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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump the OPSEC Imbecile

In an call with Phillipino dictator Duterte, President (for now) Trump couldn't resist the impulse to brag about how he commands the best submarines in the world and where two of them were.

Of all of the operational secrets, the location of nuclear submarines is right at the top. Nobody is supposed to talk about where they are, not even in generalities. Now it is true that the President can do what he wants as far as that goes. But let's be clear about this: This wasn't Trump disclosing a secret for some diplomatic advantage, not at all. Thios was Trump the petulant man-child bragging about his shiny toys and how much better his toys are than anyone else's.

But hell, we all know that Trump is really jealous of Duterte. Duterte has ordered the extrajudicial killing of anyone involved in the drug trade and, given how those things go, it's probably a safe bet that some of the people he'll have killed will turn out to have been critics and political opponents.

There is little doubt that Trump and the Two Neo-Nazi Steves (Bannon and Miller) would very much like to send out their own death squads.

Reason #2,654,981 Why I Won't Be Appointed an Appellate Court Judge

A white supremacist petitioned a court for mercy, asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to overturn his conviction and death sentence for killing nine black worshippers in a racist attack at a Charleston church.

The notice filed by attorneys for [the Asswipe of Charleston] was an expected move in what's expected to be years of appeals in his federal case. Earlier this month, the federal judge who presided over [Asswipe's] trial rejected his first appeal, ruling that the conviction and death sentence for the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME church should stand.

[Asswipe], 23, was sentenced to death earlier this year. Authorities have said the self-avowed white supremacist opened fire during a closing prayer of the Bible study session.
Because "Appeal denied, and go fuck yourself" would not exactly constitute proper judicial decorum.

But I'm sort of a mind that, when the decision is handed down, that's what it will boil down to.

News About Tabby's Star

Late last week, astronomers around the world prepared to work through the weekend observing one of the most enigmatic stars known to humanity: KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby's Star, Boyajian's Star or the "alien megastructures star." Amateur and pro star watchers trained telescopes on the star some 1,400 light-years away, and now we're able to get an early look at those observations and take a few tiny, tentative steps toward solving the mystery of this very weird star.

The alert went out on Friday that the odd dips in the brightness of the star first discovered in Kepler data via a crowdsourced effort were happening once again -- these dips have yet to be explained, giving rise to all sorts of theories, including far-out ideas like huge megastructures built by an advanced alien civilization.
...
Meanwhile, telescopes around the world will continue to keep a close eye on this very weird star, including the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array, which continues to listen for signs of intelligent life from Boyajian's star. So far, any aliens that might be building a massive Dyson sphere around the star seem to be doing their work with their radios turned off, because SETI researchers have yet to pick up signs of life from the star.
I wouldn't put too much stock in a lack of a detectable signal. Maybe Eck! might chime in, but it would seem to me that a civilization so advanced as to build such structures also might have a communications system that is beyond our ken. I suspect that a person listening into a digital broadcast in the 1930s would hear what would appear to be random noise. It might be a point of curiosity that it was on a more-or-less discrete frequency, but it would still appear to be noise.

Of all of the possible explanations that I've read, something like a ringworld or a Dyson's sphere would be the least probable. But the others alternatives (clouds of comets or interstellar dust) have also not been shown to be much more than probable.

Fascinating stuff, though.

Mikey Flynn News

Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, misled Pentagon investigators about his income from companies in Russia and contacts with officials there when he applied for a renewal of his top-secret security clearance last year, according to a letter released Monday by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee.

Mr. Flynn, who resigned 24 days into the Trump administration, told investigators in February 2016 that he had received no income from foreign companies and had only “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals, according to the letter. In fact, Mr. Flynn had sat two months earlier beside President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a Moscow gala for RT, the Kremlin-financed television network, which paid him more than $45,000 to attend the event and give a separate speech.
He might want to ask Martha Stewart about what happens when one lies to the Federales.



Or, if you're of a certain age:

That Shit Can Kill You

One person is dead and nine others were hospitalized after they contracted botulism from eating contaminated nacho cheese sauce at a gas station outside of Sacramento, California, state and local officials said.
Eating at a gas station, should, as a general rule, only be considered when the alternative is actual starvation.

Trying Again- FBI Search Ed.

The team tasked by the White House with finding a new director for the FBI is resetting its search, a senior administration official told CNN.
Trump is in a pickle of his own making. While he'd likely love to slot in a political toady, like Joe Lieberman, he may have been persuaded that such a pick wouldn't go over very well. On the other hand, someone with real integrity and ethics won't listen to subtle hints to drop the Russia investigations.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What's a Little Obstruction of Justice and Witness Tampering Between Friends?

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. ... Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials.
You can bet heavily that Coates also made a record of his conversation with the Obstructer-in-Chief.

But hey, asking people to lie for you and say that you didn't do what they are saying you did is just another of the innumerable things that are OK if you're a Republican.

Farewell, Mr. Templar

Sir Roger Moore has died. Besides playing the lead role in The Saint, he was the longest-serving of the actors who have played James Bond.

Of course, you know I'm going to embed this clip:


He was awarded a knighthood for charitable work on behalf of UNICEF.

RIP, Sir Roger.


Backing Up Your Shit

Borepatch's blog is doing a three-part series on backing your shit up and other security stuff.

This is post #1.

Highly recommended reading.

Monsters

That's a one-word description of the asswipes involved in the bombing of a concern attended by mainly tweens and younger teenaged girls.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Quarter of a Century Gone

Johnny Carson's last episode of The Tonight Show began 25 years ago, ending a thirty-year run. The show was more of a retrospective; the last show with guests Robin Williams and Bette Midler had aired the evening before. 55 million people tuned in to watch the last show.

It's pretty hard to describe the impact of the show at the time. It was the era of what is now called "appointment television", for you either watched shows as they aired or missed them. In offices around the nation, what was on "Carson" the night before was a standard topic of conversation. Carson loved political humor, and his jokes could enrage a politician like few others.

If you watched the show, you know what you were supposed to do when you reached the Slauson Cutoff.

A joke by Carson about an impending shortage of toilet paper triggered a run on the stuff in December, 1973, stores were rationing the stuff. There had already been shortages of meet earlier that year (not to mention the gasoline shortage that was going on at the time).

Jay Leno and David Letterman fought hard to replace Carson. Leno won, but there was considerable bad feeling between the two. CBS created The Late Show for Letterman to compete with The Tonight Show.

Both Letterman and Leno have also retired.

Johnny Carson kept a pretty low profile in retirement. He died of smoking-related emphysema in 2005

Cooking Sheriff Clarke

(No, not that one.)
Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who this week announced he will be joining Donald Trump's administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized sections of his 2013 master's thesis on US security, a CNN KFile review has found.
Note that Clarke doesn't flatly deny it, but says, instead, that it wasn't plagiarism.

I knew of a lawyer, a long time back, who was about four years out of school when somebody read that person's writing project and said "what the fuck?" They gave the lawyer an F on the writing project, which meant that that person's degree was yanked. That, in turn, let to revoking their law license.

But if you're a politician, you can get away with that shit. Up to a point.

The Past is Still Alive- Aviation Ed.

A 16 year old girl, Caroline Dougherty, flew her first solo in this 1918 Jenny, powered by an original OX-5.


That's pretty impressive.

I read somewhere that back in the `30s, when even large airports were often grass (or cinder) fields, airport operators began forbidding tailskid-equipped airplanes from landing there because of the damage they did to the turf. The couple that I've seen flying (over a few decades of doing this) have had tailwheels, probably because landing a tailskid-equipped airplane on pavement would be like plopping the tail down on ice.

Shorter Flynn: "I Did Nuttin Wrong, See!"

President* Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn won't provide records to the Senate intelligence committee and will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to a subpoena from the committee, according to a source close to Flynn.
Yep, the guy that Trump insists is as pure as the driven snow.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Imagine the Screams From the Right If the Clintons Had Done This

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will reportedly pledge $100 million toward a fund for women entrepreneurs that was built by Ivanka Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund, an idea that the president's elder daughter proposed, will work to help women in the Middle East who want to start their own businesses.

The donation from Saudi Arabia and the UAE was set to be announced at a Sunday event with President Trump’s daughter, according to the report.
If the Clintons had done this, the Right would be frothing so much that they'd be hospitalized for possible hydrophobia.

Saying "but, but Clinton" is hypocrisy. Or it is a childish excuse on the level of screaming "but Maaaaa, Billy did it, too!"

If it was wrong for Clinton, then you can't normalize it by saying that makes it OK for Trump.

And anyone who believes that the Saudis really give a shit about women as entrepreneurs, and that this isn't a form of "pay to play" graft shouldn't be allowed out of the house without wearing a helmet.

Your Sunday Morning, Well, Something Aeronautical

Test footage of "zero-zero" ejection seats:


One of the serious concerns about ejection seats is the real possibility of serious spinal injuries from using them. Above 350kts, there are other forces that can badly injure an ejecting pilots, such as wind blast and wind-induced drag.

On the other hand, it might be better to be a quite a bit messed up than somewhat dead.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Person of Interest", Indeed

Trump’s Oval Office boast to Russian officials May 10 about why he fired FBI Director James Comey will almost certainly trigger a more immediate, and potentially perilous, legal development: an obstruction of justice investigation into whether the president intentionally engaged in a cover-up that warrants the filing of criminal charges, current and former Justice Department officials say.

Trump summarily terminated Comey one day earlier, just as it appeared that his FBI investigators were ramping up their investigation into the president’s associates — and possibly Trump himself. A day later, the president told Russian’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.”

“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. … I’m not under investigation,” Trump added, according to an official White House document summarizing the meeting, as reported Friday by the New York Times.
Donnie seems to be bound and determined to talk himself into either exile* or a prison cell. For he likely sure as shit is now under investigation.

When will politicians ever come to realize that, short of murdering people, it's not what they did that cooks their asses, it's covering it up.

UPDATE: Might be Jared.
________________________________________________________
* It will be very interesting if AF1 makes a side trip to Moscow to drop off a passenger.

For Grammar Nazis Everywhere


At Amazon, `natch.

90 Years On

The Spirit of St. Louis departed from Roosevelt Field in NY enroute Paris. The goal was to win the Orteig Prize for the first successful flight between New York and Paris.

Recently, unpublished photos of the first test flight of The Spirit were uncovered:


It's hard to overstate the importance of the flight. It sparked an interest in aviation that lasted in this country for most of the rest of the century. For decades, a common refrain of the early builders of experimental (amateur) airplanes was that they became interested in flying after Lindbergh's flight. Some of them told of seeing The Spirit of St Louis on its tour in the year after the flight to Paris.

Lindbergh's arrival airport, Le Bourget Field, is still in use. His departure airport, Roosevelt Field, was taken over by a developer who turned it into a shopping mall. The tragedies and controversies of Lindbergh's later life are beyond the scope of this post.

Caturday

A male cardinal was perched on the porch railing.


The bird was looking right at Chip. I'm pretty sure that the bird knew that he was safe and that he was tormenting Chip. The bird flew away, but returned a half-hour later for some more fun.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Drone Away

Hobbyists' drones may not have to register with the FAA:
A D.C.-based appeals court struck down a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule on Friday requiring recreational drone users to register their model aircraft with the federal government, in a major win for drone hobbyists.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with plaintiff John A. Taylor, a recreational drone pilot, who argued that the FAA doesn’t have the power to make him register his toy drones because Congress already said the FAA can’t regulate model aircraft.

“The FAA’s 2015 registration rule, which applies to model aircraft, directly violates that clear statutory prohibition,” the opinion said. “We therefore grant Taylor’s petition and vacate the registration rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft.”
This could get very interesting. What size does a drone have to be in order to be considered a "model aircraft"? There are some pretty honking huge model airplanes out there.

Because It's Friday


It's nice to watch videos that were made by photographers who understand framing and the use of tripods.

Goombye, Carlos Danger

Former congressman Anthony Weiner, whose penchant for sexting strangers online ended his political career and led to an investigation that upended the presidential race, will appear in federal court Friday to plead guilty to charges in connection with his online communications with a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, officials said.

A law enforcement official said Weiner has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of transferring obscene material to a minor.
Don't let the cell door hit you in the ass, Tony.

UPDATE: About fucking time, Huma.

Masada

President* Trump is canceling a planned speech at an ancient mountain fortress in Israel, according to a new report.

Trump will no longer visit Masada on Monday after authorities told him that he could not land his helicopter there, Newsweek reported, citing Israel’s Channel 2.
I guess taking a cable car to the ruins of the fortress would be too much for him. Or maybe his aides, suspecting that Trump would toss a hissy fit, didn't even ask him.

If there is such a thing as a secularly sacred site, Masada is one. But given Trump's aggressive ignorance of American history, it's likely that he knows very little about the history of Masada.

When some Trump staffer brought up the subject of visiting Masada, it's probably a safe bet that he thought that he was going to be speaking at a Japanese car factory.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Flynn Won't Testify to the Senate

Ousted White House National Security adviser Michael Flynn will apparently not be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee anytime soon about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the panel’s chairman, said Flynn’s lawyer told him that the retired army general, whom President Donald Trump fired in February, would not honor the committee’s subpoena to produce documents related to the Russia investigation.
That's probably the smartest thing that Flynn has done in years. He may be at risk for treason, for interfering with the planning of a military operation while being paid by a foreign power.

Which would make him the first general officer to commit treason since the Revolutionary War.

Trump and Media Bias

As pointed out here, Dick Cheney survived being hated. But Trump won't:
Many conservatives suspect that our major media outlets and intelligence agencies are out to get Trump, and they’re probably right. (How many of the damaging Trump stories have concerned an unverified allegation by an unnamed source with unknown motives? Many.) But such pitfalls were obvious from the start, and Trump could have overcome them by playing a cool game of humility, cunning, and discipline. (Recall how much Dick Cheney pulled off by staying quiet. Sorry, but do recall it.)

For all that Trump supporters complain of media bias, the most damaging stuff hasn’t come from the press but from the man himself. No one but Trump fired James Comey. No one but Trump tweeted out taunts right afterward. No one but Trump tweeted out soft threats about possible “tapes,” in quotation marks. No one but Trump cited Comey’s investigations into Russia as an explanation for firing him. No one but Donald Trump fired off unbaked tweets in March about being spied on by Barack Obama. No one but Trump has sent aides scurrying almost daily to come up with an excuse for his latest lapse of self-control. If Trump were capable of self-control lasting more than a day, he wouldn’t be in trouble nearly this bad. But counterfactuals will be of no help to him. His slavery to impulse has been obvious for at least a year now, ever since Trump kept sabotaging himself even after all but wrapping up the Republican nomination.

Did the Department of Justice Throw Trump Under the Bus?

A battalion of White House aides entered the Oval Office together to present a unified front after the bombshell.

The Justice Department had appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the probe into Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, White House counsel Don McGahn had just told President* Donald Trump. Many of Trump’s top aides gathered with the president Wednesday evening just after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the order and called McGahn — and just before the news exploded publicly in Washington.
So the DoJ appointed a special prosecutor without Jeff Sessions notifying the President beforehand?

Interesting.

One way to look at it is that Rosenstein just paid Trump back for Trump's attempt to place the responsibility for firing Comey on Rosenstein.

Or the Pros From Dover want to settle this question the right way, instead of allowing Trump to try and tweet-storm his way out of it.

Either way, smart members of the White House staff who may have been even tangentially involved with any of this would be wise to have legal counsel on tap before the subpoenas start flying.