Friday, September 30, 2022

IAN: Update #3 or 4

I am still in Pensacola but am planning to leave tomorrow. I have gotten word that, miraculously, the house is still there with only very limited damage. The yard and roof are covered in debris and tree branches. The back of the house has a pine tree on it, but the roof held and there is no evidence of water damage or leakage. Part of the handrail by the front door is missing. Unfortunately, the surrounding area did not fare so well. I am sure everyone reading this has seen the devastation on the news. My community is tucked just north of Ft Myers and east of Cape Coral. And the entirety of the county looks like a war zone. The barrier islands look like Hiroshima after the bomb. I am told that huge numbers of people refused to evacuate. I expect that as they begin clearing the piles of debris that were once multi-story beach houses and businesses that they are going to start finding bodies. In some cases, the bodies will not be found as they were likely swept into the Gulf of Mexico. There is almost no power in Lee County not being supplied by emergency generators. Many roads are impassable due to debris and or flood waters. Gas is scarce to non-existent in the area and along much of the I 75 corridor. Given the current situation my plan is to head north and stay with family until it is safe to head back, which could be weeks. That said, I and all of my relatives are safe and nobody is homeless. Deo Gratias. I wish I could say the same for everybody else. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Direct Hit

The eye of the hurricane just passed over where my house is (was?). Won't know the extent of the damage for a few days at the least. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ian update 2

I am holed up in a hotel in Pensacola awaiting developments. My home is near Ft Myers, so yeah. Hoping for the best but bracing for bad news. Maybe very bad news. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

IAN (Updated)

As of posting, I am well within the dreaded cone. The two gas stations closest to me were sold out when I stopped. I was able to gas up at a station a couple miles down the road after waiting about 15-20 minutes. All three of the ATMs I went to were empty. Will see where things are tomorrow morning, but if it doesn't look good by noon, I will be bugging out. I have no interest in waiting until Monday when I 75 will be a parking lot with no gas along the route.

UPDATE: Sunday 23:46 Eastern

It's looking pretty bad. I am bugging out tomorrow (Monday).

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ukraine: Potential endgame scenarios

MUNICH — Last week was an interesting week to be in Europe talking to national security experts, officials and business executives about Ukraine. Ukraine and its allies had just forced Russian invaders into a chaotic retreat from a big chunk of territory, while the leaders of China and India had seemed to make clear to Vladimir Putin that the food and energy inflation his war has stoked was hurting their 2.7 billion people. On top of all that, one of Russia’s iconic pop stars told her 3.4 million followers on Instagram that the war was “turning our country into a pariah and worsening the lives of our citizens.”

In short, it was Putin’s worst week since he invaded Ukraine — without wisdom, justice, mercy or a Plan B.

And yet … maybe I was just hanging around the wrong people, but I detected a certain undertow of anxiety in many of my conversations with Ukraine’s European allies.

I learned long ago as a foreign correspondent that sometimes the news is in the noise, in what is being said and shouted, and sometimes the news is in the silence, in what isn’t being said at all. And my interpretation of what wasn’t being said last week went like this: Yes, it is great that Ukraine is pushing the Russians back some, but can you answer me the question that has been hanging out there since the fighting started: How does this war end with a stable result?

We still don’t know. As I probed that question in my conversations, I discerned three possible outcomes, some totally new, some familiar, but all coming with complicated and unpredictable side effects:

Outcome 1 is a total Ukrainian victory, which risks Putin doing something crazy as defeat and humiliation stare him in the face.

Outcome 2 is a dirty deal with Putin that secures a cease-fire and stops the destruction, but it risks splintering the Western allies and enraging many Ukrainians.

Outcome 3 is a less dirty deal — we go back to the lines where everyone was before Putin invaded in February. Ukraine might be ready to live with that, and maybe even the Russian people would, too, but Putin would have to be ousted first, because he would never abide the undeniable implication that his war was completely for naught.

The variance among these outcomes is profound, and few of us will not be affected by which way it goes. You may not be interested in the Ukraine war, but the Ukraine war will be interested in you, in your energy and food prices, and, most important, in your humanity, as even the “neutrals” — China and India — have discovered.

So let’s go under the hood of all three possible endings.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Technical Difficulties (updated)

As some of you may have noticed, not all of the links in the sidebar are currently functioning. This is not helped by my level of technical skills which likely peaked with the advent of the electric typewriter. At present I can't even get the layout page to load which suggests that there may be an issue with the HTML code or whatever is now running the internet. In any event, my frustration level has reached my maximum tolerance for the time being and I am going to go watch some cute puppy videos while I have a stiff drink in an effort lower my blood pressure. 

Update: I think I have managed to fix everything. Don't ask me how. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

EU calls for war crimes tribunal for Ukrainian War

The EU presidency has called for the establishment of an international tribunal for war crimes after new mass graves were found in Ukraine.

“In the 21st century, such attacks against the civilian population are unthinkable and abhorrent,” said Jan Lipavský, foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Ukraine depends on morale and Russia on mercenaries. It could decide the war
Read more
“We must not overlook it. We stand for the punishment of all war criminals,” he added in a message on Twitter. “I call for the speedy establishment of a special international tribunal that will prosecute the crime of aggression.”

The appeal follows the discovery by Ukrainian authorities of about 450 graves outside the formerly Russian-occupied city of Izium, with most of the exhumed bodies showing signs of torture.

“Among the bodies that were exhumed today, 99% showed signs of violent death,” Oleg Synegubov, head of Kharkiv’s regional administration, said on social media.

“There are several bodies with their hands tied behind their backs, and one person is buried with a rope around his neck,” he added.

“Russia leaves only death and suffering. Murderers. Torturers,” said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Some of the remains exhumed included children and people who were likely tortured before dying, he added.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 11, 2022


Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Schools are lagging in basic subjects

The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring.

But in 2019, the school, the Central United Talmudical Academy, agreed to give state standardized tests in reading and math to more than 1,000 students.

Every one of them failed.

Students at nearly a dozen other schools run by the Hasidic community recorded similarly dismal outcomes that year, a pattern that under ordinary circumstances would signal an education system in crisis. But where other schools might be struggling because of underfunding or mismanagement, these schools are different. They are failing by design.

The leaders of New York’s Hasidic community have built scores of private schools to educate children in Jewish law, prayer and tradition — and to wall them off from the secular world. Offering little English and math, and virtually no science or history, they drill students relentlessly, sometimes brutally, during hours of religious lessons conducted in Yiddish.

The result, a New York Times investigation has found, is that generations of children have been systematically denied a basic education, trapping many of them in a cycle of joblessness and dependency.

Segregated by gender, the Hasidic system fails most starkly in its more than 100 schools for boys. Spread across Brooklyn and the lower Hudson Valley, the schools turn out thousands of students each year who are unprepared to navigate the outside world, helping to push poverty rates in Hasidic neighborhoods to some of the highest in New York.

The schools appear to be operating in violation of state laws that guarantee children an adequate education. Even so, The Times found, the Hasidic boys’ schools have found ways of tapping into enormous sums of government money, collecting more than $1 billion in the past four years alone.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Florida in the Roaring Twenties

Home movies likely shot in 1926 right before the Great Hurricane devastated Miami and South Florida ending the land boom and plunging the state into depression three years before the rest of the country. Florida had a reputation in the roaring 20s as a playground and winter paradise for the well off. Some of the great landmarks shown in the film sadly do not survive. Happily however, the famed Venetian pool does.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Chile Says 'No' to New Leftist Constitution

The hard left constitution was rejected in what is looking like a landslide. With around 72% of the vote in, the margin is currently running roughly 60:40 against.