Archive for the ‘Talkin’bout the Weather’ Category

Pizza, glory, dreck.

Monday, September 26th, 2005

Some aging nerd is blathering on in unpleasant detail a mix of truth and half-baked misanthropic enviro-drivel about the hurricanes and other matters, with a silent wife and small child whose world is being contaminated and constrained over pizza. That so familiar snide, all-knowing, world-weary tone and discourse in monologue. I’ve never been to this pizzeria before. It is well out of my usual orbit, in north Scotsdale. I came here after regular work hours on a work errand. On the way, driving north, I noticed a man standing in the bed of his pickup truck. He was pointing a compact digital camera west across the traffic. At somewhere over 60 mph, it took my decaffeinating brain a few moments to process. Then I looked out my driver’s side window. This is why we live in a frying pan. The high desert sunsets. The sun was half below the horizon in the notch of two free-standing hills. Clouds floated north-south in streamers. The Sun’s rays reached out in broad fan blades of fiery orange on a blue and white background. Thanks be to God for beauty, good sustainance, and the lout’s departure before this pizza got cold!

NORTHCOM evolving?

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

As I indicated in an earlier post, Northern Command, NORTHCOM in military jargon, is going to play an increasingly public role in the natural disaster portion of securing the American homeland. This means a shift in the balance of responsibility from state (National Guard) to federal (active and reserve) leadership. Note where President Bush chose to go when he needed to show and have maximal control of the federal response to Hurricane Rita.

Given a second chance to prove the federal government can respond quickly to a natural disaster, President Bush put himself at the core of crisis control Saturday.

He witnessed military operations command from the nerve center in Colorado Springs just hours after Hurricane Rita made landfall Saturday morning.

Bush, seated at a briefing room conference table, was flanked by Adm. Timothy Keating, NorthCom commander, and Secretary Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security. […]
The briefing room had eight large monitors on two walls displaying maps, charts and weather reports. On the front wall, a giant screen showed video-conference feeds from the White House situation room, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and military commanders in Texas and Louisiana.

Commanders briefed Bush on weather and military operations and gave preliminary damage reports. Johanson also updated Bush onHurricane Katrina relief and other NorthCom operations Saturday.

“It’s really comforting to know that our federal government is well organized and well prepared to deal with Rita,” Bush said to the small group of journalists in a twominute statement.

Note FEMA was not mentioned in the briefing rotation and also note that Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, not Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, was on site. While the NORTHCOM website is very clear about being a part of DoD and only supporting civil authorities, [speculation alert] it seems NORTHCOM may go the direction of the Coast Guard, with an eventual dual chain of command, in order to meet the expressed need for greater responsiveness and capability to respond effectively to all types of disasters [end speculation alert].

I’ve noted before, as have many others, the unique logistical capabilities of the military as a whole. What is also unique to the U.S. military is the ability to provide effective command and control under extreme conditions. That is displayed in a report from the Washington Post.

[Rear Adm. Joseph F.] Kilkenny said the military is using a grid system designed for fighting wars to carry out its domestic disaster response for the first time. Grids 15 by 15 nautical miles should make searches much more systematic than the chaotic searches after Katrina, Kilkenny said, because all the search parties — state and local, U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and active-duty military — will work from the same grid.

In “Afghanistan and Iraq we used the grid system. In that instance they were called ‘kill boxes.’ In this instance they’re called ‘rescue boxes,’ ” Kilkenny said.

By air and sea, Kilkenny said the Coast Guard was handling rescue from the Texas-Louisiana border westward, while the U.S. Navy was operating east of the border.

In terms of ground operations, Kilkenny said, “This will be a pincer movement. We’ll have land forces and FEMA state and local coming from the north down into these areas. And we will survey and see if we need to come in from the sea to render assistance” by sending Marines ashore.

Now if experience with “kill boxes” translates into capability with “rescue boxes,” it may also follow that training and operations with “rescue boxes” will translate into sustained capability with “kill boxes.” The domestic mission need not conflict with “warfighting” readiness and may even compliment it.

Clearing skies

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Encouraging news may wrongfoot storm crow pundits and pols. The good news:

  • airport reopened,
  • Army Corps ofEngineers revised “dewatering” time estimate down by half, and
  • people gathered in New Orleans streets for worship.

drawn water
flows out
church renewed


Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Afghanistan-Pakistan disagreement with Taliban in the middle. I read this as two neighbors quarreling with a rattler coiled between them.
A modern Pin Ball Wizard.
Please don’t play that funky music . . .[cultural reference here]

Still, tastes do evolve, and we’re reminded that people who as children eat and drink only Velveeta and soda pop often later develop a taste for Camembert and cognac. That’s fine, even if it may be a little on the generous side to use “Camembert and cognac” as analogues for unpleasant sounds. But I’m afraid the “lesson” has usually been taken considerably further, and reinforced with large doses of intellectual condescension and intimidation. While much of the public would be perfectly willing to acknowledge that Camembert and cognac can be wonderful elements of a diet, what we’ve heard from the avant-garde establishment for years has been something like this: “Yes, we know from centuries of experience that most people find a steady diet of nothing but Camembert and cognac unappealing, and there is no reason to believe that that will ever change. Nonetheless, starting now we are going to feed you . . . a steady diet of nothing but Camembert and cognac. We don’t care that you find it unappealing, because we’ve decided that this dietary change is necessary; it represents Progress. And if you can’t accept this Progress, it’s only because you’re not knowledgeable or sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate it.”

Midsummer Evening

Monday, July 11th, 2005

The high for the day was 113, and the mercury is sinking past 106 as the orange tint slips below the western rim of the Valley of the Sun. I’m sitting in The Wildflower Bread Company typing and munching on a sandwich and salad.

Skimming Girl Meets God after reading a few passages from Truth and Tolerance. I’ll be back to Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI’s work when I have time for a serious read challenging the secularist intolerant orthodoxy of “tolerance.”
The WSJ has started a series of front page articles on Islam and Europe. “As Muslims Call Europe Home, Dangerous Isolation Takes Root”.

A turning point was 1989. The Berlin Wall fell, ending the Cold War — an event that many Muslims saw as due in part to the actions of Islamic holy warriors, the mujahedeen, who through the 1980s had fought the Soviet Union to a standstill in Afghanistan. That was also the year Iran’s paramount leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a religious opinion, or fatwa, calling for the death of the British writer Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” in part criticized and satirized Islam. Fatwas are traditionally only valid in the Islamic world, so Khomeini’s fatwa implied something profound: Europe was part of the Islamic world. It was a revolutionary change that now is accepted by many Islamic theologians and thinkers.

The trend accelerated in the 1990s with the advent of the Internet, allowing young people to plug into a growing pan-Islamic movement that was inspired by orthodox Muslim groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and backed by wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states. Girls began to wear headscarves and boys collected audio and videotapes of preachers who advocated a stripped-down form of Islam that emphasized the culture’s past glories and a handful of simple religious regulations.

Restricting Freedoms

The effect on Paris’s banlieues was dramatic. People living and working there recount how personal freedoms were restricted as the new ideology took hold.

Nacera, a 27-year-old clerk living in Paris who asked that her last name not be used for fear of harassment, recalls that era. Like many Muslim children, she attended a mosque to study the Quran. She liked learning classical Arabic and counts the time there as one of the most memorable of her childhood.

By the time she was a teenager, however, things began to change in her banlieue of Stains. As the Muslim community became more established, mosques began to pop up. Many were normal places of prayer, but others offered an agenda on how to behave. Her family’s mosque, frequented by Mr. Amriou, fell into the latter category.

“It used to be that at weddings people would mix and dance,” she says. “Then we weren’t allowed to mingle. It was an accumulation of little things.”

OK, but the Secularist academy, the antipost-Christian cultural and government elite, have played identity politics and trivialized faith for so long that they have no grounds for disputing another group demanding group rights.

Not much reported is a real countervaling force, documented in Philip Jenkins’ 2002 article The Next Christianity.

During the past half century the critical centers of the Christian world have moved decisively to Africa, to Latin America, and to Asia. The balance will never shift back.

The growth in Africa has been relentless. In 1900 Africa had just 10 million Christians out of a continental population of 107 million?about nine percent. Today the Christian total stands at 360 million out of 784 million, or 46 percent. And that percentage is likely to continue rising, because Christian African countries have some of the world’s most dramatic rates of population growth. […] Within the next twenty-five years the population of the world’s Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world’s largest faith).
As the media have striven in recent years to present Islam in a more sympathetic light, they have tended to suggest that Islam, not Christianity, is the rising faith of Africa and Asia, the authentic or default religion of the world’s huddled masses. But Christianity is not only surviving in the global South, it is enjoying a radical revival, a return to scriptural roots. We are living in revolutionary times.

But we aren’t participating in them. By any reasonable assessment of numbers, the most significant transformation of Christianity in the world today is not the liberal Reformation that is so much desired in the North. It is the Counter-Reformation coming from the global South.

As to the West, or North, the response to the secularist antimorality may be coming from reinvigorated faithful led by the teachings of the new pope, and so back to the book and the Book that is more than a text.