Friday, November 30, 2012

Calling Kido Butai

It seems China's bullying in East Asia has gotten a predictible response. Smaller Asian nations are now coalescing around Japan in an effort to counter the "rising" dragon. And Japan is strengthening itself as part of that effort:
After years of watching its international influence eroded by a slow-motion economic decline, the pacifist nation of Japan is trying to raise its profile in a new way, offering military aid for the first time in decades and displaying its own armed forces in an effort to build regional alliances and shore up other countries’ defenses to counter a rising China.
Already this year, Japan crossed a little-noted threshold by providing its first military aid abroad since the end of World War II, approving a $2 million package for its military engineers to train troops in Cambodia and East Timor in disaster relief and skills like road building. Japanese warships have not only conducted joint exercises with a growing number of military forces in the Pacific and Asia, but they have also begun making regular port visits to countries long fearful of a resurgence of Japan’s military.
And after stepping up civilian aid programs to train and equip the coast guards of other nations, Japanese defense officials and analysts say, Japan could soon reach another milestone: beginning sales in the region of military hardware like seaplanes, and perhaps eventually the stealthy diesel-powered submarines considered well suited to the shallow waters where China is making increasingly assertive territorial claims.
Taken together those steps, while modest, represent a significant shift for Japan, which had resisted repeated calls from the United States to become a true regional power for fear that doing so would move it too far from its postwar pacifism. The country’s quiet resolve to edge past that reluctance and become more of a player comes as the United States and China are staking their own claims to power in Asia, and as jitters over China’s ambitions appear to be softening bitterness toward Japan among some Southeast Asian countries trampled last century in its quest for colonial domination.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No surprise here

The investigation of the explosion in the Richmond Hill subdivision that killed two is now a homicide investigation.

This is not a surprise, as the circumstances surrounding the explosion are simply too suspicious. The behavior of the owners of the home has raised red flags. And houses simply do not explode with that level of force without some "help." Authorities are looking into an unidentified white van that was spotted near the scene.

Hopefully law enforcement will get to the bottom of this in short order.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Explosion - UPDATED

That is what happened tonight on the Far Southside of Indianapolis. A giant explosion that leveled at least two houses, severely damaged at least 14 others and damaged perhaps 100 more. So far, no reports of serious injuries or fatalities, which would be a miracle. But it's still early.

To give you an idea of how big this explosion was, I live about 11 miles away from it, and I not only heard it, but felt it. So did my cats, who were scared by it.

The presumption is that this was a natural gas explosion, and, indeed, a witness said the smell of natural gas was overpowering.

Still, a lot of unanswered questions about this explosion. We have had natural gas explosions in Indianapolis before, yet I have never heard or felt one. Until tonight's explosion. By comparison, when we had a tanker truck explode on the 70 maybe a half mile from my house, I barely heard it and certainly did not feel it. (Then again, my home is made of brick.) Perhaps tellingly (or perhaps not), city officials have refused to call it a natural gas explosion.

This was far, far larger than any natural gas explosion of which I am aware. The fire seems to have been unusually large as well. News reports indicate the explosion also took place in a vacant house that was for sale. A few suspicious circumstances that warrant additional examination. But if it was not a natural gas explosion I can't even hazard a guess as to what it was. I thought maybe meth lab, but it was too big for that. Was it indeed a natural gas explosion, but maybe not from a distribution line (which goes to individual customers) but from a transmission line, which carries gas between service areas and thus is much larger than a distribution line?

Hopefully the investigators will give us some answers in the next few days. And hopefully the residents can put their lives back together in short order.

UPDATE: unfortunately, the good news as to casualties did not hold up. WRTV is reporting that two are confirmed dead. At least four more injured.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Civil Discourse Now

I will be a guest on Civil Discourse Now, hosted by Mark Small and Paul Ogden, this Saturday morning at 11:00 am. We will be discussing ... wait for it ... the election! I know, you're so surprised. Tune in at 11:00 am for the web cast or check it out on YouTube afterwards.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm back!!! (With random thoughts!!!)

I apologize for being gone so long, except on Twitter and Facebook, where I have been more active. As way of explanation, I’ve not only had work, but I’ve had the book tying me up.

For those of you who are thinking of writing a book, however hard you think it is, it is harder. Much harder. I had Rising Sun, Falling Skies written in my head for some four years, I’ve known most of the facts since I was a kid, but – and this will sound very, very strange – I learned that once you put the book on paper, it takes a life of its own. And it develops a will of its own. It can go in directions you never intended, never thought possible, never even imagined. Almost like the writer becomes a conduit for something else. Or at least in my case it has been, a conduit for people, in the case of the Americans, the British, the Dutch and the Australians who fought against Japanese aggression in Southeast Asia, have not gotten nearly the exposure they deserve. It has been a truly amazing experience for me, certainly a learning experience, but it has been an eye opener as to the power of literature, the power of writing. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t have the experience to tell for sure. But I would not trade this experience of writing my first book for the world. Very difficult, but very, very fun.

But I have not been completely incommunicado. I have been paying attention to the news and developments in the US and around the world. Just a few random thoughts to chew on and spit out.

  • God bless New York City. May you recover from Hurricane Sandy quickly.

  • Mitt Romney will win the presidential election, by a significant margin in the popular vote and by a narrower margin in the electoral vote. Presidential elections tend to track the preference of independents, and Romney is way up with independents, in some cases by double digits. His campaign is organized and responsive and is acting confident. Barack Obama is well organized as well, but he has been unable to make a case for a second term. He has had Benghazi, about which I will say more anon. He, his campaign and his allies in the mainstream media are acting scared, desperate and increasingly irrational.

  • Joe Donnelly will be the next US senator from Indiana. Richard Mourdock was in decent shape until the debates, which did him in. Donnelly seemed relaxed and at ease with himself. Mourdock seemed angry and had trouble looking at the camera. (Libertarian Andrew Horning made no case for his election except “Vote for me because I’m neither Republican nor Democrat,” which might be OK if his ideas for defense and foreign policy did not suck so badly.) Mourdock’s abortion in cases of rape comment was not nearly as bad as Todd Akin’s, inasmuch as Mourdock at least seems to have taken a high school biology course, but not allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest is extreme. Depending on the poll, some 70%-80% of the electorate support allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest. Mourdock’s position is undoubtedly sincere and based on religion, but a good many women, including GOP women, were highly offended at the thought of having no say in the matter because of someone else’s religious beliefs.

  • That said, it is ironic that Mourdock’s comments were not as bad as Akin’s, but Mourdock is more likely to lose than Akin. Claire McCaskill is absolutely hated in Missouri. Akin’s rape comment gave her an opening, but recent revelations about self-dealing with her husband’s business may have closed it again.

  • Mike Pence will be the next governor of Indiana. John Gregg ran a terrible campaign. It’s too bad that he and Vi Simpson were not reversed on the Democrat ticket. I disagree with most of Simpson’s positions, but I respect her highly. She is honest, extremely intelligent, articulate and knows how to kick some ass. She is a great senator. She is far too liberal for Indiana, but it would be interesting to see what she’d do as governor.

  • And, no, I’m not touching any other statewide races ;-)

  • Note to the San Diego Chargers: put the lightning bolts back on the shoulders of your jerseys.

  • The reason for the NHL lockout can be explained in two words: Don Fehr.

  • It is not inaccurate to say that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has betrayed the trust of his supporters in his first election in 2007 and even in 2011. His vetoing the budget because it does not contain a tax increase is unheard of for a Republican. His cries of poverty for the City of Indianapolis lack credibility because, aside from his inexcusable cuts to the police force (we’re now down 300 officers), he has never acted like the City has a budget problem. Really, you can’t fund police but you can put in those damn bike lanes? Bike lanes no one wanted, no one asked for and that have needlessly snarled traffic and created numerous safety hazards throughout the city. Massachusetts Avenue is one of the most vibrant areas of the city, yet he felt the need to give it a TIF and essentially give away city property in the area. He gave his staff major massive salary increases. He actually thinks it’s a good idea to privatize the City-County Building. Do we even need to mention the ACS deal and the Broad Ripple parking garage? Or Frank Straub? And now after blowing all this public money on uselessness, he has the unmitigated gall to demand a tax increase from us? Greg Ballard, Ryan Vaughn, how dare you!

  • I investigated public corruption in Lake County for three years, and Indianapolis is rapidly sinking to that level of corruption and lack of concern for the welfare of the residents. And the reason for that erosion in responsive and effective government is Greg Ballard and Ryan Vaughn.

  • Two words: Emmanuelle Vaugier.

  • Two more words: Stana Katic.

  • In most cities, the major newspaper would have an investigative staff on the trail of public corruption. But Indianapolis lacks a major newspaper.

  • The Benghazi affair may be the single worse act of cowardice, dishonesty and incompetence ever from the US presidency. (And that’s saying something, considering Jimmy Carter was president.) I will give Obama credit for sending a homosexual ambassador to the Muslim world in Chris Stevens, inasmuch as it promotes LGBT equality and says we do not abide by your stupid shar’ia law, and by all acconts Stevens was the most qualified person for the job (for one thing, he spoke Arabic fluently). But then Obama threw it away. When Stevens needed help, someone refused and ordered them to “stand down.” When a CIA response team of former Navy SEALs violated those orders and went in anyway to help him, they were denied support and left to fend for themselves, resulting in two of their number being killed. The more evidence comes out, the more evidence that the “someone” was in the White House. Obama refused to call it a terrorist attack because it would have meant his Middle East policy of appeasement and apology was a failure, which it, of course, is. Then he lied about what happened and lied about what information he and his senior advisers had to cover up his callousness and incompetence, knowing his allies in the media would help him cover it up. And they are, but the story is still getting out to the public, and the public does not like it. Smacks of Jimmy Carter, which as Glenn Reynolds says, is a best case scenario right now.

  • Note to the San Diego Chargers: put the lightning bolts back on the shoulders of your jerseys.

  • I like Jimmy Haslem buying the Cleveland Browns and hiring Joe Banner as team president. I hope he keeps General Manager Tom Heckert, who has done a great job with the NFL draft, but Head Coach Pat Shurmur really needs his walking papers.

  • Bioware ruined the entire Mass Effect series with its ridiculous, dues ex machine ending for Mass Effect 3. The ridiculous, insulting ending is now the Jar Jar Binks of the video game world. Bioware blew it.

  • Speaking of Star Wars, Disney, I like your purchase of Lucasfilm. Now, can you do something about the Star Wars video games? Some of us out here actually are not interested in MMORPG’s and want more story games and flight sims. Why don’t we have a Bounty Hunter 2 or a revamped X-Wing and TIE Fighter? LucasArts spent way too much time on the MMORPG’s and it has alienated a lot of us who want something else.

  • Borderlands 2 is hilarious.

  • They think they found the spot where Julius Caesar was murdered. Contrary to popular belief, he was not assassinated in the Senate House, but in the Curia of Pompey. Except based on the description I read, I cannot tell where it is. The Julian Forum? The Augustine Forum?

  • I hope Last Resort tanks.

  • They think they found the mass grave where all the dead from the Battle of Hastings are buried. Um, how did you lose that many dead in the first place?

  • Note to the San Diego Chargers: PUT THE LIGHTNING BOLTS BACK ON THE SHOULDERS OF YOUR JERSEYS.