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Letting Off Steam over Leaky Pipes

Being skeptical of the natural gas boom and, in particular, Dominion-Cove Point's ability to operate for very long, if at all, due to a diminishing reserve of natural gas to export, working to prevent this from happening has not been high on my agenda. However, if tonight's Maryland Public Service Commission hearing in my town was of any help in slowing the runaway train of this plant's start-up, I will be pleased.

I addressed the commission tonight with regard to the changes sought by Dominion alleviating the limits on how much volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could be discharged from leaky pipes and valves. My major points pertained to the need for the commission to not make a rushed decision and to consider amending or rewriting the procedures for leak monitoring and repair.

It would surprise me if the Commission takes action on these recommendations, but I enjoyed having the opportunity to address the public with some cogent observations. If my recommendations were ad…

Welcome to Disasterland

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I was talking to Colin, my next-door neighbor, yesterday about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Everglades. As a U.S. Park Service biologist, Colin has spent many hours in the Everglades. He  unequivocally stated that the wildlife in the Everglades was seriously harmed by Irma. Yet, the Everglades took the hit for much of the human habitation on Florida's west coast. In a few decades, that won't be the situation since the Everglades will be swamped by rising seas.

Irma was a big hurricane that could have caused a lot more damage, especially if it had tracked up the eastern side of the state. As it turns out, the cost is estimated at $60 billion, yet we haven't figured in the cost of ecosystem damage that, due to threshold effects like loss of the entire Everglades, will precipitate from this and subsequent storms and temperature rise.

Ecosystem services aside, the cost of natural disasters is increasing. Driven in large part by overpopulation and also by global warming,…

A Coming War We Must Strive to Prevent

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Some anger smolders over generations. It depends on the offense. Whatever the eldest of the Paddock boys endured because of his father's criminal legacy could have been behind his one-man orgy of slaughter at an improvised Las Vegas shooting gallery.

Seething over the same time frame, the bitter anger of North Koreans against America for the devastation caused by bombardment in the Korean war could soon lead to a torrent of violence that makes Mr. Paddock's high mark all but forgotten. Violence could be unleashed by nuclear missile(s) hitting Guam or Japan. It wouldn't stop there, since not for nothing has the U.S. brooded over its thousands of nuclear eggs these many decades.

A second Korean war is not inevitable. There are some intricate diplomatic maneuvers that could resolve or de-escalate the conflict. Less certain is whether a war with China is likely nonetheless. Though Graham Allison's historical analysis of what he calls Thucydides's Trap allows him to cla…

Republican Civil War, Let's Get it On

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As we shoe-gaze over the embarrassment of the pretender to the Presidency's twitterpations, America is teetering on the brink of calamity spawned by an ineffectual majority party. Congress has until December to pass a tax reform bill that will give Wall Street enough of a lift to overcome the downdraft of Fed tightening. A promise of relief in next year's tax provisions could provide the positive sentiment to keep us airborne long enough to provide a not-so-hard landing. The GOP, however, shows itself to be so aggrieved over its supposed leader that passing major legislation is unlikely, if only for their perverse pleasure in turning popular opinion further against the cheat executive. leading to his eventual impeachment.

Trumpeting a call to arms by his basest base, the disappointed dictator could then incite uprisings by Trumpists across the country, making articles of impeachment too parlous at this point (Rep. Al Green's (D - Tex.) righteous bid notwithstanding). Yet, …

Czar Gazing

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Democracy, as a way to govern nation-states, is on the decline. With the help of Russia, politically four centuries behind the West, the U.S. could be headed for czarist rule. The Russian word czar comes from "caesar" and was the title first assumed by Ivan the Awesome (or the more popular pejorative, "the Terrible").

If our political regression stays in step with our fall back through the growth of civilization to agrarianism, we could see an autocrat in power in a decade or so. Czar Barron has a certain ring to it.
Czar Donald sounds cartoonish, but since we don't execute traitors anymore, Junior may be first in line to inherit the throne after the patriarch croaks. He might want to change that to "The Don" to give it more of a fear factor and to divert attention from the history of his ascent at the behest of Russian propagandists. Oh, wait... the Don is a Russian river.

Aww. Who cares what people think? Junior might be found guilty of conspiring …

Pulling Threads

Reading Joe Scarborough's opinion column today about Blowhard's base sticking through thick and thin, and then finding an analysis of personalist rule that well describes how this is becoming more commonplace in authoritarian states, I went back through the lead-in summaries on Amy Siskind's weekly authoritarianism tracker to tease out the threads that have emerged as themes under our dictator-in-the-making.
This consolidated chronology, in which themes are identified by color, is a value add to the presentation on Medium which doesn't tell you much until you click on a given week. If you start at the bottom of this post, you can track the train wreck from inauguration day to this month. Go to Amy's Medium page to drill down into the gory details, or Aaron Dietz' tableau tool, if you have the geek chops for it. I hope you find my exercise in curation to be enlightening.

October 14, 2017
The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico worsened with the inadequate response…

America's Approaching Storm

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Most people think that fascism is a political concept that emerged in 20th century Europe, but the first use of that label in a political context appeared five centuries ago when Gustavus Eriksson (popularly known as Vasa, from the Latin fascis, meaning "bundle") unified Swedish rebel mobs to overthrow their Danish colonial overlords.  The image evoked is that of a bundle of straight sticks held tightly together, thereby forming an unbreakable pole.

Today's use of the word "fascist" carries the same meaning, modernized by recent historical occurrence under Mussolini and his ilk. Fascism places unity above everything else, including individual liberty. It demands a mindset of ruthless efficiency, leading to acts of inhumane expediency. It is extremely undemocratic, i.e. tending to totalitarianism, relying on conformity at all levels of society. The most obvious example of a fascist government today is North Korea.

North Korea's fascism can be understood by t…