Words of Advice:

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

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

"Mobs Do Not Rush Across Town to Do Good Deeds." -- James Lee Burke

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys underground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"Let’s eat all of these people!” — Venom

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Fourth

246 years ago, the Second Continental Congress formally recognized that the American Colonies, at least the northern ones, rebelled against the British Empire over a year before.

(Open this link in a new tab and listen as you read.)

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

A Couple for Tomorrow



Since I'm here, I'll throw a few others down.


Times Are a' Changin', and Gasoline's Not Going to be Cheap Again

After an explosing and fires in 2019, the PES refinery in Philadelphia closed for good. The Houston Oil refinery will close next year.

They aren't the only ones.

Refineries are neither cheap to build nor to operate. So when something happens at one that will cost a lot of money to fix, the owners have to ask themselves: "Is it worth putting in nine-figures' worth of money to get this plant running again?" When a company is making a huge investment to repair or upgrade a refinery, they are looking ten or twenty years out to see if they can recoup their investment.[1]

Increasingly, the answer is "no".

The reasoning is not hard to understand. More and more people are buying electric vehicles. EVs themselves are getting better.[2] More and more EVs means less and less demand for gasoline. More and more EVs means that more charging infrastructure will be built. More ease and capacity to charge up EVs will persuade more people to make the plunge.[3]

Having the infrastructure to recharge the vehicles is a major issue.[4] An alternate may be to engineer the vehicles for semi-easy battery changes. Imagine pulling into a robotic garage, where the battery is removed and a fully-charged one installed in a matter of minutes.

But all of that means that as the demand for gasoline begins to drop, then it will be refined in fewer places. The price of gasoline will then go up even more, which will create its own semi-death spiral. If you want to see an example of that, then look at the history of aviation gasoline, which has become a specialty product.

So how can this be somewhat abated? One answer is by using the Federal government to put its thumb on the scales of the market. If having gasoline available is a public good, the Feds could subsidize the operation, renovation and even construction of refineries.[5] The argument for doing so could be to have the ability to make far more JP-8 for wartime use.[6] Another answer would be to make it attractive for businesses and parking lots to install public-use charging stations. Or we can do both.

But if we do nothing at all, the cost of running a fueled vehicle will only increase, for you can drill your brains out and build more pipelines, but if there's no place to refine the product, increased levels of crude production won't matter one shiny fart.
__________________________________
[1] The irony of corporate leaders, who can't solve the problems confronting them today, planning twenty years out, is not lost on me.
[2] The difference between buying a Tesla and buying from the Big Three is that Tesla has a Silicon Valley mindeset that regards customers are unpaid product testers. The Big Three, on the other hand, test their products before selling them.
[3] There are two hard nuts to crack on this: Deeply rural areas and densely-populated urban areas. The answer to that is a topic I intend to explore at a later time.
[4] The reverse will also be true, if filling stations start to close.
[5] There is precedent for this. During the Second World War, the government's Defense Plant Corp. built aluminum plants.
[6] We may need it if Putler's War expands.

Your Sunday Morning Turboprop Noise

A Piaggio P-180:



I've only seen and heard one fly by overhead and it sounded...different. It might be because the exhaust flow is chopped up by the props. There are quite a few on the FAA registry, but, for some reason, the state with the most of them is Oklahoma.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Caturday

Chip discovers the best use for an exercise bench.



It's been about six years since he came home with me.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Bangity

I went to the range. It's fairly hot here, but the range is in the basement of a building, so I thought it might not be too bad. I forgot that indoor ranges are heavily ventilated, so that means that a lot of outside (and hot) air is sucked in.

Oh, well.

This is what I brought to the range:



A generic 1911A1 in God's Own Caliber and a S&W Model 66-8. Before going to the range, I loaded a shitload of magazines and speedloaders, so that I could maximize the time shooting.

This is how the Model 66 did at about 30' or so, shooting double-action:



Later on, I kept up a good rate of fire with the Model 66 to see if I could make it fail in the same way as its predecessor did. I got the cylinder too hot to comfortably touch, but the gun kept working. I now have Pachmyer wraparound compact grips, which are nice, but the gun still is not fun to shoot with heavier-bullet .357s.

As for the 1911, it has a SFS kit installed. What I like about the mod is that it facilitates hammer-down carry, which is less likely to snag clothing. What I don't like about it is that the trigger now feels like a target trigger. The next time that I detail-strip the gun, I will probably bend in the trigger-return leaf of the sear spring. I shot Wilson magazines; 47s, 47Ds and ETMs. The slide would not lock back on firing with an empty mag on the 47Ds, but would on the others. It's kind of a known problem with 47Ds and these have new springs. (They will lock the slide back if the slide is manually pulled back.)

A good day at the range, followed up with some gun-cleaning.

Legitimacy and Why It Matters, or
"Nice Little Representative Democracy You Have Here. Pity If Something Were To Happen to It."

Let's say that there is a basketball game that is played between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Carolina Hurricanes. Lots of people are interested to see the spectacle and they fill up the Gund Arena for the game. Millions of people tune in to watch.

There's lots of action, lots of laughs at the sight of a baseball team playing a hockey team in a basketball game. Everyone has fun and the Redbirds win. Lots of people bet at the various sports books, for nothing like a really insane game to bring out the patsies. The sportswriters write some great pieces. Everyone goes home happy.

Now, let's change things a little. The officials are flagrantly pro-Hurricanes. Imaginary fouls are called on the Cardinals, while the Hurricanes' players can do anything short of knifing the Cardinal's players. Nobody is happy, there is fighting on the court that spreads into the stands. The cops show up in force, hundreds of people are arrested and the Gund Arena is burned to the ground.

The first version of the game was legitimate. Maybe those who bet bigly on the Hurricanes were disapppointed, but those are the breaks of the game. In the second version of the game, the winners won by basically cheating, the losers were gypped and nobody with a rational mind recognizes the validity of the game.

This is, in essence, what is happening to the Supreme Court. While the justices all said that "we only call balls and strikes", it's pretty clear, with the recent flurry of decisions, that the Court is operating in a zone where they are blatantly twisting the Constitution and the law to achieve the results that they want, which is: Making this country into a Christianist nation.

Confidence in the Court, usually the best-liked branch of government, is reaching new lows.

Issuing bullshit rulings hurts their legitimacy. Oh, they may proclaim that no kid is coerced to attend the coach's prayers, but that's a crock. Anyone who knows anything about school sports knows it's a crock.

The Court has very little in the way of enforcement mechanism. They can issue orders, but if their orders are ignored, there really is fuck-all they can do about it. Let's say, for example, that the State Legislature of New York in reaction to Bruen says "fuck you, we're not changing the laws."[1]

Are they going to hold each legislator who doesn't vote the way that they want in contempt? Are they going to issue a writ to every county in NY when the local issuing authority refuses to issue a permit? Because, as BadTux has noted, the Feds aren't going to send in the paratroopers to enforce the decision.[2]

Between the overturning of Roe, Bruen and the EPA case, one can reasonably state that the batshit-crazy wing of the Supremes has decided to take a massive shit on their oath of office, with requires them to impartially decide cases. Which they are not doing, they are deciding them ideologically.

But hold onto your drawers, folks, it's going to get worse:

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a case that could dramatically change how federal elections are conducted. At issue is a legal theory that would give state legislatures unfettered authority to set the rules for federal elections, free of supervision by the state courts and state constitutions.

The theory, known as the "independent state legislature theory," stems from the election clause in Article I of the Constitution. It says, "The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof."

Extreme jerrymandering? Check. Decertifying the results of an election because the Trumpists don't like who won? Check. Let's be clear about this, if that was in place for the 2020 election, the Republicans would have thrown out the results in the battleground states and installed TOFF and, in essence, an illegitimate dictator.

What would conditions be like now if that had been done, if the majority of the American people recognized that TOFF and his thugs had indeed stolen the election? I don't know, and neither do you. But ask this question: Cui bono? Who benefits?

The only winners in destabilizing the United States are Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Kim Jon-Il.

I remember when the Right was big on loyalty oaths. Too bad that they have stopped believing in swearing loyalty to the United States and now, only swear loyalty to their party and to the TOFF.

Also, what the Rude Pundit said.
_____________________________
[1] After all, there are a bunch of batshit-crazy sheriffs who say they don't recognize federal law.
[2] What is more likely to happen will be "enhanced" training requirements (designed to keep those people from qualifying for permits, and expansive rules on where guns can't be carried, all designed to make people go back to Federal court to have the requirements invalidated, a process that will take years.

Because It's Friday

Plowing snow in the Alps:



I missed last week's. So sue me.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

JB Welding These Down, Here






The Star Spangled Banner, LGEN Flynn Style

Stephen Colbert and The Late Show audience sing it:



I screwed it up last night, so I just went to bed instead of fixing it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Time Flies Like an Arrow, MOH Ed.

Hershel W. "Woody" Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, died Wednesday. He was 98.

Williams' foundation announced on Twitter and Facebook that he died at the Veterans Affairs medical center bearing his name in Huntington.

As a young Marine corporal, Williams went ahead of his unit during the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Ocean in February 1945 and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions.

His MOH citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants, and silencing the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment and aided vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective. Cpl. Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


The Second World War is going from living history to just history. They deserve the highest honor.

Monday, June 27, 2022

"I Could Never Shoot Another Person."

That's what a friend of mine told me earlier today. She's almost my age, she's white, Christian and has lived a typical middle/upper-middle class life. So I understand where she is coming from.

I'm almost like her, except for one important difference: I'm not Christian. My religious tradition teaches that there has been many times when government-sponsored groups have attempted to enslave us and to murder us. They have had varying success, but we're still here.

BadTux has pointed out that, thanks to the Supreme Court's hard turn to the right, that those times are coming for this country.

He is right about one other thing: The Supreme Court, in 1954, did not hand down Brown vs. Board of Ed. of Topeka like a bolt from the blue, the way that they just overruled Roe v. Wade. The NAACP attacked Plessy V. Ferguson for decades, challenging "separate-but-equal" in case after case. The NAACP picked apart Plessy, challenging the denial of admission of a Black man to U-MO because there were no state facilities for higher education of Black people. The NAACP challenged school conditions in other states, each time, proving that there was no equality and obtaining Supreme Court orders to change those conditions. Finally, it because clear to the Court that there was no piecemealing to be done and they made a national ruling.

That wasn't what the Right did. They, instead, worked for decades to salt the judiciary with ideologues and, when they finally got their majority on the Court, they struck. Not by appealing to reason, not by providing evidence, but imposing a decsion based solely in ideology and their religious beliefs.

Worse, they have worked diligently to strip away voting rights, to ensure that their voices are heard above all, and to ensure that the states can tilt their playing fields so that their voters have an outsized impact. They are working to ensure that, even if they lose elections, that those results will be thrown out.

We are standing on the edge of a right-wing, Christianist authoritarian state.

We are in real danger of losing our democracy. Not to any external enemy, but to the enemies of democracy and freedom that we, ourselves, have grown.

What are you going to do about it?

Russian War Crimes Continue

Scores of civilians were feared killed or wounded in a Russian missile strike Monday on a crowded shopping mall in Ukraine's central city of Kremenchuk, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post that the number of victims was “unimaginable,” citing reports that more than 1,000 civilians were inside at the time of the attack. Images from the scene showed giant plumes of black smoke from the shopping center engulfed in flames, as emergency crews rushed in and onlookers watched in distress
.

Russia had to have hit the mall with a long-range precision-guided missile, so it's pretty clear that the Russians did exactly what they wanted to do: Hit a civilian target and cause large numbers of casualties.

In short, this is nothing but a deliberate attack carried out by a nation of barbarians. They may have fine ballet, theater and a tradition of literature and the arts, but they are barbarians, descended fom the Golden Horde.

Scratch a Russian, find a Tartar.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Saturday, June 25, 2022

USA:1/3rd Theocracy, 2/3rds Republic

For now.

Your vote is the only thing that will stop this Christianist bullshit.

Caturday

There be birds, matey!