Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Canal Problem

I tend to occasionally write essays to provoke thought and make people ponder.  So this is one which will draw this situation.

Roughly two million years ago, down in the region of southern Africa, on the northwestern end of what is Botswana, and heading west toward Namibia.....there's this area which was in a state of 'creation'.  Most folks would refer to it as Lake Makgadikgadi. 

Various waters came to feed into what you'd call a basin, and form up the lake.  Because there was no true outlet to the Pacific or Atlantic....it kinda collected, and kept building.

For generations, this basin was active and able to provide waters.

Then 20,000 years ago, the overflow finally started to occur.  The drain?  It went northeast.  Leading to the Zambezi River.  Up until this point, there was no true 'drain'.  From that point (20,000 years ago, between the drain effect and natural evaporation....a dry period started up and changed the character of the basin.

It would be true to add this point....that a glacier period was in full bloom around this period in northern Europe and northern America. 

About 10,000 years ago, we reached the next stage of Lake Makgadikgadi was starting to dry out. 

Today, the basin still exists, but it's referred to as the Okavango Delta.  This amounts to roughly 3,800 square miles of a basin...swamp....lake...etc.

This amounts to what is one-twelfth the size of Alabama.  So it's a fair-sized basin.  Course, then you start think back prior to 20,000 years ago, and how the Lake Makgadikgadi area might have been....30,800 square miles of lake area....more than half the size of Alabama. 

Why any of this really matters?

Well....here's this odd thing.  When you pull up Google imagery and look at Okavango Delta area, and go down a notch or two....looking west of the present delta.....you see this straight lines.  Those are canals.  Straight canals....stretching for several hundred miles each.  Dozens of them.  It's an area about the size of the state of Arizona....all developed with canals.

You can use Google Earth Pro and look at the straight character and the length of these canals.  The size?  It's enough to probably feed farm-wise.....at least a hundred million people. 

A smart guy can go and figure the amount of earth moved.  Even if you had modern earth-movers, road-graders, and bulldozers....with a fair sized crew....you'd be talking about ten to fifteen years of continual work to get these canals built.  The scope and concept here....even in this modern age....would be enormous.

So, here's the thing.  This was not built in the past hundred years....or past thousand.  No one knows when the canal system was constructed but it has to be well over twenty-thousand years ago, and it's usefulness probably started to come to an end around ten to twenty thousand years ago. 

As long as the delta existed in this million-year period....this canal method of farming and decent climate of the region (no real winter) would have made this a fantastic farming area.

So who farmed it?  Who brought in the Earth-movers to move the dirt?  Who designed the canals? They had to exist way past twenty-thousand years ago. 

It's a problem, which can't really be answered.

The value today?  The basin really doesn't exist, and the canals are mostly all dried-up.  Nothing is left to tell the rest of this story.  Someone did a heck of a lot of work....to feed a bunch of folks. 

Alabama Governor Topic

I tend to follow Alabama news a fair bit.

Today, it was noted via Al.com that things are lining up for the 2018 Governor's election.

The GOP folks?

1.  Kay Ivey (present governor of the state).  On the positive side, Kay hasn't screwed up since taking over. Kay doesn't have some boy-toy or part-time lover on the side.  And Kay seems to avoid any kind of controversy.  On the negative side, Kay is 73 years old.

2.  Tommy Battle (Huntsville mayor).  On the plus side, Battle has been a business guy for most of his life, and if you wrote down his entire resume....it'd be at least five pages (he's 62 years old).  If you were looking for soap opera lifestyles.....he's about as boring as you can get.  The other plus of Battle is that he's gone and created more than 10,000 jobs in the last decade of being mayor in Huntsville.  In some ways, he is a mini-Trump-like character.  The title that he likes to point out?  He's won a few bar-b-q awards and apparently knows how to grill pork and beef.

3.  Birmingham evangelist Scott Dawson.  He's a mega-church kind of minister....a four-star public speaker....and likely will carry a fair number of the church-votes in the state.  Beyond that?  No real experience.  We've never had a minister as a governor, so it might be a shock to most folks if he were to win the election.

4.  Bill Hightower (state senator, Mobile).  He's a businessman turned state senator.  For four years, he's been around Montgomery and shaken a few hands.  In the Mobile area....probably half the folks have heard of the guy and would recognize him.  Beyond Mobile?  He's unrecognizable.

5.  Josh Jones.  He's a health-care executive out of Birmingham and likely the most unknown individual of the five.  Past political background?  Zero.

For the Democrats?

1.  Sue Bell Cobb. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice.  She is a graduate of the University of Alabama, and has done a fair amount of legal work.  Age?  Near 60.  The problem in her case is name recognition.  You can ask a hundred Alabama folks about the name, and maybe three would have remembered her being on the state Supreme Court.

2.  Walt Maddox, current Tuscaloosa Mayor.  He's 45 years old....mostly done work with the education sector, and been a political figure for about a decade.  On the positive side....with the 2011 tornado episode that tore up the city, he's known for crisis management skills and is one of the folks you'd want in an emergency situation.  His problem will be name recognition outside of the Tuscaloosa region.

3.  Jason Childs.  Trucker (Oxford).  Well, he's the one odd character of the whole bunch.  He admits right up front.....he is pro-marijuana, and pro-LGBT.  He even says up front....both parties have failed the working-class folks in the state, and we need to bring back a fresh view of the common man.  Name recognition?  Near zero.  The thing is....if someone just stood up with a web site and actively went to some campuses in the state..Childs could pick up 25,000 votes and interest a fair number of people. But that probably won't happen.  To be honest as well....we've never had a trucker as a governor and that might be worth exploring.

4.  Anthony White.  Local black minister from Dothan.  He's a local guy....former Army....been a small business owner, and got a degree in business.  His issue will be name recognition.

5.  James Fields.  He's a black Methodist minister from Cullman.  He's actually pushing this idea of a rapid-rail system in the state....connecting cities.  Course, if you asked a hundred Alabama folks about something like this....they'd tend to rate this at the bottom of 10,000 things that you could do for the state.  His problem will be name recognition.

Is that it?  There might be two or three more jumping in by March, but I suspect this is the main group.

The odds here?  I suspect that Kay Ivey will have a problem in the primary and Battle might actually be this Alabama-style Trump-figure, who gets the primary win.  A second vote required?  Well, here's the thing, this Dawson-character will be popular with church-voters and he might actually take 15-percent of the state vote....meaning that Ivey and Battle don't reach the 50-percent required in the first primary.

For the Democrats.....the Tuscaloosa mayor Maddox ought to win in the first primary.  Childs is a wild-card because of his marijuana stance, and if this election was about making it legal....he might find 50-percent of the 18-to-50 year old voters in the state favoring him.  It'd be a shocker if suddenly this whole election was about making marijuana legal in the state.

The likely winner?  I think Battle wins in November.

Who Do You Call

Back in the late 1970s....I started traveling.  I was fortunate that the Air Force gave me that chance, and I've traveled through dozens of countries and admired lots of different cultures. I've observed TV, comedy series, food, beverages, hostility, and lots of aspects that you typically don't think about.

My brother brought this up yesterday....over something involving Asian folks.  I sat and pondered over cultures and reactions to chaotic events.  You can't say precisely in every single case....how various cultures will react, but there's this trend-line....you tend to know alot about chaos, and human reaction.

So you throw up some situation....a barn on fire....a broken water-pump....a flight to be cancelled where you need a plan 'B'....or some bear that has walked into the middle of your backyard.  You then mix the various cultures.

1.  The German.  This culture wants to study the problem for a fair amount of time.....making a plan which likely revolves around six options or resolutions.  All might work, but the time to reach that moment is generally more you'd like to imagine. 

2.  The Italian.  The Italian will go from zero to sixty in ten seconds flat in terms of emotion, and might possibly do more damage than the current situation is creating.  Some emotion will be driven into the problem, and you can't be sure about the final outcome. 

3.  The Greek.  Well....does it really have to be resolved or fixed today....will be the first question.  How important is it to be fixed....will be the second question.  This will be like a question and answer session with Socrates (former blacksmith in his early years).  At least an hour will be used to center on the relative significance of the problem.  In the case of the bear event....you'd hope that both of you are inside of the house at the time.

4.  The Japanese.  An immediate question or two will pop up first....how did this all occur?   They'd like to know the cause and only work toward resolving that one single problem.  Emotion will be throttled back....maybe to 20-percent of what the Italian guy was displaying.

5.  The Icelandic culture.  At least five minutes will be devoted to watching the chaos develop because they've never seen something like this....EVER.  Then about forty minutes will be devoted to talking about nature, and this chaos is part of the bigger picture in life.

6.  The Brit.  Some quick reactionary plan will be put into immediate action, and it'll be something of a creative nature that you could never repeat in a thousand years.  Even after the event, no one will be able to describe why he took fourteen different steps, how each step fits into a precision solution, and how they stopped the barn fire, or removed the bear from the backyard.

7.  The Chinese culture.  There will be a period of review....perhaps a few minutes, then a plan will be established, and a solution put forward.  There's a fifty percent chance that the solution plan is more dangerous than the current event....that they might make the problem worse than it already is.....or that some fight might break out among the handful of Chinese folks over comments uttered or insults thrown at bystanders. 

8.  The Irish culture.  They will mostly stand and talk a good bit about the problem....suggesting a pint of some ale as part of the process, and then talk over the woes of the problem in detail.  Their son, their daughter, or their relatives....will have seen the problem and it's a matter of talking this over and repeating the process.

9.  The French culture.  They will suggest that there is a special office or agency to handle this, and it's best to leave it to the government to fix the problem.

10.  Finally, the Russian. In one sweeping motion, with almost no plan, or words.....the Russian ends the problem in seconds.  They kill the bear....put out the fire....or arrange for a plan 'B' after the cancelled flight. Then, there's vodka to be poured, and long discussion over everything except the chaotic event.  By morning, most of what happened is forgotten. Then they proceed on.....remembering nothing and rarely writing down the solution for future generations.