Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Unthinkable - A vital book worth thinking about

Amanda Ripley's book The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why is a very readable, and very important book indeed.

The book discusses human reactions to disaster scenarios, and the effect these reactions have to survival in a disaster situation.

The book goes through multiple historical disasters - fires. floods, plane crashes, terorrist attacks and analyze ordinary people's response to the events.

An interesting analysis is her writing on why it takes so long for people to evacuate from dangerous ocations such as a fire or plane crash. Human activity, combined with a lack of training and education of the general public for what to do in such an event explains it.

General human response when untrained to a sudden disaster is to mill around and get confirmation from others that it is happening and generally slowly react to the situation. Of course this is the wrong thing to do, but that's how it works.

I can confirm that reaction is darn slow, and I reacted exactly as she describes in her book - the wrong way.

At work earlier this year the fire alarm went off.

Did all of us immediately move towards the exits and get out of the building? (the right thing to do if there is a fire).

Nope, we milled around, exactly as Ms. Ripley describes others reacting in her book, conferring with each other to see if it was real or not.

Then most of us went to our offices and gathered some belongings - again exactly as she describes how most people would react.

Given that I actually smelled smoke I got out of there faster than most (but still relatively glacially slow), meeting the firemen going in as I was going out.

Many others came out long after the very small fire in a downstairs office was put out. Thankfully it was not a real disaster and was very contained, but it certainly could have been lots worse.

The firm had not conducted a full-scale fire drill before and we still do not practice one.

After reading the book I'm now a bit better educated and prepared and the next time the fire alarm rings -- I'm outta here quick and will tell co-workers its time to go as well.

Ms. Ripley properly castigates the lack of real education the public is given regarding disaster preparedness. Apparently the government and others (for example the airlines in regards to airplane evacuations) do not want us really informed as they think we'll panic. The problem is that panic occurs when you do not know what to do. Informing the public about disaster preparedness and effective reactions to disasters will most likely save a lot of lives. In dealing with a fire for example you don't want to waste time searching for the stairs if you're on an upper floor - you should know where they are and where the alternate exits are.

As an aside, there's an interesting disaster quiz that can be taken at the NY Times, and much of the info it contains seems drawn from Ripley's book.

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Whyis well written and very well worth reading, after all the life saved as a result may be your own or your loved ones.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Portage Quarry Dive Report and Video

Last Sunday, Jerry and I went to Portage Quarry in Ohio where we met up with his friends Gary and his daughter Erika, two new scuba divers, we did a total of four practice dives, just working on skills and trying to get the kinks out.

In short I generally looked pretty terrible the whole time but got some on video and at least know what is wrong, how to fix it is a whole other question but I will keep working on it.

Thankfully Jerry got a little bit of video of me looking at least slightly acceptable:

Jerry of course has a much better control in the water than I:

All in all, not a bad bit of practice, and a fun way to spend a Sunday.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mexican Troops cross into US and temporarily hold Border Patrol Agent

Apparently they failed to stop and ask for directions.

Mexican Soldiers Enter Arizona, Briefly Detain Border Agent
TUCSON, Ariz. — Four Mexican soldiers crossed into Arizona and held a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint before realizing where they were and returning to Mexico, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The confrontation occurred early Sunday on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, about 85 miles southwest of Tucson, in an area fenced only with barbed wire, said Dove Crawford, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol.

The soldiers, outfitted in desert camouflage, pointed their rifles at the agent and shouted at him not to move, Crawford said. They lowered their weapons after about four minutes when the agent convinced them of who he was and where they were, she said. The soldiers then retreated into Mexico.
. . .
State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos in Washington said the encounter "stemmed from a momentary misunderstanding as to the exact location of the U.S.-Mexican border."

You would think Mexican troops would be a little bit more careful about their location, not to mention pointing weapons at US Agents. On the other hand, given our lack of a no-nonsense response to these continuing indignities they must fiugure they can get away with it.

Islamists trying to prod a sleeping Dragon

Never a smart idea, that.

Chinese Islamic Group Threatens Attack at Beijing Olympics
That would be rather a short-sighted and likely life-shortening move. Given that China and its rulers would suffer a severe loss of face if such an attack took place, and given that China is not so constrained by human rights concerns as in the west, such an attack could lead to the Dragon awakening and putting a severe smack-down on Muslims in its territory.

Indeed such an attack may even cause China to reconsider its close relationships with Sudan, Iran and other Muslim countries that it is currently using to develop a counter-balance to the USA as China starts playing the great power game.

Detroit Mayor off to the slammer for violating his bond

Kwame Kilpatrick gets to spend some time with some of his constituents - up close and personal.

FoxNews:Detroit mayor ordered jailed after bond violation

This was his second bond violation and it led to the Judge, quite properly, ordering some jail time.

The problem with people in powerful positions is that they think they do not have to abide by the rules laid out for everyone. That belief leads them to do rather stupid things - in Kwame's case violating the terms of his bond order.

Now hizzoner the Mayor will get some privileges due to his exalted public status - a separate cell and not being introduced into the general population of the jail. Given the charges pending against him, he may want to get used to it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Now that's arrogance

Apparently it really runs in the Kilpatrick family.

In the primaries, it seems that Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick won her primary race, not by the majority of votes, but by having the good fortune (or good planning) to have two opponents splitting the vote against her.

The Detroit News: Kilpatrick declares victory in 13th District race; rival Waters doesn't concede

With 39% of the Democrat vote in the Primary in her favor statement is rather breathtaking:
"I will be your congresswoman ... until I decide to retire," Kilpatrick told supporters just before 1 a.m.
Not "For as long as you want me", Not "as long as i can serve you" but She said "until I decide to retire". Given that its a lock-box Democrat district, she's probably right that she is a "Congresswoman-for life". But the arrogance is quite revealing.

Now we know where Kwame gets it from....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Voted in the Primary Today

Yes, today was Michigan's State Primary.

So I went off to vote.

As a Democrat.

What happened I hear you asking? The reason being in the Township where I live is currently run by Democrats, and two of them are pushing an unconstitutional ordinance that would severely curtail riparian rights and access to the lakes by non-shoreline owners that have easement access or jointly owned boat launches.

This is of course a retroactive taking that is quite unconstitutional, and they are doing it at the behest of a developer that happens to have some nice waterfront property and doesn't want others to access the lakes, especially not the people who have an easement that is beside his property.

Of course the ordinance as proposed doesn't just affect the few people who have an access easement beside his property - it would affect the entire township, including my subdivisions jointly-owned boat basin and launch and basically legislate it out of existence.

Thus are the politics of pull played with the little tinpot Democrat officials working at the behest of the few wealthy squeaky wheels (or in this case the one) and by result trampling over everyone's property rights. So much for being the party of the common man against the rich (Did anyone really believe that?)

As such I needed to vote against these two proponents and the best way was to vote for their competitors in the primary. With luck they've annoyed enough other people that this might work, and we'll end up with better (or at least more careful) township government.

After voting I left the booth and was feeling a little strange.

I immediately felt an urge to vote to raise taxes on everyone else.....

I got better though.

UPDATE: Apparently they both annoyed a lot of people. Both were handily beaten by their opponents -- One by 63% and the other by 64%. Hopefully their successors got the message.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Firefly for $17.99

If you haven't heard, or checked the left side of the screen on this blog, Amazon.com is having a nice sale for the Firefly complete 4 disc series. That's a good 64% off the regular price.

Since everyone should own a copy of this fine show, if only to enjoy it in all its greatness while lamenting how Fox messed up and mis-showed it and then canceled it before its time, go ahead and buy it if you don't have it already.

You won't be disappointed, except for the knowledge that there is no Second Season.....

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Now Obama wants Michigan to be counted

When it doesn't mean anything of course....

Detroit News: Obama: Give Michigan delegates full vote

arack Obama followed through Sunday on a pledge to give Michigan a full voice at the Democratic National Convention, asking the party to restore full voting rights to delegations from Michigan and Florida.

"I ask that the Credentials Committee ... pass a resolution that would entitle each delegate from Florida and Michigan to cast a full vote," Obama wrote in a letter released Sunday.

Obama wrote that he was making the request, to the three co-chairs of the convention's Credentials Committee, in the interest of unifying Democrats for the fall election.
When Michigan and Florida were going for Hilary in the primary he fought to shut the states out at all costs. Now when he needs them in the general election he's hoping he can bring the states back in and act ll magnanimous and the Democrat voters will forget how he shunned them when their votes mattered.

Let's see if he fools the rubes with this maneuver or not.