Daily Archives: August 27, 2013

Terrorists on airliners prior to 9/11 – the cost of thinking we’re worth killing

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back before 9/11 the airline flights over the US almost always had a few terrorists aboard.  You’d see them hanging around DFW or Atlanta, or LAX wandering around the boarding areas looking hopefully at the other passengers.  A couple of typical Turks, or Iranians, or Arabs, or Israelis, or Northern Irishmen.  Just wandering around watching people in hopes some of their fellow passengers would be worth killing, or even getting themselves into trouble, wasting a bomb on.

Aside from an occasional hijacking they mostly never did anything.  Fact was, the people sharing their flights were just a bunch of bureaucrats, bleating women, corporate zombies, and people going somewhere to meet people of the opposite sex they’d become acquainted with on the Internet.  Just typical Americans.  Worthless as hell, and certainly not worth the life of a highly trained terrorist.

But when 9/11 came along it made all those non-terrorist passengers feel a lot better about themselves.  Nothing changed with the terrorists, but the typical Americans were generally elevated by the whole thing.  Suddenly it seemed to them that someone thought they were worth killing.

Turned out it was such an uplifting experience for them the government decided they liked having all the spinoff benefits …. trotted out a lot of airport security, Homeland Security, 87 new layers of cops and surveillance, and legions of new guys wearing berets carrying machine guns to go off places terrorists came from and blow away anyone who might think Americans were worth killing.

Worked out fairly well, all in all.  Win-win-win.  Only downside is that so many of the Americans who use to be not be worth killing decided it might be better not to get on airplanes if they could avoid it.  Those people over there where terrorists come from might begin to be pissed off, eventually.  Might start killing some people who aren’t over in those countries they come from and aren’t just wearing berets, battle dress uniforms, and dropping grenades into the market places full of women and kids.

Going back to not being worth killing might be nice.  But you can’t get there from here, I reckons.

Old Jules

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The moving finger writes and then moves on: NM Floodplain Managers Association

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Fairly weird.  I was websearching for Mike Czosnek, a guy I used to do some Lost Adams Diggings searching with, and came across something that rocked me back on my heels. 

New Mexico Floodplain Managers Association http://www.nmfma.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=920799

An egg I laid, nurtured, hatched, and promptly forgot as soon as my career ended in 1999.

When I assumed the job of State Floodplain Manager for the State of New Mexico in 1992 the state had a law on the books to allow localities to adopt ordinances regulating building in designated floodplain areas, and for the residents of those to buy federally sponsored flood insurance to cover their damages when the creek did what it would inevitably do.

Someone had screwed up when the law was passed and left in language that could be construed [by me] requiring that the locally designated floodplain managers be trained and registered or licensed by the State Floodplain Manager or Administrator.  All that happened 15 years before my arrival, and had lain dormant and unnoticed.  Nobody in New Mexico had a clue what they’d agreed to, what they were supposed to be doing. 

The reason I was hired for the job was that FEMA was losing patience.  I was mandated by my grant to audit the local programs, report to FEMA what they weren’t doing according to their federal agreement, and hassle them to death until they did it.

Lousy, lousy, lousy job I had for a while travelling around the state being ignored and tolerated barely.  Then I happened to study the statute and came up with the idea.  Started hassling the hell out of local governments about not having registered or licensed [by me] floodplain managers whom I could lay some heavy crap on if they didn’t do their jobs.

“How do they become licensed?”

“They have to go through training.  Take a test.  I do the training at the [non-existent Floodplain Managers Association meetings.  Your people will have to join.”

The cage took a lot of rattling, but 1993, 1994, I put together an organizational meeting in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  Almost every participating community in New Mexico was represented.  Did some rudimentary training, had them adopt a constitution and by-laws, create officers [of which I refused to be one].

NM Floodplain Managers Association made my life a lot easier, reduced the amount of heckling and hassling I had to take from FEMA.  And became my primary training tool for the local communities.  Gradually got them training one another.

And my old buddy Mike Czosnek is still out there, treasurer of the damned thing.  Might have to stop in and see him when I get out that way.

Old Jules

SWAT teams and militarized police forces – An outlet for frustrating human needs

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

I’ve noticed a few scattered concerns on the WEB by people who think the 21st Century militarization of civilian police forces is a bad thing.  Seems to me those complainers aren’t looking at the bigger picture.

Time was when a person with a mean streak, or just a desire  to kill someone didn’t have many options.  He could sneak around and do it and maybe get by with it a while, or he could get drunk and do it, and go to the slammer.  Or he could unhealthily suppress it and go around frustrated and unhappy.

But nowadays there are plenty of outlets for a person with those needs.  Sure, he might spend years becoming a SEAL, a Marine Sniper, or a Green Beret.  But those are really too large and too institutionalized for the local badass who just wants to blow the face off someone without being criticized for doing it.   Municipal, County, or State Police SWAT teams offer a lot easier outlet.  Plus, they’re clubs where all the members have the same goals and can be depended upon to protect one another by keeping their mouths shut if it’s needed. 

For instance, there used to be a cop in Socorro, New Mexico, who was involved in a couple of extremely questionable shootings.  Residents and city officials had all witnessed, or heard about his blusterings, his posturings, his suspected desire to use that firearm as frequently as possible.  After the second shooting incident he was quietly encouraged to find greener pastures elsewhere.

So he applied for, and was accepted to the Albuquerque Police.  Trained for the SWAT team.  Wasn’t long before he got to put a bullet into a suspect and got a lot of praise for doing it.  Short while later they were raiding a drug house and an 80 year old neighbor saw what was going on, thought it was a gang.  Ran out of his house with a flashlight, yelling, and the Ex-Socorro cop stopped him in his tracks.  Turned out the raid was conducted at the wrong address, but the 80 year old was found ex post facto to should have minded his own business.

A year or two later someone was holding a baby over a freeway overpass threatening to drop it into the traffic below.  Ex-Socorro cop plugged him so’s the baby only dropped on the overpass.  Hero again.

I heard over the years he got to kill a number of other people who got downrange of the Albuquerque SWAT team, as well.  Managed to make what would otherwise probably just been a lifetime spent in prison, or sneaking around murdering people, into a healthy, productive life.

People who criticize militarized police forces aren’t considering the needs of the SWAT teamers and the healthy way they’ve dovetailed themselves into the greater good of society.

Old Jules

Should’a done its

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

The last post about creeping cowardice was going to have some of this as a part of it, but became too lengthy so I saved it with the thought I’ve got a while to live yet and might still work it in somewhere.

I believe one of the ways a person might attain valid perspectives about himself and his life events is through hindsight.  Might be the only way.  If a person can look back and seriously say to himself, “I should have done it,” probably he should have done it.

I can’t say that about those two mine shafts because I know even now I’d have done them if I could, and I recognize for whatever reason, I couldn’t.  No ‘should have done it’ hidden in there.

But around 2002, 2003, there’s a should have done it I still occasionally experience a flash of regret about.  Just until my insistence about not to regret anything in my life kicks in to trump it.

There’s an airstrip, or was an airstrip parallel to the old highway running between Belen, Los Lunas, and Isleta Pueblo I used to always swing into when I was in the area.  A number of old airplanes to walk around and look at, wonder about, kick the tires of.  The airstrip was gradually becoming inactive.

But at one end there was an old Cessna 140 tied down.  I’d always go over and walk around, check it out.  Sometimes sit inside it.  Watch the tires gradually lose their air and grass get taller around it.

I asked the guys running a motorcycle shop that used to be an airplane related business about it.  The 140 belonged to a man who lived in the neighborhood adjacent to the air park.  He’d been experiencing advancing dementia … quit flying the plane a couple of years back.  One of them heard he was in a nursing home, and that his wife had died.  The house and plane were in an ambiguous ownership state as a result of complicated family matters.

When I heard that I began to realize that old plane needed to be taken around the patch a few times before it rotted to the ground.  Or before it found its way into Trade-A-Plane and got sold to someone in Alabama to fly off or be hauled off.

I did a lot of planning about that plane.  The battery was going to be dead, and maybe the fuel would have gone bad, but probably not.  Avgas tends to last a long time in a tied down airplane.  But there’s probably water condensed inside the tank if it wasn’t left full.  Water under the gas that would be drained off before the engine started.

I borrowed an air bottle and brought the tire pressure up on one of the trips, checked the oil, got inside and tested the controls.  Everything hunky dory.  Just needed to draw the water off the fuel tanks.  Fuel guages showed one full, one 3/4 tank.  The 3/4 tank would be the one most likely to have water in the fuel tank.

I never made a conscious decision not to take that old bird around the patch, do a few touch and goes.  My bud in Belen,  Deano, died and other matters kept me from going into that area without a special trip.  I suppose it just slipped my mind.

Which didn’t keep it from creeping back into my consciousness for years afterward, including now.  I can tell you today, I should have done it.  The way I know I should have is that I can’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t have.

I’d be remembering that as my last pilot in command this lifetime, if I’d done it.  And instead of a sense of loss when it sneaks into my head, I’d be remembering those touch and goes in a Cessna 140.

Old Jules