Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Underwood Andover Water

September 14, 2018

In case you were wondering what hybrid warfare looks like, here are some examples from really close to home:

Investigators suspect that over-pressurization of a gas main belonging to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts led to the series of explosions and fires, Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said on Thursday.

I’d say it’s time for some computer network forensics at Columbia Gas.

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Render\Undo Cesare

September 9, 2018

 

When the Duke [Cesare Borgia] had taken Romagna he found it had been governed by weak rulers, who had rather preyed on their subjects than governed them, giving them more motive for disunion than union, so much so that the province was rife with … all kinds of lawlessness. To make it peaceful and obedient to his rule, he appointed Messer Remiro d’Orco, a cruel and energetic man, as governor, giving him full powers.  This official, to his own great renown, soon made the province peaceful and united.

Then the Duke, judging that such excessive authority was no longer needed as he feared that it might become odious, set up a civil court of justice in the middle of the province with an excellent president and a representative from each city.  And being aware that the recent harshness [of d’Orco] had aroused some hatred against him [Borgia], and wishing to purge the minds of the people and win them over to him without reserve, he decided to make it apparent that if there had been any cruelty it was not his responsibility but had resulted from the harsh temperament of his minister.  And taking advantage of the occasion he had this official cut in two pieces one morning and exposed on the piazza of Cesena with a piece of wood and a bloody knife by his side. This ferocious spectacle left the people at once content and horrified.

Il Principe, Capitolo VII

 

M’abuse 2018

September 1, 2018

German firefighters have controlled a Saturday morning fire that injured 10 people at the Vohburg refinery, part of the Bayernoil complex in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. … Bayernoil is 45 percent owned by [the Carlyle Group], with Rosneft Deutschland holding 25 percent, Eni Deutschland 20 percent and BP Europe 10 percent.

“Come, my boy. There’s nothing left to do here for a mere police inspector.”

“Our whole rotten world is long overdue for destruction. This godless world, devoid of justice and compassion, consists only of selfishness, cruelty and hatred. [Dr. Mabuse] would have destroyed mankind, which itself knows only destruction and extermination and which could only have been saved in its final hour through terror and horror.”

I regret to inform Herr Lang that seventy-five years of unrelenting terror and horror have not sufficed to save mankind from the endless agony of its final hour, a self-inflicted slow-motion catastrophe that rolls on and on, without the saving grace of a filmmaker’s closing credits.

 

Moon-Qi Business

August 16, 2018

On August 11, with the arrival of the new moon, the Double Yang Metal Monkey succeeded the yin earth sheep, beginning the seventh month of the soli-lunar/luni-solar year.  You probably didn’t even notice, but people in East Asia have been paying attention and calibrating their actions accordingly.  In case you’ve forgotten, Yang Metal is strong metal –generally associated with materials like iron and steel (or their alloys). Yin metal (which we’ll begin to encounter in mid-September) evokes thoughts of malleable, ductile substances such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead etc.  This year, August is a Double Yang Metal month because both the Celestial Stem [gēng 庚] and Earthly Branch [shēn 申] are associated with the Yang Metal element.  August’s Earthly Branch is always 申 Yang Metal, but the Celestial Stem varies from year to year because each successive month advances one more step through the endless cycle of the ten stems as they alternate between yin/Yang aspects of the five elements.  So: what should we expect from August’s double dose of Yang Metal?  And what should we expect from the lively, likeable, clever and inventive problem-solving Monkey during the coming weeks?

First, the glaringly obvious: although the transition from double yin earth (as we saw in July) to August’s Double Yang Metal appears at first glance to be doubly in accordance with cosmic ‘rules’ of yin/Yang alternation and the succession of earth by metal in the five elements creative cycle, it’s sometimes possible to have a little too much of an ostensibly good thing.  Earth (mineral ore) creates metal, but how much metal do you actually need?  Too much of any one element creates imbalance in the Dao, and the inexorable process of rebalancing can be abrupt or jarring.  We may find ourselves looking beyond the arrival of double yin metal in 3+ weeks, toward mid-October’s mix of Yang Water and Yang Earth.

But some people can’t wait that long.  In Korea, August 15th is Liberation Day, a national holiday marking the day when thirty-five years of Japanese colonial oppression was finally ended (more or less) in 1945.  It’s usually the occasion for political speeches and bold pronouncements about the nation’s destiny:

President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday used his Liberation Day address at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan to [promote] his Korea peace initiative, calling for railway, energy and economic cooperation with the North as a cornerstone for Northeast Asian peace and prosperity. He renewed his commitment to end the division of the Koreas, saying, “We must overcome [this] division for our survival and development. Even though a political unification may be a long way from here, establishing peace between the South and the North, freely visiting each other, and forming a joint economic community is true liberation to us.”

“[As the next step in this process] I propose an East Asian Railway Community in which the six countries of Northeast Asia — South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia– in addition to the United States, would participate,” Moon said.

“This community will extend our economic horizon into the lands to the north and will become the principal artery of coexistence and co-prosperity in Northeast Asia. This will lead to an energy community and economic community in East Asia and will be the starting point for a multilateral peace and security system in Northeast Asia,” Moon said.

And so on and so forth …

Co-Prosperity_20180815

Over at Chaebol Central, the eager foot-soldiers of economic progress have already sharpened their pencils and ribbon-cuttin’ scissors:

Vladivostok_20180814

Hyundai Glovis is introducing regular nonstop express freight train service over the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) between the Russian cities of Vladivostok and Saint Petersburg. On August 14, Hyundai Glovis held a commemorative ceremony for the departure of 64 freight containers from Vladivostok, marking the beginning of regular weekly express “block train” freight service [to western Russia] via Siberia. [The first shipment consisted of] 64 FEU (forty-foot equivalent units) of knock-down automobile parts ordered by a Hyundai Motor factory in Russia. The shipment will take 22 days to arrive at its destination: two days from Busan to Vladivostok; eight days for unloading, customs clearance, and reloading in Vladivostok; and twelve days via rail from Vladivostok to Shushary Station near Saint Petersburg. Marine transportation from Busan to western Russia via the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, and Mediterranean Sea currently takes forty-three days.

 

Yo: where the feng shui at?

To those of you who don’t yet see the connection between Double Yang Metal and this flurry of railroad-related commentary, I would merely ask: what part of ‘Iron Horse’ do you fail to understand?  Double Yang Metal = twin ribbons of transcontinental steel.  The Horse = the friend of this year’s Dog.  The Horse is a Yang Fire element, and thus is able to control Yang Metal (Fire melts Metal).  As if that weren’t enough, the horse is also the corporate symbol of Yandex, Russia’s version of Google.  Thus, even though these initiatives have been planned for months, it’s no coincidence that they’re being publicized at the beginning of the Double Yang Metal Monkey month.

But seriously, folks: even without the feng shui ‘elements’ of these developments, people in the United States should be paying much more attention to what’s happening in Korea.  In the broader geo-political scheme of things, this initiative is just the latest sign that South Korea’s government fully recognizes that it has been abandoned by the United States, and must now make its own way in a world dominated by China and Russia.  Another win for Comrade Bear.  For the moment.

 

Quick Sand

July 25, 2018

Feng shui update: we mere mortals are currently experiencing the vagaries of fortune that characterize the Sheep Month during the Year of the Dog (YoDog).  Traditionally, the Dog and Sheep are bitter foes –not merely because the former preys upon the latter unless domesticated as a guardian, but also because the two creatures are located 90 degrees apart on the circumference of the Chinese zodiac.  This orthogonal angle may be useful for earth-bound architects and builders obsessed with stasis, but it’s in fundamental conflict with the necessarily constant dynamics at work and play in the cosmos above.  Thus, animals separated by an arc of 90° in the celestial firmament are fated to have a relationship fraught with clash and confrontation.

In this particular year, the Sheep-Dog conflict is intensified and made manifest by the specific configuration of Celestial Stem and Earthly Branch during the Sheep Month (July).  Recall that YoDog is a double Yang Earth year: strong Earth energy is heaped up upon itself into a mighty mountain.  All well and good for the Dog, except that the Sheep is a yin (weak) earth animal –and the Celestial Stem for the Sheep Month this year is   [ , meaning ‘unravel threads’ ] a yin earth phase in the celestial cycle.  So in July 2018, virtually at the peak of the solar year, we have a double yin earth month appearing on the scene in cosmic contradiction and refutation of the Dog’s mighty Yang Earth mountain. This is the beginning of the Dog’s inexorable decline, but the interactions of strong and weak earth energies bring misfortune to the Sheep as well.

F’r Instance

Laos

A hydroelectric dam under construction at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy power project has collapsed, killing at least 19 people as it swept away dozens of homes in flash flooding.  More than 3,000 people need to be rescued in a remote part of southern Laos, where at least seven villages were submerged in muddy water on Monday.

Iceland

An enormous landslide on Fagraskógarfjall mountain in Hítardalur in West Iceland [has blocked] a well-known salmon fishing river with mud and rock and almost completely changed the face of the landscape.  The landslide is thought to be the largest that has ever occurred in Iceland.  Local farmer Erla Dögg Ármannsdóttir said that the landslide has formed a dam across the Hítará river.  “The dam is a few dozen meters high —I’m not exactly sure— and several hundred meters long and it’s completely blocking the Hítará, which is a serious problem.”  The blockage has caused a lake to begin forming above the debris.  “The water level is rising with every hour.”

Myanmar

At least 27 people are feared dead following a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, police said Wednesday, as heavy rains hampered the search for survivors. Dozens of people have been killed by landslides this year in the Hpakant region of Kachin state, with 15 deaths and 45 others injured by a mine cave-in just a week earlier.

Japan

Dozens of people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes after record rains pounded southwest Japan, triggering widespread flooding and deadly landslides.  At least 75 people are dead and 40 have been reported missing or are unaccounted for, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Ethiopia

The project manager of Ethiopia’s 6,000 megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was found dead in his Toyota Landcruiser in the capital Addis Ababa on Thursday. Simegnew Bekele was the public face of the dam being built near the country’s western border with Sudan which, when completed, will be Africa’s largest. Two of its 16 turbines are scheduled to start producing electricity in 2018.

Simegnew’s death is the second of a high-profile company official in recent months: in May, gunmen ambushed and killed Deep Kamra, the country manager for Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, alongside two others in the Oromia region outside Addis Ababa.

 

What’s next?  Well, during the August Monkey Month, we’ll have double Yang Metal to deal with.  Be seeing you.

L’Arc, Eh

July 22, 2018

I recently spent some time in a sun-drenched, shit-scented, 18th century paradise.  Here’s some pretentious crap I wrote while I was there, waiting for the raspberries to ripen.

In these remnants of ancient forests, birds perch high in the branches of oaks, elms, birches, limes and chestnuts, cautiously watching as humans and other earthbound creatures walk along sun-dappled paths through the shrubbery below.  All day long, doves hoot fourfold pentatonic calls from the crests of tallest trees, proclaiming an assertion of their constant presence across the bottom of a dry and cloudless sky.  At night they’re silent, allowing the owls to listen for the rustle of hapless prey among the fallen leaves and thorny underbrush.

Throughout the starlit night, a feral dog sounds irregular hours with his bark, marking the passage of a waning moon toward the western horizon.  It’s not exactly quiet.  It isn’t peaceful.  The state of nature was never what it used to be.

tete-de-rigole

Da Fix Wuz In

June 13, 2018

Lunghu has recently been maintaining a dignified silence on a certain topic, mostly because there’s just too much to say about it, not much of it good.  However, because athletic spectacle is always and forever an effective distraction from the sordid reality of bestial human existence, a readymade alternative is conveniently at hand: FIFA futbol.  Russia 2018.  Qatar 2022.  And now that CONCACAF has been remade in the image of its master … America del Norte, 2026.

The eyelines in this photo are worth 10,000 words.

 

On the bright side, the Royaume du Maroc can now spend a decade’s worth of ten-cent dirhams on improving the lot of its impoverished rural populace.  Transportation infrastructure.  Potable water supply and irrigation.  Microcredit that sidesteps the local landlord class.  Etc.  It would be nice to see some of that happen, but Lunghu won’t be holding his breath.

 

What Freedom?

May 26, 2018

“Now it is the peasant who is the judge and so it is necessary to represent his interests.  That is just the thing for me, since I am myself, as you know, a peasant, the son of a retired soldier who served twenty-seven hard years in Nicholas I’s army.”

Ilya Repin was born into a family of “military settlers” in Chuguyev, in Kharkov Governorate, Ukraine.  His father traded horses and his grandmother ran an inn.  He entered military school to study surveying.  When the surveying course was cancelled, his father helped Repin to become an apprentice with Ivan Bunakov, a local icon painter, where he restored old icons and painted portraits of local notables through commissions.

Re-Zoning

May 14, 2018

Just re-read a post that I wrote exactly four years ago today.  I always reserve the right to change my mind when new information becomes available,  but in this particular case I couldn’t agree with my former self more thoroughly.

Putin_Lebanon_billboard

Up The Wrong Tree

April 23, 2018

The most powerful man in China is in les Etats Unis this week, and he has come bearing a gift … of sorts.  But while traditional media ‘analysts’ are focusing their attention on weighty policy matters such as global commerce and the AIPAC vendetta against Iran, the material meaning of Macron’s visit has been mostly overlooked.  Perhaps that’s because M. le President‘s real message has flown from Paris in an Airbus cargo hold, disguised by festive trappings of tricolor ribbons.

French President Emmanuel Macron will give his American counterpart an oak sapling to be planted at the White House as a symbol of lasting friendship.  [In an interview with le Reynard], Macron said “During the First World War, during the Second World War, when we were attacked, when our liberty was attacked, thousands of your people came here and died here for my country.  That’s a story of our relationship. That’s why my gift to your president will be an oak taken in a very symbolic place, especially for your Marines in north of France –that together, I mean, we will put in his garden because that for me is a great symbol of this long term relationship.”

The face-value meaning of this statement suggests that Macron is evoking the 1918 WWI battles of Belleau Wood and Château Thierry, in which U.S. Marines of the American Expeditionary Forces assisted French troops in stopping a massive German offensive at the Marne River.  United States forces suffered 9,777 casualties, included 1,811 killed.  Belleau Wood (and nearby Château Thierry) subsequently became known among (some) military historians as the turning point of the war, and American propagandists did nothing to discourage circulation of this view.  Belleau Wood has become a key episode in the lore of the United States Marine Corps (“Retreat?  Hell, we just got here”).

But That Ain’t All

However, peeping through the oak tree’s branches, Lunghu also sees further aspects of this gift:

  • In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods.
  • In November 2004, the United States Congress designated the oak as America’s National Tree, and it is also the national tree of England, France, and Germany.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the oak is a nut tree: it produces thousands and thousands of nuts.  Unfortunately, the leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous due to the presence of tannic acid

Furthermore, as every American schoolboy (and girl) knows, when we think of Washington and trees, the oak isn’t what comes to mind.  Especially at this time of year, when the National Cherry Blossom Festival has just concluded its seasonal run in our nation’s capital.  Instead, Americans think of the cherry tree … and the young George Washington … and his shiny new hatchet.  We then contrast the mythic past with the mendacious present.

Thus, Emmanuel Macron has presented us with two trees, both rooted in a distant historical past: a hundred-year oak and a two-hundred-seventy-five-year cherry.  Tied together by a glossy ribbon of bleu-blanc-rouge.

On April 23, Macron will be given a tour of Mount Vernon, the Virginia plantation home of U.S. first President George Washington, where he [and his wife Brigitte] will have a private couples’ dinner [with the Trumps].