Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yuge Win!

Trump and Sanders are projected to have won their respective primaries in NH.

As of right now (10:15 PM EST), Johnnie Bush is in 4th place, barely behind Rubio. Considering that Bush dumped $30 million into advertising in New Hampshire, that's a pretty piss-poor showing.

Sanders is beating Clinton by a 3-2 margin, which qualifies as a shellacking.

Nevada and South Carolina, prepare for the infestation of candidates!

"The Internet of Things" Will Allow the NSA and FBI to Better Spy on You

So sayeth Jimmy the Perjurer, the chief of the American spies:
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.
Smart TVx, webcams, hell, smart fridges and thermostats-- all could be used by the spooks to watch you and yes, they're working on doing that. If your car has OnStar or any of that crap, they want to be able to tap into that.

Find the camera and microphone of your smart TV and blank them off. Or go to a thrift store and buy an old CRT TV set. Don't choose to let the spies into your home.

Enough With the Negative (Gravity) Waves

The science section of the Interwebs is buzzing that the existence of gravity waves may have been confirmed.

In other news, there is some bullshit going on today in New Hampshire. Rumors are that lots of televisions in New Hampshire and surrounding states have been shot or otherwise destroyed.

Fifty Years Ago

Sophie Tucker, "The Last of the Red-Hot Mommas", died.

"I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better."-- Sophie Tucker

Update: A BBC appreciation of Sophie Tucker (thanks to D. [this post was in the queue for several months])

Rudy's Just Gotta Find Something to be Outraged About

He was mightily offended by Beyoncé's gig at Super Bowl L's halftime show. Predictably, the Right Wing Noise Machine fell into line behind il Douche.

Giuliani is a huckster of hate. Finding things to take umbrage at is his schtick.

The Field Negro has a good point:
Imagine if Rudy Giuliana heard Johnny Cash singing the following lyrics at a Super Bowl halftime show: "Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down I went right home and I went to bed I stuck that lovin' .44 beneath my head.."

Or Eric Clapton singing the following: "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy All around in my home town
They're trying to track me down They say they want to bring me in guilty
For the killing of a deputy For the life of a deputy, but I say..."

Rhetorical question. I know what would happen. Nothing. There would be no outrage or calls for a boycott of their music.
Never let it be forgotten that Giuliani is about as pro-police state and anti-freedom as they come, so long as the crackdown is on those people. Because 9-11. Or something.

More cynically, Rudy's job nowadays is to manufacture outrage. He's not going to get paid to show up on "Fox and Fiends" if he doesn't say things that'll stoke and justify the anger of white Republicans/Teabaggers. He's as authentic as The Donald, or any other infomercial huckster.

The National Anthem

Doing it right:

Doing it wrong:

Late Show's New Anmal Expert

Monday, February 8, 2016

Yepper, They Made the H&K Parody T-Shirt!!

I am so looking forward to this Spring's matches, especially when I will be shooting a revolver.

They're not for sale, folks.

Respectfully, Secretary Albright: F.O.A.D.!

The first female secretary of state, [Madeleine] Albright, 78, introduced [Hillary] Clinton, 68, at a campaign event on Saturday, February 6, in New Hampshire and told the crowd: “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done. There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
So, when batshit crazy Michelle Bachmann ran against anyone, Albright supported her?

I don't buy that for a yoctosecond.

"Don't Cry, Lindsey, We'll Face Political Oblivion Together."


Feel free to come up with your own caption.

Dear Apple: Toljaso, I Did!

Apple is facing the possibility of class-action lawsuits in the US and possible criminal charges in the UK.

Toljaso. And there is nothing like some bad press to convince corporations to backwater.

Sue the pants off of those fuckers, boys and girls!

Why Such Small Warheads; USN Missile Edition

In an earlier post, I commented on the lack of punch of a SM-6 when used against a warship. While the idea of using a five-million-plus dollar missile to deliver the equivalent of a 250lb bomb may sound deplorable, there is a good reason why the navy got away from ship-killing surface weapons.

The reason, simply put, was the lack of a good reason to have them. In a "cold war gone hot" scenario, it was pretty well assumed that, between airpower and submarines, any larger combatants of the Soviet navy would have either fled into port or been swept from the sea in the first day or so of the war. The role of the navy would then be to open and keep open the sea lines to Europe, as was done in the Battles of the Atlantic during both world wars. Besides hunting down and sinking Soviet submarines, the navy would have had to combat the threat posed by Soviet antiship missiles, whether air-launched or submarine-launched. So antiair and antisubmarine warfare were the predominant training tasks of the Cold-War navy.

Antisurface, or ship-on-ship warfare, was given short shrift. The 5" guns of the destroyers and frigates had two missions: Antiair defense of the ship and naval gunfire support for forces ashore.

Then two things happened: The sinking of the INS Eilat by Egyptian missile boats and the use of missile boats in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

The first thing that was done was to quickly give the Standard missile a surface-to-surface capability. That was called "ISSM": "Interim Surface to Surface Missile". Some were fitted into two of the cells of an ASROC box launcher to give some non-AAW missile shooters a modest capability to fire anti-surface missiles (which required modifying the fire control radar to work with the missiles).

Meanwhile, the Harpoon missile, which was first designed for use against surfaced submarines (some Soviet subs had to surface to fire their missiles) was quickly reassigned a role as an antiship missile. Once Harpoon was out in the fleet, ISSM was rapidly retired (and quickly forgotten).

Still, the threat that Harpoon was redesigned to engage was the threat of missile boats employed by Soviet client states or Warsaw Pact nations. It wasn't really considered as a weapon against larger ships. Because at the time, nobody could foresee a use against large combatants.

The Soviet navy built bigger missiles, with half-ton or larger warheads, many supposedly with shaped-charges (if you can believe Wikipedia). They were built to sink or cripple large ocean-going ships, like carriers, which Western navies operate. Even if a point defense system detonated its warhead, a shaped charge that was detonated a few hundred yards away from a ship could probably do some serious damage.

This far into the 21st Century, there still isn't much of a use for a large antiship missile by the navy, at least not launched from ships. The aviators have been working the problem, the Long Range ASM is projected to carry a half-ton warhead. Which is probably realistic, in that our ships aren't going to be operating in the western Pacific without some form of air cover.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised if there were at least studies on a new heavy antiship missile for employment by surface ships. I would be surprised if anything more than that had been done. Adding a large weapon system to a ship is not a trivial modification- the mounting of quad-tube Harpoon launchers on the Cold War CGs and DDGs raised issues of stability in heavy seas (as does adding anything heavy that far above the center of gravity).

The addition of a heavy antiship missile to the surface fleet may have to wait for the development of a new class of surface ships. Which, to my mind, will not happen within the lifetimes of most readers of this blog.

"Dear Waitress: I'm Stiffing You Because Jesus".

That seems to be the latest fundie trick: Leaving a fake tip that is really a religious tract.

I'm pretty sure that stiffing your server by leaving a fake $10 or $20 that is only religious propaganda won't exactly bring people to your way of thinking.

Unless, of course, you're trying to share the "good news" that you are a frelling asshole.


Super Bowl L

They didn't call it that, because "L" is a boring Roman numeral.

Anyway, if you like defensive football, it was a game to watch. Denver's defense rattled the hell out of Carolina's offense.

But let's get to the important part: The advertising. Though I did miss some of them, so if you're opinion is otherwise, chime in.

I think Doritos won the night with two great ads:

Hyundai had a funny one, too:

Budweiser had a bit of a misfire, though:

"Raise One to Right Now" is a nice play on the name of John E. Bush's dark money PAC, "Right to Rise", but since the ¿JEB? campaign is cratering, only hardcore political geeks got the pun.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

And Now, a Word From Monongahela Metal Works,
Makers of Fine Ingots For Home and Office

Bob Elliott has died.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Tweet!

Smoke and Mirrors, USN Edition

The United States Navy’s fleet of Aegis cruisers and destroyers are getting a massive boost in lethality. For years, many believed that America’s mighty surface combatants were on track to be outgunned by their Russian and Chinese counterparts—however, a newly unveiled modification to the Raytheon Standard SM-6 changes of all of that.

“I'm announcing today new capability for the SM-6. We're modifying the SM-6, so that in addition to missile defense, it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges,” U.S. defense secretary Ashton Carter said at Naval Base San Diego in California on February 3.
I call "bullshit".

I don't know squat abut the SM-6. But it's probably the same frigging airframe as the SM-2 or, hell, the old Terriers. The warheads of those things were designed to cripple airplanes and incoming missiles, not blast the shit out of ships.

According to Wikipedia, the warhead is a "blast fragmentation" warhead, which is weaponese for basically a big-ass grenade. The SM-2 reportedly had a 250lb warhead. Given that the SM-6 has an active radar, one might expect that since the SM-6 carries more smarts than the SM-2, that the warhead is probably smaller.

What this means in plain English is that these things are not shipkillers in the traditional "leave the enemy burning or sinking" sense (as the Soviet antiship missiles were). Sinking or leaving the enemy ship a burning hulk was a "seaworthiness kill." As the first article said, the SM-6 is trying for a "mission kill". That means "damaging some shit so that the ship can't fight"-- such as poking holes in radar waveguides, or hoping to damage some vital equipment.*

Getting a seaworthiness kill takes a big honking warhead carried by a large shell, bomb, torpedo or missile. The surface navy pretty much stopped going for seaworthiness kills of anything larger than a PT/missile boat when the last of the big-gun cruisers was sent to the breakers.

* An analogy: There's a bad guy 25 yards away. You have a shotgun. You have two types of shells: #9 birdshot and 00 buckshot. In shooting the birdshot, you're hoping to annoy him enough to make him stop trying to hurt you-- Maybe you blind him or sting him enough to discourage him, or maybe a couple of pieces of birdshot hit a jugular vein or a carotid artery and he bleeds out. In shooting the buckshot, you're hoping to stop him from hurting you by killing him; if the buckshot hurts him badly enough that he stops what he's doing, that's fine, too.

In shooting at the bad guy with birdshot, you're going for a mission kill. In shooting at him with buckshot, you're going for a seaworthiness kill.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Nice Work If You Can Get It, Hil.

In the 18 months before launching her second presidential bid, Clinton gave nearly 100 paid speeches at banks, trade associations, charitable groups and private corporations. The appearances netted her $21.7 million - and voters very little information about what she was telling top corporations as she prepared for her 2016 campaign.
Her standard rate for a single speech was nearly a quarter-million.

Clinton's not disclosing the content of her speeches. My guess is that if she did that, she'd have to whomp up another speech. She likely has a set variation of them and once they're public, well, who's gonna pay to listen to a rerun?

Sort of like the old Vaudevillian who had an act that he toured the country, performing in one place or another. One act, one shtick, and he did it for decades. When he decided to retire, he went on the Ed Sullivan Show, did his bit, and that was it.

Still, both Hillary and Bill have raked in a cool $153 million in speechifying since 2001. That's in addition to his pension (currently about $200 grand) and the salaries that Hillary pulled down as a U.S. Senator from 2001 to 2009 and then as a cabinet officer from 2009 to 2013.


Prison cat just wants out!!

Not to worry, she was in quarantine for a bit. Since this photo was taken, she has gone to her forever home.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Warm Up the Class-Action Lawsuits; Apple Edition

Apple's latest iOS update will brickify your iPhone 6 if it was repaired by anyone other than an Apple technician.

Imagine this scenario: Your car threw its fanbelt and you had your local mechanic put in a new one. Now, six months later, your can won't start, at all, and your local dealership says there's nothing they can do, that you need a new car. You'd be some pissed off, I bet. Even if the car companies could do this, they wouldn't, because even a Hahvahd MBA could see how that'd backfire in the court of public opinion.

There is something about the big tech companies, like Apple and Microsoft, that seem to make them feel that they can get away with being assholes to the world.

Upon them I wish a plague of lawyers and FTC complaints.

Because It's Friday

"Glenbrook" was under steam for the first time in 89 years.

(Nevada State RR Museum)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pharma Bro is Going to Prison, Sure Enough

Not for this:
Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli threw insults at the US Congress on Thursday, less than an hour after refusing to testify at a hearing investigating accusations of profiteering on life-saving drugs sold by his and other drug companies.
But for this:
Smirking Martin Shkreli Antagonizes Lawmakers

If he maintains that smirk and cops an attitude at his trial as he did before Congress, the jury will be out all of twenty minutes before they come back and convict him on all possible charges.

Since the Feds Pay Farmers Not to Grow Crops,
The District of Columbia's Going to Pay Criminals Not to Commit Crimes

No, that's not a joke.
Avoid criminal activity for a chance to earn $9,000?

It’s a choice that some Washington residents may be able to make if lawmakers approve new legislation aimed at changing the city’s approach to crime prevention.

Under the proposal, modeled on a similar effort in Richmond, Calif., a new office would be created to identify individuals “who pose a high risk of participating in, or being a victim of, violent criminal activity.”

The legislation seeks funding to cover stipends for about 50 individuals a year, who would be paid to follow a program “involving life planning, trauma informed therapy, and mentorship.”
I'm not sure how that would help potential victims directly-- they're going to pay people not to be victims?

On the one hand, if the program worked, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than locking people up. It might encourage some of the bad guys to stop being criminals.

On the other hand, the idea that government's going to pay criminals not to commit crimes doesn't sit very well. And since the District of Columbia's government is overseen, to some degree, by Congress, I expect that this program's going to die an early death (unless they can do it 100% with outside funding).

Letting Your Kid Play Tackle Football: Legal Jeopardy?

As the evidence mounts linking tackle football with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, sooner or later, some bright soul in the child-protection game is going to think about charging parents who let their kids play tackle football with child abuse.
A study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University determined in September that 87 of 91 deceased players tested had CTE. Bennet Omalu, the groundbreaking doctor played by Will Smith in the film "Concussion," estimated that more than 90 percent of all NFL players have CTE.
CTE has been found in at least one 18 year old who played football, as well as it's suggested in scans of others.

And yes, they're finding this in hockey players and boxers (formerly called "being punch drunk").

I'd offer to bet that cases will be filed on this against parents before the decade is out, but I'd be taking your money.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If You Liked Richard Nixon, You'll Love Ted Cruz

Both have the moral compasses of snake-oil salesmen.
Dr. Ben Carson and his campaign accused Sen. Ted Cruz’s team of sabotaging Carson in the Iowa caucuses Monday night by encouraging Cruz supporters to tell voters at their caucus sites – incorrectly – that Carson was dropping out of the race.

“It was happening all over,” Iowa State Director Ryan Rhodes told MSNBC. “One of the precincts Candy [Carson, the candidate’s wife] walked into, she had to correct the record. She actually walked in, in Ankeny, and gave a speech about no, he’s still in the race and that’s a lie.”
Cruz has been trying to sell himself to Evangelicals as a "good G-d-Fearin' Christian, like all y'all". So this is what good Christians do: Stab their opponents in the back? Cheat and lie their way to the prize? All the while trying to cloak themselves in the robes of Jesus?

If that's accurate, then when dealing with such good moral Christians, never ever take your eyes off them. Keep one hand on your wallet and your other hand on your gat.

Army "Modular Handgun System" News (and a Bet)

The Army has extended the submission deadline to Feb 12th. The article claims that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, Smith & Wesson and HundK are submitting proposals.

Ruger isn't and I think they're smart not to. My belief is that the costs of the MHS program will keep climbing, to the point that Congress and/or the DoD will kill the program, if only to claim that they are serious about restraining costs.

But meanwhile, the F-35 Turkey II program marches on, blowing through more cash in a few weeks than what the Army would have spent on a bunch of overpriced pistols.

(357 page proposal to buy a fucking handgun? Goddamn their eyes.)

The Only Cure for "Fire in the Belly" is Embalming Fluid

But lack of support doesn't hurt.

Spawn of Paul is out. So is Frothy.

If John E. Bush doesn't place above Rubio next Tuesday, he'll probably be out, as well.

Tesla CEO Suffers From Blogger-Butthurt

If you want to buy a Tesla and you say something less than complimentary about the company online, then the CEO will personally cancel your order.

Elon Musk's apparently got a skin thinner than that of an onion.

Say "Goodbye" to Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs and Elephants

and hippos and Cape buffaloes and gazelles and zebras and hyenas and aw, hell, every other wild critter in Africa. For the population of Africa in 2100 will be between 3.4 to 5.8 billion people.

The outlook for this planetary petri dish isn't so good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Terror Threat Index

The Launch of Building 11

USS Sioux City, LCS-11 has been launched. In awhile, she'll begin her naval career of sitting alongside a pier, awaiting repairs.

Pretty sad that it took two years of construction to get to the launch date. The eleventh ship of the Perry class, which went to the Aussies, was laid down on March 1, 1978 and launched on December 1st of that year. The eleventh ship of the Knox class was laid down on January 6, 1969 and launched on August 1, 1970. The eleventh Sprucan was laid down on April 4, 1975 and launched on March 26, 1976.

Either the Navy is pretty fucked, the LCS design is fucked, or American shipbuilders can't build shit anymore.

CDR Salamander has had a lot to say about the LCS.

Iowa: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Little?

Clinton effectively lost and Cruz won.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the establishment and, a year ago, it was pretty well presumed by the People in the Know that the nomination was effectively hers. Now it isn't. When you're the candidate with the support of your party's establishment and you've raised enough money to buy a couple of new 737s before a single vote is cast in the nomination process, a tie is a loss.

As to Rafael Cruz, it's worth keeping in mind that Frothy won Iowa in 2012 and Huckabee won it in 2008.

The game is afoot!

Oh, almost forgot: O'Malley quit the race. As if anybody gives a shit.

Update: Huckabee also quit, saying "the voters are sick of me." He might have been joking, but it was damned accurate.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016: Let's Fucking Do This Thing

The Republican and Democratic Iowa caucuses start now.

Ohh..Do Want. (HK T-Shirt)

I don't know if I can get this past the printer's legal department, but I may try.

(Origin of the slogan)

"Challenge Coins"

I served for a fair piece back during the Cold War. Mostly worked with other folks in the Sea Service, occasionally got to meet Army, Air Force and a few foreign types, mostly socially.

In all that time, I never heard of a "challenge coin", let alone saw one.

I don't understand the concept, other than handing them out in lieu of pay or bonuses. As far as the "challenge" part, do you get to keep inferior coins, as though it was a game of marbles? The loser buys drinks?

Maybe it was a different time, back then. For I can't see where handing out such trinkets would have been met with anything other than snark and derision.

Dear NHL Executives: You Suck and Your Mothers Are All Whores.

The fans voted for John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes to be the captain of one of the all-star teams. That didn't sit well with the NHL brass as Scott's mainly an enforcer, which is hockey-speak for a fighter, a brawler. The NHL tried to talk him into declining the nomination.

He refused to do that, so Arizona traded him to Montreal, which then shuffled him off to a minor-league team. The NHL brass thought that by doing that to Scott, he wouldn't then be eligible to play in the all-star games.

See, while the NHL likes fighting on the ice because it pulls in fans, the hockey purists don't like it. They didn't want an enforcer in the all-star games. All that machination, including fucking with Scott's career, was so they wouldn't have a player in the games whose main talent is fisticuffs.

The fans revolted, the NFL caved. Scott was back on the team. They won the all-star championship.

Then the NHL had the fans vote for MVP and gave them three choices, none of them Scott. The fans revolted, again. They wrote in Scott's name.

Being on the winning team got Scott a million dollars. Being voted MVP got him a new SUV.

He's still in the minors, but that'll probably change.

p.s. to the NHL executives, including the owners of the Coyotes and the Canadiens; same goes for your wives, your sisters, and your daughters. And yourselves.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Bitter Dead-Enders of Y'all Qaeda

Still hanging in there:
As the anti-government standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge entered its 30th day, the remaining occupiers claimed many of their phone lines no longer worked.

The four holdouts awoke to discover that many lost phone and Internet service overnight, according to [Some Other Jerkoff], a Nevada [fellow-traveler] who said he had been in contact with the armed protesters. They have refused to leave the refuge until they are guaranteed they won't be arrested.
Right. "We've take over a Fed'rul building for a month, we got guns, and we're only gonna leave if you don't arrest us."-- Let me know how that works out for you guys.

Peaceful protest is usually protected b the First Amendment. Civil disobedience is not. And certainly not armed criminal activity. These clowns are no more "legitimate protesters" than were the Weathermen who were robbing banks.* Breaking the law can get you jail time.

Y'all Qaeda's new motto: "Give us immunity or give us death."

*The difference between the Weathermen and Y'all Qaeda is the Weathermen didn't just run their mouths.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Clinton Suports Gun Control, Only Because She Thinks It'll Get Her Votes

Eight years ago, she was trying to persuade votes that she was pro-Second Amendment.

This time around, she's taking the opposite tack.

Clinton is about as pure an electoral politician as there is this time around. She will say and support anything that she thinks will result in a net increase in votes. Clinton would barbecue and eat parrots.

I think her time has passed. But then again, I think that the time of any establishment candidate has passed.

Knocking Off the Rust, Aviatrix Ed.

I flew yesterday and today for the first time in four weeks. (I had a cold that then took up long-term residence in my sinuses.) It finally cleared up.

Yesterday, I shot some landings. I almost thought that I'd have to jump-start it, but a couple of blades kicked over and the engine started. The landings weren't too horrible, even with a bit of a crosswind.

This morning was a cross-country to an airport cafe. The engine started fine. On the way down, the rust showed- keeping course and altitude together was a chore. Coming back, it was all good. 97mph groundspeed down, 136mph coming back.

Earlier this week, same thing for shooting. Because of the volumes of air that have to be moved, indoor ranges are cold when the temps are down. Shooting when one is feeling bad is sort of a waste of ammunition. I shot Bullseye practice: First relays of slow and rapid fire were horrible. Second time through, not so much.

Wounded Warrior Project = Sleazeballs?

Apparently so. They consider fundraising and advertising to be programs that assist veterans.
Wounded Warrior Project says 80 percent of their money is spent on programs for veterans. That's because they include some promotional items, direct response advertising, and shipping and postage costs. Take that out, and the figures look more like what charity watchdogs say -- that only 54 to 60 percent of donations go to help wounded service members.

They're also sitting on a quarter of a billion dollars in cash. Which seems a bit odd. If you've ever worked with a charity, it seems really odd.

Anywho, where are the conservative leaders expressing umbrage over this? If they were government workers engaging in lavish travel and parties, the outrage would be volcanic.

(Other posts of mine) on point.


Shelter cats are taking their ease inside the top of a cat tower.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lightly Modding a BHP

It now has a slightly-extended safety lever from Cylinder & Slide:

You can see the difference from the one that was on the gun by comparing it to this photo:

What was on the gun from the factory was an extended ambidextrous safety. Someone installed an older nubbin-sized safety. Which I felt was too small to be reliably actuated, hence the replacement.

Down the road might be better sights. The trigger is heavy, but it's not gritty. Being heavy doesn't bother me too much on a carry gun. If this gun was to be a range toy or a race gun, then that'd be something to address.

Whither Afghanistan?

The U.S. Army general picked to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warns the security situation there is deteriorating despite a valiant effort by Afghan forces.
The reasons are slightly unpalatable. The Bush Administration established (or allowed) a government of kleptocrats. The Obama Administration has been either unwilling or unable to change that. Afghanistan is the third most-corrupt nation on the planet.

Like the Iraqi army, the Afghan army has been plagued by officers who have cared more about lining their own pockets than fielding an effective army. Their army has ranks filled with ghost soldiers, names on a roster that don't correspond to a living person, so that the officers can pocket their pay. Equipment has been stolen and sold, often to the enemy. Public improvement projects have been repeatedly built with shoddy materials; the contractors skim the difference between what was spec'd and what was built-- often paying off the officials who awarded the contracts.

Because it would seem to be easy as pie to obtain a post in the army by bribery, the enemy has had little trouble in salting the Afghan army with agents who wait for an auspicious time and then slay their supposed comrades, superiors and advisers.

By invading Afghanistan, the neocons who were then in charge thought that they were striking a mortal blow against the Taliban and al Qaeda. But what they were really doing was punching a tar-baby. And now we're pretty well stuck there.

Unless the Pakistanis finally get tired of letting the Taliban operate within their borders, there will be no change to the situation. There is no sign of the Pakistanis ever doing that. When the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan rolls around, I predict that things will be no better than there were at the 5th, 10th or 15th anniversaries.

And, unless we follow the advice of Se. George Aiken, we'll still be there.

Because It's Friday

On the Valley RR:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thirty Years Ago

Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just over a minute after liftoff.

Seven astronauts were killed that frigid January morning.

The failures in management that led to the explosion were many, mostly ones of "we did this before and nothing bad happened"-- which, in retrospect, was like proclaiming that Russian Roulette is a safe game because the hammer fell on empty chambers in the first two tries.

In a public demonstration, using o-ring material and ice water, Richard Feynman showed why Challenger blew up. Arguably, much of the credit for uncovering and making public the cause of the disaster is Feynman's.

But did NASA learn from the loss of Challenger? Probably not.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

About Time for a Few Laughs Around This Here Blog

DWB = Tickets

In Florida, a black motorist who is not wearing a seat belt is twice as likely to get yanked up by the cops than a white motorist. In some parts of the state, the disparity is four to one.

And don't be found being a person of color and riding a bicycle in Tampa. That'll get you a ticket.

As for being black and shopping in Grand Rapids, MI? That'll get you arrested.

Dear NY Times: Welcome to the Party, Pal, Part the 1,563rd

The NY Times is raising red flags about The Wounded Warrior Project, for both being a Legion of Kool-Aid Drinkers and for spending lavishly on their internal operations.

Not that this is news.

"It's a Dirty Trick to Arrest People Who Are Committing Felonies!"-- Militia Fine Whines Ed.

That's the line from one of the self-styled "militiamen" in Oregon, following the arrest of a bunch of them (and the shooting of two of them).

Interesting world that clown lives in. Who does he think he is, Richard Nixon?

More to the point: At least in a moral sense, the Feds brought this on themselves. They didn't bring any charges against the militia assholes following the `14 standoff in Nevada. That probably gave the militants the idea that they could break Federal and state laws with impunity.

Bundy Père said, of the Feds arresting his sons for committing felonies: "We are tired of the abuse." If Bundy and his clan aren't the poster children for "white privilege", then they are among the top runners-up for the job.

The remaining Y'all Qaeda clown are vowing to die. They should follow the example of Yukio Mishima.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

About Frelling Time, Oregon Edition

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the brothers leading anti-government protesters occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and three other people were arrested Tuesday in a confrontation with authorities, the FBI said. One person was dead, the FBI said.

Shots were fired about 4:25 p.m. (7:25 ET) when the FBI and Oregon State Police began an "enforcement action" at the wildlife refuge, the FBI said. It didn't identify the victim.
Except for the part about somebody getting shot.

CNN (Our Motto: "Air First, Fact-Check Later") is saying that it happened at a "traffic stop".

Most thugs who hole up somewhere then don't go gallivanting around town.

More later, obviously, as this is what they call a "developing story".

A New Definition of "Federal Overreach": Having to Give Back Free Shit, Po-Po Ed.

That's the complaint from local cops who are bristling at the Feds taking back military equipment that was loaned to them. To them, "Federal overreach" is when the military wants its gear back. Because local cops have a need for heavy machineguns and shit.

The whining goes right down to complaining that the Feds are taking back bayonets that are "used to cut through seat belts"... because, what, the cops can't afford to buy knives from the local Wal-Mart?

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that a lot of the same officials who are bristling about having to give back their military toys are people who have applauded every attempt to make the lives of poor people even harder and meaner. Because Federal benefits are evil, unless one's own ox is being gored.

Another Country That the Germans Can Have Back

The Danish TV channel TV Syd reports that a 17-year-old girl from Sønderborg on Wednesday night was assaulted and attempted raped by an immigrant.

The girl now risk being fined because she protected herself against the assailant with pepper spray when he tried to pull her pants off to rape her.

Use of pepper spray is illegal in Denmark, and the girl now risks being charged with violation of the Firearms Act.
When a state outlaws self-defense, the physically stronger will prevail in almost any confrontation. One of the oft-unspoken implements of the liberation of women was the firearm.
Be not afraid of any man;
No matter what his size;
When danger threatens, call on me—
And I will equalize.
A 5'3" woman likely will not prevail against a man a foot taller and 150 lbs heavier. She may be lucky or she may be well-trained and her assailant may not be so. A society that seeks to disarm its citizens/subjects in order to, in effect, make them easy prey for criminals is a pretty pathetic excuse for a civilized society.

In any event, Danes should not expect much from their police, as they are too busy robbing refugees.

Another Hero Gone

Stephanie Czech Rader has died at age 100. She was one of the few American spies in Poland just after the end of the war.

More here, where it seems apparent that she was denied an award because she was both a spy and a woman.

I'm surprised that nobody's ever made a movie about her and that time.

Opposite Ends of the Gun World

First, a gun that definitely will hurt on both ends, the Heizer .45 semiauto.

Second, a gun that will hurt your wallet, a Webley Anderson-Wheeler Mk.VII. No official word on pricing, but these will apparently be bespoke guns, made to order, and will be into the five-figure range.

Of course, while the gun will be every bit British-made, subjects of that country can't own one.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bloomie Weighs 3rd Party Run

Former Mayor McBig Gulp is contemplating an independent run for President:
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking early steps toward launching an independent campaign for president, seeing a potential path to the White House amid the rise of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders.

Bloomberg has retained advisers and plans to conduct a poll after the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary to assess the state of the race and judge whether there is an opening for him to mount an independent campaign, according to three people familiar with his thinking.
Now, one might think "great, he's gonna burn through a shitload of his money doing that". But one needs to keep some perspective. Bloomberg is worth somewhere between $37 and $42 billion. He can self-finance a presidential run with less damage to his net worth, on a percentage basis, than most people would take buying a car. He dumped $100 million into winning a third term as mayor of NYC, which required yanking a term-limits ordinance that had been passed, twice, by the voters.

The last wealthy person to run a third-party campaign, Ross Perot, sucked off enough conservative votes from Bush I to elect Bill Clinton in `92.

I don't imagine that Bloomberg has a chance. But if he does run, there is a chance that no one candidate will get 270 votes in the Electoral College. If so, the 12th Amendment specifies what happens next:
if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.
The vote would be taken, presumably, by the current Congress. 34 states have House delegations that have a majority of Republicans as their representatives. That's easy arithmetic: 34>26. The Democrats would have to flip enough congressmen so that 9 GOP-majority House delegations would support their guy. Not going to happen, there aren't enough ambassadorships in nice countries to accomplish that.

It has happened before. In the election of 1824, the candidate with both the most votes and the most electors ended up losing. It came close to happening in 1876, but the Republicans sold out their Black constituents and, in exchange for getting the presidency, made the South free for the imposition of institutionalized racism that imposed a form of economic and political slavery.*

That would only happen, of course, if The Former Nanny Mayor managed to win states. What is more likely is that he would suck off enough votes from the Democratic nominee to make the Republican the winner in states. Since most states allocate their electoral votes by "winner take all", in a tight three-way race, getting 39-40% of the vote will more than be enough to win.

In this hyper-polarized political environment, being president when 60% of the voters didn't vote for you would be like being elected to run an open-air toxic waste dump from an onsite office trailer.
* Something modern Republicans fail to mention when they try to brag about their historical support for civil rights.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Big Prop Noise

Avro Shackleton:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Adventure Tourism for Imbeciles

A China-based travel agency said Saturday an American university student recently detained by North Korea is being held over an unspecified incident at his hotel before he was scheduled to board a flight for Beijing.
By now, it should be clear to even the most casual observer that those who go on tours to North Korea are running a risk of being arrested for whatever reason strikes the fancy of the North Koreans. It's about as safe as going hiking in grizzly bear country. or climbing into the crater of a smouldering volcano.

Which is why this should be the official U.S. government policy with regard to those who travel to the Hermit Kingdom:


Jake on the floor, waiting for attention.

Not to get into the heavy details, but I suspect that senility is taking hold. In human equivalents, he is in his upper 90s.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I Pass-- 1911A1 Edition

"[The CMP] has no idea on the condition of the pistols in inventory. But, based on their experience with M1 Garand the CMP expects there will be Rack Grade, Field Grade, Service Grade, and Collector Grade pistols available and that [Chief Operating Officer Mark Johnson] expects 10% to be in the worst condition, 10% to be in the best condition, and the rest somewhere in the middle. (He later added that the CMP will thoroughly inspect, repair, and test fire all pistols prior to sale).

"The pricing is expected to start at about $1,000 per pistol with the better grades 'priced accordingly.' "
To my mind, that's kind of pricey for a heavily-used 1911, even if it was bought by the Army during the Second World War or before. It's not like Garands, where there's not exactly a lot of choice if you want one. There is no shortage of companies making 1911s.

If you're jonesing for a WW2 1911A1, well, then maybe you might want one.

Otherwise, I vote: "Meh."

Po-Po Guns: What's Important is the Price

Ruger has just launched a new handgun with the hope that it will return this manufacturer to its former standing as a desired police sidearm. This new firearm — dubbed the Ruger American Pistol — is chambered in 9mm Luger, 45ACP and, very soon, the 40S&W.
As I've noted before, two of the most important things to a largish department are price and maintainability. If Ruger can compete with Glock on price, then they have a shot at getting a good taste of the market share. If they can't, they won't, absent some catastrophe to the Glock company.

Because It's Friday

Large stationary steam engine: