August 26th, 2006


First hurricane of the year?!

I know it's been a bit of a late season for hurricanes this year, but Tropical Storm Ernesto is on a course that could make it pretty dangerous.

Current predictions give it about a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane within the next 72 hours, which should be just about the same time it begins to enter the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


The coming storm.

The meteorologists over at Weather Underground had some interesting details on Ernesto, which griew slowly in strength overnight.


The intensity forecast
The latest . . .  model runs are in, and they again portray a conflicting picture of what may happen. Two of the four major global models--UKMET and GFS--dissipate or severely weaken the storm by Monday. However, the other two major models, the NOGAPS and GFDL, foresee a major hurricane in the Gulf that hits the Florida Panhandle on Friday. The Canadian model takes a major hurricane to the Louisiana coast on Friday. . . With all that said, I believe that Ernesto will be a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico at some point.

The track forecast
As Ernesto crosses into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, a trough of low pressure will be swinging across the eastern U.S. and should pull the storm on a more northerly track. Most of the models are showing that this trough will be strong enough to bring the storm all the way to the coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. However, the trough may not be strong enough to do this, and Ernesto could get stuck in the Gulf for a week, potentially heading westwards towards Texas as a new ridge of high pressure builds in. A subsequent trough could then turn the storm northwards into the coast at some later time. The UKMET model and GFS model prefer this solution. At this point, there is not enough information to say which solution is most likely, and residents from Texas to the Florida Keys need to be prepared for this storm to affect them.


The idea of the hurricane being stuck in the gulf is bad news, as it would give the storm more time to develop, and could cripple offshore oil production and interfere with imports considerably. Hopefully, it won't lead to actual fuel shortages and/or rocketing prices, but there is certainly that risk, especially when the investment markets are so dicey that the only sure bets seem to be betting on the price of oil going up.

It might be a fairly sure bet, but that doesn't mean you're not a parasite if you do it.

Another base bites the dust, or "Second verse, same as the first."

I'm sure many of you remember my recent post about the looting of a British base in Iraq, Camp Smitty, shortly after it was turned over to the Iraqis.  

Well, just the other day, British forces decided to leave another base of theirs, Camp Abu Naji, located in Amarah in Southern Iraq. British military spokesman Major Charlie Burbridge used the occasion to float a story to Reuters, promoting their new, bold tactics, making it clear that they weren't leaving Amarah because of the constant shelling, but instead, in order to patrol directly along the Iraqi border with Iran.

The British military obviously did not want to see a repeat of what happened at Camp Smitty, so they made a point of having Iraqi troops on hand to protect the base, and made a point of stressing that the British had not yet handed over complete control to the Iraqis

Well, looks like that didn't work out so well. 

Reportedly, when the news spread of the British "redeployment", wild celebrations broke out in Amarah among supporters of Moqtada al Sadr. Shortly thereafter, there were reports of soldiers firing warning shots to disperse a mob that gathered at the base, initially turning it back. Later, however, the mob returned, with several members of the crowd reportedly armed. At this point, the base was overrun and looted, with British and Iraqi troops standing by, unable to stop it from happening.

"There are only a few soldiers at Abu Naji camp. Some of the residents were carrying weapons so they (the soldiers) did not want bloodshed and with such a big number, they cannot stop them," said Dhaffar Jabbar, spokesman for the Maysan governor's office.

"Everything that could be carried was taken," said an Iraqi army major in Amarah, who asked not to be named. Items taken included furniture, generators, wooden doors, corrugated metal roofs and just about anything else that could be resold, the major said. 

The scene at Camp Abu Naji was one of devastation, witnesses said, as the pillagers, some hoisting photos of Moqtada Sadr, roamed the base that once hosted the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and, more recently, the Queen's Royal Hussars. Some looters continued to ransack the base, taunting the remaining guards by saying, "Shoot me!" 

They then burned what remained of the facility.  

One of the looters told a reporter that the goods from the camp are the "spoils of war and we are allowed to take them." He ran away without identifying himself. 

Supporters of Sadr, whose militia forces have frequently clashed with the British, said the troops had been chased out. The camp had suffered numerous mortar strikes in recent days, attacks widely believed linked to Sadr's Al Mahdi militia. The base was hit by 17 mortar rounds the day before the pull-out, wounding a British soldier.

Iraqi authorities complained the British withdrawal had caught them unaware, without enough time to secure the base.

"British forces evacuated the military headquarters without coordination with the Iraqi forces," Jabbar said Thursday.

But the British military rejected the assertion, saying the hand-over was coordinated with Amarah authorities 24 hours in advance.

So... how long until it's the Green Zone's turn, I wonder?!


The little lies we tell our children.

Sure, it's kind of brutal for me to pick on Rumsfeld again, but he's been the source of so many good quotes lately, I just have to. Today, he had a meeting with the family of soldiers deployed over in Iraq. It wasn't public, but some of the family members were kind enough to record it! 

"I'd bet your daddy gets home before Christmas."

 - Rumsfeld, to a 12-year-old girl who's father is deployed in Iraq.

Rumsfeld sure likes to gamble, doesn't he?!  What the kid should be asking herself is what Rumsfeld is gambling with, and whether she likes his track record for actually winning these kinds of bets. 

It should be noted that this is the same Rumsfeld who said he would make no promises that the full brigade that the girl's father belongs to would be back home by the holidays, saying the following

"I'd love to be Santa Claus, but I'm not."

So... no promises then?

"I'm not going to get into the promises business. That isn't my style."

Yeah, but he loves a good bet. 

Who knows? Maybe her father will come home in only a few days, if he gets really lucky. Hell, I'd bet that some kid's father will be coming home unexpectedly over the next couple of days. Personally, I think that's a much safer bet.

"In five or ten or fifteen years, you'll all be able to look back and appreciate the importance of what's being done and the value of what's being done." 

Indeed. We'll all be able to look back and appreciate it much more when there's a strong, stable, united Islamic caliphate that spreads from Morocco all the way to Afghanistan. And when that happens, we'll know who to thank. 

"I wish I had a magic wand and the power to say, 'yes.' But I don't." 

He wants to be both Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy... but he looks so much better with the long black robe and scythe. 

If he wants a magic wand, he should talk to Bolton. I hear he has one hidden away which he uses for special occasions.


Memories of a teacher.

I was curious about a favorite teacher of mine, so I googled him tonight, only to find his obituary. Sadly, I hadn't contacted him since the late '90s.

John Huning

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

John Huning died in his Aromas home on July 16 after a long battle with cancer. He was born in 1938 in St. Louis and moved to Garden Grove CA in 1950. He graduated from Orange Coast College in 1958 with an Associate of Arts Degree. He attended San Jose State College, where he completed his BA and in 1964 he completed a MA in History.

Huning served in the US army and the Army Reserves in the 228th Military Intelligence Detachment during the Viet Nam era.

In 1965 Huning began his teaching career at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. In the late 60s he and fellow teacher Jerry Logan developed the Individual Learning Module Program, later renamed Kleine Schule, (KS). It was in KS that Huning's innovative and unique style of teaching really shone. He continually challenged students to do their best by blending independent study with the traditional classroom experience. In recent years Huning received numerous e-mails from past students expressing the impact he had made on their lives. Many wrote how he inspired them to look at the world in different ways and thanked him for believing in them. Outside the classroom Huning coached the Live Oak Junior Varsity Football Team to win their league championship in 1968.

Huning retired form the Morgan Hill Unified School District after 33 years of service.

Huning had many diverse interests. He was a craftsman building his own home in Aromas and after retirement took up auto restoration. His was famous for his gourmet cooking and often served as a guest chef at several restaurants in San Juan Bautista. He also traveled extensively to Cambodia, Europe, China, Mexico, Alaska, Thailand, and the Philippines.


Although I knew him fairly well -- he was my teacher and a friend from grades 8-12 -- he had never mentioned his work in Military Intelligence, although I did know that he had studied psychology, which he taught, in addition to history, humanities, and other subjects.

Huning reminded me a bit of Henry the Eighth -- clever, independent, a bit uncouth, and definitely not politically correct. He was a king, of sorts, reigning over his fiefdom of independent, advanced study and learning, hidden away in the middle of a traditional "sit in your chairs and face the blackboard" kind of school. I didn't have a blackboard, or a desk. I had a table and a cubicle, of sorts, which I and my friends used on many occasions to keep hidden from the eyes of others. My course of study was primarily independent, with visits to the teachers desk and the occasional lecture on specific courses of study... more like college than high school, really.

That said, the assignments were tough, and the teachers kept us busy. By the time I entered college, I had read about 80% of everything required during the two-year humanities program. Unlike the requirements of college, I found myself having not just read bits and pieces, but all of Plato, all of Dante, and far more still. In short, all of the classics that are, by and large, no longer required for most students in either high school or college. College was, if anything, entirely too easy... which arguably was a problem in itself, but not one I can really blame high school for. 

One of his assignments once was a deceptively simple one:
Who was the first American to die in World War 2, and what can you tell me about them?

This led inevitably to having to explain, in detail, the various theories on when World War 2 actually started. Our small group tended to favor either 1931 or 1937, as China was definitely one of the major powers in the war. Approximately 1.1 million Japanese soldiers died fighting China -- a figure which dwarfs those lost in combat vs. the United States. The Japanese attack on French and Chinese territory precipitated an Allied embargo and the freezing of Japanese assets, which made it impossible for them to import oil and operate a modern military. By the time Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was running on fumes.

(The first American to die that I could find was Robert K. Reischaur and his wife, who died in the bombing of Shanghai.)

The essential lesson was this -- oftentimes, there is no one simple answer. Instead, there are usually multiple answers that sometimes require a great deal of research to discover, each one adding a new perspective on what we previously considered to be truth. That's probably the most important thing he taught me -- the need to search for a more complete picture of the world, combined with a passion to dig for it.

One time, Mr. Huning brought pictures of his Summer trip to Cambodia to class, making a point of showing everyone his photo of an elephant with a raging, five-foot-long erection. And he hardly stopped there. He'd probably be kicked out of the educational field today, but we loved him for it.

In retrospect, I think I turned out a bit like him... which is kinda cool, really. What a great teacher he was.

So, have you contacted any of your old teachers lately? Who was your favorite teacher, and why?!