Another Dispatch From Snowpocalypse 2021

Update: starting to warm up here, luckily water and power are good.

The same can not be said for most of Austin. There are attempts to evacuate hospitals in progress, but there are nowhere for the patients to go as pretty much every hospital is in the same situation. The lack of potable water is far more crippling than power. Austin went on a boil water notice last night and remains under one, thanks to a key water treatment plant shutting down due to lack of power. For most Austin residents it’s irrelevant as they cannot draw water, potable or otherwise, due to lack of water pressure in the system.

Grocery stores that can open are mostly sold out of everything thanks to transport being down. This will most likely persist for a while, along with the aftereffects of the water system breaking down. A city block in downtown Austin was shut down overnight thanks to a water main break and the water freezing immediately.

Basically, we are living in a third world country on the brink of total collapse, and our state leadership is utterly feckless and incompetent, reduced to running away (Cruz) or appearing on national right-wing media to nonsensically point the blame at Trump-hated wind power (Abbott). Every last one of them needs to resign but of course won’t, and every last one of them will be re-elected.

One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz's disastrous decision to go on vacation  during Texas storm crisis - The Washington Post

A Dispatch From Snowpocalypse 2021

it’s cold, y’all

Pretty sure this is as low as it’s going to get, and as low as it’s ever gotten.

Plus: furnace is still running, keeping the house overall at 69-70.

Minus: our home office is distinctly colder.

I’m gonna start mining bitcoins just to generate some heat up in this.

Or maybe I’ll just get impotently angry at the Internet. I’ve seen one too many memes from leftists laughing it up that Texas doesn’t have snow shovels or reliable heat. I’m going to fucking go off.

Yeah, it’s goddamn HYSTERICAL that there is going to be a quantifiable death toll from this infrastructure mismanagement, which of course is completely fucking alien to New York and California. It’s a ROLY POLY BOX OF FUCKING JOLLIES that you now have an opportunity to show your classist biases safely during a natural disaster that primarily hit the poor and homeless of a state you cheer against. But by all means, don’t actually do the hard unfashionable work of connecting the dots between underfunded systems and corrupt politicians entrenched by an iron chain of gerrymandering. No, it’s MORE FUN to point and laugh at fucking DISASTER DECLARATIONS.

A lot of people are going to die. Homeless trapped outside, elderly on home health care whose oxygen gives out, infants who can’t handle two nights in a row of an unheated subzero home.

But no, just fucking LAUGH IT UP! Forward on those memes, they’re HYSTERICAL! People in red states deserve to freeze and die, am I right?

Solidarity forever MY ASS.


Mike Lindell: Our Exclusive Interview with MyPillow Founder
He’s dreamy!

Mike “The MyPillow and also Martial Law Guy” Lindell bought 12 hours of One America News airtime to play his election documentary.

Way back when in the dark years of the 1990s, I used to work various odd jobs to get by; one of them was at an advertising agency. Started out as a database programmer, ended up doing pretty much everything – buying time on TV stations (“traffic departments”), writing the actual infomercials (for for-profit colleges that were as skeevy then as now), and editing them (on a Mac Quadra 950, which was then Very State Of The Art and the whole editing broadcast-quality video on a computer concept was new and different).

The interesting thing I learned when talking to traffic departments is just how utterly cheap cable network time really was. You could buy a block of 2 minutes (the preferred clobber-you-over-the-head advertising length for that market) for pennies. Targeting specific stations in the overnight hours for an hour-long infomercial might run you $30 for a station. Really insanely low cost (bear in mind, at that level you had to be willing to be bumped if someone outbid you for the time, which rarely happened). So low cost, in fact, I had the idea of branching our agency out into dating. Like online dating, but before online existed. Instead you could have your own infomercial! I even wrote a bit of the script based on the dreck we did for technical colleges.

“Are you lonely? Do you NEED a better romantic life? Call Scott Jennings, at 505-555-1212, RIGHT NOW, and I will put you on the road to a brighter future. You’ll get the opportunity to date exciting people like me, Scott Jennings! Operator (me) is standing by to take your calls. Don’t miss out on this exciting one-time offer!”

So, basically Mike Lindell paid $50 to OANN for his dating ad. Seems legit.

Suddenly Applicable History: Major Harold Hering Asks The Wrong/Right Question

Since I’m finally feeling somewhat conscious after 3 days of flu, let’s have another dive into Suddenly Applicable History!

Today we’re focusing on one man: Major Harold Hering, USAF. He served six tours of duty, some of them in combat in Vietnam as an air rescue officer (flying helicopters into enemy territory to recover pilots that were shot down) for which he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross among other decorations, and then, after that war ended, serving as an officer within one of the many Minuteman launch control centers (LCCs) dotting the Great Plains.

Each Minuteman LCC was responsible for the care and feeding of 10 missiles. A Minuteman-III missile typically had a light, 340 kiloton warhead and was designed to be a counterforce weapon – aimed at Soviet missile silos much like the Minuteman counterparts instead of larger targets such as cities (those typically were reserved for submarines that could carry larger missiles with shorter ranges).

Paradoxically, this made them the most dangerous missiles in America’s arsenal for one simple, terrifying reason – a missile aimed at other missile silos isn’t very useful if the silo it’s aimed at has already launched its missiles. These Minuteman missiles were “first-strike” weapons. They were designed for use in case America decided, in its infinite wisdom, to start a nuclear war.

In the 1970s, computer networks were in their infancy when they existed at all. Command over the Minuteman LCCs happened over phone lines. The officers, such as Major Hering, were trained repeatedly in what to do when such an order came over the phone – quickly confirm it, then in cooperation with the other on-duty officer (to ensure one didn’t go insane and decide to start a war on his own) launch the missiles towards pre-calculated targets. The entire exercise was designed to happen within minutes – far quicker than it would take to consider the consequences of one’s actions.

Minuteman LCC officers were not paid to consider the consequences.

To ensure this, officers went into regular training sessions which were carefully supervised. Movies like “Dr. Strangelove” to the contrary, it was very much in the US military’s interests to ensure that the people responsible for the most terrifyingly powerful weapons in the arsenal were most emphatically NOT crazy. So during the drills and explanations over the intricacies of the “Single Integrated Operations Plan” (SIOP), the pre-network master plan for how a nuclear war would be fought, every reaction of those attending was monitored for any sign of the officer being out of place.

Which meant that when Major Hering asked the following question, things happened very quickly:

“When carrying out the SIOP, how can I know that the order to launch my missiles came from a sane President?”

Minuteman LCC officers were not paid to consider the consequences.

Major Hering was IMMEDIATELY pulled out of the training exercise and isolated. He insisted he was not insane, and not insubordinate. If the order came, he would turn the key and launch his missiles. He would be conflicted, not knowing if the command authority (i.e. the President) was in his right mind. But he would act.

That was not good enough. Minuteman LCC officers were not paid to consider the consequences.

Major Hering requested reassignment to another duty. His request was denied.

A decorated combat veteran, he was immediately thrown out of the Air Force with an administrative discharge (one step below honorable) for “failure to demonstrate acceptable qualities of leadership”.

His failure was in asking the question – is it sane to follow the orders of an insane man, and in so doing, pull the entire world to its doom?

Major Hering eventually became first a long-haul trucker, which presumably gave him a great deal of time to consider possible answers to that question, and then a counselor on a suicide crisis line, which his experience with mortality certainly gave him a unique perspective for.

Later, when his question was finally given the serious consideration it deserved, long after the insanity of the SIOP (which, among other cruelties, assumed China would be a target in a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the US merely because it would be inconvenient to plan for a scenario where they were not) was phased out and the Cold War finally splintered into fragments, when a reporter uncovered his story and tracked him down, 40 years after his simple question, he had the following to say.

“I still miss/regret the loss of promotion to lieutenant colonel and believe I had the potential to advance further. And I have certainly missed flying. But in the final analysis, I definitely would ask the question if I had it to do over. The Officer’s Oath of Office demands it, I think.

In looking back over my life, most of my working career has been saving lives and helping people. I have thought about the issue of Nuclear Warfare a lot and still do not have a definitive, fit-all, answer. But the concept seems generally insane to me and begs for very stringent checks and balances at all levels, especially pre-emptive strike considerations.

I think it’s an affront to play the game of “you don’t have the ‘need to know'” for someone who’s doing one of the most serious, grave jobs that there is in the armed forces. I have to say, I feel I do have a need to know, because I am a human being.

It is inherent in an officer’s commission that he has to do what is right in terms of the needs of the nation despite any orders to the contrary. You really don’t know at the time of key turning, whether you are complying with your oath of office.

I am left with a deep and growing hunger for peace among people at every level. It seems urgent to me that we find ways to become a more tolerant and forgiving people.

Perhaps, I was not a good match for duty as a missile launch officer.”

Perhaps, Major Hering was the most sane missile launch officer who ever served.

Suddenly Applicable History: The Middle Managers Of The Third Reich

Another possibly relevant note from history. This one comes pre-Godwin’d – it’s about the fall of the Third Reich.

Hopefully you’ve seen “Downfall” (if you haven’t, please do, it’s an extremely good movie and historically accurate) and know how Hitler met his end at the tip of the very, very angry Soviet spear. But let’s spare a moment for the middle managers of Nazi Germany.

Because Nazi Germany had a LOT of them. Despite the perception of “fascist efficiency” that has incorrectly trickled down through the years, Germany was actually hideously, awfully inefficient in literally every way possible.

A state police agency? Germany had at least 4, all watching each other. A rifle for the Army? Take your pick, there were 21 (not counting pistols or machine guns). Tanks? Whoa nelly. All the tanks you could ever want. Dozens. Because every competing rifle, every competing tank design, had a good fashy middle manager who wanted HIS design to win out over everyone else’s.

Meanwhile, the US made… 2 rifles, the M1 Garand, and the M1 Carbine. The Soviets made basically one tank, the T-34. And they both made a LOT of them. Unsurprisingly, they then proceeded to win the war. Turns out the German Panther tank was really, really good, but 5 Shermans were better.

As the war ended, the middle managers panicked. In good Nazi German fashion, they could not imagine a world… well, without them. How could Germany even exist without the SS and its independent military arm and separate police force? Heinrich Himmler was SURE the Allies would understand how necessary he was. All he had to do was explain how necessary he was. (Turns out running a genocidal militia known for exterminating not only prisoners of war but entire races of people tends to cancel that out a bit.)

The war ground to an end, far later than it should have, because Hitler himself, abetted by all those ambitious fascist middle managers, never surrendered, even when it was utterly, completely clear Germany had lost the war.

So we arrive at May, 1945. If you’ve watched “Downfall”, this is a month after Hitler shoots himself in the bunker and Berlin surrenders. Yet… the middle managers keep on keeping on.

They congregated in a small town called Flensburg, near the border of Denmark, and one of the few places in Germany not under occupation. They then notified the Western Allies (not the Soviets, they were just too brutish, you see) that they were prepared to engage in terms of ending the war so that the German government could continue.

You see, the people in Flensburg – Karl Doenitz, the mostly sidelined leader of the Navy, Albert Speer, the urbane architect who was all too ready to excuse his own conduct as not one of THOSE people, and Alfred Jodl, one of the last generals still standing after the military collapse – they were convinced they were NECESSARY. Germany could not exist without order. Germany could not exist without them. As what little remained of Germany collapsed around them, they continued to give out awards, contact foreign governments, set goals for next year’s budget, all the very normal things you would expect a government that ruled more than 50 square feet to accomplish.

Dwight Eisenhower, who had seen concentration camps first hand, had had enough. The entire Flensburg “government”, as seen in the picture below, was arrested on the 23rd of May, 1945.

And the middle managers found out they were not that necessary after all.

(Most of the lower-level Flensburg “ministers”, many of whom were “ministers” for about a week or so, served a brief, perfunctory jail sentence as part of Germany’s de-Nazification. Albert Speer, who was a long-term minister in the Nazi government and directly oversaw the use of genocidal slave labor, served a 20 year sentence thanks to his pleading guilty. Karl Doenitz served 10 years thanks to his general non-involvement in the war effort, and Alfred Jodl was hanged for numerous well-documented war crimes.)