Oh… Canaduh

It’s been a while since we jumped on our sneaky neighbors to the north. We haven’t mentioned lately that flip-tops are not to be trusted and fundamentally unsound. While we have been negligent on providing well-deserved abuse, the nice folks at Hit & Run have been picking up the slack.

Jacob Sullum went to discuss a few things and gets told off.

He then points out the dismal lack of originality in the Canadian courts. It’s bad enough they copy us, but why do they copy the crap? They don’t copy the useful things, like the Bill of Rights.

Finally, Tim Cavanaugh points out the failure of Canadian entertainment. I can give the short version: anybody with any talent from Canada is already working in the US. Including Celine Dion, which pretty much invalidates my point about talent.

All three posts are relevant mainly for the unashamed Canada bashing that goes on in the comments. It gives all of us here at YPS Manor a warm fuzzy feeling to know that many others share our low opinion of the frozen suburb.


Paging Alfred E. Neumann

Eugene Volokh has a lovely post up on yet another proposal to disarm all potentially murderous gun owners. Of course, the "potentially murderous" is defined as "gun owner" so I suppose I’m being redundant. This one is novel by the author’s use of employment contracts as the method of choice. I applaud his ingenuity, but despise his motivation.

The problem for gun owners in general is very simple: people exist who would cheerfully disarm every civilian in the country. If you somehow beleive otherwise, you’re a fool. The evidence is obvious and overwhelming. The hostility towards guns in certain segments of the population is as rational as the demonization of nuclear energy, which is to say not at all. Luckily, smart people like Prof. Volokh are trying hard to shine forth the light of reason.


Well, the Senate, in its less-than-infinite wisdom and majesty, has confirmed John Roberts as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I hear it’s a good gig, so more power to him. I remain dubious, simply because he is too much of a blank slate. I don’t think he’s a raving lunatic who makes things up or a closet moonbat. I’m just not sure of his commitment to the actual document. I am slightly encouraged by some of what I’ve read, but then slightly discouraged by other things. I think he’s light years past some of the other candidates mentioned. However, all one can do is wait and see. Since it is practically impossible to impeach SCOTUS justices, he’ll give us ample opportunity to critique his performance. We’ve got a long time on this one.

Now the fun begins. The next name is going to be the entertaining one. I don’t think you can find another person so easily confirmable, and I don’t think President Bush wants to in any event. I think he is going to nominate someone who is going to give the donks apoplexy. I’m hoping for Janice Rogers Brown. Actually, I’m hoping for someone like Andrew Napolitano or Eugene Volokh, but that’ll happen about the same time snow-cones are handed out in hell. Janice Rogers Brown is politically feasible, while my choices generally aren’t. Such is life, I s’pose. She appears to be the best of a bad lot. I mean, really, Alberto Gonzales? The thought makes my brain try to claw its way out of my skull. He’s not a man who will vote to restrict the powers of government in defense of the individual.

Of course, that’s the problem. Very few people will vote for that anymore. People want the government to do things. The gummint has become the deity of choice in post-modern America. All power derives from the all-mighty insatiable maw of the tax-funded demon. Why work and accomplish things when it’s so much easier to convince 270 elected fools that you deserve to be given it at your neighbor’s expense?


Nice Tree

Family obligations caused us to make a last-minute trip through Beaumont to Vidor last night. It’s surreal to be driving through a large American city on a completely undamaged interstate with National Guard checkpoints at every exit. Luckily for us, the checkpoints ended at Beaumont. All you residents of Beaumont, stay out! Or drive past to Vidor, turn around, and back-road it into Beaumont. As a resident, it would be your call. Not that I would advise you on how to circumvent the barriers the government has put up for your own safety. Not me. I wouldn’t do that at all. After all, you are certainly not smart enough to determine what a personally acceptable level of risk is and plan your travels back to your devastated home appropriately. The government says so, and the government is always never wrong.

The damage is immediately apparent once you get into Beaumont. Besides the amazing lack and/or wreckage of commercial and highway signage, trees are down everywhere. In many cases the trees are down on top of power lines. We saw two ginormous transformers sitting on the side of the I-10 frontage road. I’m guessing they were at one point attached to the collapsed structure right behind them. I don’t think power restoration is going to be a quick process.

On that note, I would like to thank the nice people from Michigan who came down with their cherry pickers to help. They had air mattresses and all manner of other things in their trucks, so I’m guessing they are sleeping in (or near) their vehicles. I appreciate the dedication and the assistance.


Rita Postscript

Well, things look relatively normal on our side of town now. The grocery stores are open. We have gas at the Shell station and some other stations. I have to admit Shell has done the best job of supplying stations with gas.

I have learned from Katrina and Rita that it is functionally impossible to evacuate a major American city. You simply can’t do it in a feasible amount of time. The number being spouted is 2.5 to 2.7 million people evacuated from the Texas Gulf Coast. That’s well and good, but the population of the Houston metro area is well over 4 million. We didn’t even come close to a full evacuation. Given the amount of problems we saw with this evacuation, the odds of getting Houston area residents to bail out for the next one are pretty slim. I know a considerable number of people who won’t try. They either did evacuate or tried this time. They won’t do it next time. This doesn’t count the stubborn folks like the residents of YPS Manor who didn’t even consider evacuating.

The return plan also sucks. I note that no provision is made for folks that live south of I-10 and east of I-45. The day o’ return for those folks is curiously unspecified. The plan also calls for the outlying areas to come back first. I would think you push people as close to the coast as possible, then work your way back up the freeway. That way the people that have already returned don’t clog up the freeways for the people trying to return.

All things considered, we got lucky here. The storm lost a lot of force before landfall and moved far enough to the east to miss us. The storm has exposed some weaknesses in the disaster planning at YPS Manor, so hopefully we can address those before the next mass casualty situation becomes imminent.


Morning Is Broken

Well, we lost the plywood over one of the bedroom windows. I see a lot of tree related debris in the yard, but not too much. I appear to have lost the keyboard on my desktop. The wireless network is acting kinda funky.

On the other hand, we have electricity, water, and phone service. So things are going quite well. In a little bit, I’ll go look around and see if we got any damage not immediately apparent. But first, since we have power, I’m going to make a cup of coffee.


Evacuation Blues

A friend just called. He took his wife, 2 kids, and 4 greyhounds to New Mexico in two cars. It took him 33 hours to get there. I can drive halfway across the country in 33 hours. I know, because I've done it within the past few years. It takes less time than that to get to Fairfax, VA from here. When I was younger and crazier I could have made it about 3/4 of the way across the country barring cops.

God damn I'm glad we didn't evacuate. Of course, if things went differently I might be thinking otherwise.

The weather fairy is still pushing landfall near Cameron, LA. He's been right so far, so I'll stick with his predictions.

The wind is blowing pretty hard now. The plywood over the living room doors just banged pretty loud. The rain is coming down at about a 45 degree angle. I am sure that given some time and my engineering texts, I could back that out and get an estimate of wind speed. Of course, that presumes a) sobriety and b) effort that I'm just not going to spend.

Okay, we just lost the plywood over the laundry room and one piece over the living room doors. I put the living room one back up. If I anticipated higher winds, I'd put the laundry room wood back up. My attachment system is somewhat improvised, since no clips were to be found. I cut short wedges to hold the plywood against the brick in some places and full length 2 by 4 wedges in others. We'll see how many we have by the morning.

Sick Amusement

I am not a nice man. Anyone who knows me will probably confirm this. I am eagerly awaiting one of the idjits on TV getting blown away by the storm. My bet is the asshat standing on the Kemah boardwalk. My second bet is any one of the fools on the Galveston seawall.


We had concerns about the basketball goal, so I went out and moved the X-Terra behind the garage. The wind is definitely picking up now, and it’s starting to sprinkle rain. I drained the pool down to the level of the skimmers. I have done everything I can to prepare.

It’s time to start drinking and taking pictures.

Hurricane Tools

As part of the preparation for the festivities, I gathered up some tools that might be nice to have before I rendered the garage inaccessible. To paraphrase some old guy, one prepares for a hurricane with the tools you have, not the tools you wish you had. I dunno how useful this list may be, but I’ll throw it out there for consideration.

Remington 870 Express (12 Gauge)
Winchester Model 12 (20 Gauge)
Ruger 10/22 (.22 LR)
Aviation Tin Snips, Straight Cut
4 lb. Sledgehammer
2 Pry Bars
Assorted Screwdrivers
Utility Knife
Pull Saw
Jab Saw
Fencing Pliers
Cordless Drill (2 Batteries)
Assorted Drill Bits & Screwdriver Bits

I also have the plumbing bucket in the house, but that mainly holds specialized tools that don’t strike me as being particularly useful. Except for maybe the pipe wrenches. They might come in handy depending on what happens. I think I would like to have had an axe. I’ll add it to the list of things to consider once the storm passes.

The wind is howling loudly right now. I think the wind I’m hearing is more a function of the architecture of YPS Manor more than anything else. We have a breezeway between the house and the guest house that acts as a wind tunnel. Judging by the tree tops I can see in the neighbor’s yard, it’s not that bad yet.

Stuck Like Chuck

Lots of people are still stuck in traffic. I-45 is shutdown outside of Dallas because a bus full of evacuees caught on fire. A 17 mile backup is being reported. The roads in town appear to be clear, mainly because there’s nobody here. I’ve been outside several times already this morning, to let the dogs out and to check the plywood. The only traffic I see is trucks from Centerpoint Energy and the occasional city Public Works truck. It’s a little surreal because it’s very quiet. Even in a sleepy little suburb, there’s always some noise. Today, there’s nothing. Me and the dog are the noisiest things around. The wind has started to pick up already, but nothing major yet. It’s still nice and sunny outside. Rain is expected about noonish, but that depends on how the hurricane moves.

News2Houston appears to have rotated out their sacrificial junior reporters. Last night, the reporter standing on the beach in Galveston was a young Korean woman. This morning, there’s a blonde woman on the Seawall. I fully expect to see one of these women blown off her feet in the next 24 hours. The only people left on the beach in Galveston appear to be reporters and the mayor. It’s amusing to see other news crews in the background as one crew tries to make some relevant statement other than “Look at the waves! That surf is awful high, ain’t it?” (Note to self: don’t build house on a barrier island in the GOM.) The mayor of Galveston must have way more patience than I do. She keeps answering the same idiot questions from the same idiot reporters. I would have slapped somebody by now.


Plywood and Sawdust

Well, the windows are more or less covered. Some more, some less. I am not 100% confident that all of the plywood will stay once the wind starts blowing. Later this afternoon we'll start duct taping the windows, just in case. However, staying and fiddling with plywood strikes me as better than sitting on a freeway, not moving and waiting to run out of gas. I don't know what the hell people are doing when they run out of gas. Judging by the news, they're sitting there. In between working on storm prep, we've been watching a local news station. All the shots of the freeways look like parking lots. I don't see the point. I'd rather be in my house waiting for a hurricane than sitting on the freeway. I have no desire to see what happens to a lane fuolll of vehicles when the wind hits 130.

J's mother and grandmother were going to go stay with friends in Shreveport. After spending 2 hours to drive what normally takes 20 minutes, they gave up on the whole evacuation concept. They brought their supplies with them, so we got plenty of water. We've been freezing the bottled water in batches and loading the coolers.

Besides no injuries and minimal house damage, all I'm hoping for is a brief power interruption. I count on losing the power at some point, I'm just hoping it's short. If the power stays off for too long, it'll be barbecue time. We have way too much frozen meat. Once it starts to thaw, it'll be time to cook.

Front Row Seats

Well, it's round two of the summer weather knock downs. We had cheap seats for Katrina, but we got good ones for Rita. YPS Manor is located in a lovely eastern suburb of Houston. I hope to be blogging live from the apocalypse tomorrow night. I am charging up the batteries on the camcorder and the digital cameras. I plan on being one of those jackasses pointing a camcorder out the window making comments like "Look at the wind blow! Hey, whose barbecue grill was that?"

I think we may be under some mandatory evacuation order. If I trusted the government to tell me what to do, that might be relevant. Yes, we are not evacuating. At this point, all Houston freeways are parking lots. We have lots of water, plenty of food, 2 barbecue grills (one charcoal, one propane), and guns. I think we'll be okay. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to cutting plywood to fit over the windows. I think I can cover most of the main house windows to some extent. The guest house will have to fend for itself.

As an aside, the cellular network appears to be more robust than the land lines. We can make calls on the cell phones, but the land lines keep returning error messages or simply failing to get through. Whether that will be true in the days ahead will be the question.


Donk Delirium

For some reason I can’t adequately explain, I clicked on a link to Kevin Drum’s blog. What do I find? Yet another howler presented by somebody shilling way too hard for the donks. I can’t resist the comedy gold mine that magically appears before my eyes when some donk says libertarians are welcome to join the party. The argument used this time is a mixture of outright lying and specious logic. My favorite is the opening canard:

We don’t rack up massive deficits without good purpose (the last one we racked up was to fight and win World War II).

Umm, yeah. You can’t actually make that claim with a straight face, can you? You don’t seriously think I’m that stupid, do you? Oh, the shades of your former party loyalists are truly forgotten. Refresher high school civics lesson: the Congress holds the purse strings in this country, dumbass. For 40 years prior to 1994, the donks held a majority in both chambers. Ergo, any deficit that existed in those years was, at a bare minimum, passed by at least some donks. To claim your party never ran a deficit since WWII is to lie. I can think of no other appropriate word for it.

We find ways to topple and imprison genocidal dictators like Milosovich at relatively low cost — we would have been more effective with Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Well, I can go back as far as Vietnam and ask how well that worked out in terms of toppling regimes at relatively low cost. I’d ask LBJ or JFK, but , alas, they are no more. Why don’t you go look up Bobby McNamara and discuss the issue of donk effectiveness with him? For more recent history, I could just point out that the claim you would have been more effective is belied by the fact that for 8 years, the donk administration did nothing about either individual you mention.
We would be encouraging embryonic stem cell research, not seeking a global United Nations ban (which, thankfully, we "lost" most recently, 79-80).

Or at least you’d like to think you would. Depending on how well it polls, of course. I’ll just point out that "encouraging", in this context, means "spending federal money on". Here’s a little hint for all you donks and donk apologists. When you’re trying to convince libertarians that you might be worth supporting, a promise to be more profligate with federal funds is not the right tactic to take.

We don’t believe Tom DeLay should make life’s intensely difficult choices for your daughter or your dying parent.
The idea that donks don’t want Tom DeLay (R-Me) to make life’s intensely difficult choices for people I have no problem believing. The only catch is that I don’t want Hilary Clinton (D-Carpetbagger) or Ted Kennedy (D-Manslaughter) or any other agent of the government to make them either. I am, judging by every shred of available evidence, more qualified and more competent to make decisions about my life. I don’t want to trade Tom DeLay for whatever putz the donks have available this week. All y’all need to leave me (and everyone else) the hell alone.

The efenants pay lip service to the idea of a smaller, less intrusive government bound by the powers enumerated in the Constitution. The donks can’t even be bothered. Plus, I have to put up with asshats like Andrew Tobias lying to me about his party to win me over. Yeah, that’ll work. At least his tagline about "Buckets of Propaganda" appears valid.


Horrible Visions

I was listening to the radio yesterday morning. The nice man on the air misspoke and referred to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlene Specter. Ever since then I’ve had the vision of Arlen Specter in bad drag. Ick.

NRA and Confiscations

Publicola makes some good points about the NRA’s tepid response to the gun confiscations in NOLA. He makes the valid point, and one I’ve made, that the NRA is far too willing to compromise with people who have the eventual goal of banning all guns from civilians. He also does a good job of explaining the NRA in more realistic terms than most people hear from the media.

Also, GWA.45 has a lengthy analysis of what actually happened in NOLA. One key quote from his piece for me:

By Sunday, Sheriff's offices in Texas are looking for evidence of systematic intent to confiscate arms, vowing to pull their men out if that is in fact what is going on.
This reinforces my point about living where I do, despite the ignorance of my local DA.

GWA.45 and many others have urged the more moderate response of getting names and badge numbers and pursuing legal action against the city. I guess that’s easy enough to advocate from a comfy chair states away. Let me just ask the obvious question: what the fuck is the point of having guns if you meekly hand them over when the state comes to take them? This is the sharp end of the stick, people. Either your Second amendment rights matter to you, or they don’t. If you won’t resist when the state comes to your door, when will you?


Wolfe Time in NOLA

Under the guise of disaster relief, the government in Louisiana is removing people from their homes and confiscating their weapons.

I posted about the situation earlier. The more I think about this, the more agitated I become. What country am I living in? The actions of the state are just so utterly and abhorrently wrong on so many levels it boggles my mind.

J and I have been discussing many aspects of the situation for days now. At this point, we both have the same reaction. Had we lived in NOLA and stayed, we would now be in the process of preparing to shoot cops and the LA ARNG. If I decide I’m staying in my home, the government is not coming in and dragging me out and taking my guns. They are taking me out of there in a body bag, and I will drag some of the bastards down to hell with me. As J just put it: "Wanna see what a Catholic suicide bomber looks like?"

Claire Wolfe is famous (or infamous, depending on your POV) for her comment "America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

If you live in New Orleans, it’s no longer too early.


Following the coverage of the ongoing cluster fuck that is Katrina’s aftermath, I am struck once again by a seemingly irreconcilable difference in my worldview.

I don’t think my opinion of the general public will come as any surprise to the readers of YPS. In my carefully considered opinion, most people are idiots. The average person barely has enough sense and smarts to come in out of the rain. (Yes, I realize this makes me an arrogant, elitist bastard. I accepted that a long time ago.) Or, in this particular case, to leave before the rain arrives.

At the same time, I tend to think that most people will generally muddle through life okay. In a crisis situation, things will turn out okay because people will recognize what needs to be done and do it (if you let them). The Katrina coverage is proving this point of view as well. Someday, when I have a little more time, I need to figure out a way to balance these two ideas in a fashion that is logically consistent.

Arrogance AND Incompetence

Nice. The police superintendent of New Orleans has decided that private individuals no longer need weapons. Of course, the numerous private security forces around the city are exempted. So if you’ve got enough money to hire somebody to stand around with a gun, you can manage to have your property protected. If, on the other hand, you have to do it yourself, you’re screwed. You can rely on the Guard and (what’s left of) the New Orleans Police Department. Yes, the same police department whose members decided to do a little looting during the disaster. I’d feel confident that they would protect my property in my absence.

Given that he and his department manifestly failed in their duty to provide public order, he’s now prohibiting private citizens the means to defend themselves and their property. I’m so glad I live in Texas. That shit just wouldn’t fly here.


Disaster Ripples

I have been voraciously reading coverage of the disaster that is the aftermath of Katrina. I have been mainly focusing on New Orleans, mostly because it’s one of my favorite places. J was born there. We got married there, in one of the upstairs rooms at Arnaud’s. I have a great fondness for the city, and what is currently happening is greatly distressing.

I’m not going to spend much time on disaster coverage or relief. Other people are handling that better and more capably. I’m just going to make two comments. First, if you can, please help. The effects of this are going to be felt for a long time. The more people that help, the quicker things will approach normal. Second, somebody down in Louisiana needs to sack up, take charge, and start enforcing some law and order down there. I don’t know what the problem is, although I suspect the innumerable agencies involved make the chain of command incredibly convoluted. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin both need to tell their people (NOPD, LA State Police, LA ARNG) to start shooting looters and anyone else interfering with disaster relief and recovery efforts. Get in the way and get shot should be the order of the day. A city of 480,000 people was destroyed in less than 48 hours. It’s not the time to be screwing around with the animals and barbarians who will not be civilized. Remove them from the gene pool.

Instead of making other pleas for help, I’m going to cover some obvious and non-obvious points about why the aftereffects of Katrina are going to be such a bitch. Let’s start with the obvious issue that everybody is contemplating: oil and gas. First up, I note from the Times-Picayune that 8 refineries are shut, with one operating at reduced capacity. All told, it’s about 2.3 million barrels a day of refining capacity. It’s not all gasoline, but enough of it is to make a big difference. Many of the ones that are shut are down because they have no power. They won’t have any power until Entergy gets it back up, and that ain’t happening soon. Immediate impact? The price of gas is going to spike. Expect it to stay high for a while.

Among the many reasons why gas will stay high is the situation at Port Fourchon. Port Fourchon is one of the biggest ports, if not the biggest, to serve the oil industry in the Gulf. Right now, it’s underwater or flattened. The port is starting operations up again, but nothing can come in by land. This limits the operations that can actually occur. It will take a while to get things at Fourchon running back to normal.

Next somewhat less obvious problem is shipping. The Port of New Orleans is freaking huge. The amount of volume that goes through the port is staggering. They get 2,000 ships a year through the port. That’s roughly six a day. Right now, all those ships are stacking up in the Gulf. I just got told this morning that they’re going to try to divert all the Gulf Coast traffic from Mobile and New Orleans into Houston. Mobile ain’t a little bitty port, either. The problem here is that Houston is going to be swamped. Anything that normally goes in or out of NOLA is going to be an issue. Like what, you ask? Well, for starters, and of immediate interest to me, is steel. NOLA handles a large amount of steel, because it has great rail access. Of course, it handles even more grain. Over half of the country’s grain exports go through there. What else comes in through New Orleans? Coffee. The majority of the coffee that enters the US goes into the port. It can’t go somewhere else, because the roasting and processing facilities are in New Orleans. That Starbucks habit some of you have just a got a little bit pricier.

Of course, I am neglecting the biggest effect. Rebuilding and repairing is going to cost an immense amount of money. Once again, the broken window fallacy is rearing its ugly head. It is, as always, a pernicious falsehood. Always remember opportunity cost, people. The money that will be spent rebuilding will not go to anything else. The hit to investment and new growth will be catastrophic.

Many more things to think about are in the ripple effect from the disaster, but that’s enough for right now. Don’t make the mistake of thinking none of the ripples will affect you. If you live in the US, you’ll be affected.