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Oct 04 2017
09 April 2018 - 21:22

Back during the Shrub Administration (Pres W Bush) they cut northern border security forces by about 75% by sending them to the Mexican border. This was stupid then and was seen as such by just about anyone with brains. The Obama Administration did little or nothing to reverse this. The Trump Administration has shifted a few more to the southern border making the northern border force, now, about 20% the size it was in 2000.

You can, somewhat, understand the move by Pres Bush seeing how he is a Texan and rather bewildered by the idea that the rest of the country could actually be bigger than Texas. Presidents Obama and Trump are from States that have pretty much direct contact with Canada. While it is true that Illinois doesn't have a border with Canada, Chicago is an international port and sees a good bit of Canadian/USA shipping. New York has a huge border with Canada much of which is really leaky water ways easy to cross in small boats but has several commercial international ports on those water ways.

So I found this article extremely entertaining.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-is-freaking-out-about-the-wrong-border-killer-fentanyl-is-coming-from-canada?ref=home

Canada and the US are about, geographically, identical in size. The US however has 10 times the population. Northern Canada is damned cold and very sparsely populated. If you just consider metropolitan areas in the norther half of the US a number of combinations of 5 such areas surpass the entire population of Canada - say NY City, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle. Those are pretty safe as the entire metro areas are north of the N/S geographic center line of the US. This makes law enforcement on the Canadian side rather tough both physically and financially for Canada.

Much of that border is very sparsely populated on both sides of the line itself. From the east coast to the Superior/Duluth harbor area that line is drawn through water much of it, in warm weather, can be crossed by swimming. All of it can be crossed in small boats including inflatables.

From that point west most of that line is marked by fencing (as in 4 or 5 strands of fairly common pasture type barbed wire). All along that stretch are a number of rivers that cross the border which obviously can't be blocked and you can pretty much canoe across the border pretty freely. Or wade if you are willing to get a bit wet. And 4 ft high fencing is not hard to climb over, or as pointed out in that article, throw things over (actually just hold the shit over the fence and drop it.

That assumes that livestock, wild life or fallen trees have not made holes in the fence.

From Superior/Duluth harbor west about a third of the way across Minnesota the border is what is called the Border Waters Area. This is a major "wilderness" recreation area and all the towns there make their living off of, primarily canoe and kayak, folks traveling in that area. Impossible to cover that area with any real man power as it is actually a huge damned swamp. You can nearly canoe to Hudson Bay with only 1 portage (water would have to be pretty high for both water sheds).

Here in Montana we have only 547 miles of sparsely populated, both sides, of border. Most is either wilderness area or ranch pastures. If you, for instance, canoe the Milk river you will need to start in MT and cross into Canada (ducking your head to get under the fence) and then do that again to come back into MT.

US HWY 2 follows the border. A good bit of it is actually, or was in 2000 anyway when I was using that road, open range country. This meant that if you saw a fence to the north of you it was the Canadian border. Line fences for pastures happen every few miles and most didn't even have cattle guards on them but just had lines painted on the road for about 6 feet and appeared to fool the cattle into thinking there was a cattle guard there.

That is pretty much as effective as most of the northern border security is.

There were truckloads of mad cow disease infected cattle that crossed the northern border in the naughties. Cattle trucks are pretty easy to catch but we missed a bunch of them. They have to come across on roads where there is a check point.

We have 14 such crossings in our 547 miles of border with Canada here in MT. The rest gets occasional aerial fly overs when the poor border folks can afford it. People regularly drive to the border on their ranch, climb the fence and get into the truck of their Canadian neighbor to go to meetings of border ranchers and farmers to bullshit and work out fence emergency repair agreements (illegal actually but has to be done because you can't afford to set someone to guard a damned hole once you have driven your cattle back home waiting for the Border forces on either side to fix the damned thing).

A good bit of the fence you watch driving along US2 is out where the only evidence of human activity is US2, the border fence and pasture fencing. No buildings in site for miles. Sometimes no buildings in site at all to the horizon.

Antelopes are pretty common. They don't pay much attention to fencing at any time and certainly pay no more attention to the border fencing. They will jump fences but prefer to simply run into them at about 40 mph and take out the bottom wires.

Build a Wall!!!!!

Longest border between 2 countries in the world. And all of it from Superior/Duluth harbor east is under water that is all part of the Saint Lawrence (international) Seaway and is going to be really hard to build a wall across. Would have to, for instance, basically build a wall around Detroit and leave Detroit on the Canadian side of the wall. Canada is sure as hell not going to wall off Windsor Ontario. Would have to do that for pretty much every inch of the way clear from Wisconsin/Minnesota to Maine.

Only "practical" way to do that would be to start west of the Border Waters Area and build south east, leaving Superior/Duluth harbor on the Canadian side and all of Michigan on the Canadian side along with ALL of the many international ports clear to the northern tip of Maine.

This has always been, long before we even had American settlement west of the Mississippi River, a prime smuggling border because it is just too damned tough to secure. People actually know this and have for centuries now.

The main result of building a wall between the US and Mexico will be a resurgence of the use of that border and the huge rest of the water border of the US. Will stop some people crossing the border for sure. But will not slow the smuggling of goods across the border at all. Will merely make stopping the stuff harder and more expensive which is already starting to happen. Was increasing greatly in the 90s and has increased every year since then.

All because we have a relatively short border with Mexico which can be used by politicians of any type to whip up support over through fear and having half assed "plans" to control. While ignoring the rest of our borders with the world.

25 April 2018 - 08:16

For those that don't understand US politics here is some more info to confuse you.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43884698

None of this should come as any surprise at all to anyone here though. This is the land of the brave and firepower forever.

Where men are men and sheep are nervous.

Don't mess with our guns.

And some of you folks thought that toy flame throwers were outrageous. No.

I personally would love to have a shoulder held rocket launcher. Just for hunting you understand. Would save a lot of work when you have to cut up a large game animal. And think of those stupid squirrels that hide on the other side of a tree - would be a big surprise for them too.

27 April 2018 - 00:39

Keep reading about how the Ds are going to swarm into the majority in congress due to people being pissed at Rs.

No one, of course, is pissed at Ds.

Also have been reading some more thoughtful people that think the Ds actually could take over congress but only if you ignore the superior talent of Ds to completely screw things up.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/hoyer-recorded-urging-progressive-candidate-out-of-co-race?ref=home

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/26/nancy-pelosi-steny-hoyer-recordings-555935

Sounds like a pretty good way to keep people at home and drunk on election day to me.

Would be really great if people in a House district or State could actually have some say in who gets to run to represent them. Pretty silly, radical idea but one that both our wonderful major parties should, maybe, consider.

28 November 2017 - 23:13

I am originally from Michigan and that has a long border with Canada. All the first settlements in MI were created from French Canada.

When you study American History in school you get the distinct impression that all early settlements in the US were in the east coast coastal States. This is not actually true. Santa Fe, New Mexico is, depending on how you date it, the oldest in the country and definitely one of the very oldest. Sault Sainte Marie, MI dates to 1668 (one year younger than Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario).

That long border 721 miles long but is all water. So there are, for general travel, there are only 3 border crossings counting the Ambassador Tunnel and Bridge in Detroit as one. The other 2 are Sarnia and Sault St. Marie (bridges).

If you live in MI and want to, say, go to the New England States, you cross into Canada and drive there that way as it is a hell of a lot shorter route. If you live in the Upper Peninsula (Yuppers) this is also the shortest way to go if you are headed for NY, Penn or pretty much any eastern State short of the Carolinas as you can drive to Niagara and cross there and head south.

A lot of people in MI have friends and relatives in Canada, primarily in Ontario. Also, at least in the past, there was a lot of cross border employment in the auto industry in the Detroit/Windsor (Ontario) area. So there is quite a bit of just going to visit people travel.

Very interesting for curious people to compare the culture of the 2 Countries. Canada has slightly more size including all of Canada but the US has slightly more actual land mass. Really comes out pretty much to the same physical size. But a lot of Canada is pretty damned cold and hard to live in.

The top 15 metropolitan areas of the US come to about 3 times the entire population of Canada. In spite of that both Canada and the US are well into the bottom half of the list of Countries and Territories of the world by population density. Average population densolation (term invented by my son and instantly adopted by me) of the US is about 90 people per square mile and only about 11p/m in Canada (Powder River County here in MT is .5p/m).

This effects our attitudes and Nations quite a bit. That along with the fact that Canada has a more robust history of multi national early settlement, primarily English and French, that still has a great effect on their culture makes us pretty different in a lot of ways that are not immediately obvious to people visiting.

Due to my life long interest in Canada one of my favorite news sources is the CBC. They are attempting to legalize pot by the middle of next year (2018) there. There is pressure from some Provinces to push this to 19 instead but I think they will do it in 18.

The debate is fun to follow at wide intervals. I just binged on it a bit today.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cannabis-legalization-legislation-1.4421910

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pot-regulations-1.4412015

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cities-marijuana-revenue-1.4395422

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cities-bylaws-marijuana-changes-1.4412424

Also really like to follow trade disputes with the US and Canada. They obviously have a bit different view on these things.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-united-states-softwood-duties-wto-1.4422900

I can't say I was a big fan of Nafta ever. But it has been in force too long to disrupt it drastically. Will, I think, have little real effect on corporate income but any disruption will damage a huge number of workers in all three countries and pretty much screw US agriculture royally.

Far from "bringing jobs back to the US" dropping out of that treaty will probably wipe out about 10 million jobs here.

"Building the Wall" will have a pretty predictable effect on the flow of illegal drugs to the US. Much of that has shifted to sea transport anyway as there is just too much coast line to ignore if you are smuggling.

And the Canadian border is more than twice as long as the Mexican border. Governor Scott (R. Wisconsin), who should know better, actually proposed a Wall on the northern border. I got a great kick out of that. I may be wrong, of course but I think a Wall through the Great Lakes in general and the St Lawrence Seaway would be a pretty damned tough job to engineer. Seeing how half of the international port of Deluth/Superior on the Deluth River is in Superior Wis. I would think he should be aware of this. And I think getting Canada to pay for it would be really, really hard to do.

Lake Superior pretty regularly has storms that create 30ft waves. 40ft waves are not really uncommon but "only" happen on about in 20 year time frame. That was probably what took the Edmund Fitzgerald down.

And this kind of Wall also ignores the many rivers that connect the US and Canada. Some flow north and some flow south. The Border Waters area is a good example in Minnesota. Pretty much non patrolled border between us as it is really a huge damned swamp. You can canoe from Hudson bay to Lake Superior with very short 'carries' that way.

First nation peoples, particularly the Ojibway, regularly traversed all of the Lakes, particularly Superior. This is why the border is north of Isle Royale which you can see from the Thunder Bay area of Ontario on the NW shore of Superior.

That channel between that town and the island is also an international shipping lane. There is a northern and southern shipping lane on Superior. The southern route is faster (you have to go from The Soo [The Sault Sainte Marie Locks] to Deluth/Superior) but also more likely to have the most dangerous wave heights.

Ships mainly from Europe sail up the Seaway, through the Wayland Canal (in Canada which goes from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario missing the short river that connects them with some hard to navigate rough water - Niagara River) and then "up" the Lakes to either Chicago (some other ports on Lake MI too) or Duluth/Superior through The Soo. The locks handle 10,000 ships a year.

The Saint Lawrence Seaway includes all the Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. Basically from Main to the western shores of the Great Lakes. Kind of hard to Wall off. Also pretty easy to cross at any point except at the conjunction of Lakes Erie and Ontario using anything from large boats to canoes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lawrence_Seaway

You are either going up or down which refers to current. The Great Lakes drain into the St Lawrence so no matter where you are going if you are always going up or down. You go up if you go to Chicago. Only routes that go both up and down would be traffic that is going from Lake MI to Superior and back. You would go down (north) from Chicago, turn up (still north) to go to The Soo and on to the Duluth River.

One thing not mentioned in that wiki piece is that the size of shipping increases once up from the Welland Canal. There are no vessels referred to as "ships" that are built for use on the big lakes. These are referred to as either Lakers or just as boats. There are some small enough to go through the Welland. The largest ones are classed as 1000 footers the biggest of which is a 1200 footer. They are also wider than the 80 foot width capacity of the Welland at about 110 feet.

Coal from SE MT goes by rail to Duluth and is then shipped east on Lakers. Reason for this is that it is cheaper shipping than by rail and faster. 1 inch of coal completely covering the hold from stem to stern equals about 700 tons. The depth of the holds are about 20 feet.

Coal and iron ore (pelleted) are the main cargoes of the Lakers. There are technically 3 locks at The Soo. One is on the Canadian side and is only for smaller shipping. Private boats and things like tourist boats and Coast Guard (US and Canadian) use that. There is only one that still functions of the 2 on the US side. This is the big one that will carry the 1000 footers. Problem with that is that it was scheduled to be completely rebuilt in the mid 80s. Hasn't been done yet.

If that lock breaks down it will only cost about 20 million jobs in the States and Provinces that border the Seaway. You can kiss the Steel industry good bye in the US and what there is of it in Canada. Coal fired power plants will not get supplied with coal anywhere in that region for any price that is within reason at all so most industry that depends on electricity will shut down (think of refrigeration of sea food caught in that region - huge industry by itself and the people that work in it are pretty damned numerous).

A lot of the channels that are used for loading/unloading haven't been dredged for decades. But that doesn't matter because we need tax cuts for the wealthy here most of whom apparently don't understand that a lot of their wealth depends on the health of the Seaway or the critical part the Soo has in the Seaway system.

And of course Building The Wall is more important and will cost more but that is just the price of Making America Great Again.

16 December 2017 - 21:34

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoons

Don't know how long it will be up but for today it should be good.

It is the Cartoon Loading one. If you see something else it isn't what about had me on the floor laughing.

23 December 2017 - 20:53

Or seeing how we need to FIGHT BACK ON THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS. Merry Christmas.

Which of course leads to this story
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/12/22/oaps_tell_cops_30kg_cannabis_is_for_crimbo_gifts/

Had to get that news from the damned Reg about a State that is, for all practical purposes, a neighbor to MT and definitely a very short drive from where we are located at least by local standards where 75 miles to a town with things like big stores or things like health care is considered very reasonable.