January 12th, 2005


No juice in Iraq.

For months, I have been noticing reports from Iraqi civilians that electricity has been spotty, but I thought it was localized to the regions of conflict.

Well, apparently I was too optimistic. According to Major General Thomas Bostwick, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Iraqi power plants now generate only 3,500-3,600 megawatts daily, far less than Iraq's electrical production before the war.

How bad is this? Well, let's go back to a post I made in late May of 2004. I was saying that things were looking very bad -- only 3,766 megawatts of power were produced in the first week of May, and the goal of 6,000 megawatts on June 1st was unobtainable.

So basically, the situation for electricity has gotten considerably worse over the past six months, despite the fact that new power facilities that have come online.

This implies that current power outages are primarily due to attacks on both fuel supplies, the delivery infrastructure, and possibly due to attacks and intimidation of Iraqis working in the power industry. If plants can't get access to fuel -- a problem many Iraqis have had recently -- then they can't provide electricity, and the fuel supply for Iraq seems to be intensely targeted right now, presumably because it is comparatively vulnerable to attack.

It all comes down to the relative simplicity of throwing a wrench in the works and the cyclical nature of these problems.

No power = no industry/hurt businesses, little incentive for foriegn investment, high fuel prices = no jobs, poor water/sanitation, angry Iraqis = violence = no power.

Another LiveJournaler dies in Iraq.

I just heard from timesofgrace that Mike Smith ( wolfmoon98 ) was killed in Iraq yesterday when his hummer was attacked by an RPG. He's not the first LiveJournaler to die in Iraq, but he's the first who was on my friends list.

I knew it was probably inevitable that someone I knew on LJ would die there, but it's still a bit of a shock.

SPC Michael Smith was a member of C company, 1st Bat., 503rd Infantry Regiment. He leaves behind his family, friends, and a wife, who he married in Korea last summer before he deployed to Iraq.

Here are some of the things that Mike wrote while deployed in Iraq:

"well.. i know i haven't been updating much, or really talking about my time here, so i'm going to have a run down of some things.

1. don't ask me if i've killed anyone. i don't like this question. just know i've done what i've had to, to survive, and this doesn't mean i have or haven't.

2. this is a run down of whats happened to me personally since i've been here.

a. been the victim of 3 roadside bombs (IED's) but haven't been injured in any of them.
b. been in 8 firefights. i was shot in one of them, but it only went through my cargo pocket, didn't hit my body.
c. been mortared more times than i can count. our unit is the most heavily mortared unit since the start of the war. but we've had no casulties from them, except for some vehicle damage.
d. i've been in more iraqi homes than i can count, and the people seem nice, some of the time. i've had lunch with one family, and i've detained another."

"so i think i might have made a mistake. too many things have entered my mind recently. i don't know if it's because i've been in 3-4 fire-fights, but i'm realizing some things. i'm not going to go into it, but if you must know, ask and i'll say what i can. i don't even know what i'm thinking anymore. i'm just taking this one day at a time, one mission at a time. this place sucks."

"i've been thinking a lot lately . . . i know i've always said i don't regret anything i've done in my life, but i think i found one."

"i don't regret anything i've done in my life actually. i regret more things i didn't do. but as you said, everything happens for a reason, and maybe, just maybe... in time it'll work."

Brief update on the Great Book Purging of '05.

The latest list of the books we have for sale is available here. Many new things have been added to the list. Would've added more today, but we're going through a ton of stuff and I don't want to kill my back.

I wasn't very clear on the details of exactly how I'm selling the books, so I figured I would clarify it for all of you.

1> Reply directly to my post and make me an offer on a book / selection of books. In order to simplify shipping, make sure your offer includes a rough estimate of my cost of shipping, which is approximately $2.00 for the first item sent, plus $1 for each additional item. This price can go down considerably with large purchases, obviously. If your offer is reasonable and I think I can cover my costs and still make a bit of money, I will reply to your comment, accepting your offer.

2>Once I do, you should immediately confirm your offer by going to http://www.paypal.com and sending a payment to markkraft@yahoo.com. Here's a direct link to my account.

3> In the "Payment For:" box, enter "Books for" followed by both your name and your LiveJournal username. Enter the U.S. dollar amount agreed upon along with your PayPal password and click to continue. You'll go to the next screen. Verify that your shipping information is correct, and enter a message containing:
- Your LiveJournal username
- Your email address (in case we need to contact you)
- The URL/thread of the post containing your proposed offer and my acceptance of that offer.

While many people have asked me to hold books for them, that's unfortunately not feasible under the circumstances -- I need to make sure the books are paid for and ready to ship by January 21st. The only way to hold books is to make an offer, have it be accepted, *AND* to send in a payment. If I tenatively approve an offer for books, but you don't pay for them immediately, someone else could (and quite possibly will) submit an offer for some of the same books, purchasing them before you get a chance to do so. For this reason, if you submit a bid and get it approved but don't immediately purchase the books, please contact me first to verify that the books in question are still available. Once your payment has arrived, the books will be removed from the list of available books.

As I mentioned previously, the list of books will be added to over the next week, so if you see another book added on to the list that you want -- but you've already made an order -- let me know so that I can make sure all your books are shipped out together. All orders will be shipped on or shortly after Jan. 22nd.

For the next three days or so, the books in question are available exclusively to people who read our journals, but after that point they're going to be available to many others, such as people in sfbayarea and on Craigslist. So, if you want to make sure you get the books you want, leave an offer right away, and pay for them promptly. That way, they'll be yours before others get a shot at them.