The Standard Model is Not Working
All day long today, working indoors doing web design and related computer work in Irvine, OC, I have felt as though I had a cold. My throat is scratchy, my nose stuffed up, and I'm coughing constantly, my stomach feels queezy and there is a dry, metallic taste in my mouth. When I left work just 30 minutes or so ago, it felt more like 7:30 PM than 5 PM. Everyone was driving with their lights on.
The sun was still high in the sky, a lurid red-orange ball that you could stare directly into without pain. Overhead there was a dark grey layered plum of smoke that stretched over about 80 percent of the sky, accompanied by a constant light rain of sooty particulates. Way off towards Long Beach I could see a brighter layer of blue that ended perhaps 15 degrees up from the horizon. The rest of the sky was a study in maroon, grey, orange, pink, red and yellow.
As soon as I stepped outside, I began to feel as though I couldn't quite get a full breath of air. I'm in pretty good shape, overall, and can hold my breath for well over a minute if I'm not actively exercising. Even indoors today, I was hitting a limit of about 50 seconds.
Each fall here in SoCal, we get high, hot, dry winds and predictable wildfires. This year is the worst, simply because we've had about 2 inches of rain in the past year. You would never know it looking around in most of the OC or L.A., either, as SoCal steals enormous amounts of water from its neighbors and pumps it out via irrigation and sprinklers everywhere, so much so that the dry heat that used to make summers bearable here twenty years ago has turned into the more humid miserable heat typical of the East Coast.
The Irvine fire was clearly set by arsonists. So far, I haven't heard any word on the capture of suspects, etc. However, the really puzzling thing here is why the dog DIDN'T bark...
We have this picture of a vast, dark conspiracy called Al Qaeda, with thousands of semi-autonomous cells everywhere plotting to destroy America, starting with 9/11. The funny thing is that - like the still vulnerable airlines - there are unlimited soft targets all over the U.S.
Imagine that you are an Al Qaeda fan and you own a pickup truck. You spend a couple hundred bucks on road flares and one night - or day - you simply follow a google map of the back roads in the hills around the OC, tossing lighted flares. With aerial surveillance, there is a good chance that you will be caught before very long, but very likely you will have time to start enough fires to severely tax the local firefighting capabilities.
This is the simplest scenario, and with a tiny bit of extra effort and funding, the reader can appreciate that one person could cause literally billions of dollars in damages, and likely some loss of life as well, a much higher payback than the typical suicide bomber achieves in Iraq. A small crew or a couple people with a Cesna and flares could do ten or a hundred times as much damage, easy.
And, a single person could steal a gas tanker truck and jack-knife it in a critical tunnel as well, right?
Now we all KNOW that the reason that these innumerable soft targets (the huge oil and gas drums in the Long Beach harbor area, just to name one additional example out of thousands) have not been hit is becaue we have this incredibly competent band of genius terror fighters in Homeland Security, who are SO good at their job that not ONE major incident has happened since 9/11.
Note that these are the same people who totally missed every clear warning sign of 9/11 itself, then followed that up with a war in Afghanistan with no exit strategy, followed by a war for totally bogus reasons in Iraq, also missing any exit plan, and meanwhile demonstrated their amazing competence in New Orleans...
So, given the utter implausibility of their claim to have prevented further attacks on U.S. soil, why the heck IS it that Al Qaeda and company have NOT attacked? Is it possible that we have gotten something completely wrong?
I am not a fan of conspiracy theorys. The idea that hundreds of people - which is what it would have taken - could have conspired in the White House or in some huge secret NeoCon cabal to do 9/11 seems completely unbelievable for a simple mathematical reason. All it takes it ONE person to blow open such a conspiracy. The potential rewards to such an individual rise as a percentage of the damage done, while the benefits are spread and diluted among the group with every additional member. For 9/11, which involved tens of billions of dollars in direct damages, the rewards for any member defecting would have FAR outweighed the benefits of silence. Somebody would have squeeled.
But that leaves us conceptually stranded. We know that a conspiracy by right wingers, neo-cons, the usual suspects of the paranoid left, is almost unbelievably unlikely, but we also know that for some reason Al Qaeda is leaving us alone, even while we attack them vigorously at every opportunity. There should have been two hundred fires, not 17 or whatever the current number is.
What gives? This makes no sense.