy civilian versions of US military small arms (coincidentally the same kind used by the Mexican military) and then take the time to modify them to “fire like machine guns” .... exactly like the ones from the Mexican military. And although I really should defer to the Christian Science Monitor’s Sara Miller Llana with her master armorer certification from Colt firearms on this one, how exactly does one modify a “semi automatic” to “fire like a machine gun”? I am under the assumption that the replacement of the barrel and extensive modifications to both the upper and lower receiver to not only change the action from semi-automatic to fully automatic but to also take the larger rifle cartridge (as opposed to the smaller assault rifle cartridge) that is the signature of a “machine-gun” would make it easier to just but a machine gun and forgo any modifications. But that’s just me I suppose.

Wow, those Mexican drug cartels sure do like to do things the hard way.

Is suspect, and far be it for me to just make shit up like the “morans” above but many of these “military style weapons” are not coming from the U.S . I suspect they're coming from Central America and Colombia, which have been flooded with weapons over the past 40 years. The Soviets and their client states made over 100 million AK-47’s and shipped millions to Latin and South America. Even when poorly maintained they have long duty lives and can be purchased for as little as $20 in some parts of the world. So tell me why a smuggler would spend $500-1000 at a gun show in Dallas for something he could pick up in Ecuador or Nicaragua for $50?

They wouldn’t, that’s the answer.

Now I am not dismissing the fact that weapons do flow from the US to Mexico and that a number of these do wind up in the hands of the cartels but there has been no case made that American guns are a significant factor in Mexico’s ongoing drug cartel wars. I, like many people, suspect (and with the Holder/Clinton/Obama triumvirate its not a wild suspiction) that this is simply going to be used as an excuse to pass both the UN’s Small Arms Treaty and another Assault Weapons Bill.

So stay vigilant kiddies and keep your powder dry.


Been in Frederick Maryland that last couple weeks, so activity has been slow.

Gotta make the money to pay for my family.

And now apparently, everyone else’s family.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I think a lot of what Ann Coulter says is over the top for the sake of grabbing a headline and nothing else but sometimes you just have to marvel at the simplistic truth of it:

Oh yeah, and Leo Penn was a fucking no good commie rat bastard who deserved to lose his livelihood.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Could someone please put a bullet in this assholes head?

The theme of last night’s installment of The Encyclopedia Show was “explosives,” a tie-in to Young Chicago Authors’s Louder Than a Bomb poetry competition. So who better to serve as the unannounced special guest than Bill Ayers?
Oh how I wish Mike Royko were still around to call this dick face out like he used to:

That confirms something I've always believed about people like Ayers and his fellow well-born, well-bred suburban revolutionaries. Despite all their fine talk about helping the down-trodden, they had nothing but contempt for those at the bottom. They assumed that those who were born poor couldn't achieve anything without the leadership and teachings of bright people such as Bill Ayers. So it stands to reason, as the T-shirt implies, that those who managed to accomplish something without Ayers' help must have used sneaky, low-down methods. Thus, they are "scum."

Ayers still doesn't understand. A person doesn't have to have had a father who was head of one of Illinois' biggest corporations, as Ayers did. There are all sorts of success stories (they've become commonplace) of those who started at the bottom and floated to the top - without becoming scummy along the way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Beware the Eye in the Sky

Is this guy really fucking a donkey?

Too bad the audio wasnt on.