atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#7818: They call it a "chain" because one weak link can wreck it

I got a link from Bayou Renaissance Man! First time anyone's linked back here in a while. But as giddy as that made me, it's a sobering topic.

The real problem is something he points out there: what do we do about perishable items?

I mean, okay, some things don't spoil, like U-joints or toilet paper or fruitcakes. But things you wouldn't think of as perishable are, at least some of them. BRM's example is tires, but batteries also have a shelf life. Gasoline, even if you put stabilizer in it. The shelf life of medications is far longer than the FDA lets on, but it's not infinite. Even canned goods need to be rotated.

The last thing anyone wants is to be caught without some critical part or component or ingredient at a time when no more can be had, at any price. But you can't buy everything, either, and you can't predict what's going to be impossible to get ahead of time.

And the absolute worst feeling is knowing that what we're seeing right now is just the beginning of it. The linkaround that's been happening in this discussion, between various bloggers, is full of anecdotes which individually would merit a shrug and, "Well, ain't that funny," but taken together--

I think my moment of clarity came when Mrs. Fungus wanted strawberries, and the only strawberries I could find were a few boxes of less-than-fresh (and some of the boxes had mold in them). In JUNE.

BRM, thanks for the link, and for reading!

Meanwhile, John Wilder echoes our concerns.
As most people know, that’s not a joke. Because of a semiconductor shortage, new trucks are in short supply. They can make the rest of the truck, but they can’t make it work without computer chips.

Since people keep their old trucks longer, spare parts for older trucks are in short supply, too.

Shortages tend to build up and have ripple effects.
I'm starting to wonder how that's going to effect the pay rates for truck drivers.

Capacity is the problem. The channels are full. Someone in the comments at BRM's post pointed out that when that container ship got caught crosswise in the Suez Canal, that was the breaking point for the supply chain. Wuhan Flu had strained the chain, but that's why it broke down.

And that's all it takes, you know?

It seems hard to believe that a few years ago we were talking about having something like 117% of the required shipping capacity, and that shipping costs from east to west were basically token fees because there were so few loads going from US to China.

* * *

At this point my discussion is just repetition and "How screwed are we, exactly?" so I think I'll give that one a bit of a rest.

So, that "record heat wave" on the west coast produced exactly one new record high temperature.

Let me blockquote what Borepatch blockquoted:
You want to see a real heat wave? Look at July 1936. Eleven States set high temperature records that stand to this day. That Wikipedia page is a little shifty on this, trying to hide the decline in record temperatures. You'll see an asterisk next to South Dakota, which the Wiki page says means Also on earlier date or dates in that state. So what was that earlier date for South Dakota? July 1936.

Oh, and three more States set high temperature records the next month, August 1936. That makes 14 out of the 50 States suffered record high temperatures in the summer of 1936. That's almost 30% of the States.
And even more interesting, once you get down to the little chart he's got, which alternates between showing the unadjusted temperatures and the adjustered and fiddleated ones, you see that 1936 is still the hottest summer in 20th century, regardless of which data set you examine. "Fortified" or not, 1936.

"1936 set 14 [high temperature] records, 2021 set only a single one." And most of those high temperature records from 1936 still stand.

* * *

One thing I've noticed about my writing (fiction, I mean) is that a distressing number of times, something I did as window dressing or as a throwaway ended up coming true. Sometimes it would be weather, sometimes it would be something else. Probably it's all more coincidental than anything else, but it still made an impression on me.

In the SF universe that I've done most of my work in, the early 21st century was a dystopia. As a paean to the "Roaring Twenties" in the 20th century, I dubbed them the "Screaming Twenties", because of the strife and unrest and general non-goodness taking place. In that universe, it's a time of amazing technological advancement, but the cities are hellholes and the world looks like it's coming apart. The Four Horsemen are riding and the entire world is suffering. Mass unemployment (and increasing automation), energy crises (even though overunity fusion reactors are finally available after about 2027), and a host of other things. Dogs and cats, living together. You know the drill.

One of the earliest ideas was to have two of the long-term characters in the series undertake to stabilize things by assassinating disruptive presences. Politicians or businessmen who they identified as real troublemakers, people who were going to make things worse if they weren't stopped. It was meant to be a really dystopian story, a tragedy: "Look at what we had to descend to in order to keep everything from going to shit!" and so forth. That story never got written, for a number of reasons, but in Apocalyptic Visions, I do refer to them having had some ideas in that vein, never having done anything with those ideas.

...and what happened to us just as soon as the calendar clicked over to 2020? *sigh*

No I don't think I made it happen.

Anyway, I mention all this because Cold Fury presents a series of Twittles in a form us non-Twittleati can read, and it's a damned sobering look at what an actual anti-fed insurgency might look like.

The left tells us that going after islamic terrorists only radicalizes other muslims into becoming terrorists, yet when they talk about going after "gun owners" they don't seem to be applying the same rubric to their plans. The problem is, if the news started showing the drone-barbequed corpses of "Bubba and Cletus" and crowing about how those white supremecist terrorists got what was coming to them, I don't think it would go over quite the way they expect it to. At least, not outside of the democrat enclaves.

I'm not a strategic genius, by any stretch of the imagination, yet even I can see how fragile is the infrastructure that supplies our cities.

Back when Mom was still alive, there was a big storm that ended up sending us to the basement. Tornado warning for the whole county, really big bad storm...and the power failed. Just "click" and it was dark...and stayed dark for the better part of 24 hours.

Why? Because--about twelve miles from the bunker--a tornado had passed between two high tension pylons, severing one cable.

How long would the power have been off if two cables--or all three--had gone down? What if one of the pylons had been hit? How long would the power have been down then? You can't exactly bop over to WalMart or CostCo and pick up a high tension power pylon.

What if it were two pylons? Or three?

It's not just electricity, either. Ever seen those weird posts with letters on top of them, at an angle? Those are pipelines--mainly natural gas. They're buried pretty deep, but someone with the right motivation could probably work out a way to get some explosive deep enough to sever them. Make a big impressive fire and not incidentally cut off the gas supply for how many people? It's inconvenient in summer, but a real problem in winter. How much firewood does it take to keep all those people warm while the gas lines are being fixed?

Multiply that across everything. Trains and trucks move everything, just about. It does not take a great deal of dynamite to wreck railroad track. If it's done just right, the guy driving the next train won't see the damage and half the train will end up on the ground.

And bridges--have you ever seen what a semi truck can do to a highway overpass? Concrete is very strong in compression but a couple sticks of dynamite--you drop a few of those and traffic will not be moving very fast on that road.

Notice that I'm not talking about active interdiction, here; I'm just talking about sabotage. You get a few teams of people who are willing to visit violence on people and that changes the game completely. Put a sniper someplace he can watch the bridge that was dropped last night. Let him wait until all the equipment is out there and the guys in the hard hats have started doing their thing...and then start picking off targets.

Many of the people who would be doing these things are people who came back from Gulf War II with a crapton of experience at defending against this kind of stuff, who know US military doctrine for handling insurgencies (mostly because these are the people who wrote those books) and who know what the US military can and cannot do. At worst, these things would be done by people who were trained by GW2 veterans.

So, yeah: against a determined insurgency, the military can only do so much before they start radicalizing the very people they profess to be protecting. And it does not take nearly as many people fighting the feds, to get to that point, as the "nukes and F-15s" crowd seems to think it will.

You nuke one town, and it's over for you, politically. You cannot use nuclear weapons in this war. For the same reasons you couldn't use nuclear weapons in VietNam or Iraq or Afghanistan.

I'm not advocating anything here. I desperately want all of this not to happen because if it does, it is going to suck. But all of this stuff is just basic fucking tactics, stuff that only takes a little bit of thought to figure out.

Sometimes I feel like Cassandra. I know I'm not alone.

* * *

The cartoon image of two males engaging in oral sex-- I don't know WTF is going on in that comic book because it's too deconstructionist to have any connection with reality.

Regardless, not age-appropriate for grade school kids. No.

* * *

I think this is the asshat who told police he was a "legislator". The article says the guy told the cops he was going to call the governor.

A real piece of work, there. Arrested for driving drunk and resisting arrest, he's now violated his bond three times, and the last time he was taken into custody he had a handcuff key taped to the bottom of his foot.

"A Michigan state lawmaker who has faced months of legal woes," the article begins, as if the guy was just minding his own business and helping old ladies cross the street when BAM! LEGAL TROUBLE! hit him in the face like an 18-lb sledge.

Instead of, you know, him committing crimes (allegedly, at least) which get you sent to jail, and then--on top of that--committing more crimes.

He'd better get a really good lawyer, because all the horseshit he did after his arrest for drunk driving and resisting arrest are not going to make him look all that good to a jury.

* * *

Lastly--

SpaceX has done it again. Inspiration got off the ground.

First time a rocket was sent up with people who were not government employees of various stripes (military or NASA) but private citizens. Four lucky bastards who get to spend three days in orbit.

I can only hope and pray that space tourism gets cheap enough for me to afford before I'm too old to survive the launch.
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