Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yellowstone Lake Earthquake Swarm

A more recent update from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, with some useful links:
Monday, December 29, 2008 19:07 MST (Tuesday, December 30, 2008 02:07 UTC)

44.43°N 110.67°W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Earthquake swarm beneath Yellowstone Lake continues.


Released: December 29, 2008 05:00 PM MST

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a notable swarm of earthquakes has been underway since December 26 beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, three to six miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. This energetic sequence of events was most intense on December 27, when the largest number of events of magnitude 3 and larger occurred.

The largest of the earthquakes was a magnitude 3.9 (revised from magnitude 3.8) at 10:15 pm MST on Dec. 27. The sequence has included nine events of magnitude 3 to 3.9 and approximately 24 of magnitude 2 to 3 at the time of this release. A total of more than 250 events large enough to be located have occurred in this swarm. Reliable depths of the larger events are up to a few miles. Visitors and National Park Service (NPS) employees in the Yellowstone Lake area reported feeling the largest of these earthquakes.

Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Yellowstone National Park area, an active volcanic-tectonic area averaging 1,000 to 2,000 earthquakes a year. Yellowstone's 10,000 geysers and hot springs are the result of this geologic activity. A summary of Yellowstone's volcanic history is available on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site (listed below). This December 2008 earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years and is centered on the east side of the Yellowstone caldera. Scientists cannot identify any causative fault or other feature without further analysis. [In other words, they can't yet tell if this is due to magma movement, geothermal activity of some kind, or if the more typical forces behind earthquakes are behind this. - Tyler] Seismologists continue to monitor and analyze the data and will issue new information if the situation warrants it.

The University of Utah operates a seismic network in Yellowstone National Park in conjunction with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These three institutions are partners in the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Data are transmitted to the University in real-time by radio and satellite links from a network of 28 seismographs in the Yellowstone area and are available on the web. Seismologists continue to analyze data from this swarm of earthquakes and provide updates to the NPS and USGS and to the public via the following web pages.

Information on U.S. earthquake activity including Yellowstone can be viewed at the U.S. Geological Survey web site:

Information on earthquakes can also be viewed at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations web site:

Seismographic recordings from Yellowstone seismograph stations can be viewed online at:

Persons who felt any of the earthquakes are encouraged to fill out a survey form on the USGS 'Did You Feel It?' web site:

Geologic information, maps, and monitoring information for Yellowstone can be found on the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web site at:

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) is a partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park, and University of Utah to strengthen the long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake unrest in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

"The Spirit" Gets Slammed

As you can gather from this review, "The Spirit" isn't holding up to inspection very well:
It's one of those painfully, jaw-droppingly, call-your-lawyer bad movie experiences -- the sort of flick where pretty much every scene is a complete misfire, and not in that so-bad-it's-funny way. The timing's all off. The actors look confused and embarrassed. And if you care at all about the source material, the movie feels like punishment, or the final act of revenge in some long-simmering Miller/Eisner feud you never knew existed.

So, this movie is off the "must see" list. So are they going to rerelease "The Dark Knight" to theaters, or not? I'll be waiting. (I don't know about you, but the Christmas movie releases haven't inspired me. The only one I am remotely interested in is "Gran Turino.")

As for The Spirit, well, rats. I bought a couple of the "Best of The Spirit" collections that DC brought out this past year, and after reading them I found I did care for the source material. For example, in the movie posters, it announces "Samuel L. Jackson is... THE OCTOPUS." The Octopus being the #1 arch-criminal mastermind in the Spirit's sphere. But in the comic, the Octopus is always hidden - all you ever see are his gloved hands. So the movie butchered one of the signature villains of the comic, before you ever see the movie. And apparently it goes downhill from there.

What could have been...

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Not a Seismologist... (UPDATED)

"...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

Okay, so it was two weeks ago, and it was a Best Western, and I actually found out about it from the Drudge Report, but something interesting is happening in Yellowstone National Park.


From the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory:
The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a swarm of small earthquakes of magnitude 3.5 and smaller is occurring beneath Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, five to nine miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge, Wyoming. The swarm began yesterday afternoon, Dec. 26, and has continued and intensified today. The two largest earthquakes in this swarm have been shocks of magnitude 3.5 and 3.4 which occurred at 1:17 and 1:26 pm MST, respectively, today. Many smaller earthquakes have also occurred, including three events this morning of magnitude 2.5 to 2.8 and a magnitude 3.2 event at 3:30 pm MST. Some of the earthquakes in the swarm have been reported felt by people in the Yellowstone Lake area. Swarms of this nature are relatively common in this part of Yellowstone Park.

These swarms are suggestive of magma movement, but given the nature of Yellowstone Park, that's not saying much. There's lots of magma movement.

What is of interest is if this remains a trend. Sustained swarms, coupled with changing depths of the earthquakes, could suggest a volcano is developing. Right now, there is enough data to say what, if anything, is happening. But it is enough to command some attention.

Further resources:

USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
University of Utah Seismograph Stations
UUSS Recent Earthquakes in Yellowstone

UPDATE, 4:00 PM:

Scientists watch unusual Yellowstone quake swarm

Scientists are closely monitoring more than 250 small earthquakes that have occurred in Yellowstone National Park since Friday.

Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone. But Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah, says it's very unusual to have so many over several days.

The largest tremor was Saturday and measured magnitude 3.8.

Smith says it's hard to say what might be causing the tremors but notes that Yellowstone is very geologically active. An active volcano there last erupted 70,000 years ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Don't Like Flying

It's fine, usually.

But then there are days like today; a 3-hour delay because you plane was snowed in - in Las Vegas.

You guys in Vegas are pansies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Joys of Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of those things that I enjoy the result, but hate the process. For the last eight years, my folks have put up red. white, & green Christmas lights. And when I say "my folks," I mean Dad; and I usually get drafted to help.

They look great, but the trees seem to get taller every year, the bulbs develop shorter life spans, the extension cords shrink, and the FAA gets more picky about "interference with aerial navigation."

We still do it, though. It's tradition. This year more than ever - as the all the neighbors seem to have wimped out, and we are the only ones with lights. I've been doing it ever since it was determined that I had no higher chance of electrocuting myself than Dad has, so at least one of us will be able to call for help. It's also how I learned the meaning and usage of all the swear words, so it had educational value as well.

Anyway, when I heard Glenn Beck talking about Christmas lights the other day, I had to share:
The new Christmas light nets? Have you seen that? The Christmas lights net? It's their -- I don't know what they are actually called. It's a new style of outdoor lighting. When I was a kid, you would go outside with your dad and you would manly string up all those big chunky colorful light bulbs that would burn out every three nights and your dad would either break his neck or when you got old enough, he would say, "You go up and change the light bulb; I'll hold the ladder." And I think my dad was secretly hoping, "Maybe this time he will fall off the ladder." And those light bulbs, you know, are probably worth about half the reason that we have an energy crisis. But they were worth it. Then we went to the fancy white lights and then the icicles and everybody had that and then the twinkling lights and the fake snow and the stickers on the windows? I'm sorry, but it's getting a little over the top. Now we have the Christmas light nets where you don't have to wrap the strand around the bush in front of your house. You just go take a net of lights and you -- like a blanket and you just like... and pop it on the -- that's not right. You don't even have to put gloves on, let alone experience the father-and-son tradition of, you know, of Dad screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs while the neighbors consider whether or not to call the police because they have got some maniac out there on the top of a ladder screaming at his son. That's what Christmas is supposed to be. You're supposed to get the big ball of lights, the string of lights that are all tangled up and then your dad starts swearing and you say, "Dad, the reason why is because when you took them off last year, you were swearing so much" and of course they tangle themselves and you don't say anything, because Dad will kill you if you do. That's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Synchronized Spinning

Seen at The Corner:

Synchronized Spinning [Mark Steyn]

Mary Katharine Ham makes a good point here. The media are so on-message with the president-elect they no longer have to wait for his catchphrases actually to pass his lips, they just crank them out anyway. From the Associated Press:

Though Barack Obama isn't accused of anything, the charges against his home-state governor - concerning Obama's own Senate seat no less - are an unwelcome distraction. And the ultimate fallout is unclear.

If American newspapering had any wit left in it, some wag of an editor would launch a sidebar called "Unwelcome Distractions." Instead, give 'em another month or three and Obama may be the first president able to hold singalong press conferences.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Once more, with feeling

Pulling from Mark Steyn's column, below:

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Bombay is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the DA to file charges. There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him — he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Bros embarking on an exciting midlife career change — but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman.
Emphasis mine.

Mark Steyn on the Mumbai Terror Attacks.

Just read it.

It’s Not the Cold War
Updating strategy to fight the ideology.

By Mark Steyn
November 29, 2008, 9:00 a.m.
National Review Online

When terrorists attack, media analysts go into Sherlock Holmes mode, metaphorically prowling the crime scene for footprints, as if the way to solve the mystery is to add up all the clues. The Bombay gunmen seized British and American tourists. Therefore, it must be an attack on Westerners!

Not so, said Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria. If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have hit the Hilton or the Marriott or some other target-rich chain hotel. The Taj and the Oberoi are both Indian owned, and popular watering holes with wealthy Indians.

Okay, how about this group that’s claimed credit for the attack? The Deccan Mujahideen. As a thousand TV anchors asked on Wednesday night, “What do we know about them?”

Er, well, nothing. Because they didn’t exist until they issued the press release. “Deccan” is the name of the vast plateau that covers most of the triangular peninsula that forms the lower half of the Indian sub-continent. It comes from the Prakrit word “dakkhin, which means “south.” Which means nothing at all. “Deccan Mujahideen” is like calling yourself the “Continental Shelf Liberation Front.”

Okay. So does that mean this operation was linked to al-Qaeda? Well, no. Not if by “linked to” you mean a wholly owned subsidiary coordinating its activities with the corporate head office.

It’s not an either/or scenario, it’s all of the above. Yes, the terrorists targeted locally owned hotels. But they singled out Britons and Americans as hostages. Yes, they attacked prestige city landmarks like the Victoria Terminus, one of the most splendid and historic railway stations in the world. But they also attacked an obscure Jewish community center. The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons, everything that is other.

In the ten months before this week’s atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed over 200 people in India and no-one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Bombay, the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement. They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you’re supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city’s emergency-response system.

And, aside from dozens of corpses, they were rewarded with instant, tangible, economic damage to India: the Bombay Stock Exchange was still closed on Friday, and the England cricket team canceled their tour (a shameful act).

What’s relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, Mayor Nagin’s New Orleans. All you need is the manpower. Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan’s deeply sinister ISI had their fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely that there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you’ll find local lads and wily outsiders: That’s pretty much a given.

But we’re in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It’s the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You’re sitting in some distant foreign capital but you’re minded to pull off a Bombay-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You’ve already made landfall.

It’s missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the “Deccan Mujahideen” or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That’s a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It’s not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That’s what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Many of us, including the incoming Obama administration, look at this as a law-enforcement matter. Bombay is a crime scene, so let’s surround the perimeter with yellow police tape, send in the forensics squad, and then wait for the DA to file charges. There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: “A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station.” The photo of the “suspected gunman” showed a man holding a gun. We don’t know much about him — he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Bros embarking on an exciting midlife career change — but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a “suspected gunman” but a gunman. “This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services world-wide,” wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. “They think they’re being scrupulous — the man hasn’t been convicted of being a gunman yet! — when in fact they’re just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous.”

Just so. This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault — and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

Whoops, my apologies. I mean “suspected ideology.”

© 2008 Mark Steyn

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Almost Sounded Like a Brake Squealing

That noise you may have just heard was me screaming like a giddy schoolgirl.

Rapido Trains has announced that they are building an HO scale Canadian.

Giddy, I tell you.

Oh, you wouldn't understand.

The Canadian

Then again, maybe you would.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Utah 48, BYU 24.

That's my Utes. Now where shall we go bowling?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am a Utah Man, Sir...

Tomorrow is The Game, and while the Utah-BYU game is always a big one, this year Utah's shot at sole ownership of the Mountain West Conference Championship and possibly a BCS bowl are on the line.

The only prediction I'm willing to make is this: stay for the whole game, people. It will be won or lost in the last two minutes. Utah's offense this year has followed a pattern of frustrating their fans to the limit, only to come through in the clutch.

Utah Utes logo


Monday, November 17, 2008


Another item from The Corner. Items such as this are why Mark Steyn is so much fun to read:

Mooseraker [Mark Steyn]

I saw Quantum Of Solace yesterday. Short review: Didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale.

Anyway, the funniest line in the picture - maybe in the series (up there with Q telling M that Bond's attempting re-entry) - is when 007 encounters a woman in Russia and identifies her as an agent from "Canadian intelligence". Daniel Craig deserves an Oscar for his deadpan delivery.

I would love it if Canada turned out to be running an overseas network of glamorous maple sugar traps in deep cover. But, alas, Her Majesty's defanged Dominion has no agents on foreign soil, unless you count the Mountie snatch team dispatched to New Hampshire to seize me for my "human rights" show trial. (They're still in the barn, pinned down by my goat.)

(Bonus question: What Ian Fleming novel features a Quebecois Bond girl?

Answer: The Spy Who Loved Me.)

Apparently, the snatch team doesn't draw the Mountie varsity, fortunately for us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Everytime You Say Goodbye - Alison Krauss & Union Station

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

QUESTION: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

FRANKLIN: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
ATTRIBUTION: The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention. McHenry’s notes were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618 reads: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” When McHenry’s notes were included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934), a footnote stated that the date this anecdote was written is uncertain. SOURCE:

TFFQ: Tyler is Back; A Happy Warrior

That's right - it's the return of the the Friday Furo Questus! This where I share some news items and commentaries I have happened across this past week that I think are worthy of your attention, along with some snide comments of my own. This may be a biweekly rather than weekly event, but the writing bug is demanding its due this week.

So moving right along...

Thought of the Week
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-13
[Emphasis mine.]

Churchill Quote(s) of the Week
But my gravest accusation against the Socialist party is that they are deliberately and wantonly corrupting the character of the British nation. If their only object is to carry out practical reforms without revolution or disorder what is the need and what is the sense of teaching great masses of great-hearted English people to perform the antics and grimaces of Continental Socialism, to mouth the exploded doctrines of Karl Marx, to sing or drone that dreary dirge the Socialist International instead of the National Anthem [cheers], - and to be proud of the Red Flag instead of the Union Jack?

The harm that has been done already is very great. Nearly a third of the electorate has been marshalled around these foreign standards and taught to regard the institutions, the history, and the greatness of our country and Empire as if they were odious means of oppression to be repudiated or swept away at the earliest possible moment.

Winston Churchill, Speech to Parliament, May 7, 1924

"Winston is back."

Royal Navy Admiralty signal to Fleet, 3 September 1939.

Recommended Reading

"The Death of the American Idea,"
Mark Steyn:
Unlike those excitable countries where the peasants overrun the presidential palace, settled democratic societies rarely vote to “go left.” Yet oddly enough that's where they've all gone. In its assumptions about the size of the state and the role of government, almost every advanced nation is more left than it was, and getting lefter.
"Entering Casablanca," Liam Julian.

"Israel: The One Bomb State."

"Taxes: A Fair Share for All."
by Jonah Goldberg
And on a related note, from the Corner: "At What Point Does Atlas Shrug?"
During the presidential election campaign many were dumbfounded upon hearing for the first time that at least a third of Americans pay no income taxes whatsoever. The Tax Foundation notes that in 2006, 45.6 million filers (33%) paid no income tax whatsoever. Under current law, in 2009 47 million filers—representing approximately 96 million individuals— will pay no income tax.

The Foundation maintains that under Obama's tax plan 63 million filers— representing 44% of all returns— will pay no income tax. In contrast, in 1985, just 16.5% of filers paid no income tax.
"RINO Season is Open," by Ted Nugent (!)

"The Undefended City," by Bill Whittle.
A few years before Tolkien put pen to paper, an event took place that a man of his education would have undoubtedly been aware. On February 9th, 1933, the ruling elite of the world’s great Civilization held a debate in the Oxford Union. With thunderclouds growing dark across the English Channel, at a time when resolute action could still have averted the worst catastrophe the world has ever known, these elites resolved that “This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.”

The Resolution passed by a vote of 275 to 153. Needless to say, this vote did not avert the fight. It guaranteed it.

"A Flag, on a Hill." by Bill Whittle.

And just for fun:

"The Name's Fleming. Ian Fleming." by Mark Steyn.

Questus Furore

There is much in the recent elections' results to discuss, and much of it has already been said. (At the moment, my feelings are much in the vein of Mr. Nugent's above.) I will only add this much - now is not the time to abandon our principles. The Republicans have done that enough in the last eight years, only to find their "moderation" earned them only contempt from both their adherents and their opponents.

This election season also demonstrated that the press is no longer independent and no longer willing to even pretend to find the truth of a story. If they were, they would have probed into President-Elect Barack Obama's past, ties, and experience as deeply as they did Governor Sarah Palin's. Thst they did not is a betrayal of the public's trust. I had long suspected that the press, as a body, is lazy and ignorant; now I am convinced they are all that and corrupt, as well.

OK, that takes care of the spleen-venting.

Now, I wish to introduce you to a new essayist, one I suggest you get to know better. His name is Bill Whittle, and he is the essence of the "happy warrior." Recently, he has been contributing to National Review. And he gets it. Regardless of recent reverses and defeats, he demonstrates that consistency of principle and the confidence of his convictions that we need to have as well.

I still believe that there is much good to be done before our time on this good earth is over. Liberty will flourish, here and abroad. We are not here to fail, but to thrive and to triumph.

In the midst of this confusion, we can and must find clarity and focus ourselves. The promotion of liberty here and abroad should be our driving purpose, and the Constitution our guide.

Now is the time that free men shall stand, and defend the gift that has been left them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Mighty Fitz

The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, seen here in May of 1975.

I was remiss in sharing with you on Monday the anniversary of the tragic loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, an event that has caught my imagination and held it for some time. I am not alone in my interest; the ore carrier's loss has inspired several books and, of course, that song.

Why the loss stands out in an area of the world that is no stranger to heavy weather and shipwrecks is not easy to pin down. Shipwrecks that claim their entire crew are a rare event in this modern age. Shipwrecks on the Great Lakes are rarer still, at least in the last three decades. Perhaps it is this: even now, in an age of radar, global positioning systems, and radio, nature can still overpower our attempts to master her. Even now, with all that man's ingenuity can offer, the Lakes can still batter and pound a behemoth of a ship and drag her down to the bottom.

The story of the Great Lakes and their November furies is a tale worth telling - and fortunately some gifted writers have already done so. There are two books I commend to you:

  • White Hurricane by David G. Brown, which is the story of the November 1913 gales which killed 250 sailors, sank twelve lakers, and drove another 30 ships ashore. This book makes you appreciate how terrible it can be out on Lake Superior in a gale.

The video below includes Gordon Lightfoot's haunting song, and scenes of the Fitzgerald in happier days, and her subsequent grave.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Poppies Grow

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


See also: Commander Salamander.

Go Thank a Veteran Today

Thank you all - all who have served, do serve, and will serve.

Thank you Bampa, Chuck, and Dad for answering the call when it came. And thank you, Papa, for trying, only to be told you were needed where you were.

And thank you, the man in the box of old family photos. A smiling, proud young man in his World War One uniform and Jack Pershing hat, posing with his girl for the portrait.

Yes, there's some stories there. Some that I know and cherish, and others I can only guess at.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Rain

Nothing lasts forever, in the cold November raiiiiinnn...

What? I'm not allowed to rock out once in a while?

This video brought to you by a rainy, raw Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taxes: A Fair Share for All

Have to share this.

From Jonah Goldberg, over at National Review:

We almost had a really interesting conversation about taxes in the waning days of the election. Almost.

To the surprise of few, it was discovered that Barack Obama favors something called “redistributionism.”

John McCain, it was discovered, opposes it — which also surprised a lot of people. To a certain extent, the outrage from folks on the right, at times including yours truly, over Obama’s response to “Joe the Plumber” was overdone. It was, after all, Teddy Roosevelt — McCain’s hero — who introduced the progressive income tax for precisely the purpose of spreading the wealth around. The maverick’s campaign saddlebags are heavy with redistribution policies that redistribute wealth as well.

I still believe that redistribution for its own sake is little more than institutionalized covetousness. But that’s a subject for another day. What was left out of the national tax conversation was the reality of the situation: America already redistributes its wealth. A lot of it. In fact, we’re one of the most progressive countries in the world in this regard.

Now, first let me vent a peeve. Many people think “progressive” means “good,” even though something can be progressive and bad, too. When economists refer to a “progressive” income tax, they merely mean a tax rate that increases as you move up the income ladder. (Right now in the U.S., the poor pay somewhere between 0 percent and 10 percent in federal income tax. The middle class pays 15 percent to 28 percent, and the highest earners pay 33 percent or 35 percent.) But most liberals also think that the income tax is “progressive” in the same sense that fair-trade coffee and weepy acoustic-guitar college music are progressive — i.e. good and enlightened.

Either way, the U.S. tax code is a lot more progressive than you might think. A new study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that the United States “has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10 percent of the population.” Our tax system is, in fact, the most “pro-poor,” according to a Tax Foundation analysis of that study, of any developed country’s save Ireland. That’s right, we’re more progressive than France and Sweden.

The bottom 40 percent of income earners receive more from the federal income tax system than they pay into it. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent pay 71 percent of all income tax, despite only earning 39 percent of our pretax income. Taxes on the top 1 percent constitute 40 percent of tax dollars.

Lower- and middle-income workers pay a lot in other forms of taxation, particularly regressive payroll and sales taxes. Indeed, that’s one reason Obama wants to offer the middle class a tax cut. I don’t like his version of it, but I think he’s right that the middle class deserves some tax relief.

But what all Americans need is tax reform. Our tax code is outrageously impenetrable. And we’ve built a system that treats the wealthy like an inexhaustible natural resource.

Experts on economic development have long noted what they sometimes call the “oil curse.” Countries with huge oil reserves become economically wealthy but democratically impoverished, because the government can fund itself without taxing the middle class. As a result, the middle class demands less accountability from government because, heck, they didn’t pay for it. (No taxation, no representation.) In the process, the people become subjects rather than citizens.

Both Obama and McCain have a tendency to see villainy as an explanation for our economic woes. Obama thinks opposing tax increases is unneighborly and selfish. McCain has a long habit of denouncing Wall Street “greed.”

One moral hazard of such attitudes is that the investor class will start applying its entrepreneurial skills to protecting its existing wealth from the tax collector rather than trying to create more wealth.

But the greater danger is that millions of Americans might believe that all that is keeping them from the good life is the tightfistedness of people doing better than them and a government unwilling to pry those wealthy fingers open. That’s a recipe for an unhealthy political culture.

A sane tax code, under any president, would be simple, clear and direct. We’re not going to give up on redistribution in the form of, say, the earned income tax credit. But it’s important that the working and middle classes feel as if government spending comes out of their wallets, too. Otherwise, the line between citizen and subject is blurred and the costs of government are seen as someone else’s problem.

Insert whine here

Meh. So now what?

At least the campaigning is over. But forgive me if I don't join the party.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

When hinges creak in doorless chambers,

When candles flicker, where the air is deathly still...

This is the time when ghosts are present...

Happy Halloween...

And beware of hitch-hiking ghosts!



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bipartisanship = Democrats Winning

"Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there. But I do tell you that if the Democrats win and have substantial majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan," said Pelosi.
Thanks for clearing that up.

UPDATE: "[Because] Nancy and Harry have done such a fine job with the “most ethical Congress” evah in the past two years!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

October's End

Fall's a glorious time to be alive.

The trees and shrubs resolve to go out in a blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows; a last jubilant cheer before the colors dim and life bows to the inevitable coming of winter. This season has been one to remember in my neighborhood, as the trees have turned a brilliant crimson. The aspens have not matched their competition, turning a faded gold. An impressive view awaits one who looks out over the Willowcreek area.

But in the early morning or late evening, the riotous colors fade, and the air takes on an uncomfortable chill - a premonition of the coming winter's bitter cruel dominion. The mask of Nature comes off, revealing the harsh cold reality underneath.

It suits that Halloween comes at this time of year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tracing the Wasatch Fault

Courtesy of the Utah Geological Survey:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quote for the Week

"[W]hen the Communists show up to protest the Nazis, you're supposed to pray for an asteroid, not pick a favourite."

-- Kate McMillen of Small Dead Animals (a blog*)

*Highly recommended, by the way, if you are interested in events north of the border.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Submitted with only one comment

Gee, who thought this would happen?

Hawaii ending universal child health care

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."


Let me just repeat this one key quote: "People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free."

And you were surprised this happened?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Only a Matter of Time

You know it's only a matter of time before someone rules along these lines here.

Spirit of the Age [Mark Steyn]

From Britain's Daily Mail:

A gardener has been ordered by council chiefs to remove three foot high barbed wire ringing his allotment - in case thieves scratch themselves climbing over it.

Shouldn't that principle apply to prisons, too?


I am trying to come up with something insightful, clever, or at least readable.

No luck yet.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's a Monday

Rough weekend. Not that I had a bad time; but I did not sleep well at all; and then stayed up to watch the Red Sox-Angels game go twelve innings.

Could be worse, though.

I could have been a Cubs fan.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A little of the late, great BC Rail

Going to be out of pocket for while, so here's a little BC Rail action:

The Pemberton Pushers

That's College Football!

With 2:30 left in the fourth quarter last night, the score was Utah 20, Oregon State 28. Fans were grumbling (myself included), and people (not me) were leaving.

At the end of the game, the score stood Utah 31, Oregon State 28.

Endings like that are what make college football fun.

Government is not the solution

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”

- Ronald Reagan

Something to think about in the next six months.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A new link to consider

Just wanted to let you know about a new website* I have been reading. It's called, and serves as a gateway to some of the best of today's conservative opinion. You can use the above link, and I have also added it to the sidebar.

It's an "aggregator" site - basically, it takes the articles and blog entries from several different websites and puts them together on one page. You just pull up the page and start clicking away, to your heart's content.

*New to me, I should say. It's been up for a couple of months now.

Hurricane Ike's Effects - on the Great Lakes

You have probably heard about Hurricane Ike's results in the Houston area, especially in Galveston and on the Bolivar Peninsula. (If not, I refer you to Houblog. He was in the middle of it.)

But the storm also had effects clear up into Lake Michigan:

While assessing Ike's impact on the lake, Whitman noted that "The velocity and height of a tributary emptying into Lake Michigan at Portage, Indiana went off the chart. We measured a tremendous amount of sediment accumulation near Ogden Dunes."
A minor footnote in the record of Ike's passing, to be sure; but a plain reminder of the lasting and unusual power of a hurricane.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

But I Don't Drink

From The Corner:

Bold, Persistent Experimentation [Jonah Goldberg]

I have concluded the best way to deal with the election roller coaster is to commit yourself to cocktail hour.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Facebook is Addictive

Just trust me on this one. It is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's a Monday

Is there a reason Mondays have to be so miserable, or do they come by it naturally?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's Hot.

Feels like this outside.

Sonoran Desert
Photo from Ottosen Photography.

It actually looks like this,

Wasatch Front, from the U

but it's already pushing 100 F. So it feels like a blast furnace.

How people live in Phoenix I will never know.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This Is What Annoys Me

I'll comment on yesterday's primaries later; I really don't have anything to add.

But in case you were wondering about my comment about some of the weird criticisms of ROmney, here's one in the lede of Byron York's piece today:

"...proving that there is no time, not even Super Tuesday, when a candidate not named Romney is free from the pressure to raise money."
Romney's rich, got it. And he's willing to spend his own money on his campaign. Since when did that become a bad thing?

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Comment on the Current State of the Primaries

With Super Tuesday hours away, and McCain apparently in a comfortable lead, the general mood amongst the right-leaning commentariat and blogosphere seems to be sit down, shut up, and accept the inevitable coronation of McCain.

Which I don't understand, frankly.

Having had the opportunity to see Governor Mitt Romney in action during the 2002 Winter Olympics, I have not understood the animus he has faced. Accused from the beginning as a flip-flopper, his record does not bear it out. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court read into the state constitution the right to homosexual marriage, Romney criticized the move.

When action on health-care was demanded, Romney worked on a compromise market-friendly solution. Is that solution perfect? No. But remember this - Romney had to satisfy a Democratic legislature. That Romney was able to accomplish this should be noted to his favor, not his detriment, especially at a time when a majority of Americans will embrace any solution that will reduce their growing medical costs. Any.

(Hillarycare will be back. Do Republicans have anything to counter it?)

Those do not take note of his executive skill. Romney stepped to the helm of an ailing Olympic organization and led it to the Games to not lose money in decades, and a credit to Utah's reputation. And Romney's.

Is Senator John McCain a bad guy? No. His military service is a source of inspiration. But his recent political career is a source of frustration.

When his leadership was needed on the Republican domestic agenda, McCain simply wsn't there. It's one thing to occasionally disagree; I can tolerate that. But again and again McCain has worked to emplace legislation that ran contrary to my views. More aggravating for me is that his views seem to mirror those of the press, rather than any constituency. His stance on the supposed "torture" controversy being a good example - whose views were being represented? Let's be realistic here - the inmates of Guantanamo are hardly wayward Afghani boy scouts. They are hardened killers, who are ready and willing to visit horrors (far greater than any punishment we dare inflict) any any they deem an enemy. That subjecting these barbarians to sleep deprivation constitutes is laughable - and McCain could have done much to clarify this debate. But he did not, and more's the pity.

Couple that with his anti-business populist twaddle he has been selling in the last couple of debates, and McCain leaves me cold.

McCain's stance on the war in Iraq is heartening, and his rallying ws a great help. He could have had the same effect and brought sanity to the "torture" debate - but he didn't.

WHEN it comes to the final weighing, Romney's record shows that he is willing to work for and advocate for the things I believe in. McCain's record is less straightforward - will he stand up to years in the hot seat over Iraq? And will he respect the viewpoints of the Republican Party that will take him to the dance, or ditch them in the parking lot for the editors of the New York Times?

That I'm not sure is a problem for McCain. One that he has so far shown no interest in remedying.

Romney, on the other hand has endured some low and odd blows in his campaign. This race is showing some troubling fault lines in the American psyche; that members of the LDS Church (a church which I happily belong to) have recieved some odd, bad-faith criticism in this day in age may cause some Mormons to question their political affiliations, or at least look more skeptically at those who purport to be their allies.**

Romney's record, standing up for fundamental conservative principles during the Massachusetts gay marriage shows me he will stand for the things I believe in.

Which is why Romney has my vote.

**This is not to say all criticism of Romney was in bad faith, or even ill-founded. Nor should this be construed to say that the LDS Church is infallible - it is run and operated by mere mortals, inspired by God. People make mistakes. But there has been some truly vile statements made by men and women who would be shocked to hear such disparagements made against a race or ethnic group. Such is the quality of intellectuals in this modern age. (Article6 Blog is a good place to explore this different side of the 2008 elections.)