The Old “I was there” Thing

One disconcerting thing about getting older is that nobody tells you how weird it is to receive a passionate lecture that is totally wrong, from a much younger person, about verifiable historical events that you were a party to.

There I was and for some reason, the topic below came up. Said younger person started lecturing me on the arcane topic of 11 United States Code Chapter 9 (Municipal Bankruptcy) – 11 U.S.C. § 109(c), to wit, the 1994 Orange County California Bankruptcy. I replied most politely that the person had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. They took some umbrage at my statement. I said that I was there, led the investigation, and wrote the book.

“Oh. Never mind.”

This report constitutes a factual summary of the criminal investigation, which resulted from the Orange County Bankruptcy. It is not a comprehensive review of the investigation, and should not be construed to be such.

On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. County officials believed this action was necessary because of market losses to the Orange County Investment Pool (OCIP) estimated at the time to exceed $2,500,000,000. Due to a favorable selling environment, the actual losses were later tabulated at about $1,500,000,000. The OCIP had been leveraged to $21 billion dollars.

Subsequently, the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation to determine criminal culpability. The scope of the investigation was designed to examine whether or not a crime(s) occurred in connection with events that culminated with the bankruptcy filing.

In order to understand the criminal misconduct discovered by this investigation, it is necessary to understand the nature of the OCIP and to have an understanding of the way the investments were handled. It is also important to understand the relationships, that existed between Orange County and its political subdivisions, broker-dealers, the attorneys, which advised the County, and all the participants who had some impact on the financial collapse.

This publication is a historical account of the largest municipal bankruptcy (at the date of this publication) in the history of the United States of America.


Hadrian’s Wall

Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall (image from English Heritage).

Most forts along Rome’s northernmost frontier were small outposts, only large enough to house one to two centuries (80 – 160 soldiers). While legionaries built the wall, their garrisons were much further south. The wall forts, as well as the massive fortress of Vindolanda, were garrisoned by auxilia infantry and cavalry.

I don’t think that the depiction above is quite right because the Romans were big on digging defensive moats even around “their side” of the wall to defend fortifications. It was easy for an enemy to scale the wall and drop to the other side, so they needed to defend themselves in a 360-degree arc. It wasn’t only “front toward the enemy”.

Sort of along the lines of the rant above (OC Bankruptcy, I used to live in Carlisle, England,  literally a block away from the turf wall that ended at Solway Firth.) The topic of the wall came up and I explained how the turf wall worked since they didn’t complete it with stone in the way it was with most of the wall. Antonine’s Wall further north was a turf wall as well. The uniformed person I spoke to explained to me how I was full of it. I explained “I lived there and saw it every day.”

“Oh. Never mind.”



Bullet Points:

** (CBS News) House Republicans voted to advance four conservative spending bills on Tuesday in a long-sought display of unity that nonetheless doesn’t move Congress any closer to preventing a government shutdown. Even if the House were to pass all four bills to fund the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, and Agriculture for another year, they contain spending cuts that make them dead on arrival in the Senate, where Democrats are working on their own solution to avoid a shutdown. Read More

** I mentioned in comments a couple of days ago that I’m pursuing a BS in Geology and doing some upper-division research work (GEO 499) now that will lead to a master’s thesis (why buy the same horse twice?). There are variances in the 0.706 87Sr/86Sr line. The explanation of why the strontium line exists is somewhat clear, (as with the differences in silica content between ocean crust and continental plates) but there are some slight variations that have been noted. One in particular is due (I postulate) because of volcanism. I’m using some paleomagnetic data to confirm what I think has happened. I’m not doing it for money or for “the next job” because I’m old. And I have a job. But much of that is managed at night (while Asia is awake). I’m just doing this to learn. The disparity in locations makes the 87Sr/86Sr 0.706 contours unsuitable as a proxy for the “absolute” edge of North America (the craton). However silica content in lava (basalt to rhyolite in extremes) tells a story too particularly when combined with paleomagnetic findings. I realize that this blog has readers who think that the world is 6,000 years old, and that’s fine. Your results may differ.

** These fossilized crinoids look like they came from another planet. They are related to starfish and sea urchins and are 280 million years old.

** A Discussion of Last Choices

** Twitter or X – Wei Wu 吴伟


Abortion not good. Why? In China once was one child policy. This mean family only can have 1 child. Many abort kid of girl. I’m lucky. My family do not abort me when find out I’m girl. I’m Alice because my family do not conduct abortion. i’m alive. not i’m alice. this is typing error.


Identify the Aircraft






  1. 1) I keep an open mind about Young Earth Creation.
    There’s a local radio talk show host, Bob Dutko, who rides the hobby horse of Young Earth.
    Pretty convincing to many and persuasive to me.
    He debates experts frequently.
    Regardless, it’s not whether God’s word is true, it’s whether we understand it correctly.
    2) She is both Alice and Alive due to her parents decision.
    3) Crinoids. How do we know they are not extraterrestrial? 🙂

  2. Enjoyed the Orange county story and I’m going to order the book to add to my collection. Not really a Kindle person. Enjoy the smell of the ink in the book or paper I’m reading. Also despite the hater in the Carlisle storie,” common sense is the best offense as far as the turf is concerned.” I don’t understand why people are so quick to strike down the historical facts that are shared with them. Maybe they don’t want to believe the truth, look like idiots or worse the Fetterman clown pictured above… What a bag that O2 bandit is!

    • The book (selling for $3.00 in hardcover) is of greatest use for municipalities, counties, and possibly states that want to seek bankruptcy protection. Because Merrill Lynch was the ‘bad guy’ along with county officials, it’s more interesting, but it’s still not a cliffhanger.

      • It’s amazing. If the speaker had a true interest in the event, he would have wanted you to expound further and correct his misperceptions. I assume he was using his version to buttress his overall argument instead of any genuine desire to know the actual facts. ‘Never mind’ just shows a profound intellectual dishonesty.

  3. The hectoring OC lecture is “hors catégorie” in terms of being out of line, but I think that for most of us, if you’ve lived long enough, at some point you find someone telling one of YOUR stories WHILE YOU ARE PRESENT, either as if it happened to the narrator (really bad) or “this happened to a buddy of mine” (at which point you’ve entered local legend).

    Lesser but in a similar vein, a few years ago I was reviewing a submitted review article (for a cardiology journal*). The writing quality was highly uneven (suggesting different people worked on different sections). Then I noticed one paragraph that I thought was unusually well written compared to the rest. That nagged at me. Then I had an epiphany. *I* had written that paragraph. The skels who’d submitted the manuscript had plagiarized the paragraph from a prior paper that I’d previously published elsewhere. Hahaha! What were the odds that the manuscript came to ME for review. Anyway, that a) pissed me off, b) made me paranoid. I spent more time than necessary and found several instances of plagiarism (from other papers) in the manuscript. Sent PDFs of the ripped-off papers to the editor of the journal documenting the plagiarism. The paper was rejected (duh — though for some shit/predatory journals that wouldn’t stop them).

    * we don’t get paid to be peer reviewers. It’s “service”. For some of the big/high impact journals the statistical reviewer (usually a PhD) gets a nominal $50 or $100. Those in the MD role get “prestige”.

    • Though of lesser note, there was a major FBI operation a number of years ago. The Bureau was cleaning up the streets and had arranged for a massive press conference following the law enforcement activity. They asked for my team’s help both because I had a large group (about 30 at the time) of mixed feds, county, local people and because we had some good skill sets. They were executing a large number of search warrants based on one large affidavit that set forth probable cause. The FBI ASAC gave me a copy of that affidavit to review in advance primarily because I demanded it if my task force (independently funded by a Congressional hard earmark) was to be involved.

      You know where this is going, so I’ll cut to the chase. The core probable cause came from my group and they lifted it from previous search warrant affidavits that we served. So I got out the highlighter and some of those adhesive tabs and went to work on this 300+ page affidavit, cutting it up like bloody sushi. I explained to the case agent, the supervisory special agent, and the ASAC that their affidavit was bullshit, building on the information presented as current, but in fact was over a year old. Freshness is important in search warrants and this was to be presented to the judge as new, critical, fresh information.

      Yes, as you can guess, the FBI presented faulty, plagiarized, out-of-date information to the judge as “their” current investigation even after I pointed out the problems. The excuse was that there was too much momentum for them to stop the arguably illegal searches and seizures. (a press conference had been planned, and FBI senior management planned to attend and bask in the glory of the spotlight.) My unit did not participate in their op and were not present at the press conference.

      Par for the course.

      • Oy gevalt. Some Indian guys cobbling together a partially plagiarized article* is a very minor thing, but the “top law enforcement entity” of the land playing fast and loose is orders of magnitude more terrifying.

        That kind of stuff is difficult/stressful to deal with (at least for me). Sometimes you can’t stop it, but at least (and The least) you can do is “withdraw consent”. Couple of years ago I somehow ended up on the Enrollment Committee for an FIH (first in human) clinical trial of an implanted medical device. The CMO of the company was not only failing to adhere to the study protocol, but was (in my opinion) actually doing stupid stuff that’d get them in trouble with their country’s regulatory agencies. Private calls were not accepted. Emails were summarily rebutted with vague generalities. Eventually it got to a rather heated discussion on a live conference call. Twice actually. I told them to remove me from the Committee since I couldn’t be a party to what I believed to be bad for the patients (the worst thing) but also bad for the company from a liability standpoint. And then they wouldn’t let me go! My guess is not because I’m so great, but because they sucked so hard no one wanted to work with them.

        * so dumb. They could have simply put the plagiarized sections in quotation marks, documented the appropriate reference, and they’d have been fine. It was a bloody unsolicited review article, FFS. Nothing important. (Sometimes a journal will ask an influential and reputable expert to write a review, to help the average practitioner stay current with some topic. That’s “solicited”. Most unsolicited reviews are someone who wants “a publication” but doesn’t have original research to present. Sounds a bit harsh, but that’s the truth. “My” merry plagiarists were some guys from the Sub-continent. Can come from anywhere, but China and India are relatively prolific in that area. Alas.)

        • As the “nation’s premier law enforcement agency” they are above questions and beyond my pedestrian accusations of sloppy and dishonest work.

    • Epic…now, as your train deal yesterday, ask yourself how many who gave you the blank stare went to the office and said, “Man, you wouldn’t believe what a Chinese Fire drill that was!”.

      • Hahaha, yeah, probably. Hopefully I put that into their heads. Just spreading hate and discontent … er, Love and Good Vibes whenever I can.

        Funny thing. So I got to the office an hour late. My boss said, “you’re here! Thought you weren’t coming in today.” I explained, briefly, about the Chinese Fire Drill. “Oh. That sounds bad.”

        That evening we were going to dinner (well, grabbing a sandwich at Penn Station) when it occurred to me. “You don’t know what a Chinese Fire Drill is, do you?” (Boss grew up ex-US and English is not first language.) “No, I don’t. I’m assuming it’s not an actual fire drill?” I explained. She burst out laughing. “That sounds like a stupid thing to do.” Yep. It IS a stupid thing to do. But it occurred to me, not for the first time, apparently I say so many “random” things that no one is surprised. Sigh.

  4. Ahh yes, the “got caught” dismissal statement, right up there with “Whaateevvverrr”. Why has it become so difficult for people to simply admit they’re wrong or have wrong info? There’s ample respect for those who say, “Oh, didn’t know that or realize that…thanks for clarifying.”

    FetterLurch- I’m sticking with Is it Memorex or is it even alive…the guy is beyond bizarre and useless, and like our _Resident Husk mumbling and shuffling around while the MSM disgustingly call him “Our President”, JohnBoy has no business being a Senator except the Democrat Machine needs the one up vote. Like a pig-pile of others in DC, the guy is a disgrace. America has regressed to 3rd World status in short order by those tasked with protecting our Constitution and Bill of Rights (now saying even those aren’t absolute!). Problem is you can’t get rid of the TIC’s (Tyrannical’s In Charge).

    Earth’s Vintage- How can we truly know earth’s timeline for sure as it relates to Biblical account. Have pondered that over the years. My thinking has always been as Prager illuminates in his “The Rational Bible:Genesis”: “…“yom” (day), is not always defined as 24 hours.” I also don’t think on this too much because it changes little of the here and now…we have bigger fish to fry, but it is good to always be fascinated with the world God created.

    • God isn’t subject to time. It was created for us. Take time out of the creation story and look at it as a series of events. Each act contained, from our perception, the beginning to the end. Each additional act layered seamlessly on the previous. To God all is, not was or will be.

    • As the Bible study I’m leading is starting on Genesis, I’m leaning on Prager and his explanation.
      After that, We will fly through the first couple chapters as I’m not getting into any arguments.
      We’re gonna buy it “as is”.

  5. Much of the content and the ensuing conversations in this particular blog is way above my understanding. Human nature? That I grasp.

    One time having “date night” dinner with the wife unit and sitting in a booth, we listen, not by choice, to a conversation nearby. The couple expounding about their recent retail automobile purchase were bragging to their companions about how they had ‘slicked’ the dealership. Interesting, because I happened to be the salesman they had ‘slicked’.

    Left them to their delusional reality. My desk manager called me, “grossee”, as in having the highest gross profit margin among his crew.

      • That warms my cold heart. Advice to all car buyers (or any big ticket item). Do your homework! Have a clue before you walk in the store. Somehow I think LL already knows this.

        Mid 1990’s manufactures turned gutless and made dealer costs public information. That is when I switched to used cars.

        Anyone who wants a straight forward car deal contact my friends at Kia of Cheyenne. The GM learned working on my crew the philosophy people come to the store to buy a car. Let them!

      • We had an advertiser in the newspaper I owned, a used car dealership.
        Having hung around the office while working with the owner on his ads, I saw more than I wanted to. A friend was looking for a car and remembering that they advertised with me, wondered if I had their number. Uh, no.

  6. Around 50 years ago, in a “mandatory elective” class in the philosophy of science (of all things), the professor posed a question: if the universe sprang into existence moments ago, with every star, every galaxy, every thing in its current position in its current state, how could you know? Every ratio of isotopes we use do atomic dating, every galactic or stellar red shift the way we observe it, every memory you have fully formed, everything exactly the way we see it, how could you know? The problem as stated is to show you that you can’t know.

    Every way we know to calculate the age of the universe is extrapolation off of a curve. The lesson they always teach about extrapolation in any class is that it’s less likely to be right than interpolation.

    All of those extrapolations depend on assumptions that are rarely stated, the biggest being physical laws are the same everywhere and at every time. That’s not observable and not provable. We just like it that way because otherwise we can’t even pretend to know these things.

  7. Got to watch, in real time on TV, as President Reagan tried to get Congress to do what they had promised about out-of-control spending. Worked as well as asking a junkie to give up smack. Fast forward to today, and I get to see comments on various sites about how Reagan is responsible for all the increase in debt that occurred during that time. Once in a while, if the comment thread isn’t too out of whack, I’ll post a comment that all spending originates from Congress, not the White House.


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