Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

May 29, 2004

Doin’s in Coober Pedy

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 2:23 pm

The golf course, with new clubhouse, looks to be in fine condition. The main topic, however, is whether a “booze barn” should be set up for local drunks to use. It seems they get a bit out of hand wandering the streets, and some folks “want to help.”

The recent edition of the Coober Pedy Regional Times says that the District Council of Coober Pedy was “forced to listen” to residents in a meeting to do with the Draft Development Plan.

That’s bit rich, seeing the Council was the convenor of the meeting!

Real Man

Filed under: Politics — Bunker @ 1:13 pm

The joys of blogging! I visit Sarah’s site and she has this to say in regards to a link courtesy of Charles, whose post has interesting comments.

They both are pointing out a conversation President Bush had with writers from Christianity Today Magazine.

Bush cites Lincoln as a President he admires. Personally, I think he approaches his mandate in office similarly to Teddy Roosevelt. He is very clear about how he views what he does. He is also unconcerned about his “legacy,” something the last resident fretted over. In fact, Clinton was the first president I ever heard of that did things primarily in anticipation of how history would judge him. Bush makes it very clear it doesn’t enter his mind because the contemporary history will be written by people who don’t think he should ever have been President, and the long-term will be written long after he’s gone.

And so I understand people’s view. But I’m the kind of person who doesn’t change. The best thing I can do is to be myself so that when I finish my job here I will say I was comfortable with who the world saw.

Talk about having it all in perspective!

He is also well-grounded in where this country should be moving in the world-wide scheme.

Well, my job is to speak clearly and when you say something, mean it. And when you’re trying to lead the world in a war that I view as really between the forces of good and the forces of evil, you got to speak clearly. There can’t be any doubt. And when you say you’re going to do something, you’ve got to do it. Otherwise, particularly given the position of the United States in the world today, there will be confusion. And it is incumbent upon this powerful, rich nation to lead?not only lead in taking on the enemies of freedom, but lead in taking on those elements of life that prevent free people from emerging, like disease and hunger. And we are. We feed the world more than any other country. We’re providing more money for HIV/AIDS in the world. We are a compassionate country.

Whether you like or dislike Bush, the discussion is something you need to read. What he says is of real value, and may answer some questions you have. Of course, if you hate Bush, you won’t want to read it. It might change your mind.

Proud Papa

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 1:05 pm

I have to direct you to some new pictures from Slice on his page

The entry below is from him.

May 28, 2004


Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 6:11 pm

I always hesitate to link to Den Beste. He writes well, and has coherent thoughts. I agree with him almost entirely, probably because we both view the world through an engineer’s lens. My guess is that anyone reading my musings also reads his, and reads them before they come here.

In The price of heroism, he talks about real heroes and false ones. I’ve known both.

Much of my military career was spent in Air Rescue and Special Ops. Many of the men I worked with (very few women in those arenas back then) had awards on their Class A uniforms like the Air Force Cross. They were never on display except during formal occasions.

I’ve seen people do some phenomenal things without thinking, putting themselves in danger. It is only after everything is done and the guys sit back and take a deep breath that anyone realizes someone has done something heroic. Shit just happens, you deal with it, and think about what could have happened afterward. And say to yourself, “Damn!”

Steven also provides this link to the tale of a false hero, one who exudes false bravado. True heroes don’t plan to become heroes. It just happens. The false ones try hard to get recognition. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they die, and get others killed in the process.

UPDATE: I had the good fortune to find Greyhawk’s post on heroism before this post left the page. For anyone unfamiliar with the battle of Ia Drang, it is a post you need to read. Heroes are still among us.

UN & Iraq

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 8:54 am

I receive periodic email updates from Iraqi Prospect Organization. Today’s was written by Sama Hadad, a female spokesman for the organization.

What troubles me about this particular report is that the ethnic split in Iraq is all-enduring. Sama writes that the Shia are the majority, and are worried another Sunni will be named to head the interim government. To the Shia, this means a return to the way things always have been. To me, this is the biggest challenge in Iraq. People who identify themselves solely by a single association cannot effectively live with a government controlled by another group. We see that here in the US where congressional districts are gerrymandered to satisfy this opinion.

But in Iraq, the bloodlust runs deep. After 35 years of brutal control by a Sunni dictator, the Shia are wary of any Sunni leader. It matters little to them that Sunnis also suffered under Saddam.

The most disturbing thing in the article is how the UN representative is handling things.

While many names are being considered by Brahimi and the CPA for the transitional government, there seems to be one certainty: Adnan Pachachi or one of his associates will take the position of president or prime minister. Pachachi, who opposed Iraq’s liberation and Kuwait’s right to exist, is a Sunni pan-Arabist. Bush’s Iraq plan is set to fail.

Is it remotely possible the UN doesn’t want an Iraqi government to succeed? Does the UN want to see Bush out of office?

Nah…Kofi and the boys don’t want to meddle in a country’s internal affairs.


Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 6:26 am

Sarah has attracted a persistent antagonist. She has handled it quite well.

One complaint the antagonist had was about her belief that American lives are more important than the lives of people from other countries. I agree with Sarah. The reason is one of relevance. People in this country share something with me that those in other countries don’t. People who want to denigrate that opinion need only ask themselves (honestly) whom do they cheer for in Olympic events.

One reason I feel this way about America and Americans is that I’ve paid attention over the last decades at how people in other countries think and behave. The one thing that strikes me most clearly about how we differ is what we see in rallies supporting or protesting something.

When you see images from other cultures, what do they carry as a symbol? Most of the time there will be large posters with the image of some individual. In the US, that is almost never the case. In fact, any image displayed will typically be an anti-message–Cheney with a Hitler mustache, for example.

After 9/11, you didn’t see Americans carrying around huge photos of Bush. You saw Americans displaying flags. That doesn’t happen anywhere else but here. This country was founded on the principle that no single person is more important than another. We celebrate this country and its people, not The Supreme Leader. Even campaign posters eschew photographs.

I don’t care to see the rest of the world be just like us. What a boring place it would be. Nor do I want the US to be like France. We’ve grown beyond what Europe has to offer. We are different, and we are better. If you consider that jingoistic, enjoy your opinion. I enjoy mine.

EPA and “Big Oil”

Filed under: Government — Bunker @ 6:16 am

This morning’s NPR story was about refineries. The reporter visited our Valero Refinery here in Corpus Christi to gather information for his report, and climbed the ladders on cracking towers to get a feel for how things operated.

He described the problem of cost as it related to EPA requirements fairly well. Then he left it to an environmentalist to rebutt the claim that increased emissions standards caused increases in fuel costs. The implication was that oil companies attribute all the current increases to environmental regulation. The expert disputed that saying the rules added only about 10-20 cents to each gallon.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything from the oil companies that claimed such a thing. But I always wonder when someone who is an activist of any kind ever fully comprehends what costs actually are. Without having been in the engineering, management, or accounting system of an industry, how can you reasonably determine such a thing?

Capital investment can be a shadowy thing. There are costs involved which outsiders never think about. Consider, for example, replacing a cooling tower at a facility. The expense of the tower is only a small part of the cost. There is interest on that money (loss of interest if cash is used, or interest on a loan), the cost of engineering to develop a specification and statement of work, cost of legal review of a contract, cost of coordination with local, state, and government regulators, cost of disposal of the old tower, cost of any hazardous material abatement, and cost of downtime in the facility. Many more issues increase the cost.

The reporter said that “streamlining” (you could hear the scare quotes in his voice) EPA requirements, as the Bush Administration wants to do, would increase the sulfer content of gasoline, and cause health problems for Americans. Common misperception of “streamlining”.

What the EPA currently requires is that a facility which upgrades its processes and adds any environmental improvements must make the same environmental upgrade in the entire facility. What the administration wants to do is allow companies to make improvements.

The EPA requirements are akin to making you replace every window in your house with a more energy-efficient model if you break a pane and replace that single window. A lofty goal, right? Unfortunately, companies cannot afford that large a capital outlay at a given time. Every company would like to improve the efficiency of their physical plant at the earliest convenience. It improves their profit. But given the choice between going under and not making any changes, companies won’t make changes. That is what streamlining addresses. That is how loosening EPA requirements actually improves the environment.

If the company has ten cooling towers, as in the example above, they can replace them one at a time over a period of years. Does that improve the environment? Yes, and the company remains solvent. In fact, it probably improves profits at the same time. I get the impression that environmental activists would actually prefer to see companies fold. Then they produce nothing that endangers the environment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if none of us had a job? We’d never have to work again!

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