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We had  three inches of rain in an hour and the other two came over the next hour.  Some kinda nasty damage just down the street from my hood.  One of my clients was slammed, They thought they had three sump pumps in their basement. One was a sewer ejector pump taking care of a  janitor sink and  clothes washer. The other two...well one was placed at the highest  elevation of the basement floor.  The other one was  set  1 1/2" above the adjacent floor. So lots of water on the basement floor.  This sump pump never managed to kick on so it was suck it up with the   wet vac.  I love  following the work of others.  I don't think  I have ever seen such a reckless contractor but the work was done 13 years ago so not a lot of recourse. I keep scratching my head wondering  where the heck was the Architect.   Then I decided he was off doing  design drawings when the construction was going on....or off Golfing.

Aug 29, 13 9:10 pm

Here's an interesting article retrieved from the internet wayback machine. In Jan. 2013 The Daily Mail published - and quickly retracted - an article titled "U.S. 'backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad's regime' ".

A month before this article appeared (and disappeared), Obama warned al-Assad against using chemical weapons.

57% of US discretionary spending goes to DOD, war and nuclear weapons. It's pretty clear who's driving the bus.

The only real question is how long are Americans going to tolerate this? Education, health care and the civil infrastructure are all in shambles while the government pours our money into war for profit, continuously creating fictitious scenarios to justify it. Gulf Wars I ("babies pulled from incubators" in Kuwait) and II (WMDs in Iraq), the Gulf of Tonkin incident, etc., etc.

Aug 31, 13 3:35 pm

that seems like not quite the whole story miles. 

Somehow I don't see the situation changing.  Americans are more fearful and hateful than ever. Wasn't that the whole concept of governance that Strauss taught his students before they went on to run the country? (unless of course that theory turns out to be bullshit).

Aug 31, 13 9:06 pm

Americans are more fearful and hateful than ever.

I don't understand this "edge" you have against America.  I've seen it among some Canadians, but not many.  I once walked into a Second Cup in Canada and when a patron found out I was American, from my currency, he started putting on a twang and laughing.  I think he had been drinking, but that's beside the point.  The point was that I wasn't from the parts of America that spoke like that.  America, or Amerika as you call it, has progressive people, hicks, and everything in between.  Canada is much the same.  Some of the people in eastern BC can be fairly "necky."  Also, we have some of the same problems, with the shrinkage of a fiscally capable middle class being common to both.  The only problem I have with America is the aforementioned, and the health care system which restricted access to the wealthy, the very poor, those who have it through substantial enough employers, and the middle class with spotless medical records who might be paying their monthly premiums.  Most of us don't have this animosity toward Canada.  Do you have this same animosity toward your homeland?

Aug 31, 13 10:14 pm

Oh calm down Frances. I've heard enough laughing at Canada to make you think you're at a comedy club. Will is spot on. However, Europe made us the country we are today. Besides, if its one thing us Yanks have, it's broad shoulders, and thick skin.

Aug 31, 13 10:54 pm

If that's not the whole story, Will, then please enlighten us. 

Aug 31, 13 10:57 pm

sutures, you're being kind of a d!ck.  Will can defend his own position.  I don't have a problem with his comment, if it was isolated or a joke, but it's kind of consistent, so I was wondering what fuels this.  Most American jokes about Canadians are about their accents and other quirks.  They're not deep seated.  My only issue with them is that some are too PC, in places like Vancouver and Toronto, where being a libtard, for many, is kind of in style.

Aug 31, 13 11:26 pm

Look Miles, no one disputes the chart, but what is shit, is putting up a link to The Daily Mail. You might as well just fuckng use the National Enquirer.

Aug 31, 13 11:32 pm

Meh. Badge of honor.

Aug 31, 13 11:35 pm

I include Canada in America. Although to be honest Canada is not as fearful as the USA, not quite. Ask any immigrant about the hate in either country.  Its a hard thing being the wrong kind of different in a country that is whipped up to be scared all the time. USA is kinda going nuts just about now on that score.  Its amazing.


about the spending, well if you define the iraq war by a story about babies being killed im not sure there is much I can say, Miles.

For what its worth my reaction to the pie chart is part ignorant part skeptic, but I can't help wondering about the mandatory spending part of the budget, which is substantial. Also know the military budget includes lots of investment in science and education. Im curious what the numbers would be if you took out all the costs that are not directly related to shooting and such. Would be amazing if that didn't shrink the pie a bit. I don't know that the military complex is not being manipulated by other groups as much as it is grabbing all the cash it can...and let's face it these are numbers during wartime so it is not exactly a reflection of the nation's psyche. Your diagram doesn't really talk about any of that so I think maybe its just about pushing buttons, not actually communication.

I'm with you otherwise.  The Rachel Maddow book on the war machine that is the USA shows a pretty awesome and terrifying history. 

Aug 31, 13 11:39 pm

Gulf War I as a setup, intended to make sure the peace dividend was never realized. If you're too young to remember it, the peace dividend was the golden age of education and health care that was going to result from the end of the cold war and dramatically reduced military spending. Look it up.

US ambassador April Gillespie green-lighted Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait, which was slant drilling Iraqi oil under the border. Think for a second just who does the drilling - US oil companies. The link to incubators - if you take the time to read it - clearly demonstrates the lengths to which they went to generate propaganda for public support. It was so effective that some 60 countries paid to participate in the coalition, mostly by buying US munitions. 

As to the numbers, NSA, CIA and other clandestine services have black budgets included in such categories as agriculture. And in proportion, the US is responsible for more than 1/2 of global military spending. 

Sep 1, 13 1:19 am

Regarding the pie chart: Wasn't Obummer s'pos'd to give us something different or something?

Americans ARE crazy, I know a lady who won't let her kid touch plastic. :)

Sep 1, 13 8:36 am

u-Obummers are naive as all fuck. this president, in the past two weeks, has done things most of the hippie-dippy's could only dream about; started the process of decriminalization of drugs, IRS allowing gay and lesbian married couples to file joint returns, and has decided to put the genie back into the bottle when it comes to congressional approval for military action. this return to precedent will make it harder for future presidents to go all Cheney on future [global majority]. however, if you think Randy "I love Libertarianism-except when it comes to women's bodies" Paul has a better solution, go ahead, elect that fucktard.

Sep 1, 13 9:29 am

I hope that was written with a smile, beta. 

Sep 1, 13 9:41 am

Obomba has declared that he has the power to act on Syria without congressional approval. This is simply a political ploy and a US attack is inevitable for a number of reasons ranging from Israel to Saudi Arabia to the congressional-military-industrial-complex. Any chemical attacks were almost certainly false flag designed to justify military action. The snag at the moment is the usual cast of supporting military complexes (England and France) isn't buying it.

There's a huge difference between Holder saying the DoJ won't prosecute "for now" Federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it and decriminalization. As to the gay tax thing, the ONLY difference between Reps and Dems is how far into your bedroom they are willing to go.

Sep 1, 13 11:14 am

Yeah, you're right, lets get Lyndon LaRouche elected, he'll solve everything. 

Sep 1, 13 12:28 pm
Sarah Hamilton

Man, it's getting ugly in here.  Take a shower, boys.

Sep 1, 13 12:42 pm

I am not a fan of Obama.  I'd love to see how many of the "Obummer" people who are complaining voted for him in 2008.  In that election, I abstained:  do I vote for an unknown guy who just wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope" and do I vote for a ticket that has a hick lady who was a newscaster in Idaho and who could be in the driver's seat in DC, along with her white trash family?  In 2012, Obama was the better choice over Romney - more trickle down at a time when that was the last thing we needed.  The thing with Obama was the national health care system, which was a long time coming.  I disagree with some of his other positions.  As for health care, Hillary had 8 years to get that done, and couldn't do it, while Obama did it in 1.5 years, and she has ridden her husband's coattails and now the feminists, and "male feminists," want her in office in 2016.  This is a problem:  we have Hillary and a potential tea party candidate.  Palin knows she is a joke, and will not be taken seriously, and I hope Romney has the sense not to show his face again.  Rick Perry will forget to throw his hat in.  It will be interesting to see who runs.  However, with "Obamacare," economies adjust to shifts, the same way the economy adjusted to Social Security under FDR, something to which many were adamantly against.  Show me people who are against Social Security today.  Technically, if there are other huge streams of income, Social Security does get taxed.  That way, the rich theoretically don't see tax-free Social Security.  Somehow, though, Leona Helmsley got around that and "the little people" paid the taxes for her.  Oh yeah, the gay tax thing.  It was easy when gay and lesbian couples shacked up and nobody in a major urban area judged them, their S.O.s were "lovers" instead of "partners" (great line in 1999's "American Beauty," btw) and they went about their business.  We had a paraprofessional / technician who was a lesbian at a firm at which I worked.  She was on "flex time," not because she was a mom or had health concerns which needed attention, but to attend to all the theatrics with her live-in girlfriend.  She threw a big commitment ceremony and they split up in a year!  Today, they would have headed down to the county offices to get a marriage certificate.  What a waste.  Everybody at work was cool with her and with it, and nobody judged her, but the theatrics kept us entertained, as if we were watching a bad sitcom.  For the old lady in New York who had the inheritance issue, the IRS could allow a "designated recipient" (no pun intended) in a will or trust who could be the tax-free recipient of the bulk of an estate, for those who do not have a spouse.  The only good thing that has happened in the last 10 years is some kind of a national health care system, and it's not that good, but it's a start.  At least, it will not be going away.  Also, for all this shit, blame Bush 2.  No, no, blame Bush 2.  His low tax rates emptied the coffers.  The budget was balanced under Clinton because the tax rates were higher but, damn, what a smarmy guy.  The emptying of the coffers plus the cost of housing coupled with easy credit such that homes were "selling like hot cakes" doesn't fix itself in 1, 2, or even 3 years.  People in some markets, such as Las Vegas, are still severely "under water."  That, in the aggregate, and the fact that it is a condition in even more markets, is a serious loss of national wealth.  That the Dow is over 15,000 is kind of interesting, though.  So, as far "Obummer," did you have any better ideas - for 2012?

Sep 1, 13 1:01 pm

If you think elections are the answer, you should look at:

Clinton Curtis' testimony on vote hacking in front of the Ohio State Legislature

Brian Spring's film Spin on media manipulation of elections

and Orwell Rolls in his Grave, about media consolidation, censorship and propaganda.

The only possible candidates are those preapproved and funded by the various interests that actually run things. Which is why Green Party candidate Jill Stein was arrested for trying to attend an Obama / Romney "debate" at Hofstra last October.

Sep 1, 13 4:00 pm

Whew.  We all get passionate when this stuff comes up.

At any rate, Happy Labor Day weekend, folks. 

I trust it's nice and sunny everywhere, no?

Sep 1, 13 4:21 pm

It’s cold and gray here.

Sep 1, 13 5:52 pm
Sarah Hamilton
We're having a BBQ, and its 103 outside; it was in the low 90s a week ago. Stupid Texas weather.

And I know we've already discussed this, but Fukashima radiation was just on the news, and I can't help thinking of a Nature special I saw on the wolves of Chernobyl. The population is thriving, and the radiation hasn't had any ill affects. So could it really all be ok? Are we just scared because it's unknown?
Sep 1, 13 6:17 pm

well... I guess the only way to know is when the wolf population is thriving at Fukashima.

Sep 1, 13 7:25 pm

i disagree with your view of the world miles, but am not so keen to try and talk you out of it so let's leave it there.

Its bloody hot here Sarah.  Close to 40C everyday lately, with crazy high humidity. Heat island makes it worse. I am so glad to have an urban farm on the property south of our flat.

I don't know about the wolves but the plants are sure going nuts in Fukushima. Somehow no I don't think its all OK. Rather worrying actually since Fukushima is not actually anything close to dealt with yet. Still leaking radiation and other crazy problems to deal with.

Sep 1, 13 8:22 pm

I think about to announce, "The Natural Gas Plan."  Which is like the interstate highway plan. Our only salvation is convert every gas eating car over to Natural Gas. The technology is there and the Automobile industry can set up to do it.  American Gasoline company's will be told do it  or miss out.  Federal money will be flowing...and people will be standing in line to get a piece of the pie.  This is how we make ourselves  independent of  the Oil Countries.  Screw dropping bombs, just put forth and economic reality that we are  free from  Mid East Oil.

Sep 1, 13 8:33 pm

^ So that's what all the fracking is about?

Sep 1, 13 8:52 pm

So "60 Minutes" is on and they have a segment on how they're going to turn the Costa Concordia upright and move it.  They were supposed to have done this during the past few summers, when weather conditions permitted, and have postponed it.  Engineering such a salvage is mind boggling.  I wonder when it will actually happen.

Sep 1, 13 10:09 pm

went to beach yesterday, did some biking around today. also some weeding of yard.

personally I was hoping re: America and Syria, Obama might go more with the British route...

night all.

Sep 2, 13 10:22 pm
Whenever I hear fracking I think of battlestar galactica instead of energy.
Sep 3, 13 6:39 am
Sarah Hamilton
I don't know how to feel on Syria. I mean, if there was use of chemical weapons by Assad, then it's wrong. Like Hitler killing his own people. But we also didn't get involved in WWII until after thousands more had been killed. And then there are all the conspiracy theories saying that Assad was framed.

It's confusing, and a hard question. I'm glad I'm not the president.
Sep 3, 13 8:13 am
vado retro

I am feeling very sad for Barry and his family. Thinking of you and yours, my friend.

Sep 3, 13 8:57 am


Sep 3, 13 9:04 am

Me, too.  Makes shit like the military seem especially obscene.

beta, I do adore you, especially for your use of calm down Frances except I think it's actually "Lighten up, Francis". We used that phrase a lot back in architecture studio.

Sep 3, 13 9:41 am

Also, there is a mushroom scientist in Washington state who thinks mushrooms can be used to clean the soil at Fukushima, and his science is pretty damn solid.  His book is called "Mycelium Running" which makes me giggle uncontrollably.

Sep 3, 13 9:45 am

The latest readings at Fukushima seem to indicate ongoing fission. One report said TEPCO's readings were wrong because radiation levels exceeded the capacity of the meters they were using.

Meanwhile Obomba is preparing to do his thing to Syria. Talk about fucked up priorities.

Sep 3, 13 10:14 am
Quite cool Donna.

There are a few bioremediation ideas like that. Japan's plan for decontamination is to scrape the radioactive soil and pile it up somewhere. Same thing the did with mercury pollution in Minamata and cadmium in Toyama. Not very imaginative but all it takes is good planning so it is attractive. I'm worried there will be more airborne radiation making all the remediation measures moot. So far the response has been less than impressive.
Sep 3, 13 7:09 pm

i know that's how Sgt. Hulka rolls, but i ain't listening to the man.

i roll with a little known man from Delta Tau Chi, Bluto, perhaps you know him?


"What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"


Sep 3, 13 7:17 pm

Happy Opening of the East Span of the Bay Bridge Day! (Sept. 3, 2013)

What an eyesore beyond it.  The old bridge is expected to take ~ 2 years to dismantle.

Sep 3, 13 9:41 pm

I am incredibly saddened as well vado.  Been thinking of Barry all day.  Thoughts and prayers are with you TK.

Will - what do will they do with the contaminated soil after it's scraped up?  PBS's News Hours discussed the ice wall in depth tonight.  One of the experts talking about it didn't seem like a fan and brought up the issue of what happens if the ice melts.  It sounded like they have already tried something similar but the groundwater eventually got through the barrier and it's once again contaminating the soil around.  Bio-remediation seems the way to go.

Off to bed. It's been a long day.  The work days seem very long lately.  Have been pondering seeking other employment of late. Ugh, how I hate job searching.

Sep 3, 13 10:07 pm

Is the ice dam their plan to "contain" the highly radioactive water stored on site (by freezing it in place)?

This problem pales in comparison to the spent fuel pool at reactor 304.

In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known. It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity. The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.

The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors. Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel appear to be unscathed.

Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).

It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.

UC Berkeley Dept.of Nuclear Engineering

Sep 3, 13 11:41 pm

The implications of the Japan situation are NOT in the news for thorough public consumption.  While we get news about Syria and a few sparks in housing sales, most of the other news is about accidents caused by drunk drivers, child abuse, police standoffs, and sex crimes at the local level.

As for my bridge post, I meant to say new East Span  ... and beside it, not beyond it.  Yes, per the video, elegant is a good word to describe it.  As the newscaster is speaking early on, one can see the cradle effect in its design beyond her.

Other news:  Ariel Castro, the Cleveland OH creep, has committed suicide in his jail cell.  This is often the case with these people, and I'm surprised that they aren't watched so they can't do this.  I guess it all depends on your "belief system."  If you believe in accountability, he's not going to be getting an easier ride by doing what he did.

Sep 4, 13 1:22 am
I have no idea melt. I'm not really an expert on the subject and won't pretend to be. I just read an article by a colleague in the ministry of the environment that seems to say they are just going to pile it up and that will be it. Bioremediation is great but not if the pollution is ongoing. It's all pretty fkuced up. We just had big earthquake this morning. Can't imagine what happens when the reactors get hit by something really massive. Not going to be good.

Agree vado. It's a hard and unfair thing. Wish I could do something to make it better.
Sep 4, 13 2:47 am

Unfair, exactly.  The unfairness of so much of life is what, maybe paradoxically, leads me more and more toward science lately.  I want order, dammit.

Also, re: Syria and so many other things, I just keep going back to this idea I first heard from Dave Hickey that violence is a failure of imagination.  Violence is the laziest response.

Will, glad you are not flustered by the earthquake - assuming it was not a big deal, at least where you are. I haven't heard it on the news yet.

Sep 4, 13 7:15 am

what happened to barry?  barry bergdoll?  barry lehrman?

Sep 4, 13 7:23 am
Sarah Hamilton
Couldn't we send him flowers, or something? Orhan, can you take him a casserole?
Sep 4, 13 7:57 am

Actually, Orhan or beta, if you have a mailing address for him I'd like it, email me privately please.

curt, I don't feel right sharing his news explicitly in a public forum but trust, it's terrible.

Sep 4, 13 8:05 am

Miles - I can't remember everything but basically they were saying there is an aquifer that that runs down from the hills above and that's where the problem stems from. Here's a link to the interview.

Not too long.  I'm sure there is more/better information out there, but it's a decent recap.

Sep 4, 13 8:43 am

I'm out of the loop too.  Whatever it is, please send my condolences.

Sep 4, 13 9:44 am

earthquake this morning was longish but only a 3 on the richter scale so probably won't be on the news. it was scary enough though.

Sep 4, 13 11:17 am

So much going on in the news, yet a lot of it has an "on the bubble" type quality about it.

Here's something that caught my eye ... and here's a 727 pound reason for "good ole boys" and Southern belles NOT to let their kids swim in the brackish Mississippi River.

Sep 4, 13 3:11 pm

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