Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cell phone networks

Did anyone else hear anecdotal evidence of cell phone networks being strained on New Year's Eve? The Clarion Content had heard a little bit about it at the time, but over the last several months as we have asked around, more and more folks reported that their text messages lagged many, many hours behind, as everyone sent mass texts to everyone else in their phone, "Happy New Year!"

What does that tell us about the vulnerability of cell phone networks in crisis? How easily can those networks be overwhelmed? Does one need a landline or a CB?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Score one for the Swabbies

His Majesty's Royal Navy scored one over the pirates off of the coast of Tanzania last Friday. The HMS Chatham, on pirate patrol, spotted a larger vessel towing two attack boats. The crew and their commander maintained a watch on the suspected pirate group and launched an attack at dawn.

According to NATO reports cited by the BBC, prior to boarding the boats, the suspected pirates were observed throwing items, including their weapons into the sea. The Royal Marines boarded the larger craft, ten Somalis and a large amount of fuel were found on board. The Somalis surrendered and the two smaller boats were destroyed. Both smaller boats had been fitted with powerful outboard engines and also had large supplies of fuel.

The BBC quoted the commanding officer of HMS Chatham, Commander Simon Huntington. He said he was "extremely pleased" the warship had "successfully disrupted a pirate attack group operating in the Somali Basin and prevented them from mounting attacks against merchant shipping." NATO noted the ten Somalis were left with only enough fuel in the larger vessel to return to Somalia.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gordon Brown kicked to the curb

Meet the new P.M., David Cameron

As we told you dear readers back in 2007, English Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a dour, pale shadow of his predecessor Tony Blair. We warned that the English public would so find out and bounce Brown to the curb as the economy soured. And so it has happened, thirteen years of Labor government ended with a 97 seat gain by Conservatives in the House of Commons.

The Tories did not win an outright majority, however. Negotiations are underway to resolve England's first hung Parliament since 1974. Think of the compromises that could result. Would that America could ever have a viable third party! Pragmatic rationality might finally trump ideology. Problems heretofore considered not only insoluble, but unbreechable even for discussion could be addressed.

Pay attention America!

The Charles River, lovely, but not safe to drink.

This is an issue the Clarion Content has been banging on for some time. Infrastructure!!! Heads up America, we haven't done diddly since the Eisenhower administration to improve and maintain our infrastructure. The time to pay the piper is coming. (Which, of course, makes the warmongering of King George the II even more despicable.)

Among the most vulnerable parts of American infrastructure, even frailer and more vulnerable than our bridges and roads, is our water system. We saw a stark reminder of that last weekend as more than 2 million Boston area residents spent three days without drinkable tap water (or coffee). A break in 10 foot in diameter (3 meter) pipe triggered the emergency. The pipe in Weston, Massachusetts, a suburb about 15 miles west of Boston, burst last Saturday. The rupture, near the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 128, spilled more than 250 million gallons of water and pushed tons of soil into the Charles River. Most urban American water systems are built with infrastructure that is approaching 100 years old. Inevitably it ages and needs to be replaced.

To highlight how vulnerable we are to sudden disruption of our water supply, notice that, 136 miles away in North Conway, New Hampshire, the Hannaford Supermarket ran out of bottled water in the days following the disaster. Beware America, unless something is done this disaster is coming to a city near you. It is estimated that $8.5 billion is needed to update Massachusetts water infrastructure alone. Good thing America, didn't just waste more than a trillion dollars on rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq, only to see it get blown up.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Republican Senate candidate follow-up

Guess which one of these guys is the establishment candidate?*

The Clarion Content was speculating last week on the possibility of a rupture in the Republican Party. Conservative activists have encouraged insurgent primary campaigns against establishment, more centrist Senate Republican candidates. Case in point, the Senator Jim DeMint wing of the Republican party is going to have its guy on the ballot as the Republican Senatorial choice in Florida. Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee. But popular Governor Jim Crist who would have been the so-called establishment Republican Senate candidate is going to run as an independent. He played it cagey when asked which party he would caucus with should the people of Florida elect to send him to Washington.

*Governor Crist is on the left. Marco Rubio is on the right.