Cheeseburger Gothic

Post WW ecology. North America.

Posted February 27, 2009 by John Birmingham
Okay. Here's your challenge.

If it had a spinal chord, it got eaten by the Wave.

Three older nuke plants melted down, the rest failed safe. Lots of cities burned. Some were vast conflagrations.

Three years later, what has happened to the biospehere of North America?

114 Responses to ‘Post WW ecology. North America.’

Cjackson would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
I guess it would depend on which plants melted down and how much radiation was released. We could use Chernobyl as an example of the devestation to the water table and the flora and fauna.

"A recent EPA study on the worst case scenario of a nuclear

accident concluded that if a nuclear reactor 1/5 the size

of the Chernobyl plant in the former Soviet Union had a

meltdown in a state the size of Pennsylvania, it would kill

45,000 people, contaminate 70% of the state, and cause

seventeen million dollars worth of damage. If you multiply

that by five, it would kill 225,000 and cause eighty five

million dollars worth of damage and contaminate five times

the amount of land."

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
There are no nuclear plants in the US that are designed like the Chernobyl plant. In light water plants or even HTGC reactors, the meltdown would be contained and the contamination limited to the building itself.

Sorry.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
As I read WW, it was announced that the plants were on the verge of melting down. If the wave had not vanished, I would have thought the US military would have sent in drones to shut down the plants by using hellfire rockets to destroy the plant control rooms.

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Cjackson mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2009
Also, there is an International Nuclear Event Scale to measure the amount of damage an incident causes. I found this as well in reference to Chernobyl,

"After the disaster, four square kilometres of pine forest in the immediate vicinity of the reactor turned ginger brown and died, earning the name of the "Red Forest". Some animals in the worst-hit areas also died or stopped reproducing. Most domestic animals were evacuated from the exclusion zone, but horses left on an island in the Pripyat River 6 km (4 mi) from the power plant died when their thyroid glands were destroyed by radiation doses of 150–200 Sv. Some cattle on the same island died and those that survived were stunted because of thyroid damage. The next generation appeared to be normal.

In the years since the disaster, the exclusion zone abandoned by humans has become a haven for wildlife, with nature reserves declared (Belarus) or proposed (Ukraine) for the area. Many species of wild animals and birds, which were not seen in the area prior to the disaster, are now plentiful due to the absence of humans."

I just wikipedia'd Chernobyl after effects.

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Cjackson would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Paul, well there ya go. Only minimal contamination to the local site instead of widespread dispersal.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
An interesting place to look to is Chernobyl. An abandoned city, no population. Its been used as a study place for urban post human ecologies. Dogs, cats, rats, pidgeons, cockroaches. Look at those 5 in the short term.

I shall postulate a lot of poison baits distributed by attack helicopters. MRE's, poison baits - according to some folks, not much difference to choose.

Play up the bush fire aspect. The Zone could act like a big thermal inversion zone. One suburb fire loading equals one Eucalypt forest - devastation could be on the million of acres scale. Particularly California. They follow the same fire pattern as Australia. You need US-burger inputs.

I shall now retire - and leave those who want to talk about deer,ducks, geese, raccoons and coyotes. And the best way of tackling them. Free-fire zones?

Hmm . . .total fire ban day. All the kids are home. Need to do some prep.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 27, 2009
Cjackson - I agree that it is cold comfort. But Chernobyl was an RBMK-100 design (I have no idea what the acronym stands for) which used light water for cooling and graphite for neutron modulation. The design was a spin-off of one of the earliest - and cheapest - Soviet military reactors. The thing is a monster.

In the disaster, the reactor safety protocols (as poor as they were) were intentionally overridden to increase heat and therefore energy production. But that heat actually ignited the graphite, and it was the burning graphite that caused the radioactive cloud that drifted west.

I am not saying the US reactors are absolutely safe, but there are none built on the Soviet RBMK model. Also, the environmental movement in the 1970's resulted in regulations that mandated automatic safety systems that run whether there are people there or not. The containment domes are overly designed to withstand stresses and pressures that will never happen. And, to make matters better (or worse, if you are building a reactor in the United States) the law requires redundant safety systems just in case one fails.

The upshot of this is that a reactor meltdown will devastate the reactor building and the surrounding land, but it will be very, very local.

However, the likely burning and explosions of coal, natural gas and oil fired power plants will totally fuck everything up, spreading toxins far and wide.

The breakdown of irrigation systems - especially in California - due to lack of day to day maintenance will render most of that the Golden State into desert. The wild fires that are sure to start due to cars crashing, etc., in the California forests will burn out of control. Years of active fire suppression has created the largest tinder box the world has ever seen.

Oh yeah, and the Wave killed all animal life. So there is no "ecology" left to speak of.

Between the loss of irrigation, uncontrolled wild fires and the burning of conventional power plants and multiple refineries, it will look like California was nuked from space.

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Cjackson swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
Paul,

Good points! You know your stuff. So any wildlife attempting to repopulate the U.S. would need to come from the unaffected areas of Alaska, Canada and Mexico. And I'm sure would steer clear of any contaiminated areas.

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Brian asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
PNB. Didn't birds survive?

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Naut puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2009
Most of Washington would have survived, not many spinal columns there.

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MickH reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
So nothing but grubs and insects hey?

okay, the insect population would be starting to get enormous, not sure if 3 years is enough to make it really bad, but the growth would be exponential.

Most of the flora would be ok, since insects mostly pollinate them but the pollution and toxins will obviously take its toll.

Perhaps the largest insect populations will be in pockets depending on the clarity of the air and water

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Cjackson has opinions thus...

Posted February 27, 2009
So anything that can migrate from Canada and Mexico will, and without most predators will flourish. Granted insects pollinate the plants, feed the herbivores and therefore the carnivores.

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lostatlunch mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2009
it has just been 3 years... The infrastructure is cactus, the roads are over grown and still clogged, power is out everywhere, the infrastructure and skills to restore the services (which are not required because of the lack of population) are gone.

There is still contamination from corroded infrastructure, toxic fires and run-off.

fire brigades have maps that specify the hazards in their area. but they would/should be a bit "Homeland Security" protected in the USA.

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted February 27, 2009
The 'All Ghillied Up' level on Call of Duty 4. That's EXACTLY what it'll be like.

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lostatlunch would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Moko ... how much fun was whacking the chopper pilot & defending at the pick-up..

it made up for the getting run over by the tank thing...

I can do that and the spectre mission all over again.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 27, 2009
There are many desert plants dependent on birds or bats for pollination. They would go extinct. Without reptile predators, the insect population would eat the plants that remained, and when the plant life is gone, the insects would die, too, leaving the deserts, well, even more desolated.

Which in turn will affect cloud formation and weather patterns the way the Sahara, the Gobi and the Rub al Khali do. These deep deserts heat up so much in the daytime that they essentially act to prevent cloud formation, which in turn tends to perpetuate their dry conditions.

Most of the central United States will revert to deep desert without the benefit of the relatively vibrant ecosystems that the Saharah, the Gobi and the Rub al Khali have. Which means that the Great American Desert - stretching from Mexico to North Dakota - will not be able to sustain human life at all.

Oh yeah, deep deserts are often inaccessible by air. I spent a great deal of time in the Rub al Khali. Due to heat thermals, most of it could only be crossed by specially designed trucks. Aircraft could were not viable except in certain areas. And even the trucks I rode on were dependent on supplies of fuel and water provided by small settlements or Bedu camps.

Without water and an ecosystem, the Great American Desert would not have any human inhabitants, which would make it even more difficult to work within.

The conditions the Wave left behind would cause the creation of the Great American Desert in relatively very little time.

Cjackson - no, the migrating animals would not avoid the contaminated areas. There are animals, plants and insects all over the Chernobyl site. Those that are sensitive to the the contaminates will die; those that are more hardy will survive. The migration of animals and plants back into the Wave Zone would be very, very slow.

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JdR puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2009
Presumably some migratory birds will be doing their thing?

They will no doubt stick out majorly on an otherwise eerie landscape.

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aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
I think the question of insects is important - were they affected? It would really determine what would happen - and could help plot device wise to explain what caused the wave.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Locusts? Possible for them to breed up over a couple of years. Killer bees? Monarch butterflies? Hunh! Bees! How long ago did commercial hives started to die off?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
JdR -Good point about migratory birds, but migratory birds are dependent on specific niche ecosystems - i.e., ducks and geese are dependent on wetlands to use as rest and feeding stations during migration. If these are gone, and it is likely they would be, along many of their migratory routes, that would affect the speed and spread of repopulation.

Also, many of the lakes would contain toxic compounds that might actually kill the birds that landed there. This happens near gold mines in the US that use arsenic to leach out gold from low grade ore. The byproduct is small lakes of arsenic rich water, which and geese land in when migrating. They don't survive the experience.

Aaron - I agree it is important to know whether insects survive. John said anything with with a spinal chord dies. Insects don't have spinal chords, so they would survive, and if they do they will populate like mad, eat everything and each other, then die out leaving desert behind.

But if the wave destroys them, the plants would survive - and thrive without predation. This would cause other problems, but it would create a much more hospitable environment for animals migrating back in.

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yankeedog puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2009
Well, since insects are invertebrates, they should be living.

Obviously, in addition to nuclear plants, there will be a lot of chemical plants and refineries abandoned and/or burned. I'd expect the Gulf Coast from about Houston to Mobile might be a mess, along with the chemical processing belt along the Jersey Shore. The southern end of Lake Michigan (chemical, steel, and refineries south of Chicago)would be contaminated as well. Don't think you'd want to spend a lot of time there.

The lightly inhabited stretches of North America (the boreal forests and Western Plains) would probably start to revert back to their natural state.

If all vertebrates were eliminated, the ecosystem would a mess. I'm assuming a 'nuclear winter' due to all the fires started when the Wave hit, so most of the Northern Hemisphere is screwed for at least a few years.

For that, I'd also guess there'll be a land grab for North America the likes of which hasn't been seen since the 1800s. There'll still be a lot of resources, land, and technology lying around for the picking.

How about this as a secondary topic:

You're in charge of one of the remaining powers (say, Australia). You hear that the Wave has receded. What do you attempt to secure for yourself-the remanants of the Pacific Fleet in San Diego (solidify control of the sealanes)? Try for the ICBMs in Wyoming ('instant' deterrent)? Secure the breadbasket of the San Joaquin Valley for colonization? Something else I may not have thought of?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 27, 2009
Immigrant/refugee/scavengers living in the ruins of the big cities. It would be impossible to police such a situation. Plenty of canned food to eat and bottled water to drink, but as population grows, supplies will dwindle, creating tribal conflict for control of territory and the resources within them followed by intertribal warfare to take what others have because what you have is not enough.

The San Joaquin Valley would be a desert within a year. I suspect that with the climate change brought on by the "nuclear winter" caused by fires, including the California forest wild fires that are sure to happen, snow and rainfall will shrink, which means the aquifer would lower if not disappear in most places. Without plentiful ground water, the San Joaquin will remain a desert.

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2009
Agree with much of what PNB and YD have postulated.

Guessing what the insect population will do is the $64K question. Veterbrates tend to be in the top half of most eco-systems so there is a chance the ecological crash will not be quite as hard as if insects had vanished. Fire will dictate a lot and that in turn will be dictated by weather patterns.

This map indicates most of the Nuclear reactors are concentrated in the East half of the continent

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/map-power-reactors.html

Heres a list from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors#United_States_of_America

And heres a bonus wikistory about the USS Savannah, nuclear powered cargo ship with 30 luxury staterooms. A very nice looking vessel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NS_Savannah

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2009
Insects are doing fine.

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yankeedog ducks in to say...

Posted February 27, 2009
Ah-quite possibly right about the San Joaquin. How about the major river valleys, then?

JB, you probably will have to go back and reread 'Earth Abides', which, although dated in some ways, describes nicely what a depopulated landscape would be like.

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simon bedak reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
'If it had a spinal chord it got eaten by the Wave'

Presumably, as some kinda meal, all that was eaten got shat out into some kinda jelly somewhere after the Wave had broken. I'm thinking a big lake of grey goo with mosquito lavae in it. Well, ok, brown goo then

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
I talked to my military intelligence/teaching peer today about some related issues to the post Wave situation. We were speaking specifically about a tactical matter I'm working but I think he might be on to something.

He recommends firebombing urban areas that are lost to unsanctioned entities. He also recommended the use of persistent nerve agent.

In any case, ecology. The big question to answer is the nature of the biological aftermath (the goop that remains once the zapping transpires) and what effect it might have. The cliched road to travel is to say, "Oh, well it is a contaminant," and thus create a virtual wasteland.

I think the Wave, since we don't know what makes it tick, could actually do something different. Perhaps it goes 180 in the opposite direction and purifies the landscape prior to evaporating. In areas where fires transpired, the pollutants are whisked away or rendered inert. More to the point, the biological aftermath, the goop, could actually turn out to be a super fertilizer of sorts. For those who have looked at The World Without Us, you'll know that it would not take long for nature to reclaim areas of human habitation.

So I see a frontier where the plant life is going gangbusters. Clearing the brush is just as large a requirement as clearing the wreckage from roads and rail (those few that have wrecks).

Over time, once the Wave departs, the wildlife of upper North America and lower Central and South America would start to enter the region. Birds would probably be first along with small vermin such as rats/mice and such.

That said, whole sections of the food chain are missing. It might be a priority of the United States to try, as much as possible, to restore the original ecology status quo antebellum with stocks that can be found from around the world.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Yankeedog - the major rivers in California will suffer from the same drought caused by the "nuclear winter." The American, Feather, Sacramento Rivers - and the Sacramento River Delta - are all dependent on Spring snow melts. If there isn't any snow, those rivers will dry up.

I'm not sure about the Colorado, Mississippi or Ohio rivers.

JB - Well, if insects survive, but anything with a spinal chord doesn't, then the insects will proliferate without predators and farmer-applied pesticides to control their numbers. They will eat everything green - leaves, stems and seeds - and then die themselves when they've exhausted their food supply. Desert will remain.

Those insects that scavenge - such as ants - will proliferate as they scavenge the herbivorous insects. But the ants, too, will die out when they've eaten all of the corpses of the other insects.

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gtrof reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
What about life under water? Did the wave have an affect below the surface?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Great question.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
A lot will depend on how the 'nuclear winter' pans out and how it affects regular climate drivers such as the gulf stream, el nino etc. Different rainfall patterns will have a significant impact on the land. Any meteoroligists out there?

Some coastal areas should retain good rainfall. Going along Paul Boylan's line the US may end up like much of Australia. A bloody big chunk of desert through a large part of the continental landmass. Australia could sell camels to those resettling the U.S.

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JdR would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
Had more of a think over lunch, and I think your timeframe of a couple of years is too short for much dramatic potential, beyond "Its empty."

The three year period gives you a chance to try to do something unique - most literature ensures a much longer period for natural change. But it'll be hard I guess.

The surprise appearance of some migratory birds overhead could make a little piece of drama. The sudden attack of a mountain lion or something like that ... probably too early on anywhere other than the periphery. People will be moving in much faster than anything else with a spine.

A massive locust plague is probably worth including for our intepid explorers to deal with. But the 'insects eating everything', like a locust plague, only lasts for a cycle, if that makes any sense. In normal nature, times become good, the locusts go nuts, then run out of food, die off, and vegetation grows back.

I think it would be distinctive and interesting if you can avoid the 'wasteland' scenarios - as they're pretty common in literature. Sure, there are a few no-go areas due to industrial accidents etc, but the continent is vast and industry is relatively concentrated.

You've probably read George R Stewarts 'Earth Abides' (the grand-daddy of empty earth fiction)- I only read it a few months ago - and while it had a 1940s technology level (so less nasties than today), what stood out was how gradual it was for nature to erase humanity's influence.

A small point I liked from Earth Abides - engineers are smart, there are failsafes, etc. Why not go with that and make chemical spills, industrial disasters much rarer than some in this thread envisage. Dams aren't going to just break. Chemicals don't just leak out of storage.

Water will still presumably come out of most taps - gravity still rules most reticulated water systems.

Without people, forest fires etc are far less likely to occur.

Rotting refridgerated food and the absense of scavengers like rats and stuff will be an issue.

Of course, assuming you're going to offer some explanation for the wave means you've got a nice big can of sci-fi options for having all sorts of weird stuff happening. Matter and energy could've done all whatever your imagination wants, really.

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shifty mcgee would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
While this isnt ecology, its probably useful for you to know: apparently no one person has the combination to Fort Knox Gold Depository.

http://www.homeinsurance.org.uk/most-secure-things.html

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MickH mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
Yeah I was thinking about the fish too. If they are gone and I suppose they will be then the Ocean is denuded of life as well and anything that swims (or flys) into it during the first year.

Wow.

Thats a LOT of dead fish etc

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
mickH : Lot of dead fish? Californian otters. Migratory whales (maybe). Hmm . . .isnt there a sardine fishery off California - or is that Mexico. Hmm . . .Cod fisheries? The whooping crane and Californian Condor are now officially extinct. On a brighter note you can reintroduce the North American Grey Squirrel back from Europe. Dunno about the bald eagle.

Hmm . . . there were a lot of Ostrich and Emu farms around Texas IIRC.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 27, 2009
Thinking about some more. I'm going to ignore the oceans.

The highest form of insectivore left in CONUS is the spider. Ghila Monster - gone. All birds - including humming birds, tens of millions of bats, anteaters, Road Runners, lizards, snakes, frogs,alligators, cayman, turtles, riverine wild life - snapper turtles, salmon, trout. Lots of crawdaddies - pity about the catfish.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
brian - yes, exactly. That which the Wave leaves untouched isn't going to last long without the stuff the Wave took. Ecology is balance. If the delicate interwoven dance between predator and prey is disrupted, things will fall apart.

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted February 27, 2009
The oceans around Nth America will be dominated by the squid. Now the largest organism in them

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WalkingShaw is gonna tell you...

Posted February 27, 2009
What about all the fires? Surely the ecology would be affected more from the raging fires - see Victoria at the moment - and the inability of those fires to have been extinguished. Most grassland, forested areas and urban areas would have been scorched. 3 years on with normal rainfall it would have been extremely fertile? This would lead to all manner of insect life flourishing - even mutating near these nuclear fall out areas?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2009
Ben - You've been watching too much 60's Sci Fi. Contrary to popular misconception, it takes many, many generations for radiation to mutate anything successfully. Most radiation induced mutations are so extreme the mutated organism dies, and if it doesn't die, it cannot reproduce, and if it can reproduce, it is simply unattractive to the opposite sex.

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WalkingShaw asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
Paul, maybe the wave had some unforeseen consequence on invertebrates? Isn't the wave an act of fiction also? Plus I am too young to have seen any 60s Sci Fi!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
Liar!

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Brian asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
PNB : (waving hand) I saw 60's Teev.!

Lobes : Coming back to the oceans for a bit. Things like starfish and sea urchins can have an impact - especially on kelp forests. Moray eels like octupus - no more Moray Eeels. Lots of Octupus. Speaking of eels - I believe part of the lifecycle depends on CONUS rivers.

Generally. The spiral of this thing gets wider. Migratory birds, just don't North South they also go East West - intercontinental.

Wasp population will explode.

Y'know this is going to make reestablishment of agriculture nigh on impossible? Not enough insecticide in the world to hold back all the insects from crops and lifestock. It'll take decades for larger vertebrate predators to make a dent. Am I wrong? I'm thinking of the short insect lifecycle - with all the controls off. Lots of vertebrate goop for breeding grounds etc

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MickH mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
its only 3 years Brian

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savo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
I thought I remembered reading someone in Cuba watched a flock of birds fly into the wave and pass through with no apparent effect?

Could be wrong. Have to ask Rhino, I believe he has memorised it.

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Brian reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
mickH : Well - discount Locusts in the US. The Rocky Mountain variant died out for some reason and there doesn't seem to be any other referrant. And that is surprising - locusts are everywhere except the poles and Europe. And that's what I was thinking of - the lifecycle fitted the time frame.

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savo asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
The channels between the Great Lakes are clogged from Zebra mussels, massive flood damage due to bio-dam.. No appreciable change to forests only 3 years. Competing bacteria would stop the rampant growth of one species over others.

Ooow I just realised what the grey goo is: left over bacteria and fungus from the disappeared cordata host.

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savo mumbles...

Posted February 27, 2009
nerve gassing the left overs of NYC ... since nerve gas was a development from pesticides it should clear out the roaches and silverfish.

Insects, like bacteria, would tend to balance each other out, sure there would be some growth, but not a lot. Man does not kill many insects in the scheme of things and bacteria would not have even noticed our presence let alone our absence. If everything big is gone the little will grow a bit but they tend to eat each other...a lot.

Chemical damage, nuke waste, fire damage will affect trees grass abandoned buildings and really nothing much else that we would take much notice of.

There won't be fungi forests, cockroaches the size of New York City cabs, or man eating mollusc's. In dead zones steralized by radiation, i would imagine that bacteria would get the first foot hold but, as said, Chenobyl is a wildlife park besides the nuke plants will contain the radiation. Problem could be research establishments whoes Level 4 seals degrade over the years and let loose all sorts of natural hell viruses, let alone the guvmint ones with the unnatural manmade horrors.

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Bangar swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
A thought, how many generations of insects since the wave? They've had a chance since then to occupy niches. Is the three years from the start of the wave or the end of it?

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Brian reckons...

Posted February 27, 2009
Bangar : 'A thought, how many generations of insects since the wave?'

That depends - Mayflies are very short. Mosquitoes - multiple generations in a season. No fish or frogs. Maggots - to the limit of the food source. Hmm . . . beetles. No birds to take care of caterpillars. No mice to take care of cockroaches.

Immediately after the wave - there would be all this organic goop. Insects may feed on it. If nothing else lots or organic matter for other invertebrates even plants. Potassium. calcium etc Whichever way you cut it - abundant food supplies. Removal of most of the usual predators. Usual seasonal die off but a bigger breeding population left over. Second year. More insects - the insect biomass has to have grown. Its taking up the biomass goop. There's also the crops. More predators. I imagine something like the insect explosions in the Arctic tundra during Summer. The air is an insect soup. Third year repeat. Three years seems too short a time for a balance to have been achieved. Oscillations in population - big ones.

Some insects need animals to breed. Dung beetles and their analogues. Flies. There's going to be weird ups and downs in certain insect populations.

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DrYobbo would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2009
We need a beardy ecologist type to bore us all arseless with what would happen if you suddenly pulled all the vertebrates out of biology. No, on second thoughts, we don't.

Technical point JB - just the vertebrates or the chordates as well? (I presume there's some biological reason we're picking on things with a spinal cord - or is that going to be left frustratingly unexplained as well???)

Quick attempt at explainifying this, if I can manage it after a few too many cheap short-dated Grolsches after the NZ-India T20 game.

OK we have all bilaterian animals - that is the animals which have an axis of symmetry running down the middle. That's most of them, as you'd probably imagine. There's three superphyla within the bilateria - the Ecdysozoa, which is the arthropods (insects, crustacea, chelicerates etc) and other crawly shit, the Deuterostomes which I'll get to, and the Lophotrochozoa which is a weird and wonderful collection of Miscellaneous and one of which is the evo-devo model which gets me paid. The most recognisable Loph's are the molluscs (snails, squid etc) and the annelid (segmented) worms.

The deuterostomes are made up of the chordates, hemichordates and the echinoderms. The latter are sea urchins/stars/cucumbers and shit. The chordates are things with a central nervous system running down the length of the body (the hemichordates are wormy things which are a sister group to the echinoderms though have some chordate-like properties including a munty degenerate version of a simple nerve cord which might be an evo precursor of same.) The chordates include all the vertebrates, but are not limited to them. All chordates have a notochord (basically an embryonic version of a backbone) and a hollow dorsal (upper side of the back) nerve cord, at some stage in their life cycle.

Anyway the point I'm eventually getting around to is... what are you defining as your dead 'spinal cord' species? 'Cos depending on exactly how you kill these things off your net could be considerably wider or smaller in terms of how many species you lose from your ecosystem. Anything with a spinal cord AND a vertebrate backbone seems to be what's inferred here by my fumbling guesswork, but if it's just anything with a nerve cord (which is equally a spinal cord depending on your semantics) then there's a couple of thousand additional species which get wiped - probably with some sort of effect on your ecosystem dynamics. It is, though, overwhelmingly the vertebrates who make up the chordates, so you could probably just gloss over it and get away with it. I'm guessing your audience has more military detail Nazis than biological detail Nazis. I'm guessing the Wave has microwaved the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) of the vertebrates. But if there's not a convincing biological explanation for this I will be cracking the shits thermonuclear style.

Savo's right I think (don't have WW to hand at present) - birds seemed to pass through the Wave reasonably well in Cuba, whereas Cubans tended not to - and birds are tetrapod vertebrates, effectively the sister group to mammals. If they're OK, from an evolutionary perspective it can really only be the mammals that are buggered, as whatever the biological commonalities between affected species which would have served as a susceptibility agent to the action of the Wave - unless it was little green men coming down and personally picking and choosing species to off - are unlikely to 'jump' entire biological phyla (eg present in mammals and reptiles but not birds, even though birds and mammals have a common ancestor more recent than the common ancestor of birds, reptiles and mammals, for instance.)

In short, though, the insects/arthropods will own everything, no question. No predators other than each other, and generation time for most insects in the realm of days - while 3 years is definitely too short for actual new species or abilities to evolve (or at least to emerge through mutation and become fixed in populations through selection), it's certainly plausible that adaptation to available niches would take place in that sort of timeframe (up to thousands of generations) - though picked off at the fringes by 'invasive' vertebrate species from the north and south. President Yom Kippur would be well served investing in a couple of million pallets of Aerogard.

I'd have thought the nuke meltdown effects would be largely localised, and less destructive than the 'meltdown' caused by collapse of other industrial processes catching fire and torching entire neighbourhoods, forests and towns, which would have been on a massive scale by comparison. Just simple electrical overloads would have caused serious issues.

Re bionasty agents, anything 'live' stored in a research lab - virus, bacteria, honours students - is long since dead courtesy all the -80 freezers packing it in after nobody paid the power bill for >3 years and the backup generators ran out of fuel. Something with a spore forming stage, like anthrax, would likely persist, but anything else would be a non-issue. In the outside world, though, there would have been a massive proliferation in microbes associated with the breakdown of natural materials - all them animules with spinal cords, specifically - so it would be a pretty arse-scented place to go about your business... but very rich in organic fertilizer.

If the bees are OK - which in the US they're not, courtesy American foulbrood et al - crop pollination will largely be OK, though they'll get picked off by insects. Like domesticated animals, some domesticated plants are too stupid to thrive under non-spoon-fed conditions, but they should survive OK if gone somewhat to seed.

Apols for the rambling. Blame short-dated Grolsch.

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savo puts forth...

Posted February 27, 2009
an' a 'nuther thing, 30,000,000 tonnes of human bio mass along withh all the cows and other things disappeared. How did that sudden missing mass affect the seismic stability of the continent? Is it enough to make a difference?

Would Katriana and Wilma have happened with all of the cooling from the fires? potentially not so NuOleenz could be intact-ish

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Tarl mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
If birds got zapped, all migratory species which travel through north america are now extinct. They wouldn't have know to not migrate in while the barrier was up, and died.

I think excluding all vertebrates is too big a jump; we don't have any experience with pure insect ecologies. We know that excluding (e.g.) land mammals has a major impact on land appearance - a while back, they took a square mile of arid grassland and fenced it in (in particular, making sure no praire dogs could enter). The area became covered in shrubbery, demonstrating that prairie dogs by themselves have a major impact on vegetation and land appearance.

I think Paul is incorrect that insects not preyed upon will wipe out all plant life. Insects are predated by other insects and arthropods, so there is some degree of restraint on insect populations.

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted February 27, 2009
Um, just had a thought. Fish and migratory birds etc, do not have a EARLY WARNING BROADCAST SYSTEM. So what impact would this have when FISH SWIM INTO the WAVE ZONE as the migrate, same with Birds from Nth to South. ITS going to kill a lot more than what was there, also, IF, the animals adapt, what impact does this have on their breeding as well, You would theoretically have a massive build up on the edge of the event as birds, fish and so forth blunder into it, I THINK

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Mark R. Whittington mutters...

Posted February 27, 2009
My impression was that the Wave only got the primates, leaving most animals alive.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2009
Not all insects are going to thrive. Mosquitoes are going to be in trouble, at least the ones that rely upon animals to support themselves. Same can be said for any other insect that interacts/supports themselves off any animal life.

I think a major element of reconstruction will require the United States to restructure some sort of ecology with animals from other parts of the world, something we have no experience with. In many ways, resettling the United States will be very much akin to terraforming Mars in some respects.

Very science fictional and a Very Big Challenge to get right.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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pegleg asserts...

Posted February 28, 2009
Anything affected underground? Would any people have survived there? Morlock-Miners? Or animals/insects?

Very disturbing...I'd hoped you had already finished all three books and were just waiting to release them, one per year. Damn, but WW was good!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 28, 2009
Murph - I love the terraforming analogy. It opens up huge possibilities. And you're right: mosquitoes would die out without animal life to support their life cycle, which will affect the life cycle of invertebrate water animals that depend on mosquito larvae for a food source.

Savo - You've hit on something important with the comment on zebra mussels. If their food supply exploded due to a nutrient injection via the goop left behind when the animal life in the Great Lakes died, and you combine that with human zebra mussel management programs suddenly stopping due to there being no humans around to do it, then the zebra mussel population explodes, resulting the massive destruction of water infrastructure throughout the midwest and beyond. I am having difficulty even imagining the consequences for American waterways, including the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

And then, like the insects, when the feast ends abruptly, the zebra mussel population will decline rapidly, leaving behind incredibly clean water (they are filter feeders) and a thick cement of their shells covering and clogging every surface underwater from boat hulls to water treatment plant intake and outlet conduits.

I am loving this discussion.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2009
I have contacts at the California Department of Fish and Game who probably know people who could shed a little light on the question. I'm going to give them a call - after coffee and a bit of reading (this stuff doesn't count).

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Thomas Potter swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 28, 2009
Well, now, I took it completely the other way re: birds. I thought I read where they fell out of the sky after they flew through the Wave. Perhaps I am out of my mind. Remeber, it also talked about how empty the cityscapes on the 'vids were, nothing moving other than the wind. Lots to ponder and see what comes- the continent is a mess anyway you shape it!!

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Thomas Potter would have you know...

Posted February 28, 2009
You know, JB, that brings to mind a further question. How many people would be willing to go into the Wave Zone? It happened once so what prevents it from happening again? People in other parts of the world likely are leery of going there because of that reason. Besides, they all felt safe in their home countries, even with war and civil war going on compared to sure death in the Wave...

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Robert mumbles...

Posted February 28, 2009
I found answers on the Discovery Channel.

The show 1000 years after humans (humans suddenly disappear). Not so many conflagrations as in WW, because the electric fails quickly and that stops the gas pressure in the lines. Lots of weeds and dust!

And the show about life in the Chernobyl region. Apparently, it's left to house cats and bears. Glow-in-the-dark bears...

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Robert has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2009
After Chernobyl:

http://dsc.discovery.com/search/results.html?query=chernobyl&search.x=25&search.y=7&search=search

After Humanz (over at the History channel):

http://www.history.com/content/life_after_people/about-the-show

Anyway, Birmo, there's your competition! In full High Def...

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Domestic Daze mutters...

Posted February 28, 2009
Perhaps still recovering, nature has a habit of surviving if and where it can, maybe not in the way it used to, but adapting to what it has to work with.

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Madoc would have you know...

Posted February 28, 2009
Folks,

What's this three year limit here? The Wave ends a year or so after it started.

A year isn't much time for many critters to do much adapting.

We really gotta define how far down the evolutionary scale the Wave wiped things clean.

As to the physical state of the US, I think that'd depend on how many things burned. The nuke plants I don't think would be much of a problem. At least not the generators themselves. They'd either shut down automatically or make puddles of themselves within their containment structures. I do have to wonder as to the state of the spent fuel storage pens though. As I understand it, they need a constant circulation of cool water to keep them sufficiently moderated. There's backups for those water pumps but they'd all have run out of gas in a year's time. How bad that problem could be remains to be addressed.

Mainly though, it's the fallout from all the fires that would be the problem. If the smoke plume born toxins from the fires in the US caused problems in Europe and elsewhere then they'd definitely make things much worse in the US. How much worse is an open question.

Would a year's worth of weather have diluted / washed away enough of the contaminants? Would thousands of square miles of US territory - much of it prime agricultural / industrial - be uninhabitable?

Also, you can bet your bottom dollar that the US military / government would have worked up plans for the reoccupation of the US. Once some semblance of normalcy had returned after the Wave started, there'd be plenty of time for some folks in the military to have made such plans. That's one of the military's ongoing and constant missions - contingency planning. So, the sudden end of the Wave would be a surprise, certainly. But the next steps would have some thought to them.

How long that thought would last and how long those plans would remain realistic is something else and again.

Madoc

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2009
Talk about being late to the party, I just got my copy of WW today.

S. F. Murphy:... "recommends firebombing urban areas that are lost to unsanctioned entities."

Gotta love those Terminator like phrases that emanate from the US military. Would scare me shitless if i thought they were my enemies, as it is it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 28, 2009
Thomas, what is to prevent the Wave from manifesting itself anywhere else on the planet? I also think some folks will want to go home no matter what. More to the point, I think some folks would want to take the chance given the worsening security situation elsewhere on the globe.

Matt, the conversation went like this.

ME: Say, how many troops would you recommend for use in a tactical problem set at X location.

Response: I'd say two to three Corps. Do you care about casualties?

ME: No Blue Force casualties if you can help it but Red Force casualties are acceptable. Further, I do not think Blue Force can muster 150K for the problem given the probability of a smaller Army.

Response: I'd use persistent nerve agent then.

ME: Umm, I don't think that will fly. (Explained reasons why, which I can not divulge since they'd spoil the second novel).

Response: What about fire bombing?

ME: Unlikely as well.

Personally, I see the appeal of firebombing. It deprives foreign invaders of territory and assets which can not be secured by other means. Same can be said for the nerve agent. I can easily see a scenario where a decision is made to destroy certain locations within the Wave affected United States in order to deprive their use/loss to the enemy.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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George03 has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2009
I don't really know which way JB wants to go with his plot, but all this discussion about wildlife repopulation of the USA would be small potatoes compared to the flood of human population to the continent.

The "refugee problem" all over the world at the momment would be nothing compared to the availability of a a whole continent without people and if the US could not solve the problem of Mexicans coming over the border when they had a population of 300+ million, the chances of stopping people coming in with only 10 to 15 million inhabitants would be impossible!

To someone from Asia, South-east Asia, Africa or the Middle East the idea of a whole country sitting there, waitng to be taken would just be too much!

They would be going there in pirated cruise ships, cargo ships, sail boats and inflated tyre tubes in uncountable numbers and death by conamination would be a minor inconvenience!

My 2 cents worth!

George

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted February 28, 2009
George makes a good point. My argument is that the best way to deal with these folks is to do what we Americans have always done, or should be doing.

Offer them the opportunity to become Americans themselves. We provide safe transport to a resettlement site. We give them the resources and a job to sustain themselves in return for a certain number of years service (we originally provided labor via indentured servitude) and thus co opt them into our society. These Stakeholders, in turn, will be more amenable to keeping trouble makers, those that wish to carve off sections of the continent for themselves, out.

That said, priorities should be as follows:

1. Provide a generous citizenship offer to those willing to be a part of rebuilding the United States.

2. Restore the economy to a functional level (note that I did not say status quo antebellum, but functional). The nation needs to be able to pay and sustain itself.

3. Rebuild a functional eco-system. In many ways, the eco-system will probably adapt to a certain degree and once the Wave disappears, some restoration will take place anyway. Herds of animals moving both North and South. Flights of non-migratory birds moving into the deserted region. Vermin and rodents in the form of rabbits, mice, and such. Reptilian life, the works. But in some cases, human intervention will be in order.

4. Secure a reasonable level of defense.

What do I mean by reasonable? It is truly impossible to police all of CONUS. We have trouble, as George pointed out, keeping Mexicans out as well as dealing with smuggling. We should accept a certain level of it so long as it is relatively benign.

By reasonable I mean that it should be demonstrated to non friendly nation states that the price for incursion is far higher than it is worth. Or as my previously mentioned military intelligence officer/teaching peer said in a previous discussion, "I'd act like a crazy man with a locker full of nukes."

Another ecological point to consider, drawing upon Collapse by Jared Diamond. I recall reading that rabbits were introduced into Australia to provide for some meat and something cute to look at. It wasn't long before they got loose and bred, well, like rabbits. Now these creatures strip the landscape bare of vegetation.

There could be unintended consequences to introducing or reintroducing certain fauna back into the ecosystem. What those consequences are or could be are far above my pay grade. But they need to be considered.

I would like to reiterate my argument that the "Wasteland" cliche is a bit overworn in science fiction. There will be hardships aplenty but I think a Wave which acts as a sort of purification device might create real estate worth dying for. If we go the typical wasteland route, I suspect it would be akin to trying to settle people on Mars.

Lastly, what about creatures who might be below the Wave effect on land? Animals in deep caves and that sort of thing? It would depend on the depth of the effect (never established in canon though I have some inside ponderings on it which I will not share). That also needs to be considered.

BTW, Birmo, I got your doc but I can't open it. Can you resend your traffic? Thanks, man.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 28, 2009
Murph? Birmo's e-mail is down? Still?

Re: Fauna re establishement. You still have Canadian and Alaskan ecologies as reservoirs. I think you can forget about top predators for the while. No food sources. Have to build pyramids. Small animals.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted February 28, 2009
Bats.

Excerpt from a spooky post on bat die off in the States.

'I wanted to give everyone a heads up, just heard about this last night, and

from the scientist's being interviewed they expect the infection to reach

Tennesse and Kentucky some time next year, and reach as far as Iowa,

Nebraska and the Dakotas. She was saying that the die off rate could be as

high as 90% (but a winter based estimate of 15-35%), but they will not have

real numbers until spring, if that is true we are in for a world of hurt

when it reaches the bread basket states, considering how important bats are

in keeping instect populations in check.

The infection is targeting bats that hybernate during the winter instead

migrate.

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2009/02/04/news/

doc49891eb38ce2c915130498.txt '

So . . . .what was that about insects again?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 28, 2009
There will be no massive migration into the empty land because to go there will certain death from starvation - which is the point of all the fauna and flora reintroduction talk. Between massive ecological niche collapse and toxic/acid rain, the land will not be able to produce the food necessary to support a population of any large animals - including humans. You can't grow grain if the soil is too acidic or basic. It won't matter if Canada and Alaska can act as ecological reservoirs. Those plants won't thrive until the land recovers, and that means none of the animals can live there either.

The big cities may be repopulated, but only so long as the existing food supply lasts. Then it will be dependent on imports, which will not be coming from anywhere.

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George03 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 28, 2009
Many are assuming that the whole of the US would be wiped out by acid rain and the pollutants from the fires, but on checking my copy of WW, the main areas affected were towards the east and then on to Europe.

It, therefore stands to reason that a good deal of the West coast would only be lightly affected and still be able to sustain crops and food production, therefore human habitation.

Any recolonization would have to start on the West coast.

My 2 cents worth!

George

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 28, 2009
Damn it. I just now put two and two together, Brian. After Mick gave me a hint. If only I wasn't so hemmed up with so much other bullshit right now. Crap.

Paul, I do not get the impression that the pollution will be all that wide spread from my read of Without Warning. I think large parts of the US will be viable for some form of agriculture. Granted, it will not be what supported 300 million plus but it could support a viable number sufficient to restore a moderate nation state. Even 10 to 15 million is nothing to sneeze at. Chile is a respectable nation with a pop of 15 million. One wouldn't triffle with them lightly.

I think a repopulation effort would have to be targeted to two general locations or zones.

Zones which could be restored to agricultural productivity. I've said in previous discussions that the Midwestern US is probably your best bet for this. Transport nets tie into the center of the nation, the river transport system ties in here and the risk from pollution is manageable.

Zones which could be restored to industrial productivity. I suspect there will be a sizeable market for salvage parts of reliable quality as well as restored manufacturing capability of certain goods (the Lockheed and Boeing Plants in Texas and Missouri respectively).

I also think some import of food is possible given the environment at the end of Without Warning. After all, a number of customers for agricultural products in the Middle East are no longer among the living. China is a security nightmare and at the end of the novel it appeared that India and Pakistan were certain to go at it. With so many potential customers gone or soon to be gone, those with net surpluses could export their products to the States.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Madoc mutters...

Posted February 28, 2009
Folks,

Still waiting on the three year bit...

Next question, immigration. Answer: from where?

Aside from the few million or so of American citizens who happened to be outside the Wave when it happened, there really aren't gonna be many folk in a position to get into the US once the Wave stops happening.

Canadians? Gone. Not entirely, but almost.

Mexicans? Absolutely gone. All the way down to Acapulco. Any folk in Latin America who might want to head north are gonna have to pick there way through what is left of Mexico first. And that presupposes that there'll be enough of them to do so after the collapse of their economies due to America's being zapped.

Anyone else outside the western hemisphere? Why?

A year on after the Wave, there should be some semblance of normalcy. The immediate crisis would've passed and they would've had to have figured a way to get on. Sure, lotsa population reduction, harsh measures, and harsher times.

Then the Wave stops.

Okay, then what? A mad rush to cross the oceans to get into the US? Sure, some looters who happen to be very well organized and financed might make some runs for it. But beyond that? No, there'd be no mass migration. The situation elsewhere might be bad but at least it'd be stable. Hoping off to the depopulated and burnt US would be jumping out of their frying pan and into a flame.

Some would. You betcha. Large numbers of folks? I don't think so.

I do agree that the West Coast would be a good place to start back up. Prevailing winds would mean that the majority of the toxic soot would've all blown away from America's Left Coast. There'd still be some pretty dire places out here but not nigh as many as elsewhere.

The San Fernando Valley, Imperial Valley and the Central Valley are all prime agricultural areas. To be one of the largest food production regions in the world they require a massive irrigation infrastructure and an equally massive force of technicians to keep it running.

To fed a few million American refugees camping out in a state that formerly held over thirty million? That seems much more do-able. This, even with the decontamination efforts required for what parts got burned and "slimed."

Madoc

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Murphy asserts...

Posted February 28, 2009
Madoc, I think those immigrants could come from Central and South America. Mexico is mostly gone but the rest of Central America isn't. There are also potential refugees from places such as the Middle East and those who were forcibly deported from the United Kingdom. Toss in refugees from the destablized situation in China and throw in another Indo-Pak War, I see plenty of possible takers.

How do they get here?

Well, there are no shortage of Naval assets which could be used to bring them. Empty a Nimitz class carrier and load it up with people. We did something similiar at the end of World War II to bring our troops home.

Three years? Here is what I can say.

The Wave disappears at Year Plus One, the end of the novel. During that year when the Wave was still in effect, the plant life that did not need insects to cross pollinate would florish.

As for three years, I am going to posit that perhaps the marker is from the start of the Wave. Thus perhaps the novel is set three years after the start of the first novel.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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JKBrooks85 mumbles...

Posted February 28, 2009
Discussion on ecology below:

Lots of slugs, snails, etc. You'll also see enormous algae blooms along pretty much every major waterway and in every body of water in the Zone. The reasons for this are two-fold: You've just killed off most things that eat algae, and the resulting pollution from the various industrial accidents is going to create a perfect anaerobic growth environment in a lot of places.

You'll see a surprising number of birds: They'll be quick to repopulate the area -- particularly insectovores and herbivores -- not so much raptors and birds of prey, of course. Long-range migratory species like the Western Sandpiper -- which migrates from South America to Alaska and back annually -- will quickly take advantage of the opening in the biosphere.

The year of having the Zone in place is going to hurt a lot of these long-range migratory species, but Alaska and Siberia serve as the breeding ground for more than a third of all long-range migratory waterfowl in North America. The spring migration season hasn't begun by March 14, but if the birds can fly around the zone (the throwaway sentence about birds flying away from the Zone in Cuba indicates they might be repeled by it) they can survive.

As to land species, I'm less sanguine. There's no easy way for an animal in the Yucatan to migrate to Nebraska, say, and no reason for it to do so. The same goes for species in British Columbia or here in Alaska -- most aren't suited for the climate and there isn't a food web for them to exist, anyhow.

Fish are probably the biggest problem -- there's no way for a freshwater fish to even theoretically reach the inland lakes of the Zone without fish farms and the like being established. Without fish, you've knocked off a whole section of the ecosystem -- fish-hunting birds won't return, bears are going to have a hard time, and all sorts of other predators won't have it easy, either.

My best theory for what develops is a kind of bastard collapsing ecosystem. You've got a veritable buffet for herbivores, and any that arrive are going to flourish for a time. Then they'll either out-eat their supply of food and die back, or predator numbers will surge, causing a die-off of herbivores then a die-off of predators.

That's unlikely, however, in the time frame you're talking about.

In the guideline of the three-year frame, I'd suggest a small amount of insectivorous and herbivorous birds across the entire Zone. In areas near human settlements and around the edges, I'd propose a bastard ecology in which mice and other small herbivores that breed quickly and can hide in shipments are the base. Above them are feral cats and dogs, again brought by whatever settlers arrive.

The edges of the Zone are your best bet for quick recovery, but creating a coherent ecology across all of it is going to be the work of decades -- if not centuries -- without a human-driven effort to purposely restore the ecosystem.

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JKBrooks85 ducks in to say...

Posted February 28, 2009
More thoughts on restoring ecology:

If you get even a minor effort directed toward restoring the ecology of the Zone, things'll move a lot quicker. Introducing a few thousand deer into the Zone will be a boon, as they'll have ample food resources available. We've seen in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone how quickly the environment can recover from an accident -- and animals tend to be far more radiation- and chemical-tolerant than humans.

Anyhow, introducing a small number of deer will let you introduce a few predators -- wolves and the like (possibly transported from Alaska or Asia) -- a few years later. Your limiting factor in these cases will be the breeding rate of the deer and/or the amount you're able to spend on ecological restoration.

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Bangar mutters...

Posted February 28, 2009
Murph we regularly thank the Poms for rabbits, foxes and blackberries. Perhaps we send them some roos?

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Madoc mumbles...

Posted February 28, 2009
Murph & all,

Okay, three years it is then.

But a lot of what things would be like in three years time is heavily dependent upon what happened in the immediate time after the Wave ended.

How many cities and how many areas of the US are toxic death traps? How far has their contamination spread? A burnt city is one thing. A burnt city next to a major river or along the coast is something else and again.

Did the Wave's effects happen beneath sea level? If so, then were any of the US Navy's nuke subs within the area of the Wave? If so, then those might be sources of contamination as well if they crashed into the ocean bed and ruptured. Something else to think about, I guess.

I'd imagine that no matter what, Americans would be awfully thin on the ground even three years on. There's just not a whole lot of us left and precious few of those would have the skills necessary to get things back up and running.

Has Birmo thought much about Puerto Rico? I'd imagine that would become a major American refugee center in that year of the Wave. Sure, there'd be other refugee camps set up for Americans in other countries - but which would folks prefer? A refugee camp in a foreign country or one in American territory.

I'd also imagine that PR would become a major agricultural resource for Americans stuck outside.

As to Latin & South Americans getting into the US, why? Their economies have collapsed, order has collapsed. At least to some major extent. There's an awful lot of distance to traverse between the untouched areas of Latin America and the US. Any migration is gonna find a Waved-out Mexico between them and the US and the US isn't going to be any better than Mexico. That being the case, why bother going?

Also, what of the Panama Canal? The US seized it, as I recall, so that'd be one helluva impediment to any large scale land rush coming up from the south of it.

More things to ponder...

Madoc

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 28, 2009
Masoc, Murph et al

The three years and everything with a backbone threw me as well.

As far as I could remember birds were making it through. There could be two alternative explanations for this. One : Whatever it was - did target backbone animals but the effect tapered towards the edges and was muted in some spots by buildings and mountains. The second : whatever it was had two settings - one short another long term.

Biological controls are going to be a bitch IMHO. There's only a few vertebrates that have short enough breed up times to do the job. Frogs - spawn in the hundreds. Mice : multiple generational capacity.

One thought though. Introduction of domestic birdlife and then them go 'organic' - chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, geese. There are farms scattered across the world, whose sole purpose is to hatch eggs for the poultry industry.

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sparty puts forth...

Posted February 28, 2009
Mark R Whittington? - I enjoyed "Apollo" (and for everyone else that doesn't mean a BSG slash fest!).

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 28, 2009
Geeze Birmo, are you watching me?

Everytime I'm out of the loop you trot out the good sh!t.

Dr. Yob "We need a beardy ecologist type to bore us all arseless...." I guess I'm the closest we've got at the moment.

First thoughts.

We can only begin to guess at the ripple effects of removing everything with a backbone, as was said above - no mammals = no mosquitos. The whole complex web of life thing with interdependancies & symbioses will be beyond extraplotaion.

The migratory birds are out. Again as said above If the population was outside CONUS on der tag, on the first return migration they would have flown into the wave affect and been slimed. 100% of the population. From honeyeaters to snow geese.

As for repopulation. It is sugested that animals expand their range in response to push factors not pull (Bears don't read pulicity) so when population pressure in a locale raises to a point where resources are starting to get thin, then animals try somewhere else. Also most species are quite specific in their niche, so an arctic subpopulation would not have the capacity to repopulate a temporate climate area. 3 years is a Very Short Time Frame for these kind of natural processes.

I think Birmo is going to have to restock a domestic suite of animals & go from there.

More when I've thought a bit more.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 28, 2009
If the post Wave ecology is beyond extrapolation then the best thing to do is make the best guess and then go weird.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy mutters...

Posted March 1, 2009
As for a resettlement pattern for humans, I think it will be the reverse of the original settlement pattern. The US center of gravity is located in the Pacific Basin around Hawaii, Seattle, what little there is left of Oregon and Alaska. I think a plan for resettlement would probably go as follows:

1. Secure the West Coast first. That means resettling key portions of California and Oregon. Given Chile's nature as a thin country along the Pacific Coast, I'd use that nation as my model for story telling purposes.

2. Spread over the Rockies. There will be people who will want to get as far away from authority as possible yet still have some expectation of protection from the US Government. This is no less than was expected by the Colonials in the 1700s which eventually lead to the French-Indian War and the British Proclamation of 1763 which was an attempt to stem Colonial migration into the Ohio River Valley.

3. I'd spread out along the rivers and restore key rail transport lines. While it isn't my favorite place to live, Kansas City is probably going to be key to this. We are at the center of a major transportation and distribution network and the novel left the city relatively intact.

4. Find a way to secure key Eastern Seaboard facilities. I think this will be extremely difficult without fresh blood in the population stream. One way this could be dealt with is to sell off sections of the United States to our allies who have supported us through the three year period. Transferring it back over to the United Kingdom might be an option worth considering.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 1, 2009
Murph - the problem with settling from the west coast in, is that other than a narrow strip along the coast, it's mostly desert of high mountains for a long way. California's central valley is an agricultural delight only because of irrigation - which means the infrastructure for that has to be intact. Will any dams or canals have been lost with three years of inattention?

Note that dams in general react poorly to overflowing, and require constant monitoring by humans to prevent such events. Even if the dam itself (as a concrete hunk) isn't damaged by the overflow, the foundations and bedrock may be less durable and erode with a cascade of water coming down the front face. Dams have spillways designed to handle some overflow, but if the reservoirs are allowed to be full when a serious flood hits, you probably get overflow in places that weren't designed for it.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 1, 2009
Tarl, those are good points. Californians could probably speak better per that issue than I could. Even if agriculture is not immediately viable, I think the ports on the West Coast have to be secured in any event. I'd start my resettlement oriented around major naval bases, especially where there is a lot of high value material.

I also think that if one could get enough workers on a task, irrigation could probably be restored.

Puerto Rico was mentioned in an earlier post and my original thoughts, when John and I talked about it, was that the US would probably have to cede their authority over the Atlantic. There are no bases to operate from once Gitmo goes under other than those in Central America. I suspect, therefore, that the island could either opt for independence or maybe join with another regional power.

We could try to hang on to it but it is awfully far from any other supporting location on the globe.

Per Panama, I think hanging onto the canal is vital for immigration control. You want to engage a problem as far forward as possible and it is vital to maintain the Canal for reasons besides the immediate military ones. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see a multi national force down there.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted March 1, 2009
I'd argue for a Calfornian settlement plan myself - or at least a major prescence.

California is a net ag. exporter amongst a host of other things. Its almost a self sufficient state by itself. It's on the Pacific Rim - its a logical first call from Hawaaii, Alaska and Seattle. Its got Disneyland - which funny enoughh, is another self sufficient state by itself. Joint is riddled with tunnels. Hmm . . .Florida Disneyland is worth a thought in that direction.

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Brian reckons...

Posted March 1, 2009
Amusing side thought about California.

Make sure its populated by 'immoderate' moderates this time around. Just say'n.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted March 1, 2009
Hey Tarl, here is a question for you and any other IT type.

What computers would be available in the post Wave 2006 time period? What would their capabilities be? What about issues such as wifi and internet access? Global or local only?

I was thinking one way to maintain communications in specific regions of the US would be to use unmanned blimps fitted out with cellphone technology. That might provide temporary coverage until ground based systems could be restored. Thoughts?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted March 1, 2009
Murph "make the best guess and then go weird. "

Yeah that's pretty much what I was thinking. A blank slate on which His Birmoness + associates, minions & that crazy guy with the "Romans 14:12" sign to go nuts with.

Murph, RE: info tech. There is a mob called the Centre for Appropriate Technology who developed an Email on HF Radio platform, for use in the geographically scattered Pacific Island communities. Check it out.

RE: Human Repopulation. Methinks not all will be invited. The Phillipine Archipelligo is groaning with excess population & it's the kind of historical irony Birmo seems to like.

If the India/Pakistan exchange turned out to be one sided (snickering to myself that the Pak bomb didn't go off) then there are great steaming gobs of population there.

The Indonesian Archipeligo could ship off half a million without any kind of stress, not to mention the South Americans.

I concur that West Coast Naval bases will be the logical launching point for repopulation efforts. What re-startable agricultural assets are within say 200 miles of San Diego? Rumour has it there are many varied, stealthy & interesting Defence installations North of San Francisco - wonder what they could bring to the party?

I'm still liking the Big Marine Hovercrafts replacing the 1850's paddlesteamers on the mighty inland river system.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted March 1, 2009
Oh and add Africa to my list of population sources.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted March 1, 2009
Filipinos, lol, I like it, NBob. Slick.

Hmm, hovercraft. Viable on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers perhaps. The Missouri would be much more treacherous without constant dredging. It was a treacherous river to get steamboats up in the 1850s.

http://www.1856.com/

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian mutters...

Posted March 1, 2009
Communications. Telephone- copper and optic. Microwave, HF repeeaters. Regular radio.

Broadband uses a Korean War technology called multi plexing. Effectively any copper pair can carry mutliple voice signals using frequency shifting. (Used to work for Telstra many years ago as a Coms tech). Microwave repeaters use the same idea.

Satellite capacity is always designed for future loading.We have drastic demand reduction - therefore huge spare satellite capacity.

Re : Calfornia. 12th largest economy on the planet. A

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NBlob asserts...

Posted March 1, 2009
As I understood it Murph, Hovercraft do not "draw" any depth they are equally capable of crossing deep water, sand banks, snow fields, desert & the confused psychologists maze that is the State Library of QLD car park (most recent siting of a bunny crewed gold plated hovercraft.) Thus no dredging required. They are apparantly hungry bitches though - those gas turbines consume hundreds of gallons per hour at idle speed.

I think that fuel will be one of Birmo's big challenges. As I posted on an earlier Post WW thread all those resovoirs of processed fuels will be useless as the volitiles that make it burnable will have long since evapped. So he will have to either A: buy in, B: restart domestic refinement (very manpower hungry) or C: go alternative. I kinda like the idea of a horse & mule based agriculture serviced by a super high tech state.

Yes yes this is supposed to be an ecology thread, but in a chordate free zone the ecology is so altered we can't begi to guess.

One idea - as herbivores won't be reprocessing the plant nutrients, fire loading will go through the roof. Incidence & severity of wild fires will sky rocket. Each time this happens the soil is made poorer as nutrients are burnt & lost instead of being returned to the soil as dung. Desertification will rival that of western China. They are the experts in managing this process now, I wonder where their efforts were in WW timeframe - (06?)

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NBlob reckons...

Posted March 1, 2009
OK so the cordata thing is off.

1. The great lakes will be (much more than they are currently) totally cactus. The combination of slime runoff, millions of tons of dead cattle from the biggest stockyards in the world & the inevitable pollution from industries burnt / failed unsafe. The eutrophication will kill anything that was still alive.

2. The Gulf of mexico will have suffered some pretty catastrophic pollution as oil processing & associated industrial chemical plants failed unsafe. But it does have a flushing current, so in time it'll come back. I just wouldn't be keen on eating anything out of it for say 20 years.

3. Three years ain't a long time for most populations to blossom. Deer, elk, bear, wolf populations will be up, but probably not massively so I'd guesstimate 10-20%. Bison were reduced to such tiny pocket populations that they would be on the increase, but still in tiny numbers relative to 1800's.

4. If anything the rats cats & dogs populations would probably have crashed. There would be remnant feral populations, but animals dependant on humans would (probably) not adjust fast enough to survive.

More as it occurs to me.

I like this game very much.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted March 1, 2009
NWB : Dog and Cat's - agree. Reconfigure on the bigger populations of rats, mice and bats. Given that these are omnivores and that they can find shielding ie subterranaean, buildings, sewer lines - population explosions?

Good game. Your serve.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted March 1, 2009
If only primates were zapped when we have a World Without Us scenario. Fortunately, someone wrote a book on that. One I need to read.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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savo has opinions thus...

Posted March 1, 2009
Think Africa was self destructing, so lots would want to head west but how? As for the Indon and sub continent diaspora. Yes, lots of room for tension and explody goodness I'd imagine. Indonesia has experience in displacing current populations with dispossessed from Jakarta so shipping them to an empty country should prove no problem at all. Should be a nice harbour in San Diago with lots of infrastructure. Once there, really hard to dislodge plus getting a large enough population back would be an utter horror.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 1, 2009
100 yeah!

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted March 1, 2009
Murph - communications... The Iridium constellation had already undergone Chapter 11 re-organization by the time of WW, and was essentially under military control at the time. I suspect there is a good chance control over the constellation was retained, and would be the primary means of military communication on first re-entering the continental U.S. (Like during the expeditions to secure all the loose nuclear weapons).

For longer term, we'd probably see something like we currently do in the third world, where cell-phone networks are being built instead of land-lines. The existing long-distance lines are probably used to maintain communications across empty areas, but for anything in the 30-50 mile range, you'd probably end up with cell phone tower technology providing primary communications.

I doubt we'd see blimps used for the purpose - too much development work needed to set them up. In the post-WW era, things are going to be tight enough that spending engineering dollars is going to be a problem. Instead, everyone is going to use known working technology (towers, mountain tops). The issues with keeping blimps up 24/7/365, and maintaining electronics in them probably keep that approach from being used.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 1, 2009
Good point on Iridium and the blimps. I had done some digging on Iridium and I figure it is useable enough.

The Army will have their own systems, notably systems like Mobile Subscriber Equipment Technology. The problem with it is that I do not think it is suited for urban environments per se.

Restoring towers and local systems shouldn't be that difficult. I think (God help me) I'd make retaining signal corps personnel with experience in civilian communications a top priority. The sad thing is that many of them can barely handle military gear (my personal experience, your mileage with US Army commo pukes may vary). Civilian gear is different in so many ways. I dealt with it to some degree when I was in the Guard (even though I was an infantryman) but I never became even rudimentarily proficient in it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 1, 2009
Sorry for the detour, Brian remember the old group NWA ?

Quazi millitary rap outfit I believe the acronym was (forgive me) Niggaz Wid Attitude.

I'm wondering about NWB. Numbnuts Wid Bongs? Not While Breathing? Nice With Bourbon.

ahem

Sorry 'out that boss.

Back to the ecology.

America led the way in industrialised agriculture. IE Pork production with thousands of hogs per farm, Egg farms with tens of thousands of chooks, fedlots with thousands of beef cattle. There is no chance that any of these animals would have survived. Each of those sites would after three years of no intervention be extraordinary little forests of super dense tree cover. You would probably have some feral animals - horses, cattle & sheep. Apparantly domestic turkeys, while theoretically still fertile, can't get close enough to um consumate because they have been bred for ginourmous breasts. (who wants it? anyone? Dolly Parton / Sam Fox?)

The bulk stored grains would likely: if in bags in warehouses be rodent hotspots, if in silos probably still OK. Need to check with Lord Bedak on this, but silage would probably still be good, but hay bales in barns would probably have all burnt down.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted March 1, 2009
Oh and Murph, I'm a zepplin fan as well.

I'll tell you about one of my dreams for global domination, when these shifty characters aint around.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted March 1, 2009
Speakin' of zep fans. Jose Farmer has gone to the big hangar in the sky.

Got a story about a remote controlled blimp I saw in Melbourne.

brian

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savo mutters...

Posted March 1, 2009
The issues with keeping blimps up 24/7/365, and maintaining electronics in them probably keep that approach from being used.

Issue fixed

Helikite

power cable up to the equipment slung under Helikite. Bring down when stormy

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savo has opinions thus...

Posted March 1, 2009
laready have internet/radio repeater solution http://www.allsopphelikites.com/ just don't know if it was available in 06

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted March 1, 2009
Savo good spot on the Hekilite. I have never heard of this device before!

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savo asserts...

Posted March 1, 2009
O/T Just read that Ridley Scott is makeing Haldeman's 'Forever War' in England at the moment. Due out 2011.

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CraigWA mumbles...

Posted March 2, 2009
So if it's just primates then it's just people and things in zoos that have vanished. Presumably everything else in zoos will die without someone to feed them.

So we are left with pets, livestock and wild animals.

Assuming there were dogs able to get outside presumably there will be packs of dogs in any built up areas. There will be lots of feral cats now that they aren't being fed by their puddles of ooze. All of the weird and bizarre pets in LA or New York flats are presumably just going to die and not have an impact on the outside world.

For livestock, any animals kept in small areas are probably going to die. That'll presumably be good for all sorts of insects in the short term. Animals that need constant attention, like horses being shod, probably won't be dead but will be having a pretty shit life not being able to walk properly. Sheep, cows, goats and other farm animals prospects will depend on where they were at the time. Fields with animals in them will probably end up devoid of any plant matter.

Fields with crops in them will presumably have grown, gone to seed and grown again. Several times if it's 3 years. The event was 14th March. I don't know when they plant various crops, but anything that was in the ground on the big day will presumably be plentiful growing naturally if you get back there at the right time of year.

Numbers of wild animals that are hunted will probably increase, but it's hard to imagine enough are being taken out of the wild every year for this to have a marked effect in a short time period. Numbers should definitely be on the increase, particularly if lots of the crops are growing but not being harvested.

Chernobyl has turned into a relatively animal friendly area and they are breeding quite happily by all accounts. Assuming there isn't massive radioactive fallout, the animals should be fine.

What does a couple of years of not mowing the lawn do to the place? Gardens that weren't burnt out will be overgrown. Golf courses will require a lot of work.

How long do the Hydro dams keep generating electricity without maintenance or anyone in the drivers seat? I presume that there aren't any particularly bad failure modes here.

Presumably lots of trucks carrying toxic chemicals had minor spills when the wave took the driver. There will be lots of minor spills of chemicals near roads all over the place, particularly on the bends of highways and interstates where cruise control or momentum landed vehicles.

If there is any management of forests to try and limit the amount of fuel available for bushfires, then that won't have happened.

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted March 2, 2009
NBOB, grain in Silos isnot AIR TIGHT, BUGS, crawlers will get into it. You get masive weather changes and DAMP or moisture and it will go to shit FAST.

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savo ducks in to say...

Posted March 2, 2009
Havock, if the silos get dry ... KaBOOM!

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted March 3, 2009
Feral dogs and cats are a minor issue these days but they could become a sizeable one in the post-Wave world. I also know that wild horses are a significant concern for the Bureau of Land Management. In a post-Wave world those horses become very valuable again as a means of transport.

Wild turkeys and deer are pretty common in some parts of the US, particularly here in the Midwest. I see both frequently (humans, however, are a different form of turkey). Some pigs might get loose from the farms in the area and go feral as well.

Per planting, here in Missouri what would be in the ground are potatoes and winter wheat. I asked my dad about the wheat following Craig's angle and he confirms that it will sustain itself over the years without much human intervention.

Seems like in a previous discussion of silos my dad said the grain might last for some time but I can't remember for certain.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted March 3, 2009
Re grain storage (important as stock feed if not people feed)

As I understand it - If it is dry, then it is fine, if it gets wet, then fungal action can produce temps high enough to ignite. Same with hay bales. Silage is different, as it is stored underground in a depleted O2 atmosphere.

Interesting what Murphs Dad said about wheat being self sustaining over generations. I think this would apply more to the "heritage" breeds than the newer You-beaut high yield breeds. I heard a while back that many of these are deliberately geared to NOT self seed / produce viable seed staock - as the business that created them wants farmers to buy new seed stock every year. Hmm GM....

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Respond to 'Post WW ecology. North America.'

Reports my death are greatly exaggerated.

Posted February 15, 2009 by John Birmingham
Well, unlike Murph or Trinity I didn't really get sick, or if I did, the big box of anti-biotics and a long sleep at the McKinney ranch sorted me right out. I was fine again by the time I flew out of Houston.

Seattle was the next stop, which was kinda weird because I'd spent so much virtual time there in Streetview on Google Earth. I knew the city, or the parts of it in the book at least, very well, in a two dimensional sort of way. It was passing strange to finally be there in 3D and put the whole thing together like a big diorama thingy.

The hills suprised me. On screen, you don't get a sense of how the downtown area falls away dramatically to Puget Sound, or how the vibe of the city changes from one avenue to the next. I was staying down on 1st at a Kimpton Hotel (this Bristol maybe?) Like all Kimpton hotels it had a theme, in this case, literature, which meant my room, which was huge and plush and very beautiful, was also decked out with masses of books. Actual books, not just the empty covers and spines you get in some places. There was also a fireplace and a separate lounge and I could have quite happily lived there.

It was a few blocks down from the market district, which I really loved. So too would Mr Flinthart I expect, given the number of freaks and weirdos and top shelf buskers there. Did my gig at the uni bookstore who were very welcoming, and had a curry afterwards with Dave and his family - one of Craig's mates who works for Google.

The following day I did some signings and had a look around for research purposes, before flying out, or rather attempting to fly out for LA and home. Having done the whole tour without a hitch it was inevitable I'd come a cropper right at the end.

First they thought I was on the wrong flight, one I could possibly catch, then I turned up on one part of the booking system but not the right one. Finally after forty minutes of thinking I might be staying a little longer in Seattle I made it onto my actual flight, which was then delayed because there was no captain to fly it.

We left about an hour or so late and got into LA with less than an hour before my Qantas leg for home left. Unfortunately the airport was shutting down and there was zero indication of how to make that connection. No signs. No staff to pester. Nothing. I wandered around an emptying terminal until a cleaner suggested I leave. Outside a security guard pointed me at another terminal, which did have some Qantas flights, so I joined the back of a long, slow moving security queue. About halfway up I thought, this is taking so long I can't possibly catch this flight. Finally through I went looking for my gate, but entirely without luck. Having run through most of the terminal, which was being rebuilt, I at last found a Qantas staffer who told me I was in completely the wrong building. I'd have to go back out onto the street, and do the security shuffle all over again in the next terminal.

Nnnnnnnaaarrggh.

I almost gave up, but really didn't fancy spending the next few days at LAX while I tried to find a new connection home so I sprinted through the night and hit the next long snaking security line where I got my first break when nobody questioned my bogus entitlement to barge right up the front of the speedy, elite line and toss my bags into the x-ray machine like a Spartan javelin champion.

Made the flight, sweating like a pig. Felt real sorry for the poor Canadians next to me.

Anyway, I'm home now, jetlagged, but pushing on thru until bedtime.

33 Responses to ‘Reports my death are greatly exaggerated.’

Abe ducks in to say...

Posted February 15, 2009
Welcome back. You haven't missed much.

Geez I hate LAX.

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kittenheel reckons...

Posted February 15, 2009
I will assume that it is an oversight that you skipped over my town while you were in America. After all, it is the 4,549,836th largest metropolis in the state. *turns nose in the air and pivots importantly on heels*

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Flinthart would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Whoa! You made it through the LAX disaster leg! Nice one. Oh - welcome back. I take it your house neither burned down nor floated away while you were gone?

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Welcome back, you didn't leave a tap on did you?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 15, 2009
Marvelous. SF, SD, NY, Houston, Seattle. Not a bad sampling. Glad you safely got back home - and just in time to continue working on the fourth book in the AoT series!

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Domestic Daze would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Welcome home, looking forward to hearing your tales of adventure, when you re-join the time zone.

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WalkingShaw would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Well done JB! Welcome home...

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Brian puts forth...

Posted February 15, 2009
Hmm . . .yes, looking forward to some distracting travellers tales. Just got a 'flee or stay' advisory for the next suburb over. Any distraction would be nice about now.

The Californian and Montana fire guys have turned up. So have 8 Indonesian Victim ID specialists. I reckon its worth a Blunty on those guys. Had a surprise yesterday Boeing have been raising money for the guys down here. US $750,000 - the Company matched it. US$1.5 million. All done internally. I was pretty gobsmacked by that - a post by a guy over on Baen. Unfortunately beyond that post I can't attribute

Here's the post :

""Well, when I logged in at work this morning, first thing that popped up is

that Boeing is doing 100% corporate match on donations to Aussie Brushfire

Relief. . . So I threw a hundred bucks your way, and Boeing is throwing

another hundred. (Heck, I worked 18 hours overtime this pay period, time

for a little more charity. . .)

But by the time I logged out at close of business today, Boeing employees

had donated over 3/4 of a million dollars. (There's a widget on our Intranet

that dispenses such factoids. . . )

In ONE DAY.

Plus the match.

Nobody said anything, just a simple announcement on the login web page. But

the response makes me damned proud of my fellow Boeing people. In a nasty

recession and job cuts coming, and we STILL helped. . .

My REAL hope is that this is just a typical example. . . . . ""

How about that?

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sibeen mutters...

Posted February 15, 2009
Welcome home, JB.

Brian, as someone from Melbourne, I'd like to give a hearty thanks to yourself and all the staff at Boeing.

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girlclumsy reckons...

Posted February 15, 2009
Welcome home!

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Thankyou, such generosity is appreciated and never forgotten.

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Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted February 15, 2009
That's an excellent turn by the Boeing crowd, much respect to them.

In other news, a ComicCon interview with JB has been serialised on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAm3TpgbeNE

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted February 15, 2009
good to see you back, in one piece and knackered... NOW BACK TO WORK!

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MudCrab swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 15, 2009
Should of gone to the FunHouse on 5th ave. Like the review says 'if only there was a bar where I could get drunk, see Japanese punk bands and play half court basketball'.

The Sci Fi museum in the Seattle Center (ie the bit with the Space Needle) is really cool too.

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Big Bad Ad would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
Damn, they let you back in.

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CraigWA has opinions thus...

Posted February 16, 2009
Well I'm just hoping my flight back this afternoon is a lot less exciting than yours. My only transfer is from the train to the plane and I have plenty of time to spare, so I'm expecting it to go smoothly. Great seeing you again.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted February 16, 2009
Well, Trinity and I hope you enjoyed your first visit to the States. Hopefully it will be the first of many. We hit the ground on Monday with a rolling deployment at 0730 hours and didn't stop until we both hit The Wall on Thursday which brought us low. We both seem to be recovering though. Thank God we didn't pass it on to you.

I hear LAX is a SuperBitch to get through. I think if I go Down Under I'll have to go in the opposite direction.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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JdR mutters...

Posted February 16, 2009
Yep, LAX is a nightmare. The Canadian missus refuses to go that way. Thankfully there's now the occasional direct Sydney/Vancouver flight to we can visit the relatives.

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MickH reckons...

Posted February 16, 2009
Welcome back JB!

I bet it's good to be home!

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted February 16, 2009
Good riddance...er, glad you made it back!

Hope you enjoyed your visit, but it's always good to be home.

Next tour, a stop in the Midwest, please. Dinner's on YD.

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Guru Bob puts forth...

Posted February 16, 2009
LAX sux...

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Therbs mutters...

Posted February 16, 2009
LAX! Don't know what you people are complaining about. All you need to do is get there the day before your scheduled departure.

By the time the religious freaks have had their way with you you'll be in such a state of dissociation that you'll be smiling your way on board like a valium junkie from the 60's.

Glad you made it back, JB. Hope Brisvegas doesn't flood!

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted February 16, 2009
Chicago. I definitely lobby for Chicago on an After America tour.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz asserts...

Posted February 16, 2009
Sorry, you went somewhere?

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted February 16, 2009
Wow, LAX sure seems to have gone downhill. When I last passed through in 91 it was as slick a sh!t through a goose. 25 minutes from arrival through security & check in to sitting in the boarding lounge. At the time I understand it was the busiest airport (Pax not flights) in the world. I battled Heathrow and found Le Giardia(snicker)& LAX relative joys.

RE: "Actual books, not just the empty covers and spines you get in some places."

I thought my leg was being pulled when I first heard of this, but I was shown a mail order catalouge where you could get "The Classics" in a choice of leather binding colour to match your decor without all those bothersome words and disturbing ideas.

Unbelievable!

Murph, on the same trip I walked from the central railway station in Chi town around the corner to an ATM then a resturaunt. When I left the resturaunt a nice man with a revolver relieved my of my folding cash. So polite & well dressed it was a surreal moment. He even gave me my money clip back.

I was lucky that while dining I had transferred most of my money to my big wallet that contained passport, credit cards & airline tickets stashed in my boot.

So yeah Chicago is an interesting place to visit.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 16, 2009
Oh, and postscriptus.

Very Fine Work Boeing.

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted February 16, 2009
NBob, I'm sorry to hear that. Sadly, that could happen anywhere in the world.

I passed through LAX on the way to Korea in 1992 where we joked about the fires per the Rodney King Riots (which had long since passed). It seemed okay when I was there but that was years ago.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Guru Bob mutters...

Posted February 16, 2009
Murphy - Flinthart was in LA for those riots - wrote an article about it for me in the student rag...

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savo mumbles...

Posted February 16, 2009
Flintheart was the LA riots.

Welcome home John. Staying in Brisvegas for a while or continuing the Grand Tour?

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 17, 2009
GB, I have very little good to say about those riots other than, "Typical."

An amazing thing.

1. I'm angry.

2. I'm angry so I'll burn my house down.

3. You've sent the cops to stop me from burning my house down so now I'll burn the cop car and go down to the only store in my neighborhood, owned by my friend, and burn it down.

Even Martin Luther King Junior, responding to the Watts Riots, wondered just what was accomplished by this sort of behavior. Do you know what the response is?

"We made them (meaning the Oppressor class) pay attention to us."

If MLK Junior couldn't figure it out or explain it, I'll be damned if I can figure it out.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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tygertim asserts...

Posted February 17, 2009
Glad you're home, JB, and DIDN'T pick anything up from youse knows whom.....

Let me know when your next trip is and I'll take you someplace nice.... Steak AND Lobster?

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 17, 2009
Murph, anger don't have to make sense.

The African Amercian population had been complaining of rascist assaults by LAPD for 40 years, any & all complaints were disapeared. Finally they felt they had evidence - video footage of a beating. The footage was broadcast on high rotation for weeks which built up a fine head of righteous indignation - somewhat like the 911 footage.

When the case fell over (probably for the very best of legal reasons) elements of the population lost any remnant faith in "The System" and suspended their end of the social contract.

It was a tiny minority, as in the other race riots, that actually took to the streets. Many who took to the streets were not politically / socially motivated - just out to do some burning.

I am not not not justifying or condoning the actions taken, just trying to explain to myself how such a terrrible situation could develop.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 18, 2009
NBob, I understand the frustration. I'm frustrated about things but I do not respond by burning my own house down.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'Reports my death are greatly exaggerated.'

The McKinney Ranch Hoedown.

Posted February 13, 2009 by John Birmingham
The latest in the series of JB's World Tour Shout Outs goes to the senior Senator from the Peoples Republic of Texas who put in a huge effort looking after your main man here when I pulled into Houston yesterday.

I was feeling kinda worn out after New York, where I may have given things a bit too much of a nudge. The Senator settled me down into the Presidential Suite where I rested while he worked the phones on behalf with the book lovers of the city. I'm thinking Random should hire him as publicity consultant as his arm twisting skills with the readin' public seemed to be considerable.

A good gig was had by all, and we repaired to a local high end noshery where of course I had the steak. It was qite beautiful, so tender that I only needed to wave the knife over it and perfectly medium rare chunks would away.

I'm in Seattle now, having finished my uni bookshop gig, which was also good fun. CraigWAs mate Dave and his family took me out for curry afterwards and I've just got back to my hotel, which is somewhat swish. A room so big and well appointed I think I could live here.

Tomorrow I'll sign books and do the Underground tour.

51 Responses to ‘The McKinney Ranch Hoedown.’

Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 13, 2009
A steak I had in Texas was the best I ever had. As someone who only recently learned the definition of "Seppo" I am gratified to know we've shown you decent hospitality.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 13, 2009
Good eatin'!

Paul - to be fair. We only explain the term seppo to our mates. Mostly we prefer to leave people confused.

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
mmmmmmm steeeeak.

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DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted February 13, 2009
'Seppo' is best left unused in Southern company, purticly Texas. Would you believe that they actually get offended?

One of the better steaks I had in Sydney was ironically at a tex-mex place in the Golden West. Ribeye you only needed to look sideways at and it melted onto your fork.

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girlclumsy mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
Mmm, steak.

Sorry, I've got nothing else. ;)

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girlclumsy has opinions thus...

Posted February 13, 2009
And I copied Moko without even realising.

I need a good nap.

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Abe swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 13, 2009
Hope you've managed to upgrade to Business Class.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
I hope you put a dent in his cellar

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
How big was this steak? Did it have a suitable garnish? Did you have a choice with gravy ie ketchup. diane, mushroom, a cheeky little number made with an approved wine?

On a sadder note. The grape harvest in SA and Vic has been severely damaged by heat waves and fire - best to start stocking up the cellars and wine racks immediately. Hmm . . . perhaps Victorian truffles are going to be in short supply as well - I'm not precisely sure where they've sourcing them, but if its the Yarra Valley, well . . . .bye, bye.

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted February 13, 2009
Brian, they be Crispy truffles

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savo mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
Did y'all go huntin' 'n fishin'?

Yarra Valley OMFG!!! I have some superb 2001 DeBortoli Yarra Yalley Shiraz. I'd better check on it!

Yup, still good.

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Trowzers is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
Unrelated to anything previous, but just noticed a new Tarantino movie trailer seems to have snuck out: http://www.pajiba.com/inglorious-basterds-trailer.htm

Hmmm, not really a Tarantino fan, but Brad Pitt in some sort of Dirty Dozen-ish remake by Tarantino? ... I dunno what to think. This movie has been on the radar for years, I guess it has made me curious. Be interested to see what other thought.

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Brian mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
That reminds me. Texas does concealed carry. So . . .did you get properly dressed? What's the proper dressing for a Jackalope?

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damian puts forth...

Posted February 13, 2009
Best steak I've had was in Rockhampton and not at all expensive. This was at the Cri - the 19th century hotel in the middle of town - but probably could have been anywhere, and not at all expensive.

Culturally Rockie is probably about the same distance from Brisbane as Texas is from California, though I wouldn't push that analogy too hard. I have no doubt that some of the finest steaks in the world can be had in Texas, but it may be the one truly parochial streak in me that wants to insist: Queensland beef is the best beef.

Sounds like a great ol' time anyhoo, hope all goes well.

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damian would have you know...

Posted February 13, 2009
Meh, overedited or underedited or something... price was significant because it easily equalled steak that cost 4-5 times as much

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DrYobbo reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
I see your Rockhampton and I raise you a Casino. THE ONLY TRUE BEEF CAPITAL. FACT. A concrete and chicken wire bull with frequently stolen bollocks does not a Beef Capital make. Not compared to the glory and wonderment of the Miss Casino Beef Week pageant.

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Mark R. Whittington puts forth...

Posted February 13, 2009
Hmm, I had no idea that Kay Hutchison was a fan.

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Mark R. Whittington has opinions thus...

Posted February 13, 2009
Hmm, JB said "he" which suggests John Cornyn, who is the junior Senator from our great state.

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Nautilus asserts...

Posted February 13, 2009
Sorry Doc Yob, it is an established fact that the Beef Capital is in Wagga Wagga!

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yankeedog would have you know...

Posted February 13, 2009
You should get a good steak-it is Texas, after all. I'm told Houston is a decent stop if in the Lone Star state.

OT- "On a sadder note. The grape harvest in SA and Vic has been severely damaged by heat waves and fire - best to start stocking up the cellars and wine racks immediately."

-Brian

I was going to ask you locals about that. There has to be some crop and livestock losses down there. We get a lot of Oz wines up here-looks like it'll cost a bit more now. Which state in Australia is considered the 'breadbasket'?

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James is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
JB - if you get a chance, Mario Batali's dad runs a cured meat and sandwich shop on the southern end of downtown Seattle called Salumi... HEAVEN

The only great restaurant in the city is a place called Wild Ginger - and it really is fabulous. High end fusion food... and really worth the time

Wish I was still in town to host you at one of them!

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damian mumbles...

Posted February 13, 2009
Doc, I hear you there but I still hold that there's a certain unworldliness about Rockie... hard to explain I guess.

I did learn recently that after the Maralinga tests in the 50s a cloud of strontium-90 was tracked passing over central Queensland. Perhaps this goes some way toward an explanation...

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CraigWA reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
I hope you find much joy in hearing all about Thomas Crapper and his toilets on the Seattle Underground tour.

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jennicki puts forth...

Posted February 14, 2009
Mmm...steak...especially cooked med rare.

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mckinneytexas has opinions thus...

Posted February 14, 2009
It was a filet served with wild mushrooms. I had the grouper. We split a bottle of French pinot. John gave a great chat. We finished the evening with an Irish single malt. As it happened, the next morning I had to fly to San Antonio about an hour before John was wheels-up for Seattle, so it all tied together pretty well.

Burgers, on a related note, our man needs to slow down a bit. He pushes himself too hard and needs to cut back. Seriously. I am worried about our boy.

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted February 14, 2009
Brian concealed curry? Wouldn't the pungent aroma give it away?

Oh CARRY. I see. Still, I prefer the idea of packin' Indian heat in a shoulder rig. What would Dirty Harry be hefting?

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted February 14, 2009
BAH... if Birmo would have made it to Atlanta I would have BURIED him under stacks and stacks of BBQ pork ribs slathered in smoky sweet sauce at Matt's Rib Shack with an armed security detachment of members of this country's armed forces. Pork ... the true food of the gods.

But no ... the rat bastard goes hailing off willy nilly to rainy, damp Hippieville.

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Rhino reckons...

Posted February 14, 2009
Oh ... and another thing, steak, mmmmmmmmmmmm

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted February 14, 2009
Matt ... Dirty Harry carries the .44 magnum.

In his own words, "I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted February 14, 2009
I didn't say that Texas steak I had was the best in the world, just the best I've eaten thus far. I am quite eager to make it No. 2 on my list. replacing it with, perhaps, some Beddak White Tail. Damned if I don't find myself thinking about just that.

Rhino: I am on my fucking way to Atlanta to be buried in ribs. Truth be told, pig meat is my favorite, and convincing - but admittedly circumstantial - proof that God loves us.

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Matthew K reckons...

Posted February 14, 2009
So what's the curry equivalent of the .44 magnum?

Coincidentally the the .44 magnum was invented by a man called Elmer Keith - no relation though. That's as close as I'm liable to get to a legal pistol seeing as I'm British.

(Although I understand that illegal concealed carry is quite the fashion nowadays in some urban quarters)

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Robert mutters...

Posted February 14, 2009
I put $6 into my Steak Fund last night after I bought WW for $19 at Borders, where they included a discount card, which makes a handy bookmark.

Say, Birmo, today is Feb 13 and you might bend the ear of your publisher that Borders STILL is WTF about WW. Your book is on the shelf, tucked away in the sci-fi section, but it's not listed properly in their database. If you seek WW the dbase sez it's not published yet. But is IS in the dbase under Disappearance or some such.

Now, that's no way to treat a New Release that has a cool fighter jet on the cover. (I'm only to chapt. 9, so I don't know why the jet, just yet--but knowing your style, I expect all hell to break loose soon--the Caitlin hospital scene was just warmup...)

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 14, 2009
Hmm, maybe we walked him too much in the Big Apple.

It is possible we all caught some sort of bug there. Or more likely (since I am willing to take the blame) he caught something from me as I had some sort of ear/nose thing which flared up that Friday afternoon before we met at the bar. If that's the case, I feel pretty bad about that.

Hopefully it clears up.

Robert speaks the truth per Borders and Without Warning. It is listed in a screwball manner and you've really got to dig to find the book. I don't know WTF is up with that.

Go easy for the rest of the trip, Birmo.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 14, 2009
So. . .we send one our reveed authors to a far off place and he's catching exotic diseases?

Gawd . . .he'll be in quarantine for weeks . . . .living on institutional food.

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savo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 14, 2009
Dose this mean we'll have to send care packages to Brisvagas as well as Victoria and FNQ?

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Tucker Dwynn reckons...

Posted February 14, 2009
Arrgg!! You are in Seattle? When Where?!?! I kept looking for Book Tour dates and times, and I never saw one for Seattle Listed! ARRGGGGG!!

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Trinity mumbles...

Posted February 14, 2009
Hope you feel better. Take care. Drink plenty of juice and get as much rest as you can. Hopefully Murph didn't make you sick like he did with me, the bastard.

Take care,

Trinity

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Brian asserts...

Posted February 14, 2009
Trinity - Murph is a sharing, caring kind of person. You're making him out to be the livig embodiment of 'Typhoid Mary'.

Wait a tick . . . .?

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 15, 2009
It's typical of Murphy family tradition to blame me for the illnesses. Trinity has picked up on that tradition. :)

I need to link her blog.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Leo euler reckons...

Posted February 15, 2009
You had a senator helping you out? Cool! That sounds like a lot of fun, very hospitable. Hopefully it was not as hectic as the political stuff in WW.

While we're on the subject of local cuisine...I think Oklahoma is more famous for its BBQ, steakhouse stuff, etc., and more infamous for it's bull testicles (Rocky Mountain oysters). I'm thankful I've never had the latter.

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2009
S.F.Murphy writes: "It is possible we all caught some sort of bug there."

Don't think so... I sat next to you for a couple of hours, sharing that guacamole, and didn't catch anything from you. Not that I'd have been able to tell, spending several hours on subways and Amtrak the next day.

Granted, walking from Union Square to Central Park in the howling wind and cold could have been more than a tender Brisbanite should have been doing - but you have no excuse. :-)

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 15, 2009
Well, I'll take what absolution I can get, Tarl. Thanks.

Umm, it was awfully cold, walking to 52nd Street, wasn't it? But not intolerable.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 15, 2009
BTW, Suvudu finally put up the Birmo interview at YouTube. I've got the four parts up at my blog but you can also get them at the Suvudu.com channel on YouTube.

But they don't have The Soggy Bottoms Boys as a bonus feature at their blog. :)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 15, 2009
I thought they were referred to as "Brisbanians."

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 15, 2009
I just watched that interview. Despite my delight in hearing the term "MacGuffin." the rest of it was gruesome. Seriously.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted February 15, 2009
PB: I thought they were referred to as “Brisbanians.”

IIRC the correct term is "Banana Bender"

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 15, 2009
Really?

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Lobes mutters...

Posted February 15, 2009
For real. Its a colloquialism for anyone from Queensland. They grow em bent up there apparently.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 15, 2009
I like it, and will remember.

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damian puts forth...

Posted February 16, 2009
Lobes - no they come off the tree straight, we have to bend them because people expect bananas to be bent for some reason. It's a bit like the way Americans expect cheese to be orange.

Paul - Brisbanite is much more commonly heard than Brisbanian, which I think is an error of the uninitiated. Brisbanite, Sydneysider, Melburnian, Canberran, are all pretty constant.

Actually -ite is quite common in Australia for smaller towns too... I think we like to think of ourselves as lost tribes of Israel or something.

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Respond to 'The McKinney Ranch Hoedown.'

New York wrap up.

Posted February 11, 2009 by John Birmingham
I'm almost done here. In half an hour I'll step out for dinner, heading up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle. I ate there with Betsy my publisher the other night and was impressed enough to want to go back. That's always been my way when travelling. If I find a place I lke I will visit a few times to fix it in my memory for future reference.

Today was culture day on Planet Birmo. I walked up to Central Park for a bit a wander and some happy snaps, exiting near the New York Historical Society, which had a civil exhibition focusing on Grant and Lee. It was quite fascinating and gave me an idea for a column later this week. From there I cut back across the Park to the Met, where a I spent a couple of hours browsing the art. I particularly dug the Classical and the Medieval galleries.

The street in front of the Met was crowded with starving artists selling their wares so I picked up a hand painted piece for Anna's room. Thomas got a pencil sharpener fashioned in the shape of a cannon from the Historical Society. Jane got an Obama doll (she scored some Kate Spade shoes yesterday) and for me, an ice cube tray with Titanic and 'berg shaped cubes.

I meandered down Fifth Avenue for a while, occasionally stopping to shoot pics of any buildings that took my fancy. I'm kind of a fanboy for neoclassical architecture and this part of New York has plenty. Eventually the residential blocks gave way to the shopping district, where I'd been on Monday and where I thought I'd scored a bowl of split pea 'n ham from the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. Turned out to be a franchise outlet, but the soup was still great and the staff were non frightening. For anyone passing through, this place was just across the street from the New York Public Library, where I was most impressed with the combo of Roman Grandeur and civic virtue.

We seem to be working backwards here, so I guess Sunday was all about touring around with Murph and Trinity before they flew out. I had some things I needed to do at Comicon but caught up with them for an early lunch at the Carnegie Deli. My driver had told me on arrival in NYC that I had no choice but go there for the pastrami on rye, and not being one to disobey a limo driver, I insisted that we did.

Here is the result.

Apart from the pastrami mountain I've eaten relatively modestly in New York. One curry feast with a former editor and two fine Italian meals at Gabriel's would constitute the extent of my calorific blowout. Apart from that, it was easier to just have fruit for breakfast and lunch. One of the very civilized things I have enjoyed about dining alone in the US is the unexpected friendliness of my fellow diners, especially when noshing away at the bar.

Indeed, I just got back from dinner at Gabriel's where I had a green leaf salad and beef ribs with polenta mash, which were all beautiful, but must enjoyable of all was the company of my fellow singeltons, in the first instance an African American freelance publicist for a bunch of off Broadway shows, in the second a German documentary maker who explained in great detail what she was shooting in New York, but I'm afraid it went in one ear and out the other. I do know she was off to see Placido Domingo sing at the Met, however. So good luck to her.

I started chatting with her because I was very much taken with the big bowl of gnocci and duck ragout she was eating. So much so I almost ordered it myself. But that sort of dish is very easy to score in Oz, whereas the thing with which I will credit premium American chefs is a reverence for the treatment of meat that is rare back home. Hence my choice of the beef rib tonight.

In the end though, I was here for Comicon, which was amazing simply because of the sheer mass of geekdom gathered in one place. It was almost oppressive. No, bugger that. It was oppressive. I have some great photos, both mine and Craig's,which I will publish when I can get wordpress and flickr to start talking again, but for now I'll just say that it felt at times there were more geeks and weirdos gathered together in the convetion hall than you could find in all of the antipodes.

42 Responses to ‘New York wrap up.’

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Crikey that's one helluva sammich! My missus loved New York - her scond favourite city she reckons. But like you JB she was wary of American servings of food - she too would have fruit etc. for brekky, buy some immense sandwich at lunch, eat half and likely have the rest for dinner!

Good thing it's now lunchtime, I'm off out for a meaty sandwich.

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yankeedog is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Yeah, that serving size would be about right. You and Mrs Bondiboy had the right idea, rationing out the big feeds. Best way to go. Even I do that when possible. Two meals for the price of one.

Hope you enjoyed the Apple and none of the Yank 'burgers scared you too badly.

Liking your souvenir swag there-good job going full metal tourist! It's all right though-if I ever get to Australia I'm looking for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pencil sharpener or the Opera House paperweight.

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Moko asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't forget my Statue of Liberty sharpener.

Love to check it out one day. Unfortunately I feel the only I will is if I manage to swim that last 3 K's undetected to shore.

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Domestic Daze reckons...

Posted February 11, 2009
Warning: Do not view that picture on a full stomach. How many is that supposed to feed? A family of four or something?

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Brian mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Pass me a 'Quick Eaze', pronto.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
nice.

I like a cubic yard of beef on bread

I assume that greeen thing was only for scale or garnish.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't. Forget. To. Eat. A. Thin. Crust. New. York. Style. Cheese. Pizza. Before. You. Go.

capiche?

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted February 11, 2009
Umm, I notice the blueberry cheesecake which was consumed AFTER the sandwich was not mentioned. I guess that was the fruit John mentioned. :) Never fear kids, Trinity got a shot of this NYC Cheesecake Monstrosity. I'll post it in a day or so.

Serving sizes in NYC were way above the call of duty. Trinity and I ate at Maxie's (where some of the food should be served with a side dish of insulin or AED devices) on Saturday night. A couple next to us from Turkey said the portions were huge and wondered if Americans always ate like that.

We assured them that the massive serving sizes at Maxie's were out of the ordinary, even in our eating experience.

I thought we ate heavy in the Midwest and if you go to someplace like Stroud's in KC, you'll get large portions. But not on the scale we saw at Maxie's.

As for eating fruit, which is what Trinity and I normally try to do during our more mundane lives, best to buy it at the market and prep it at home. In fact, this was our original battleplan but the leg injury prevented expeditions to the markets for that purpose.

As for the sandwich, I had a ham sandwich of the same size. It would have been a hamburger but we were told, "burger take twenty-five minutes."

Sheesh, you'd think they had to put a rivet in the cow in the back alley, butcher the meat and sear it with a bic lighter before bringing it in if it was going to take that long.

Lots to eat in that town. Lots.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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JdR asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Surely there's a column or several to be written about Comicon? Did you pick up some reading for the kids, or was it all about Watchmen??

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Sweet Jane Says mumbles...

Posted February 11, 2009
Argh... That's not EVEN a marbled rye. Where is the saurkraut? You might as well be eating at Burger King.

J.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
The hot kraut was on Trinity's hot dog.

When John and I were wandering the aisles, gawking at the figures, the weirdoes in costume, the comic books and the nervous pent up long frustrated sexual energy of the place, I finally blurted out this.

"Lord, it is a bit much. Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Birmo said. "It is."

I felt much better after that. I thought it was just me. Go googling around for the Comicon Light Saber Fight if you want to see just how over the top this was.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Hmmm yes, I'd of thought that in NYC you'd be able to get proper salt beef on rye with gerkins, obviously not. Oh vay gevalt!

I find it funny about the size of the portions when you consider that NYC was pretty out there with nouvelle cusine. Think i'll stick to half a crucified cow down in puerto madero.

Murph/JB were any of the butchered cow places there allowing English mustard?

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
Did you guys manage to catch the excellent work of the Green Light Anti-Zombie Squad at Comic Con?

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Comicon will have provided plenty of material for the Geek blog no doubt.

That pastrami on rye brings back memories. Happy, beefy, memories.

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Guru Bob ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Looking at their website it seems that the owner knew you were coming and left early... it is supposed to be a 'must see' kind of place.

http://www.carnegiedeli.com/

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savo would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
Geez, I'm not going to survive the food when I'm there this Fall. Thank goodness I've lost so much weight. I'll be able to get a running start.

By the way JB, what's that green penis doing on your plate?

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lostatlunch puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
not bad for a work trip.. the last pic on flikr... why so small.. she look, Um, interesting, in an insane way

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DrYobbo would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
I see pastrami. I see not rye.

I see coronary heart disease and bypass surgery.

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
YD, it was just the missus - I've never been to the States. I'd probably just make a total guts of myself!

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Big Bad Al asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Mmmmmmm..... Meaty goodness...

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NBlob mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Dr. Y

Can you expand on that to the music of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song?

"I see a coronary infarction.

I see a lipid count too high."

Murph, I thought the "hot kraut" was a perjorative term for last years Miss Germany, and that made me wonder what she was doing on Trinity's Hot Dog? And that led (naturally enough)to unspeakably disturbing things.

Love the museum & gallery work JB.

Pity you didn't catch the Gugenhiem gallery in NYC or Aerospace Museum in Washington DC. Ah well it's a good idea when travelling to leave something for next time.

Hmm, when's the Dubya fan fic page coming? I'm gestating an idea.

Could you ransom the remaining America by snatching up the Declaration of Independance or the Wright Bros' Kittyhawk?

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sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
all sounds great- have to say when I'm in the US for work I like erating at teh counter and peopel are always evry friendly. Comic con- better you've never been in one location that has so many epople with a Zombie survival plan.

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Ellie ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Damn, I want your glamorous author life. I like food and art so I think it would work out for me.

Cons are pretty awesome. I'm only a semi geek so I find it utterly fascinating to meet hardcore geeks - especially ones cosplaying as badass ninja dudes from anime.

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Michael Juge ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Personally, I prefer to order my sandwich by the pound or foot depending on what region of the country I'm in. If you're planning to to a side trip to DC area for any reason like a book signing or something, kindly let us know.

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted February 12, 2009
Missed opportunity ... you shoulda' said, to the waitress, in your thickest accent, "You call that a sandwich? Now this is a sandwich."

Ummm, of course you would have had to produce a larger sandwich. So, ummm, it wouldn't work. But, still, it would have been funny.

And speaking of geek fests ... one of the meccas has got to be DragonCon held here in Atlanta. Amazingly over the top.

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted February 12, 2009
Ooh yeaaah! Only needs a touch of English mustard like Chaz says.

But.... that doesn't look like rye bread to me. Still looks fine though.

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Robert would have you know...

Posted February 12, 2009
Excuse me. EXCUSE ME!! Hate to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals, but I dropped by Borders Books out here on the West Coast last night to buy WW, and damn if Borders doesn't have any copies and their computer sez the book ain't published yet (although I can buy it on audio, apparently).

So, is the book not available in the USA? Or is Borders just not planning to move that inventory? This is a WW WTF?

Thanks for any pointers, and allowing me to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted February 12, 2009
The book is available. For some reason Borders has it listed under some sort of pre-title like America Disappeared or some crap. I had to work to find it in their system a week or so ago during my KC recon to ensure that the book had arrived.

Best thing for it is to simply punch John Birmingham's name into the computer at Borders and then browse through until you find the book.

Further, at the Borders up North that I went to, the book was there but buried behind some paperbacks in the wrong part of the B section. Damned if I know WTF was going on but I pulled the books in line with Birmo's other AoT paperbacks so folks could find them.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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MickH reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey!

Has anyone heard from Bangar recently?

I hope he wasn't mixed up in the fires.

I hope he's ok!

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Trinity reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey John,

Trinity here.I wanted to sat that I read He died with a Felafel in his hand. That has to be the funniest thing I have ever read in my life.

Did that stuff really happen? Because all I can say is you really are lucky to be with us all today! :)

Oh, Murph helped me set up my own blog, I think he was tired of me looking over his shoulder when he was on his.

So come and see my new blog space. remember now it is still a work in progress.

Once more it was wonderful to meet you and Tarl and Craig. I plan on e-mailing Craig to see if he got home Ok.

Well, that's all.

With love & peace,

Trinity

P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one? Thanks! :)

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted February 12, 2009
'P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one?' don't know who could have been spreading those rumors......

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 12, 2009
Trinity: "Hello Neo."

Neo: "How do you know that name?"

Trinity: "I know a lot about you."

Neo: "Who are you?"

Trinity : "My name's Trinity."

Neo: "Trinity...THE Trinity? The one who hacked the IRS D-Base?

Trinity: "That was a long time ago."

Neo: "Jesus."

Trinity : "What?"

Neo: "I just thought...you were a guy."

Trinity: "Most guys do."

In all honesty, Trinity, I thought you were a guy, too - until just now. I must admit I am somewhat relieved - not that there would be anything wrong with it. I am not one of those Bible thumping fanatics. No siree Bob. I am very open minded. But I draw the line on marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I'm sorry, but that is just the way I feel.

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 12, 2009
By god, that photo makes me hungry and I had a big lunch. Is that a whole dill pickle you got with that?

I fear any time I ever spent in NYC would be one long food tour. I can imagine worse things, but don't care to :)

Murph, sounds like your impressions of comicon are not unlike what I imagine mine would be. I see sudden realisations of "Well, sheesh".

Trinity, yes that stuff really happened, some of the folks here were there, for some of it. I didn't know Birmo back in the day but certainly saw a lot of the same stuff. Strange days, but a lot of good came of it IMHO

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Chaz, the rumors were spread elsewhere usually, not by the burgers. But is an ongoing joke of sorts.

Damian, yes, Comicon was one big, "These folks need a life."

It was a pretty good trip. More pics to follow at both blogs.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
Well Robert, there should be copies around. Some of them signed.

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Matthew K reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
Esquire reckons Felafel is the 33rd funniest book in it's latest edition here in the UK. I was just browsing the magazines in the supermarket - didn't buy it.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
Yoh? Murph - Trinity's blog needs to on referenced here doncha think?

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Murphy asserts...

Posted February 13, 2009
brian, agreed. Will do when I feel better. Caught gastritis here in KC. Down but not out.

Respects,

Murph

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted February 13, 2009
Murph, I don't know if it's a trade name or if it's marketed under the same name in the US of A, but I strongly recomend Immodium. It's like quick set concrete for the guts.

You'll still feel like a luke-warm bag 'o crap, but at least you dont have to make the dash to the porcelain every 3.5 minutes.

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deadcat ducks in to say...

Posted February 13, 2009
JB, I could find your email address. You might like this:

http://blog.wired.com/cars/2009/02/sweden-build-wo.html

Stealth Ships! Just like in your trilogy :)

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Murphy mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
NBob, yeah, I'll take some tomorrow.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
Wow, that would make a great cover line. 33rd Funniest Book Ever - Esquire.

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Respond to 'New York wrap up.'

New York AAR

Posted February 11, 2009 by John Birmingham
Well, actually, there's still some action to go. I'm just about to walk up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle, but I'll fly out tomorrow morning so that'll be about it, unless, like the PM, I inexplicably find myself in a girly bar, with at least two beers under my belt, and dignity thrown to the wind.

Probably not, though.

I got some cultre in this morning, walking up through Central Park to the New York Hisotrical Society, which was hosting a Grant/Lee Civil War exhibit, which gave me an idea for a column lter this week. Popped upstairs to the Henry Luce collection of atistic thingummies, which gave me an idea for After America.

The Luce floor had an FDR exhibit too, which was a bonus, and some of the most striking folk art I've seen anywhere. Back across the Park to the Met, which was awesome, natrually, being the Met. I very much enjoyed the Classical Galleries and the Medieval collection. Bought a painting from an impoverished artists outside for my daughter's bedroom, and had a walk along 5th Avenue.

I'd been there on Monday, when I had a bowl of soup at what I though the famous Soup Nazi joint from Seinfeld, but which turned out to be a franchise. Still, the soup was excellent and I didn't get abused, which was even better. It was just across from the Library where I had a poke around and was very impressed by the Roman grandeur of the architecture yoked to the very enlightened civic ideal of an educated citizenry.

We seem to be working back in time here, so Sunday was notable for lunching with Murh and Trinity at the Carnegie Deli, where, I had been told by my driver on arriving in New York,

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All Hail Tarl, the King of New York.

Posted February 8, 2009 by John Birmingham
Had a day of meetings and interviews and a coupla signings on Friday. Lunched with my agent and caught up with Murph and Trinity later in the afternoon.

A cab ride to Union Square then linked us with Craig and Tarl for dinner at a pretty fab Mexican place where Tarl insisted on shouting the feed.

Props to the big guy.

Did quite a bit of walking to get bacl to the hotel, and quite a bit more this morning after a salmon bagel for breaky. We checked out some sites in lower Manhattan that I want to use in the next book, and a good thing we did because I had the scale all wrong.

Comicon was a geek fest of epic proportions. Just having a rest in my room right now, but will head back in twenty minutes for my last sesh.

83 Responses to ‘All Hail Tarl, the King of New York.’

Abe asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
I got the best sense of the scale of Manhattan from landing in a plane at Newark that had its final approach along the Hudson...so you get a sense of the size of Manhattan and how built up it is as you fly in. Fracking enormous.

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Matthew K puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
I get my sense of the scale of it from GTA 4.

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Moko mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
Google Earth for me.

Had a NY pizza yet?.

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MickH has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2009
Yeah Moko Google earth is brilliant.

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drej swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
The Empire State building is still worth checking out for the view.

Great city for just walking around, every street has something new. Glad you're having a good time.

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Madoc is gonna tell you...

Posted February 8, 2009
Drej & all,

Yeah, definitely take in the Empire State. Sure, it's touristy but it is unique and iconic at that.

Good on you Tarl for the shouting.

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Flinthart is gonna tell you...

Posted February 8, 2009
You made it to Comicon! Cool!

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Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
You ate Mexican? In New York City...? A food loaded with cheese... You eat Mexican when you get to Texas - not NYC. Even Egyptian food in NYC is better than Mexican.

Jesus...

J.

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Abe would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
Did Jesus eat cheese?

Maybe it was liquid cheese and he turned it into wine.

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G swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
I can't believe i'm going to do this but I agree with Jane * shudders * Mexican in AZ or TX or Cali Not NYC.

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BrianC mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
Hmmmmm cheese wine

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Brian mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
Ahh . . .but in New York you get kosher cheese. Probably one of the few places in the world where you can get authentic kosher mexican burrito's.

Jeez. . .J just how provincial are you anyway?

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jennicki would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
Kosher Mexican...hahaha.

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puma is gonna tell you...

Posted February 8, 2009
Too bad you didn't know anyone to help you plan. More great restaurants in NYC than you can count.

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Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
I trust we're going to get some blogging about the Comic-con? I'd love to go to one of those.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted February 8, 2009
No cheese.

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Tarl puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
It was actually pretty good Mexican (speaking as someone who grew up in Mexico).

The well-fed crew: Tarl (from NH), Murph & Cindy (from Missouri), Craig (from Scotland), and the GoH, Birmo.

http://tarl.net/DSC_0403s.JPG

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Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
Heads up - Houston has great Vietnamese food and fantastic Jamaican food due to large populations of both groups. You'll also find good Greek and Indian food in Houston - if they have survived the economy of the last year.

J.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
jennicki.

If I have one article of faith - its that sooner or later someone will make a kosher version of almost anything. It may not be Mexican traditional but the taste is indistinguishable. Shoot - kosher lasagne is right tasty.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
An excellant Food Safari on SBS last week about Kosher tucker. Expanded my brain in a culinary way.

Still amazed at the surface similarities between Halal & Kosher. Shouldn't be - neighbours & all, but you'd think...

Well, no, I guess not.

I reckon if I'm being bought dinner It'd be rude of me to say "Greek, in Brisbane? You must be high - I only ever eat Greek in Melbourne where it is soooo much more authentic."

SJS, keep your ear out for the doorbell. It'll be UPS delivering you a clue.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
Sorry I meant to add to the end of first sentance, the show spoke of a thin sliced smoked beef topside referred to a Fake-on or Makon - basically a Kosher Bacon like product. Just like Brian was sugesting.

Hey Jane, was that the door?

heh heh heh

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BrianC reckons...

Posted February 8, 2009
Birmo said

" No cheese. "

Thats cheesist, im going to write a letter to my minister

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
Ehh . . .Bob. That Food Safari show was terrific. Did you catch the Syrian one? All those cakes and slices? Like to have a crack at that raw meat sushi type thingie.

Kosher. Its good tucker. All those cake shops in Ackland Street are kosher. Some of the best cakes around.

As to the door? Maybe 'Knock, knock' etc

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savo puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
... photos ... ???

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CraigWA has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
I have some photos, I'll see what I can do about getting them up online somewhere shortly.

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mckinneytexas is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
I gotta go with SJS on the Mexican food in NYC. Houston has whatever you want.

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Rhino mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
I'm so pissed that I could not make it there ... was very much looking forward to meeting Birmo and Murph and thus completing the "circle of trust" on the material plane.

I can't wait to hear Birmo's take on all of the American fanboys at ComicCon and, of course, Murph's AAR.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
Good Mexican food in NY is a sign of the pending Apocalypse. Get the hell out of the continental United States (and much of Canada and Mexico) while you can!

But take Moko's cue and grab a NY style thin crust pizza on your way out.

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Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
When in Seattle eat the sea food and fresh water fish. You'll also get very good sushi in Seattle. Be sure to eat the wild trout or wild salmon; don't get "farm raised," and drink wine from the Washington or Oregon vinyards.

If you haven't been to the Holocaust Museum, Houston has an excellent one. Govenor Johnson was instrumental in giving refuge to many Jews during WWII. Houston has a large Jewish community that has endowed the city with excellent museums of every manner.

Austen, Texas produces great micro-brewery beers. Drink those while in Houston, but drink Canadian or Japanese beer while in Seattle.

J.

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
Hope all Australian burgers are unaffected by the fires. Take care you guys.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Its pretty bad here Vaga. Over 100 dead so far and nearly 1000 homes destroyed. Many people died in their cars trying to escape. They attempted to drive through the thick smoke and invariably crashed into the side of the road or each other. Its a bit cooler now but saturday was intense. 47 degree temperatures and winds of up to 100kmh.

You know what it feels like when you get a hairdryer and point it directly in your face? Well going outside on Saturday it was like there was a giant hairdryer pointed at your whole body.

I was supposed to visit my cousin in Gisborne over the weekend. But I've never been to her property before and didnt really fancy driving around country roads looking for it. Shes ok, but the fires affected some of her neighbours so she had to keep about 8 horses from round the district safe in her stables

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Brian mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
Matt - thanks for the sentiment. The fires were about 10 minutes to the North of me. I've got friends who have evacuated out. Got a property that I'm expecting to see burn in Noojee.

Its very tense around here. My family and myself are waiting on news about family friends in Castella, Kinglake and down in Bunyip State forest. Ex- workmates in Churchill - dunno. Family in Bendigo are good.

Farmers going around shooting animals. Bodies being left in burnt out car wrecks - waiting for forensics teams. This is unparalleled. Being called the 'worst natural disaster since white settlement'.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
We here in California deal with seasonal wild fires (the Native American name for Los Angeles translates to "Valley of Smoke) but your fatalities far exceed anything we've seen in a long while if ever. My prayers and best wishes go out to anyone impacted.

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Trowzers swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2009
The bit the scares me - the firies, and ex-firies I spoke to a few days before this started knew this was coming. Several told me this would be 'far worse than Ash Wednesday'. "Well," I said (not quite believing them) "At least we have warning and can get prepared". No, I was told, you cannot really prepare for something like this. There is no telling where it will pop up, only that it will happen somewhere, and unless you put a fire crew on every acre, it is pretty much unstoppable. That this still happened when (afaik) many were as prepared as they could be, scares me silly.

My best wishes to those down south and those up north experiencing flooding. The lovely weather here in Brisbane makes me feel terribly guilty.

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Brian asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
I've just had one of the big Sikorsky water bombers fly overhead. That's worrying. We're not on the flight path for any of the local airports. Wind's picked up. I live in the foothills of the Dandenongs. The third biggest recorded fire AKAIK was up here about 35 years ago. High fuel loading. National forest and interspersed homes. Suburbia. For old timers - its like waiting for the next shoe to drop. You watch the weather - and look at the ridge lines. What worries me is that people aren't worried enough. Most of the local CFA units went North days ago.

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Lobes asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
More information on the fires here: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/

Details on road closures here: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/NewsRoom/BushFiresRoadClosures/

Firemaps here: http://google-au.blogspot.com/2009/02/mapping-victorian-fires.html

and here: http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=109226935524884968309.00046252015ee6beb4fca&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-35.657296,146.184082&spn=8.529985,19.775391&z=6

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Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
It's the lead story on the TV news here but weirdly the paper doesn't mention it. It's the people in their cars that affect me most, I don't know why.

I recognize the conditions from Spain, but the hottest I ever experienced was 45c. They have brush fires and gumtrees too, but mostly it's pretty treeless. Amongst other things they use dive-bombers which hit the fires with a red powder that stains the earth, rocks and plants.

The snow is slowly dripping outside so it seems odd to recall Spain now.

Stay safe.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2009
Matt - cars ditto. There was one pic with cars nose to nose either side of a downed tree ie both lanes blocked - like a rail way boom gate.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
It sucks to know that when I wake up in the morning the death toll will have risen. Good night, hope I'm wrong.

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yankeedog mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
Good luck to all of you affected by the fires. There doesn't seem to be enough of you to fight all of these blazes. Everyone stay safe!

It's hard enough in California when this happens, which has twice the population and resources of all of Australia with a lot less area.

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sibeen would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2009
yankeedog, in a case like this you could have ten times the resources and it just wouldn't make any difference.

I live in inner Melbourne, the temperature hit 47.3 in Essendon. We were never in any danger, but when I looked at the sky in the late afternoon it was one of the ugliest sights I'd ever seen. The whole of the horizon was just a pallour of smoke and everyone who lives in Melbourne just knew that shit was going down.

It appears the death toll is now 116, unfortunately it'll probably go a fair bit higher.

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Get your Austin beer extra cold.

J.

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
YD the CFA is actually very well equipped but as Sibeen says, the conditions made the whole state volatile, you just can't fight that.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
OK, a little freaked out now.

A mate of mine flies choppers, he's currently down south helping / waterbombing you Victorian FERALS.

I got a grabled message last night on the mobile - "nargh bargle shh shshh but I'm OK bzztshckle" What the?

The news got through this morning chinese whispers style.

He clipped a power line!

He managed to put her down in more or less one piece and is not injured.

He's always told me any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Looks like he's just used another of his lives. But I reckon that stain in the back of the flight suit will take some scrubbing.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted February 9, 2009
Murphy Actual here. Brief AAR.

The Mexican place wasn't bad, honest. They had Dos Equis Lager (yes, I know, folks think it is mule piss but I like it).

Rhino, we had a whiskey tasting sesh down in the hotel bar. Should have been there. The Circle would have been complete.

Here is a list of additional places we dined at.

Maxi's (Murph and Trinity, though Birmo and Craig went on an earlier sortie)

Emily's Stardust, where they sing to you, Saturday breakfast.

Junior's off of West 45th, Sunday breakast.

Carnegie Deli which was off Columbus Circle, Sunday Lunchdinner Heart Attack in Progress.

Trinity had the obligatory street dog and said it was the best she ever had. I had the pretzel as a substitute instead.

Comicon was defnitely an Ubergeek Out Deployment of the First Order. Craig got more photos than me since he had the superior camera.

It was really quite an experience. The only downsides are, well, I caught a cold, my left ear feels like it is stuffed with sludge and we have other travel scars.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
Thanks Murph. That makes a nice distraction with what some of us are putting up with. Did you get Birmo a T-shirt?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 9, 2009
Murph - I wish I could have been there.

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DrYobbo mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
The whole thing is unutterably horrific. The disturbing nature of the car images in particular (if you can actually externalise it and try and come up with logic) is probably a couple of things. One thing is the apocalyptic notion of the whole thing - people dead in their cars fleeing from hell and not making it out, it's a staple of every second huge-scale disaster movie or book (the Wave was a bit too quick for anyone to get in their cars I guess) and seeing it in real life is as surreal as it is horrific. Another thing is that we're culturally attuned to thinking our cars are a little bubble which insulates us from the real world - and specific to the case of bushfires, as Aussies we're told from childhood that if we're in a bushfire the safest place to be is to stay in our cars, get down low in the back and ride it out. In this case there was no place to hide and nowhere to run, which is truly scary as hell. The numbers are just insane and getting more so - they're projecting in the two hundreds now. It almost takes individual tragedies to give it perspective - Melbourne's old newsreader Brian Naylor dying with his wife, or the many horrendous personal accounts starting to come out of the blackness.

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Brian reckons...

Posted February 9, 2009
Even more surreal than you think. One story of a woman making contact with her step father-in-law in Baghdad during the fire.(had to be satellite phone)Couldn't get a line out. Woman gets evacuated out. Next - step father-in-law organising a chopper from Melbourne to go looking for the womans husband. Which it finds.

Unless the ABC is allowing complete BS to go to air on the radio - that was the weirdest story I ever heard. The only creedence I can give to the story was that they were interviewing the woman live. John Faine on 3LO.

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savo mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
Bugger they are expecting the death toll to rise to 230. Probably end up being Australia's biggest murder investigation.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
Savo - probable. At the 108 count - they were saying 100 people were still missing. What weirds me out further is no mention is being made of tourists. Marysville was a well known touristy spot. That area is popular for bushwalkers, campers, anglers etc etc

On a macabre note. This gives Birmo a lot of material for his sequel. What a country looks like with unrestrained wildfires.

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Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Cannot believe the Times has relegated this to page 6, this is front page news. Is is because Murdoch has a US passport now?

Germaine Greer makes the point that fire is part of the natural cycle of things. Been said before and all but bears repeating.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted February 9, 2009
Massive Military response from the Rudbot for the fire ravaged areas.

2 x APCs ( M113's) Comm's carriers and about half a dozen dozers and 150 troops.....HUGE!...Yeah!...Fucking hell!, I'll try and not GO OFFFFF!

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Brian, speaking of t-shirts, I found a shirt that would fit Birmo perfectly. Unfortunately, that same shirt would probably have caused him trouble at customs.

Paul, Birmo tells me he had a great time with you. Same per Madoc. Tarl was first class in covering the bill, which almost became an arm wrestling match between him and Birmo. CraigWA was there not only for the Mexican feed but also for the expedition to Comicon. In fact, he spent more time down there than I did and I believe he probably got better pics.

That fire sounds horrible. I've not had a chance to catch up. A 0800 hour class does that to you.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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sparty reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
The brush fires are terrible- I suddenly feel very cocooned in the UK. Wondering will this be an Oz Katrina in terms of Govt management or is something that "just happens"?

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Brian asserts...

Posted February 10, 2009
sparty - there's a hysterical witch hunt going on for fire bugs. Some of the killer fires are notionally 'natural'.

There was a doctrinal shift in fire fighting some years back - protect property, don't try and put them out. These fires were up and through communities before warnings got out. I don't believe these were organisational failures. The fire storm moved faster than communications. Then the intensity and spread of reports swamped available resources. The fires moved faster than resources could be moved to handle them. I suspect the concensus will be no amount of resourcing could have handled it.

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Abe puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
More of the latter I think Sparty, although the lack of warning has raised a few questions. Plus many were deliberately lit, so clearly if they are caught there will be recriminations.

From what I've heard, on Sat (one of the hottest days on history and windy to boot) the fires were travelling in thin "fingers" that were unpredictable. But when the wind shifted 90 degrees, these fingers became fire fronts that moved at incredible speed.

The mix was highly unpredictable, which is why so many people were killed trying to get out of dodge.

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Abe is right on most things. Nobody really knew what the wind was going to do when the cool change came through at 6pm on saturday. All of a sudden these narrow fires became massive as their edges became their fronts.

Calling this an Aussie Katrina is a bit overdone though. For a start most of the people affected by the fire were white. Secondly, Australia is still more or less a meritocracy. There will be no "heckuva job Browny" types who have been parachuted into the upper echelons of the CFA, SES or DSE to mess things up.

However there was no lack of warning. The conditions on Saturday had been predicted since midweek and were front page news for at least thursday and Friday.But Trowzers is right. When conditions are like they were it does not matter how prepared you are. The fire apparently moved at unprecedented speed that was approaching 100 mph. Some of the flames were as high as a 10 story building and the smoke turned a summer day into an eerie orange twilight.

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Abe puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
Yeah, I was referring to the more specific kind of warnings I've seen (received) in the past, rather than the very general DFAT-travel-warning style that aren't terribly useful for planning.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
I saw on the Teev the APC's trundling in & wondered what they could contribute? Are they fire proof?

Not criticising just wondering.

I worked a conference of EMQ (Emergency Management Queensland) about 12 months after the Canberra fire. The keynote speaker was one of the high ranking fire Johnnies from Canberra - basically sharing some of the lesons learnt there. I was gobsmacked to hear that suburbia has the same fuel load (KG of burnable / square meter) as open eucalypt forest, but the real "Faark me" moment was when the dude spoke of fighting the fire front in suburbia - access is better than in a forest, but when you run out of fire trucks & crews, access aint gonna help.

Hypothetically.

If we were to have a national resource base how would you prioritise locations?

How could you get them on site in time? As said above a 60 mile per hour fire front that can turn on a dime & head in a new direction makes it hard.

Victoria has had at least half a dozen fire fighting aircraft on standby for two months (my mate has been there sitting & waiting) how much more is reasonable?

Again as said above they could have had 50 and houses / lives would still have been lost.

An incredible tragedy and if I was the firestarter I'd be digging myself a very deep hole about now.

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Havock puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
NBOB, its interesting , you mention Fuel load in suburbia because it’s a major source of concern. If you look at the shift we have seen in the last 20 odd years away from the typical ¼ acre blocks to the now, 500 odd square meter block , we have dense packed metropolitan houses. In a lot of cases, there is mere INCHES between each house. A worst case is a fire in storm like conditions getting into one of these new growth suburbs. BAD. Very BAD.

Abe, the APC’s are communications APC’s, but in terms of fire survival, so long as you move through the front rapidly they would be OK. Limited amount of Oxygen etc in them , but safer than a fire truck in extreme conditions.

As for some one to blame. Nobody really.

You could say we should have done more burning off over the last 5 years, given the drying conditions, but you need the right conditions to do that. We perhaps could have had better coms, who knows.

Building and fire equipment regulations could have been better maybe as well.

But it is a FACT. If you live in the bush and its heavily timbered and beautiful you have a very good chance of facing a Bush Fire. Throw in EXTREME conditions like we just had and you will quite possibly get a lot of unfortunate deaths.

So long as we learn, we modify what we do and that may be as simple as tinkering with each area a bit more. Maybe for high risk areas we look at the following as mandatory. This is off the top of the head to BTW.

1 Houses built to have fire retardant paint only.

2 All roofs to be Iron

3 Fire suppression systems to be on all roofs

4 Bushfire shelter on all outlying Properties

5 Petrol / Diesel pumps on outlying properties.

6 Clear zone / Fire break around outlying properties

7 Occupants to do yearly fire training unless in the CFA or similar service.

8 Water storage tanks to be buried or shielded

9 Timber cladding???????

Just some thoughts. Keep ya fingers crossed for Healesville and likes, the warning has Just gone out.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
Anyone know if they have installed the survival tanks on all CFA trucks yet?

A couple of big fires ago we lost a couple of crews when the trucks were overwealmed.

I remember the responsible minister getting a royal reaming because more than half the CFA trucks did not have a refuge, and him promising they would all have them by X.

I wonder if it happened?

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JKBrooks85 would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
Hope everyone's doing well -- those fires don't look good at all. It reminds me of the 2004 fire season here in Alaska; we had 6.6 million acres burn, and it was surreal late in the season when it started to get dark and you could see the aurora shimmering through the smoke at times. Judging from that experience, you all might be dealing with the repercussions of these fires well after they're over.

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MickH mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Off topic here but I found this interesting blog discussion on our Birmo:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2009/02/08/how-to-spot-bad-science-fiction-or-fantasy/#comments

Some of you may care to comment? :-)

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Matthew K reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
BBC were just going on about firebugs too but... well, I just can't imagine that there would be that many people who are that mad or bad, not when the consequences are so obvious. Life tends to be screw ups rather than conspiracies.

The stuff about fuel load is very illuminating, I see why "my" province of Spain (Almeria) doesn't have too much to worry about - relatively few trees.

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Brian reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
Bob - AFAIK these trucks have misting systems. But when you're out of water, you're stuffed. We haven't lost any crews so far.

Havock - one talk back caller who lost her parents. The fire pumps were still operating when the disaster crews got to the property. A lot of the dead were 'fire wise'. Quite a few of the homes were metal clad roofed.

We're starting to hit the limits of what adequate fire protection means for above ground structures.

After Ash Wednesday - I thought the best idea was for underground 'storm shelters'. OMG - Brumby is talking about bunkers on the ABC as I type this.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
They use bunkers for tornado protection in the USA. IMHO it could work in a bushfire if certain modifications were made. Havock has an interesting post up about it.

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted February 10, 2009
The US often sends firefighters, aid, and gear when Australia is burning, but we're too cash strapped to do anything but watch the news. Assistance that would have helped you is being wasted in Iraq.

J.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
SJS . . . US crews would have been too late. New Zealand crews - too late. Some one deal with this nitwit.

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Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted February 10, 2009
And all of the fires have been extinguished...? All of the bodies have been found...? The rebuilding has been completed...? It's good to know the crisis is finished.

J.

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2009
Hope it's over. Without getting superstitious, best not tempt fate.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted February 10, 2009
Given that fires are still burning out of control around places like Yakandandah and throughout Gippsland, I don't think any firefighting assistance will be too late.

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tygertim mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
My sympathies for all of the affected, my prayers are for you. The rest of you keep safe. Plan the escape route NOW, and have your Go-TO-HELL-PLAN bags ready by the door!

I was there for the Oakland Hills fire in October of '91, just before Mom moved up to Yolo County... 25 people died, and some 3,000 houses were burnt. It was just the other side of the hill from us, and if the wind hadn't changed well, I was planning on Grabbing Mom and throwing her into the car and just going at one point. The fire was moving too fast for my liking. Thank God it didn't come to that. (Mom was in her 70's then, and in poor health).

A study was done on the fire, and amazingly, some homes (new construction) in the very midst of the fire zone came through unscathed. I remember reading that such things as fireproof roofing, double planed windows or windows with shutters, Stucco or other fireproof material used on the homes' exterior, A space cleared of brush 300 ft around the home all played important roles... one of the homes had built in roof misters (clearly the architect had put some thought into the building site conditions) good on the homeowner!

Take care and Keep Safe!

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Brian would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
Orin - what has to happen is to relieve the guys on the fire line. To rotate them out. That's what normally happens. Crews have moved down from NSW and Canberra - but they have to leave resources to cover their own areas. The crews coming in from Tas and NZ will be used as relievers.

But there is no hope in putting these fires out unless the weather turns. The fires are going into mountain country inaccessible to vehicles.

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Monster Yuppy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2009
SJS - We were going to call you guys...but you know.. it was short notice and our country is just a tad over 15 hours flying time from LAX...

We do have a few people in this country that can fight a fire.. what we need is for the conditions to change, weather change alone will help more than anything.. throwing people at this disaster will only have a minimal effect... Most of the country burning is inaccessible to most vehicles..

Sooo.. unless you guys can lend us, say, 100+ versions of Elvis tomorrow....(Erickson S-64 Air-Crane Helitanker) then we are in trouble...

Feel free to donate some of them sweet US dollars to the relief efforts though.. they will go a long way right now.

Cheers

The Monster

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted February 10, 2009
MickH ..I did, and at that spastic who also referenced the other blog. Talk about ..well, I waded through the tripe and perhaps have some idea why Murph went kinda funny. It took me ONE POST, not5-10 years or whatever.

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savo is gonna tell you...

Posted February 10, 2009
"natural cycle of things" my arse, the old harridan got it wrong again.

brian unfortunately fire fighters, senior ones, tend to look on the brighter side of life and blame lightening strikes and electrical faults, lightening strikes when there are no clouds in the sky and there are simply not that many bad electricians. Strike Force Tronto in NSW put paid to most of those fantasies with proper fire investigations, not just some uninformed uniformed probationary constable writing off, and a goodly number of arrests for arson.

Lobes how long would the air hold out, specifically in these extreme cases? Plenty for the usual fire line but these seemed way way thicker than usual.

Orin: Get the firefighters from the north Queensland floods down and the SES from Victoria up to North Queensland, fair swap.

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Lobes reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
Savo I have no idea how long the air would hold out nor how long you would need it to hold out.

These fire fronts seem to move very fast so I guess anywhere that can protect you from radiant heat for up to 15 minutes is what you need. I imagine a reasonably sized room that was properly sealed off could contain enough air to keep a family alive for 15 minutes?

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Lobes asserts...

Posted February 10, 2009
The virtual community is coming unhinged. I've already been asked to join several Facebook vigilante groups to hunt down the arsonists. Not sure who they think they;re kidding.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
lobes ..lol. Just WTF do they think they shall do.

Um, about 5-10 minutes for the fire front to pass.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Savo - a number of fires are due to electrical faults. See Ash Wednesday fires and the SECV compensation payouts. The Kinglake fire is being traced back to a sawmill. Humans are behind most fires. Shoot - we've seen people flick cigarette butts out of cars on Total Fire Ban days. Stupidity knows no bounds.

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Damaso would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
Wish I was in NYC to buy you a beer! If you have time (I'm sure you don't) go to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn for lunch. Best steak in town!

I noticed that WW is now available for the Kindle ;) ! I also noticed the price $14.30. If it was an NY Times best seller it would be $9.99, so what gives? I'm just wondering how the publisher came to that number. I do look forward to reading it though...

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Guru Bob asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
MickH - had to laugh at those posts wheer Havock went off at them.

Re: Fires - apparently there are lots of doubts about real effectiveness of helicopters in these situations - maybe they just look good on the news? On Saturday only one fireplan would have worked - bug out early!!

Perfect storm for bushfires...

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