Red Storm Rising II ?

Red_Storm_Rising_-_1990_-_MicroProse_Ltd.There is a lot of stuff going on isn’t there. Is it coordinated? I don’t know, but I don’t think it can be ruled out. Other than raising oil prices, it is kind of hard for me to see the commonality between Russia and Iran. But that I don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It was not intuitive that Germany and Italy (or Russia, for that matter) had much in common. It’s also true that the bad kids tend to stick together. In any case, foreign relations are in an incredible muddle, since the west seems to have no idea of what is going on, let alone what we want.

Not to mention that all this is happening as the US is cutting forces and missions and has the weakest leadership since the seventies, and like then, both civilian and military. The bureaucrats are back in charge, and so career enhancing now means making Rangerettes, not winning wars. The UK, the number four military, seems to be in a similar situation. It’s a perilous situation. The Committee on the Present Danger has some details:

China militarized islands in the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over ocean territory of Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan. Free navigation of international waters and billions of dollars of sea-borne trade is menaced.

Aircraft, tanks and troops battle in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. Terror attacks increase in Asia, Europe and across the Middle East. North Korea builds more nuclear weapons, and some experts believe Iran’s weapons cache already includes nuclear warheads.The world teeters on the brink of Armageddon, and no nation is doing more to push it over the edge than Russia has already done by annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine, threatening Baltic and Eastern European nations, and by using major military assets to defend Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s aggressive challenges to the established order in Europe and the Middle East, together with a demonstrated willingness to change borders with force, are direct threats to the United States and its allies. And, as it was during the Cold War, the backbone of those threats is Russia’s arsenal of strategic and battlefield missiles.To insure that global perception of Russia’s missile power is crystal clear, Moscow routinely flies Tu-95 bombers, armed with cruise missiles, to the edge of American, Canadian, British and Scandinavian borders. New missiles are deployed and tested, and treaties are ignored. The most recent transgression was just last month, when the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was again violated by the Kremlin.

Source: GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Red Storm Rising II

Then there is this, which pretty much got lost in the noise, of everything else going wrong:

The internet is a crucial piece of infrastructure, but most international connections rely on a surprisingly small number of submarine cables. And Russia, being the insecure frat bro of all nations, is making yet another bid for attention by threatening them without saying they’re threatening them.

According to the New York Times, Russia has spy ships and submarines dangerously close to crucial undersea cables, and may be working out a plan to cut those cables, slowing critical communication in the West.

Cutting a cable is the cyberwar equivalent of dropping a nuke. The last time cables were cut, by accident, it caused problems across the globe. Replacing a cable is not an easy task, as you may have guessed, so cable-cutting is basically the prelude to all-out war.

Thanks to economic problems at home, Russia’s government has been getting adventurous abroad to have successes to point to. The problem, of course, is those “successes” tend to be situations like what’s still unfolding in the Ukraine, blowing airliners out of the sky and then stonewalling criminal charges, buzzing the U.S. Navy trying to provoke a response, and somehowmaking the Syrian civil wareven worse, and considering the U.S. is bombing hospitals, that says something.

Source: Russia Is Threatening To Shut Down The Entire Internet

The source article suggests that it is war loser for Russia, they may be right, but so was going to war with Germany in 1914. Nobody I know of thinks the Russians are omniscient about much of anything. A bear in a china shop come to mind.

A note on those hospitals: They are run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which supposedly has provided coordinates and such to coalition forces. but they refuse to identify their installations with the required (Geneva Convention) identifications: The Red Cross, The Red Crescent, and/or The Red Cristal. Seems to me it asking a lot to expect a pilot, likely doing evasive maneuvering, to remember that MSF logo is supposed to mean the same thing as the symbols he has known all his life, especially when reports say that MSF, has allowed organized and armed troops to congregate in their facilities, for whatever reason.

Exporting Oil, Again

Oil-derrickYesterday, I mentioned here that a bill again allowing oil exports had passed the House. Here from Marita Noon is a bit more about it, and some inside baseball about the sausage factory as well. I’m an unabashed ideologue, but I do recognize that if you are a member of Congress, you probably should pay attention to your constituents, even if they are foolish Greens or RINO squishes. That too is part of the job, and it’s actually a good thing, as anybody who remember 2009 can attest.


The house passed H.R. 702, the bill to lift the decades old oil export ban—with 26 Democrats joining the majority of Republicans and voting for it.

Republicans could have passed the bill without the Democrats—but there are strategic reasons why it was important to include Democrats. And, getting them on board didn’t happen naturally—especially since two days before the vote the White House issued a veto threat in the form of a “Statement of Administrative Policy.” It says: “Legislation to remove crude export restrictions is not needed at this time.… If the President were presented with H.R. 702, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Twenty-six Democrats went against the wishes of the president and voted with the Republicans—but the number should have been much higher. Getting the companion bill through the Senate will be a heavy lift as the Republicans hold a slim majority. Because of the threat, a veto-proof majority will be needed in the Senate. The Washington Postreported: “the measure still faces a Senate that doesn’t appear eager to take up the issue.” A strong number of Democrats supporting the bill in the House gets the attention of the Democrats in the Senate.

The current news about the potential replacement for House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has brought a split in the Republican Party to the forefront. But there is an equal, perhaps even greater, divide within the Democratic Party. And the two sides do hold very different views—on display in the fight for votes in support of H.R. 702.

Democrats decried the bill saying it would put billions of dollars in the pockets of “Big Oil.” In contrast, understanding that successful businesses mean a strong economy and employment, the Republicans addressed the jobs that have been lost in the oil field—representing hundreds of thousands and real people who are struggling—and touted how H.R. 702 will help.

Source: Beyond the bickering, bill lifting oil-export ban wins bipartisan support « Sago

It’s a confusing, depressing, abstruse, and cumbersome way to run the country. It’s also nearly exactly what the Founder’s intended. Their point was to make it difficult to establish a tyranny, from any direction. It doesn’t help that this shouldn’t have anything at all to do with government, on either the oil or the maritime policy. But the thing is, that horse got out of the barn back when Lincoln hadn’t been thought of, that’s the weakness in a lot of libertarian thinking, they’re correct very often indeed; but they tend to posit a blank sheet of paper, and in many ways, getting that blank sheet, entails a price none of us want to pay.

Elliot reminds us always:

Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of no immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.


Friday Catch-Up

w707The reason most often cited for the success of the nonpolitical candidates is the frustration with Washington; the sense that the system is broken. Voters feel that we have no control and that government has gone wild. Even people who don’t watch the news or closely follow politics are aware of the “overreach.” It seems that, perhaps, the messages the outsiders have been heralding on the trail has caught on.

Washington’s overreach has been rolled back—by courts and commissioners and, even, in response, the government itself. In little more than 30 days, there have been five distinct cases that you may have missed—each, a victory for responsible land use.

Source: Stemming the tide of over-regulation by big government « Sago

Overdue, but welcome.

And also …

Vladimir Putin is reshaping the Middle East to fit Russia’s interests by adhering to fundamentals of international affairs that America’s foreign policy establishment sets aside in favor of what they deem sophistication. Unlike our “realists,” who start out compromising our interests with those of local allies, Putin is bending theirs to Russia’s. Unlike our liberal internationalists, who try to lead by giving power to local allies, Putin directs them in operations of his choice. Unlike our neoconservatives, who endlessly deploy force piecemeal, Putin uses it decisively.

The Wall Street Journalrecently fretted that Putin’s tank, plane, and artillery expeditionary force is empowering Iran as well as Syria’s Assad: “Russian planes can target anyone Assad deems an enemy.” No. They are targeting anyone who stands in the way of Russia’s objectives. That’s a big, big difference. Neither Assad, nor Iran, nor Iran’s Shia allies in what used to be Iraq have any reason to delude themselves that Putin’s assistance will take them any farther toward their own objectives than is absolutely necessary for Putin to achieve his own.

Putin’s objectives are obvious: to secure Russia’s naval base at Tartus, surrounded by a substantial enclave of Alewis rendered reliably reliant on Moscow and who will serve as its pied a terre on the Mediterranean shore, and crush all challenges thereto; and, since ISIS is the apex of the Sunni militancy also infecting Russia through the Caucasus, crush ISIS. Unlike our geniuses, Putin knows that the Assad regime, the Shia militias, and the Iranians are the only people who will hazard their lives to save the Alewis and to crush ISIS. So he is arming and organizing them. But he has no intention of trying to re-unite Syria under Assad, or to try to re-unite Iraq under the Shia, much less of seconding Iran in its Islamic world war against the Sunni.

Use, Don’t Deny, People’s Strongest Motives

Source: The Putin School Of International Affairs.

Simply the best I’ve read

Jeb Bush recently observed that America is “creeping toward multiculturalism” and called it “the wrong approach.” This unleashed the usual synthetic furies of the organized Left, ever ready to crush dissent on things that matter. This will not be the last time you will hear about this issue in the year to come.

The debate between assimilation and multiculturalism could very well be not just the sleeper issue of the 2016 campaign, but the current great question of the West. Our fights over immigration may be a cover for a more protracted deliberation over national identity—not just here, but in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and so on.

America’s identity is rooted in a unique culture that includes an exceptional attachment to constitutional government, volunteerism, and deriving satisfaction from a hard day’s labor—virtues intricately linked to America’s inordinate freedom and prosperity. The American public, sensing this connection at the all-important gut level, again and again tells pollsters they support the assimilation of immigrants; i.e., they not want their country to change.

Source: How To Know The Difference Between Multiculturalism And Assimilation.

Yep. And this:


One of the main reasons why I oppose the continued mass immigration of low-skilled workers is that little or no effort is being made to assimilate them. During our previous wave of mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both immigrants and American officials understood that assimilation into American culture, most importantly learning to speak English, was required. Immigrant parents made great sacrifices so that their children would grow up speaking English, and thereby enjoy the opportunities available to those who can participate fully in America’s economy.

Source: Assimilation? Who Needs to Assimilate?


Elections Have Consequenses

BN-KN997_negas0_M_20150929190135Keep that in mind if you live in New England this winter. While you’re freezing in the dark because of high energy prices, the rest of us are enjoying some of the lowest prices in a generation,

Why? Quite simply because we like fracking, and gas pipelines, and you don’t. From the Wall Street Journal.

Natural gas is so abundant in much of the U.S. that producers want to export it overseas. But in New England, gas is so hard to get that companies are importing it from as far away as Yemen.

Natural gas is so abundant and cheap in much of the U.S. that producers want to export it overseas. Except in New England, where gas is so hard to get that companies are importing it from as far away as Yemen.

The U.S. shale boom that has produced a glut of gas—and helped lower many Americans’ home heating bills—has largely bypassed the energy-starved New England. Few pipelines are available to ferry gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio to Connecticut and Maine, and new lines proposed in the region won’t go into service until 2018, or later.

Gas plants currently supply 44% of New England’s electricity, up from just 18% in 2000. Consumers and businesses are also swapping their old furnaces that burn heating oil for newer models that run on gas.

So as the weather cools, problems loom.

When brutal cold hits this winter, energy prices will soar. In Massachusetts, the residential gas price was $14 per thousand cubic feet last January, more than 50% above the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Department. At nearly 21 cents a kilowatt-hour, average first-quarter home electricity prices in New England were two-thirds higher than the U.S. average, federal data show.

Source: In New England, Shale Gas Is Hard to Get – WSJ

Oh, and it’s supposed to be snowier and colder than normal this year, so you can’t even count on global warming to keep your butt warm.


Obama Wasn’t Kidding About Spiking Your Electricity Bill

article-0-0F79094500000578-917_634x421You know, it is hard to know what to think about these folks. I’d like to believe they are simply misguided, and truly care about the environment. But it becomes increasingly clear that if they do, they care about absolutely nothing else, including if our citizens have a chance at a job, or simply starve while freezing to death in the dark.

More and more, though, I’m coming to believe they are actively sabotaging our economy, whether for the religion of climate change, anti-American/anti-western civilization Luddism, or simply a lust for power. In many ways, the why is unimportant. If we want our kids to live at something approximating the level we have known, as opposed to the want and squalor of medieval life, we’d best get these characters under control.

Doug Domenech will tell you about it as he wrote in The Federalist.

[…] Obama was announcing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final Clean Power Plan regulation. It is little changed from the proposed rule, although the administration and supporters will tout cosmetic changes to the rule as evidence of their “flexibility.” It is designed to force states to force the electric utilities to reduce “carbon pollution.” (FYI, carbon is not a pollutant.) Among other things, the regulations require power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent in 15 years, and states to reduce overall emissions at a rate that depends on current levels. If states don’t create their own plans that please the feds by 2018, EPA will create a plan for and impose it on them.

ILLEGAL: The final rule is still illegal and will be changed in court as soon as the ink is dry later this summer. At least 15 states, if not more, will file suit challenging the regulation that Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe called “lawless.” The plan has four “blocks. EPA only has the legal authority to do one of the blocks.

The Heritage Foundation estimates a loss of $2.5 trillion in gross domestic product and more than 1 million job losses.

EXPENSIVE: The cost of the rule is in the billions. The final rule still imposes higher energy prices on families, businesses, and the poor. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that U.S. electricity prices will increase by an average of 12 to 17 percent. The Heritage Foundation estimates a loss of $2.5 trillion in gross domestic product and more than 1 million job losses.

INFLEXIBLE: The final rule still offers no actual flexibility to the states. EPA to states: “Comply, or else.” Utilities are scared sh-tless.

DESTABLIZING: According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, regional grid operators, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the final rule threatens the electric power grid.

INEFFECTIVE: Even if you believe carbon is a pollutant, the final rule still does nothing to address climate change—in fact, it only reduces global temperatures by an immeasurable 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100. Say what? The EPA’s climate rule fails to impact the climate in any meaningful fashion, since the vast majority of global emissions originate outside the United States.

Continue reading: Obama Wasn’t Kidding About Spiking Your Electricity Bill.

It’s time, nay, it’s well past time to simply disband the entire EPA, they haven’t done anything useful, that the states didn’t do first, in at least thirty years, and they are a malevolent, revanchist, and unlawful force in American government.

Find and Repair a 230kV 800Amp Oil-Filled Power Cable Fault

scattergood01Have you ever wondered what guys like I do, when we’re not telling you that you need to do some completely unaffordable thing to keep your house wiring safe? We’re telling the utilities the same thing.

I ran across this the other day, talking about fixing an underground cable from a powerplant in California. It also highlights one of the reasons why a fair number of us are not fond of underground, no matter how much prettier you think it makes the landscape. :)

How do you fix a shorted cable ? Not just any cable. An underground, 3-phase, 230kV, 800 amp per phase, 10 mile long one, carrying power from a power station to a distribution centre. It costs $13,000 per hour in downtime, counting 1989 money, and takes 8 months to fix. That’s almost $75 million. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power did this fix about 26 years ago on the cable going from the Scattergood Steam Plant in El Segundo to a distribution center near Bundy and S.M. Blvd. [Jamie Zawinski] posted details on his blog in 2002. [Jamie] a.k.a [jwz] may be familiar to many as one of the founders of Netscape and Mozilla.

To begin with, you need Liquid Nitrogen. Lots of it. As in truckloads. The cable is 16 inch diameter co-axial, filled with 100,000 gallons of oil dielectric pressurised to 200 psi. You can’t drain out all the oil for lots of very good reasons – time and cost being on top of the list. That’s where the LN2 comes in. They dig holes on both sides (20-30 feet each way) of the fault, wrap the pipe with giant blankets filled with all kind of tubes and wires, feed LN2through the tubes, and *freeze* the oil. With the frozen oil acting as a plug, the faulty section is cut open, drained, the bad stuff removed, replaced, welded back together, topped off, and the plugs are thawed. To make sure the frozen plugs don’t blow out, the oil pressure is reduced to 80 psi during the repair process. They can’t lower it any further, again due to several compelling reasons. The cable was laid in 1972 and was designed to have a MTBF of 60 years.

Finding out the location of the fault itself was quite a feat. It involved time-domain reflectometry (inconclusive), ultrasound, and radar (didn’t work) and then using an Impulse Generator-Tester (Thumper) which got them pretty close to the defective segment. What pinpointed the problem was a bunch of car batteries and some millivoltmeters. They hooked up car batteries to both ends, tapped the cable at several points and knowing the drops and resistance of the cable, got within a few feet of the fault. Finally, X-Ray equipment was brought in. Sure enough, they could see the cable shorting against the steel wall of the pipe. Cutting open, and closing it all up, required certified welders spending up to 8 hours on each section to avoid damage to the paper insulation. The welders placed their thumbs 3 inches away from the seams they were welding, and stopped when it got warm to touch, allowing it to cool off before starting again.

The failure was attributed to “TMB”, short for Thermal Mechanical Bending. TMB causes the cable to wiggle in place due to load surges. This eventually causes insulation failure due to abrasion against the pipe and separation of the many layers of paper tape. They repaired the short, put aluminum collars in most of the joints to hold the splices in place, and have added a load management scheme to reduce the current peaks. Apparently, the fix wasn’t good enough. According to this Wikipedia article, “the 315 megawatt capacity Scattergood Steam Plant (Unit 3) to West Los Angeles (Receiving Station K) 230 kV line is having to be replaced after only 45 years of operations, due to multiple failures within this rather long single-circuit, oil-filled, “pipe type” cable.”

Find and Repair a 230kV 800Amp Oil-Filled Power Cable Feels Like Mission Impossible | Hackaday.

TDR’s are one of the most useful diagnostic tools ever, they pay for themselves quite quickly but it’s nearly impossible to convince bean counters that think Radio Shack sells useful meters that a $2K plus tool, that doesn’t fix anything, and occasionally isn’t good enough is justified. Heck, I haven’t even quite convinced myself yet. Thumpers work (sometimes) on the principle of “letting all the smoke out”. It’s much easier to find a broken something than a cracked one, after all. For the rest, if you’re interested follow the links.

It’s part of the reason than the electrical trades are often so fascinating to be in.

And there’s this, from his comment stream, showing how sometimes we manage to get authorized to buy a new widget.

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