Super Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines

A massive super typhoon hit the Philippines on Friday, leaving hundreds, possibly thousands dead. The brunt of the storm, named Super Typhoon Haiyan, seems to have concentrated on the island of Leyte. The Philippines is a country comprised of thousands of islands. This is a photo of Super Typhoon Haiyan taken from space:

Typhoon_Haiyan_from_space

Photos taken on the ground of the carnage left in the storm’s wake aren’t nearly so beautiful. In fact, they’re pretty terrible. As a general rule, things normally look better from space.

I spent three years in the Philippines, from 1985 to 1988, while serving in the Air Force. I was stationed at Clark Air Base. I remember Super Typhoon Dot in 1985. I don’t remember it killing a lot of people, but I do remember it leaving a lot of people without homes. Mostly this was because some people living near the air base lived in little more than plywood shacks. In the Philippines, people would build shacks wherever they wanted, with whatever materials they had, whether they had any legal claim to the land or not. The house I was living in was made from solid concrete. although that construction method made it nearly impossible to hang anything on the walls, it made for a very secure dwelling, especially during a super typhoon.

The Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations online.

Why do civilian police dress like they’re in the military?

On Monday, there was a shooting in Nevada middle school. A student brought a handgun from home, shot two of his fellow students and a teacher. The students are expected to make full recoveries, the teacher, Mike Landsberry, was killed. The student with the gun then took his own life.

As tragic as this event was, I’ve come to the conclusion that events like this are just unfortunately, a fact of life, and there’s nothing we as a country can do about it. Some people have no business owning firearms, but thanks to the absurd gun laws in this country, those people will continue having access to weapons that will be used to kill our fellow citizens. It’s just the way it is.

What caught my interest on Monday was not so much the shooting itself, but a photo taken at the school by AP photographer Kevin Clifford. It shows sheriff deputies standing in a parking lot at the school:

Why do civilian police dress like they're in the military?

If you didn’t know this photo was of civilian police officers standing in a school parking lot in Nevada, you’d think they were members of SEAL Team 6 about to raid a terrorist compound in Yemen. They’re not wearing police uniforms, they’re wearing actual military, camouflage uniforms.

Why do civilian police officers dress like they’re in the military? The police should only wear police uniforms. If civilian police officers are going to wear military uniforms, why even have a civilian police force? Why not just have the military as our police force?

I’m fairly certain that would be unconstitutional, but that fact should illustrate just how inappropriate it is for civilian police to dress up like they are in the military.

The roads will now be safer without Jay Mieses on them

Jay Mieses habitual traffic offenderJalopnik has a fairly good writeup about the incident Sunday in New York City between motorcycle riders and a family in an SUV. The confrontation left one of the bikers paralyzed and on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.

It turns out the man in the hospital, Jay Mieses, 32, from Lawrence, Massachusetts, has never had anything other than a learner’s permit. He’s never applied for a motorcycle licence. Since 1999, he’s been ticketed 16 times by police. Because he was labeled an habitual traffic offender, his driving privileges had been revoked until the year 2017.

That period of revocation now appears to have been increased substantially. I imagine it’s hard to illegally ride a motorcycle with a severed spine.

I have zero sympathy for Jay Mieses. He clearly had no business on the road. He, along with his fellow riders, surrounded the SUV in an aggressive manner. The driver, Alexian Lien, 33, understandably felt threatened, not only for himself, but for his passengers, his wife and their two-year-old daughter. Lien took off, Mieses got run over. Sucks to be him, but that’a why you don’t act like an asshat.

Sometimes acting like a jerk will get you run over by an SUV.

The fact that the riders then chased Lien and pulled him from his vehicle, beating him until he was unconscious, leaving him bleeding on the sidewalk, tells you everything you need to know about their intentions. They weren’t good.

Disneyland no longer to allow the disabled to skip lines

Disneyland no longer to allow the disabled to skip lines
Disneyland in California, and Walt Disney World in Florida, will no longer allow the disabled to go directly to the front of the line. Instead of being allowed to skip standing in line, they will be issued a ticket with a return time, very similar to the FastPass system that’s offered to everyone. The change goes into effect October 9.

The reason for the change is to counter abuse some have committed using this policy of allowing the disabled and their party to go to the head of the line. People having a Disney disabled card were renting out their services to complete strangers, sometimes for hundreds of dollars, so they wouldn’t have to wait in lines like everyone else. The disabled person would accompany the strangers throughout the park, pretending to be part of their party.

As far as scams go, it was pretty despicable. Disney was trying to do a nice thing for people with real disabilities and some people had to ruin it by abusing it for money. Considering the fact that a person could request a disability card from Disney without offering proof that they were in fact disabled, the likelihood that many of the people with these cards did not really need them or deserve them, was quite high.

This just proves once again that it’s impossible to have any type of system in place that helps a certain segment of society without some people abusing it. It doesn’t matter what it is, private or public, at least some people are going to scam. There comes a point with any special policy that the level of abuse associated with it, out weighs any good the policy is providing. It appears Disney has decided that point has been reached with its policy of allowing the disabled and their party to go to the front of the line.

Lone gunman Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yards

Lone gunman Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Washington Navy YardsAaron Alexis, a 34-year-old civilian contractor working on behalf of a military contractor, went into the Washington Navy Yard with an AR-15 assault rifle and killed 12 people. He was later shot and killed by police.

Alexis, a Navy veteran, had recently been treated at a VA hospital in New England for psychological issues including sleep deprivation, anger and paranoia. He served in the Navy Reserves from May 2007 to January 2011 and was discharged with a general discharge. His military records show “a pattern of misconduct,” whatever that means.

Alexis was employed as a contractor by The Experts, a company subcontracted by Hewlett-Packard to do upgrades on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet network. It’s how he was able to access the Washington Navy Yards.

This wasn’t the first time Alexis did something illegal with a gun. In 2004 while living in Seattle, he was arrested for shooting out the tires of a car belonging to someone he felt had mocked him. Remarkably, no charges were filed. There was also a 2010 incident in Texas when he “accidentally” shot into the apartment above him. He told police that he had been cleaning his gun while cooking dinner and the gun slipped out of his hands. The gun discharged, sending a round into the apartment above him, a neighbor he had repeatedly called the police on for too much noise. Like the Seattle incident, no charges were filed.

It seems more and more that what happened yesterday at the Washington Navy Yards is sadly the new normal. People like Aaron Alexis, with his documented psychological issues and a pattern of gun misconduct, have a constitutional right to own a military weapon like an AR-15. There’s just nothing we can do about it. When something like this happens, and history shows us it will happen again, just be thankful it didn’t happen to you or your family. To expect our elected leaders in Washington to pass reasonable gun control laws is a waste of time. Our elected leaders don’t work for us, they work for the lobbying groups that finance their continual reelection campaigns.

You don’t need a coalition when you have B-2 bombers

b2guam
On August 21, 2013 chemical weapons were used in Syria by Bashar Assad’s government against civilians in Damascus’s eastern suburbs. Images immediately began to flood out of Syria showing dead Syrian children. Video shows children suffering from what appears to be the effects of sarin gas.

As upsettings and as graphic as the video is, it’s something all Americans need to witness. If you can watch the above video and still not think that the United States shouldn’t take out the Assad regime, then you and I are simply wired differently.

I might feel differently about using military action in Syria if the United States didn’t have the largest, most expensive military the world has even seen. When we spend more money on our military than the next 17 countries combined, sitting on the sidelines while children are being gassed is not an option. To not take military action against the Assad regime would be immoral.

It’s time for Bashar Assad to join his dead relatives in Hell. We need to do whatever it will take to make that happen. Whether the rest of the world is with us is immaterial; we chose to construct a military that doesn’t need outside, foreign assistance. Truth be told, we don’t need any outside assistance to kill Assad and his regime.

We have B-2 bombers.