The Breakdown of Order in Baltimore Continues

They are on pace for a bad year in Baltimore. Baltimore hits 300 homicides for fifth year in a row.

Two people were killed in front of a grocery store on Nov. 13.

Their deaths marked the city’s fifth consecutive year with at least 300 homicides. The staggering total has become an unofficial milestone in Baltimore’s annual struggle to quell the deadly violence.

For a city Baltimore’s size, that is a staggering number of homicides. (Hat tip to Shot in the Dark.)

And it isn’t just murders. Other crime is also on the rise. Carjackings spike continues in Baltimore, with incidents up 30% from this time last year.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of carjackings more than tripled, and they’re up again this year.

There have been more than 400 carjackings across Baltimore through Sept. 28, up 29 percent from last year, according to police data. Other auto thefts, while far more common, are down 8.6%.

When do things get so bad, that the people demand a change? I’m sure somehow this is situation is all the Republicans’ fault or Trump’s fault, (according to the Democrats) but that will be hard to sell to anyone who considers that last Republican mayor of Baltimore left office in 1967.

Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Mexico

Breakdown of law and order goes hand-in-hand with a failing state. Pirates attack ship in Gulf of Mexico.

This details a specific incident in which 2 Italian sailor were injured, but what caught my eye is the admission that the problem is growing.

The southern Gulf of Mexico has seen an increasing number of pirate attacks on oil platforms and boats in recent years.

I wonder how long it will be before they target a cruise ship.

Organized Shoplifting Gangs Include Kids

As HeyJackass! would say, “Illustrating Chicago Values.” Kids, some only 10-years-old, join weekend shoplifting mobs.

Retailers are dealing with a wave of organized shoplifting teams that frequently use juveniles to do their dirty work. North Side locations of Forever 21, H&M, Ulta Beauty, DSW, Patagonia, and Burlington have been struck repeatedly — sometimes twice within hours.

So you have to wonder, “Where are these kids parents?” Are they part of the shoplifting crew? Are they just absent?

And for those who don’t know, HeyJackass! has the best crime stats from Chicago.

New Infrastructure Isn’t Being Built Very Well

My continuing dive into the state of our infrastructure keeps making me want to scream. It isn’t just that we are ignoring our existing infrastructure, (we are ignoring it) we are doing a poor job of building new. While we are apparently building (or maybe rebuilding in this case) roads, we are doing a fairly poor job of it.

So this story from Animal Magnetism: Goodbye, Blue Monday. Which is about the sorry state of Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT). (Normally I would reference the main article, and give Animal a Hat Tip, but the “media organization” in question is really annoying me, so, “No soup link for you!”)

One example cited is the collapse of a highway bridge, 5 years after it was built. Colorado’s Highway 36. It seems that in 2013 Colorado changed the law for building roads from “lowest bid” to “best value.” So how is that working out?

Consider that the Brooklyn Bridge (which currently carries 6 lanes of traffic) openend May of 1883, and the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. Or there is Anji Bridge, which is 1400 years old. (Reference. And the entry in the Wiki.)

Then to fix the problems in CDOT, the governor appointed a new head of the agency, 35-year-old Shoshana Lew. Her greatest qualification seems to be that she was on Michelle Obama’s staff. Ms Obama apparently called in a favor with the governor. Ms. Lew replaces a 56-year-old man with an extensive background in civil engineering. Lew has a master’s degree in history.

So, in other words, Governor Polis has appointed an inexperienced, unqualified political crony of Michelle Obama to oversee Colorado’s collapsing road network.

And while she apparently – as stated on an interview with NPR – is all in favor of bike lanes, and electric vehicles, actually addressing the gridlock that is the state of Colorado’s highway system, not to mention that it’s crumbling around the edges, doesn’t seem to be on her radar. There are a large number of vacancies for snowplow drivers as winter storms are already hitting the high country, so that probably isn’t good either.

The Oroville Dam Near-disaster: The Cost of Ignoring Infrastructure

When I started looking into the dam failures called out in the post, Our Aging Infrastructure, I never dreamed I would find so much information of bureaucratic ineptitude putting people at serious risk, because reasons. Mostly the reasons are around “We don’t want to ask those people for more money,” or “We don’t want to spend money on what the engineers say we should spend money on.” Case in point, the Oroville Dam spillway (near) disaster of February 2017.

Why is all this important? Forget about building new infrastructure, we are not even maintaining the infrastructure we inherited. Members of previous generations now seem like giants — When did we become so small?

When the Oroville Dam spillway failed in early 2017, I didn’t hear too much about it, or I didn’t pay too much attention. The media was mostly in a frenzy about the 2016 election, and the early part of the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” insanity. But it was a bigger deal than I knew at the time. Like the Space Shuttle disasters, it was an engineering problem, compounded by management’s unwillingness to listen to reason. It was also a failure in multiple modes, and the root causes of the failures were known to management. They just didn’t want to believe the engineers.

Bob Bea Takes Us on a Deep Dive Through His Dire Oroville Report.

Bob Bea was a professor of engineering at Cal Berkley. Before he retired he was part of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. As outside experts, not hired by or associated with California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) or The Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), he and Tony Johnson examined all of the publicly available documents on the incident in Oroville from February of 2017.

A Review: On 7 February 2017 a portion of the main spillway at Oroville Dam failed. Specifically station 3300 failed. The spillway gates were closed. This being in the middle of the wettest winter on record for northern California, the lake levels rose to 900 ft above sea-level, and then the water began to pour over the emergency spillway. It was the first time that had ever happened. Within 24 hours erosion of the emergency spillway threatened to undermine the 30 foot weir, threatening folks living downstream. 180,000 people were ordered to evacuate, and the main spillway was reopened. The resulting destruction of the main spillway and erosion of the surrounding land dumped 1.7 million cubic yards (or so) of debris into the tailrace of the hydroelectric plant at Oroville Dam, The Hyatt Power Station, threatening to flood and destroy the power station.

There is way too much information on the initial emergency to include here. There are hours of video from DWR, and more from Blancliro. Even the link at the top, barely scratches the surface of the report. The main report, can be found at the following link. Root Causes Analyses of the Oroville Dam: Gated Spillway Failures and Other Developments.

That report details several problems going back to the construction of the dam in the 1960s.

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The Cost of Politicians Shooting Off Their Mouths

The mayor and bunch of other “Woke” politicos decided that the shooting was definitely murder, and said so, even though the police were still investigating it as a possible self-defense event. Arson investigated at Dayton home where two teens were killed.

Because politicians calling for calm, and reason is SOOO 20th Century.

So of course, since the politicians shot off their mouths, but no one was arrested, the “community” decided they needed to act on their own.

Fire destroyed a home where police said two teenagers were shot and killed by the homeowner in August. Investigators said they believe it was arson.

“Somebody just set that white house on fire,” said a 9-1-1 caller on Thursday night. “I was just parking my car and it exploded and a black car drove off.”

The homeowner of course was long gone. And the house was vandalized with graffiti since the shooting.

“Somebody couldn’t spell ‘murder’ because they came and spray painted it on the house,” said Chris, a Conners Street resident.

Somebody should, but nobody will, call the mayor, et al to account for the reckless words.

Our Aging Infrastructure

So when does this constitute a crisis? I’m only going to cover dams today. Not the California power outages (plural). I am going to limit myself to dams. For today, anyway.

In my post, The Coming Dark Age, I reference an article by Victor Davis Hanson: Members of previous generations now seem like giants — When did we become so small? One of the things he talks about is dams, and how we don’t build any. Of course it appears we aren’t even maintaining any that we have inherited. Then I ran across a gif of a dam failure, and I went looking for more data. And found more than I could have realized.

On May 14th of this year, part of the spillway of a Texas dam failed. Aging steel suspected in dam failure at Lake Dunlap.

The lake is both a source of fresh water and an economic driver through recreation. Boating seems to have been (past tense) a particular driver of the economy.

What caused the failure is still under investigation, but the river authority released a statement Thursday evening saying it believes that “aging structural steel” played a role.

A similar spill gate collapse occurred in 2016 at Lake Wood, 4 miles west of Gonzales, after structural steel inside that gate failed.

This is video from May, showing the exact moment of the dam failure. You can spare the 30 seconds involved.

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) owns several dams, most over 90 years old, and apparently all in need of repair. And two have failed. Unsafe zones identified in study. These dams are 90 years old. That they would eventually need repair/replacement is NOT a secret. That fact was known the day they were built. So why no plans, no savings, no action? Because as Hanson describes in the link at the top, we are a generation of social-media addicts, who can only castigate previous generations, generations who built all of our infrastructure, for their perceived failings. As if we were perfect.

The river authority has said the aging dams — all upwards of 90 years old — need their spill gates replaced at an astounding cost. Officials have said the authority has no funds to make the necessary upgrades, which has led to safety concerns with the prospect of injury should someone be on a lake or near a dam when the next spill gate fails.

So what has the authority been doing for the past 90 years? All their dams need repair at once, after 2 have failed.

And of course it isn’t just Texas that has an issue.

Warning unheeded: 2010 dam collapse in Hopkinton was destructive, and predictable

At about 5 p.m. on March 30, 2010, as record rainfall pounded Rhode Island, Blue Pond Dam collapsed, releasing 179 million gallons of water that raced through nearby woods before tearing into a road and washing out a bridge over Canonchet Brook.
[SNIP]
Dam failures are almost never expected, but in the case of Blue Pond Dam the warnings were clear.

And it isn’t only one dam in Rhode Island. Dozens of dams across R.I. are considered unsafe or potentially unsafe. ‘We are literally one storm away from loss of life,’ says one expert.

The state does not know who owns 32 unsafe dams. Actions against 60 dams were pursued, but only 3 were fixed.

The State of Oregon is going to finally pony up some money to fix a dam that has been operating at 72% of capacity since 1994. Planning underway to replace Wallowa Dam. If you click thru and look at the image, it looks like the dam has failed, but apparently they reduced levels before it became a disaster.

Anticipating funding would one day become available, the district hired McMillen to draw plans for a new dam. Because of the risk of a failure, he said the dam has been running at 72% of capacity since 1994. The rehabilitated dam would provide more water to irrigators and allow for more water to be released, increasing stream flows for fish.

Plattsburgh, a city in New York, has voted to just remove a dam. City votes to petition removal of dam. Because it isn’t worth “fixing something that is broken.” (Funny, I’ve had any number of cars towed to a mechanic over the years. I didn’t realize it wasn’t worth it, and I should just buy a new car – every time an alternator or water-pump failed.)

More Power Outages for California

You didn’t think that they were done, did you? Blackouts return: Utility cuts off power to 450,000 Californians to avoid igniting wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it would go through with the planned outages affecting nearly 180,000 residential and business customer accounts, starting at 2 p.m. Pacific Time in the Sierra Foothills and proceeding soon after to San Francisco Bay Area communities. In all, portions of 17 counties will lose power.

There is a great review of the previous blackout from Juan Brown of Blancolirio. (I found that video thanks to The Freeholder.) He notes that this is NOT a function of Global Warming, but a function of deferred maintenance.

“A community trying to understand what happened”

So the media is still obsessing over the self-defense shooting in Georgia, which is probably a good thing in the long run. Police report reveals new details about scene where teens were killed in shootout with homeowner.

Three teens, armed with a Glock pistol, and with their faces covered, suffered a breakdown of the victim-selection process. The three were killed when the homeowner – or the son of the homeowner, reports have been conflicting – opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle. (And they refuse to characterize it as an assault weapon, even though a neighbor described it that way.)

On Wednesday, more than 300 hundred people returned to the very spot to hold a vigil, calling for healing. There were families and a community trying to understand what happened – as they grieve.

What happened? Three young men who didn’t learn that actions have consequences, or that stealing is wrong, because actually teaching stuff from the Judeo-Christian tradition would be oppressive. Or something. “Live by the sword; die by the sword.”

Hobbes’ “State of War” Comes to Minneapolis

It isn’t about the weapons used; it is about the breakdown of civilization. 20 Arrested, 18 Charged In Brutal Downtown Minneapolis Robberies.

The attacks were caught on surveillance video, taking place in August. Police say groups of people would target one person, assault them, and often to take their cellphone and wallet. The 18 suspects range in age from 15 to 27.

Because teaching things like “Thou shalt not steal” or “Refrain from taking that which is not given” would be oppressive, or something.

And situational awareness is a factor. (Or is that lack of situational awareness?)

Police said the criminals in the recent cases “finesse” the victim. They search for easy targets, typically someone who is intoxicated, alone, and looking at their phone.

The statements of the “man in the street” brought to mind the quote from The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. (After the break, because its quite long.) And the fact that once again, Americans in the 21st Century are obsessed with Feeling Safe. Actually being safe, they could probably handle with a concealed carry permit. Or can of pepper spray. Or some situational awareness.

Hat tip to Wirecutter, who says No worries, a jury of their peers will acquit them. And also see the previous posting.

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