Just a question, but knowing what you know now, how would you vote on the floor of the Senate on a resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq? That is to say if you could have a complete do over on the subject based on the information you have now would you pick a different path? Various debates and arguments in the press, online etc. have, for some reason, made me curious as to how people would answer such a question.
An interesting rebuttal to Christopher Hitchens… by his brother, Peter Hitchens. The topic is atheism vs. religion, and I’m not endorsing everything Peter says (though I do tend to agree that Christopher’s atheism is so fervently believed as to be a form of “faith” itself), I just think it’s interesting food for thought, and figured it might trigger a fun debate here.
Oh, this is good.
[Bumped to top. -ed.]
As long as Becky and I are asking my readers random questions, here’s a good one: If you had 3 to 5 weeks off (after the bar exam) with no work, school or other obligations … What would you do? Where would you travel? How would you spend that last, precious chunk of time before entering the working world?
P.S. To the extent that timing/seasons matter to people’s recommendations… we’re talking about August here.
As minor-league baseball posts go, this one isn’t as exciting as the Mississippi nutso video, but oh well. My high-school classmate Joe Serfass, whose burgeoning pro baseball career has been the subject of several previous posts here, continues to impress. Last week, he had a homecoming of sorts, and it was a very successful one:
Newington’s Joe Serfass grew up attending Rock Cats games with his father, George, and other family members.
So when the former Eastern Connecticut All-American was signed by the Mets in 2004, he knew his journey through the minors could one day traverse New Britain.
“My first goal when I signed a pro contract was to get to Double A, knowing that Binghamton is in the Eastern League and I’d have a chance to play at home,” Serfass said.
The 6-foot-3 righthander pitched two scoreless innings in Binghamton’s 9-2 victory over the Rock Cats on Wednesday. About 50 friends and family members - including his father, mother Bev Nogas and wife Tara - stood and cheered while Serfass lowered his ERA to 1.69 in 16 innings over nine games.
Nice going, Joe!
Meanwhile, the baseball team Joe used to play for — the Newington High School Indians — have reached the state semifinals! They got there by beating Fitch-Groton in a 12-inning thriller yesterday. Here’s another article about the game.
The #3-seeded Indians (20-3) face surprising semifinalist #18-seed Bunnell (16-7) at Yale Field on Tuesday. The winner advances to Saturday’s title game, also at Yale Field, against either #1 Amity (24-1) or #12 Stamford (16-6).
No NHS team has won a state championship since 1994, when I was in seventh grade.
Even better than the fight between the Cubs pitcher and catcher is this video of the Phillip Wellman, manager of the Mississippi Braves AA team, going nuts after being ejected from a game in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Friday.
Title shamelessly stolen from the YouTube post :-)
You’ve probably heard already about yesterday’s big anti-terror news, the foiled JFK plot:
Federal authorities announced Saturday they had broken up a suspected Muslim terrorist cell planning a “chilling” attack to destroy John F. Kennedy International Airport, kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe by blowing up a jet fuel artery that runs through populous residential neighborhoods.
WCBS explains that “the suspects believed explosives could ignite the pipeline at JFK and destroy the airport and parts of Queens, where the line runs underground.” But the key phrase there, it turns out, is “the suspects believed.” According to at least one expert, that belief was flat wrong:
Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline expert and president of Accufacts Inc., an energy consulting firm that focuses on pipelines and tank farms, said the force of explosion would depend on the amount of fuel under pressure, but it would not travel up and down the line.
“That doesn’t mean wackos out there can’t do damage and cause a fire, but those explosions and fires are going to be fairly restricted,” he said.
Now, look, I don’t go out of my way to assume that the government is “hyping up” terror plots… but um, isn’t U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf being a little too credulous here? She says “the devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable,” but that statement isn’t very meaningful if the plot could not have succeeded as envisioned. She echoes the terrorists’ own claims that the attack would have caused “greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks,” calling this “one of the most chilling plots imaginable.” But isn’t that all dependent on the fire and explosion going “up and down the line,” which apparently would not have happened?
If I hatched a “plot” to kill thousands of people using fairy dust, a magic wand, and a Harry Potter spell, it wouldn’t be “chilling” so much as ridiculous. And the mere fact that I might have believed the plot would succeed, doesn’t make it so. [UPDATE: Likewise in commenter Doc’s alternate analogy, if I hatched a “plot” to kill thousands of people with a knife. It’d be good to catch me, obviously, but it would be rather idiotic to uncritically repeat my own assertions that the knife attack would have been “worse than 9/11.”]
Now, perhaps the government has its own expert advice that differs from Mr. Kuprewicz’s. If so, I’d like to hear it. But as it stands now, this seems like much ado over not very much.
That said, of course it’s a very good thing that these men, who clearly intended to harm America (and who could certainly have killed at least a good handful of people), are in custody. I congratulate the authorities for busting up this plot, and I am grateful for their efforts. I just don’t think we should be throwing around “worse than 9/11″ rhetoric unless it’s, you know, actually true.
P.S. There’s also this: “Since Defreitas [one of the plotters] has worked at the airport, security has tightened, and his knowledge of the operation was severely outdated.”
As I said, I’m glad we got these guys, but for me, this just doesn’t pass the sniff test as a terribly serious plot. Between the apparent physical impossibility issue, the outdated expertise issue, the plot’s silly code-name (”Chicken Farm”), and the ridiculous statement that blowing up JFK Airport would be especially traumatic because “[Americans] love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man… it’s like you can kill the man twice” (huh?), I’m just not that impressed.
UPDATE: I found Mr. Kuprewicz’s e-mail address online, and on a lark, shot him an e-mail, asking for a bit more detail and whether he agreed with my conclusions here. To my surprise and delight, he wrote back almost immediately:
You are correct in that a pipeline explosion will not move up or down a pipeline. One can get a serious explosion depending on the pipeline at the point of release, usually a big rupture where the dynamics forces in the pipeline cause the pipe to shrapnel, but the burning front remains at the general site of the release. Depending on several factors which are pipeline specific…a pipeline fire and/or explosion can be quite large, but no where as large as suggested by various commentators who appear to be very uninformed about this important infrastructure (both pipelines and terminals). …
Reviewing your blog, I would not disagree with your posted opinions and observations on the overstatements concerning this threat.
He also suggested this Yahoo group, a “pipeline safety discussion list,” which contains some more reactions to the JFK plot coverage. Among other things, it includes a link to an ABC News article quoting an unnamed official as saying that the plot “was not technically feasible”:
The pipeline snakes more than 100 miles from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to JFK. Once they learned of the plot, authorities investigated at what points the pipeline could be accessed and found that even if those points were bombed, there would be little to no impact — and no ignition — and that the only way to wreak havoc at JFK would be to
detonate bombs at the airport itself.
But, a source said, “They never let go of the idea,” and seemed determined to find a way to execute it regardless.
Blowing up a jet-fuel pipeline at New York’s Kennedy airport might not have produced the chain-reaction inferno the accused plotters allegedly imagined.
An examination of safety documents and scientific studies by UPI Saturday indicated it would be virtually impossible for flames to travel through the line and ignite at other points along the line.
Commercial airliner fuel, known as Jet-A, is a form of kerosene and requires a mix with air before it becomes explosive. Because pipelines are under pressure, the fuel would be forced out through the hole in the pipe where it would likely catch fire. The flames, however, would not travel back through the line.
Explosions along petroleum pipelines carrying jet fuel in the San Jose and Seattle areas in recent years caused casualties; however, the blasts were limited to the original breaches.