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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Forecast: Crankiness

I have not flown for two weeks and it will be at least a week, maybe longer, until my next flight. On my last flight, the compass started dripping fluid down onto the glareshield. The compass fluid is kind of flammable and behind the glareshield are wires and radio gear, so let's just say flying like that is not a good idea. Not to mention those nice people at the FAA regard a working compass as a really good thing to have in an airplane.

They are not kidding.

Close to 20 years ago (or 40 Friedman Units), I got back into flying after a prolonged stint of not flying because I had had a job where I was gone a lot. One of the things I wanted to fly was tailwheel airplanes. I lived maybe ten minutes away from an airport, but in order to check out in a tailwheel airplane, I had to drive an hour to another airport. I checked out in the military version of a Piper Cub, a Piper L-4.


The airport had a control tower and Piper Cubs don't have electrical systems, so each flight, I had to check out a hand-held radio.

It took awhile to unlearn the bad habits one accrues from flying Cessnas, but eventually I completed the checkout. I'd to to the airport and either shoot landings or just go fly around, enjoying the summer.

So one summer day I'm out flying along and I hit an updraft or a downdraft (I don't remember which) that really rattled my brains. A couple of seconds later, after my brain unrattled, I did a quick check to make sure the major parts were still attached to the airplane. Then I noticed that the compass was askew.

This is an aircraft compass:

The white line is the "lubber line". On this compass, the compass heading is 210 degrees. The compass headings are indicated on that round thing that's often referred to as the compass card (if you've ever seen an old ship's compass, you'll understand why). The compass card swims in fluid (helps dampen errant swings) and it rides on a pivot point.

The jolt was enough to knock the compass card from its pivot, so the compass was about as useful as an ethicist would be to Dick Cheney.

I was over a rather featureless stretch of marshland and, as one of the fun things about flying a Cub is the "low and slow" routine, I couldn't see a lot. The technical term for that situation is "lost." I knew the airport was some distance to the west and, after getting an idea where the Sun was, I headed off to the west as best I could, which probably meant plus or minus 50 degrees. Or more.

In a few minutes (it seemed a lot longer), I came to the Interstate. I dropped down low enough to read the signs and then I followed the highway until I came to the exit for a town that was about six miles from the airport. I followed the road to the town. I circled the town and tried to get the radio to work, but while I could hear the tower, I couldn't talk to them.

In a move of inspiration or desperation, I tried the ground control frequency and that worked. The controllers in the tower were agreeable to having me on ground control while everyone else was on the tower frequency. I followed the river that meandered from the airport to the town (only flying upstream) until I got back to the airport and finished the flight.

Some days it's better to be lucky than good, and that was one of them.

So my preference is for a working compass.

Bullets

This is a slow-motion video of a .45 hardball round being fired through a block of ballistic gelatin:



This is a Barnes Triple-X rifle bullet in .308 Winchester:



Pause the video as the bullet exits the block and see how much it expanded.

The Wounded Battalion

2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Just go read it.

Huckabee on Immigration

I will be up front about this: I don't much care for Mike Huckabee. I don't like that he is sucking up to the agents of intolerance in the Christian Taliban.

But he did say one thing that set him apart from most of the rest of the panderers in the GOP race for the presidential nomination:

"I started work when I was 14 and I had to pay my own way through, and I know how hard it was to get that degree. I'm standing here tonight on this stage because I got an education. If I hadn't had the education, I wouldn't be standing on this stage. I might be picking lettuce. I might be a person who needed government support rather than who was giving so much money in taxes I want to get rid of the tax code that we've got and make it really different. In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that."

McCain said something similar: "These are God's children as well and they need some protections under the law and they need some of our love and compassion."

Guiliani and Romney, on the other hand, competed to see who could be the nastiest and the most black-hearted of all, both on the issue of immigration and of torture.

This exchange is illuminating:

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, Governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is.

MR. ROMNEY: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.

SEN. MCCAIN: Then I am astonished that you would think such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are -- held captive, and anyone who could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Conventions. (Applause.) It's in violation of existing law.

And Governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years, we're not going to torture people. We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going Pot do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak.

And I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others. And how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond, please.

MR. ROMNEY: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not say, and I do not say, that we're in -- that I'm in favor of torture. I am not. I'm not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do.

And I get that -- and I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years. I'd get that advice by talking to former general in our military, and I don't believe --

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. ROMNEY: -- I don't believe it's appropriate for me as a presidential candidate to lay out all of the issues one by one --

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. ROMNEY: -- get question one by one, is this torture, is that torture.

MR. COOPER: Senator McCain?

MR. ROMNEY: That's something which I'm going to take your and other people's counsel on.

MR. COOPER: Senator McCain, 30 seconds to respond.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, then you would have to advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, which were for the treatment of people who are held prisoner, whether they be illegal combatants or regular prisoners of war, because it's clearly the definition of torture. It's in violation of laws we have passed.

And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not 24 and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The army general there said that the techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn't think they need to do anything else.

My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a defining issue, and clearly, we should be able if we want to be commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces to take a definite and positive position on, and that is we will never allow torture to take place in the United States of America -- (off mike) -- (cheers, applause.)


(By the way, Cofer Black is a rather evil fucker who was working for Blackwater before he signed onto the "Willard M. Romney for Fuhrer" campaign."

Economic Forecast for Next Year

Not looking so good:

By the end of the primaries and heading into the summer, we could be looking at the collapse of the real estate market, which will have an impact upon homebuilders and suppliers, like Home Depot and Lowe’s. That’s going to put up red flags even for the Bush Administration, which is pretty much brain-dead. Whoever gets the nomination is going to be staring at a recession and a financial market running scared with safety and soundness issues. Citibank and J.P. Morgan could be facing insolvency, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well.

The only good news in the piece is that the writer thinks that energy prices will drop by 20% next year, as the energy market right now is being driven by speculators (shades of what Enron did to California in `01).

Venn Diagram on Intelligent Design


The original is here.

(H/T to Crooks & Liars)

Another Way to Fuck Over the Soldiers

As you probably have heard, the Army has a rotation plan of "15 months in Iraq, 12 months home." What you may not have heard is that the rotation plan applies to units, not soldiers.

So, say you're in Division X. You do fifteen months in Iraq and you're home for three or four months. Then you get transferred to Division Y, which is going to Iraq in a few weeks and, guess what, you're going for a full fifteen month tour.

Which means that in a three year period, you are in Iraq for 2-1/2 years.

What I have also heard is that if you are one of the soldiers in Division X and your enlistment ends in six months, the Army will throw you into Division Y in order to "stop-loss" your ass.

I'll try to track this down when I have some time.

Oh, the Humanity!

The Republicans have got their panties all bunched up because, horror of horrors, a Democrat asked a question during the YouTube debate.

Such a scandal, that Republican candidates actually might have to answer a question from anyone who isn't a paid-up Kool-Aid Drinker. That they might actually have to answer a question that wasn't generated from the Wingnut's Handbook.

Oh, the humanity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Explain Something to Me

Why is it that a guy who beats his wife to death is going to spend less time in the Crossbar Hilton than a guy who utters threats?

One guy runs his mouth and he gets five to eight; another guy whacks his wife as she is wrapping presents and he gets four-and-a-half to seven? He not only hits his wife with a metal bar, he hits her so hard and so much that the cops first thought she had taken a shotgun blast in the head, and then he staged a burglary to cover it up. And he is only going to do 4.5 to 7 for that?

How does that make sense?

Oh, in case you didn't click on the links, one of the perps is a white college professor, the other is a Black guy. No prizes for guessing which is which.

(Ht/T to the field negro)

Preemptive Warfare

I've read some stuff over the years about how the Bush Administration is so fond of the doctrine of preemtive war and that Darth Cheney's threshold for preemption is a 1% chance of something bad happen.

Some years ago, in a flat state between the Alleghenies and the Rockies, I was gassing up my little Honda Civic. A pickup truck pulled up alongside the other side of the pumps. The driver got out to fill up the truck and the various pieces of gas-powered equipment he had in an open-bed trailer.

The driver had a shaved head and spiderweb tattoos on both of his elbows.

My understanding at the time was that such tattoos were an indicator that one was a white supremacist or suchlike and that the person so inked had either participated in a gay-bashing or an assault on a minority.

Given the 1% Doctrine, would I have been morally justified in shooting his ass right then and there? (I'm not talking about "legally justified", I know the answer to that.)

Burger King- The Reverse Robin Hood

There is a proposal to pay tomato pickers an additional penny per pound of tomatoes that they pick. The fight against paying the pickers any more is being led by Burger King.

45 cents. That's what the pickers earn for picking one 32-pound bucket of tomatoes.

So it seems as though Burger King is taking the position that royalty has taken for millennia: Take from the poor and enrich yourself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Strange Women...

...lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.



On the other hand, seeing what our system produced for our current leader, maybe we ought to give the "watery tart handing out swords" system a try.

This I Swear

So help me, the next apartment I rent is going to have light-colored carpeting.

I am so tired of discovering errant cat turds by means of the Helen Keller Method.

Laws Are For Little People to Obey

A judge in Michigan, who had a gun in her purse at the airport, had all charges dropped because she had a carry permit. The prosecutor said there was no proof she intended to carry the gun through security, she just sort of forgot she had it.

And the fact that she is a judge makes no nevermind, I suppose.

And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell to you.

"God Told Me to Steal the Money"

If you follow things out to the logical conclusion, that would seem to be Oral Roberts, Junior's defense.

So, if God told him to fight the lawsuit and then God told him to resign his job, is God now telling him "they got you by the balls, kiddo"?

Eclipse Jet- Spiralling In?

Eclipse Aviation is offering significant discounts to customers who can give them a cash infusion right now.

It seems they need cash badly, which is not a great sign. If you are an Eclipse customer and you agree to pony up an additional $625K now, you may ultimately save a few hundred grand on the delivery price. Of course, if Eclipse later craters, you get to stand in line with all of the other creditors and collect your pennies on the dollar.

Some of these VLJ makers, as well as a lot of the LSA makers, are going to crater big-time. This happens quite frequently in aviation at all levels of the game. There that old saying "if you want to make a small fortune in aviation, first start with a large fortune" for a reason.

Very Bad News For Cops Today

Two men in Newark, NJ, dressed as cops, robbed a home.

The bad news should be obvious. If people have the suspicion that the guys outside yelling "Police!" are not cops, they may be inclined to resist with force. Both cops and civilians are at an increased risk of being killed because of these thugs.

Winning Hearts and Minds with 500-Lb Bombs

Nothing like bombing your own workers to win the support of the population. You don't make people happy by bombing them.

And when we are killing more civilians than the terrorists, an objective observer might wonder just who the terrorists really are. You can bet that our opponents are playing this up.

Maybe you're wondering why this story isn't being pursued aggressively by our own reporters. Keep wondering.

Scraping the Barrel

You probably may not know that the Navy is sending officers and sailors to serve in Iraq. Another article. Roughly 3% of the Navy is on the ground in Iraq. The Air Force is also sending people.

One of the commentators to the article in the New London Day has the right of it: This is indeed a sign of desperation. It is a rare thing in warfare for a navy to send its sailors to serve as soldiers, doing so is a clear indication that its army counterpart has run out of soldiers.

More to the point, when people make a choice of their branch of service, they do so in large part because of what that service does. Sending sailors and airmen to Iraq to do the job of soldiers is a breaking of the faith with those sailors and airmen. It is a breaking of the basis of the understanding that those men and women had when they signed up. Bush is not satisfied by only breaking the Army and the Marines, he is going to break the Navy and the Air Force.

Bush is doing more damage to the military than the Soviet Union could ever have dreamed of doing. Bush has recruited more jihadis to the ranks of the militants than bin Ladin could ever have. Bush has given Iran's government all of the rationales that they needed in order to work towards building a nuclear weapon. In every way, Bush has served to boost the power and influence of our enemies.

You have to wonder what his true agenda really is.

Cessna 350/400

Time was that a Cessna 300 series airplane was a light twin-engined airplane like this

or this


and a Cessna 400 series aircraft looked like this



Not any more. Cessna has purchased the assets of Columbia Aircraft and will build them as Cessna 350s and Cessna 400s.


That's good news for the owners of Columbia's airplanes, as they will not be trying to maintain an orphan airframe.

But if Cessna has ever made a low-wing single-engined airplane, I can't think of it.


(Yes I know about the T-37, but it was a twin)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Willard??

Did you know that Mitt Romney's real first name is "Willard?"

I sure didn't.

I gather that "Willard M. Romney for President" didn't play so well in the focus groups.

The Biggest Bunch of Bullshit in Recent Memory

Karl Rove is claiming that the Bush Administration didn't want to go to war in Iraq, that the Senate forced Bush to go to war.

I'm sorry. That's the biggest load of shit dumped into the public domain in recent memory. That's not just willful blindness to the historical record, that is an obscenely blatant attempt to lie about history and to try and twist the truth.

This will be a good Kool-Aid Drinker test: Anybody who swallows this line of shit has surrendered their common sense to George Bush.

I Fraked Off Tonight. Deal

I switched on the idjit box while I was eating and saw that "V for Vendetta" was starting.

So, instead of looking and news websites and posting snarky references to the idiocies of Chimperor Stupidicus Maximus, I took the night off and enjoyed the movie.

I know I've posted this clip before. Deal on both counts.

Living It Down

A very long time ago, when I was a little kid, I went to a display of firefighting engines and gear. There was a photographer from the Bi-Weekly Birdcage Liner who would plop a fireman's hat on a child and take a photo. He wanted to take my picture and he persuaded me by showing his list of kids who he had photographed and said that my picture probably wouldn't be printed.

So I let him take my picture. You can guess which one made it into the paper. It took me months to live that down and the first few weeks were no fun. I was blindsided by it because my family instead subscribed to the Daily Fishwrapper.

I thought of that when I saw this item on the nightly news:

"Iraqi soldiers manning a checkpoint just north of Baghdad came upon a first: a wedding procession in which the bride, draped in a flowing white gown and veil, needed a shave."

That's going to be a hard one to live down for the Bitch of Cell Block Foxtrot.....

Trent Lott's Gay Sex Scandal?

That's what this article claims.

I'm not sure I buy it. But it is as good an explanation as the "I heard a really good sermon" line or that "he's getting out to beat the change in the lobbying rules" line.

Further snark as this story develops.

Many Mornings Are Like This

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Sheep: Get Ready

I was surfing a town's website and found a link to the Department of Родина Homeland Security's "Be Ready" checklist of what the really competent folks at the DHS think you need in your emergency kit.

Note the absence of any discussion of firearms.

If recent history is any guide (LA Riots, gulf Coast hurricanes), when the system breaks down, the two-legged predators come out in droves. You should consider what you plan to do in that situation, if you are going to bother to take the time to put together your DHS-inspired readiness kit.

The Social Security Flim-Flam

No, it's not that Social Security is a flim-flam. It's that the Feds, both Democrat and Republican (mostly Republicans), have been using the Social Security Trust Fund to reduce the apparent size of the Federal deficit. It's not that Social security is broke, it's that the Feds have been borrowing from it, so what is really supposed to be a "trust fund" is really a huge series of notes that say "Dear Seniors, we owe you trillions of dollars. (signed) the Feds."

Which will all have to be paid back. so you young people, you have Reagan, Bush41 and Bush43 to thank for the fact that you are going to wind up paying higher taxes and getting piss-poor services in return.

And yes, if you are a pilot and you wonder why the Feds are so loath to spend the Aviation Trust Fund to upgrade the air traffic control system and why, despite having several billions in the Aviation Trust Fund, the Bushies keep trying to ram through user fees, same reason.

I Hate the Cable Guy

Not him personally, I guess, but his employer.

They book their appointments from "somewhere between 8AM and 11AM." That's just bullshit, since unless you are the first appointment of the day, in which case the dude is going to get there around 8AM (or whenever he's finished up at the donut shop) or your not, in which case it's going to be later.

They aren't the only ones who pull this shit. The last time I moved, the movers said they'd be there "between 7Am and 9AM." Which means that by the time they finally got their dead asses there, it was 12:30, and not having had breakfast, lunch or coffee, I was torn between hugging them in relief and shooting them and dumping their bodies off the balcony. In the end, I did neither.

The last time I had to deal with the Cable Dude, "between 8AM and 11AM" worked out to be "sometime after 1PM" and, as that followed soon on the heels of the Mover Dudes, I was probably not the most pleasant customer he had to deal with. He didn't look happy, probably because I didn't give him a tip.

I wanted to shoot his dead ass.

Cheney's Heart

Who knew he had one?

Doctors had to shock it back into rythym.

No word as to whether the procedure resembled this:

Snark About Cirrus

You've possibly heard of Cirrus, the airplanes with built-in parachutes.


They're pretty fast, they have luxurious interiors and glass panel instruments:


And of course, they have parachutes.


But for another view, check out the "CEO of the cockpit" on AvWeb. He argues that that the Cirruses ("Cirri?") are being marketed to non-pilots. It would seem to me that the marketing is akin to the way that luxury cars were marketed prior to World War I, when they were sold to swells who could afford to hire chauffeurs.

He argues that real pilots want to fly airplanes like this:

And this:

Or, if you need more than two seats, this:


And, last and, in my opinion, best:


(Because I own one)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bush Working as Hard as Ever for Peace

In other words "not hard at all." Bush plans to give the opening speech at the Annapolis talks and then skedaddle his pasty lazy ass back home.

Presidents in the past who really cared about reaching an agreement were personally involved in the negotiations and the cajoling of the participants. Not Chimpy, he's going to get the fuck out of Dodge before the ice in the first round of drinks can melt.

Though, it is easy to see why Stupie isn't going to hang around. First off, none of Darth Cheney's asswipe buddies are going to get rich off a peace deal. And second, if there isn't a body count, Owwr Leedur, the serial-killer-by-proxy, loses interest in everything.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I'll bet that the Christian Taliban had a cow over this.



Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad,
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle.
And this'll help things turn out for the best.

And....

Always look on the bright side of life, (whistle)
Always look on the bright side of life, (whistle)

If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing.

And...

Always look on the bright side of life. (whistle)
Come on...
Always look on the bright side of life...

For life is quite absurd,
And death's the final word,
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin,
Give the audience a grin,
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death,
Just before you draw your terminal breath,

Life's a piece of shit,
When you look at it,
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show,
Keep 'em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life,
Always look on the right side of life,

Come on guys, cheer up.
Always look on the bright side of life.
Worse things happen at sea, you know.
Always look on the bright side of life.
I mean - what have you got to lose?

You know, you come from nothing,
you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!

(fade...)

Diaries

I've seen this before, but I haven't seen it in years and then Scully sent it to me, so, without further ado:

DOG DIARY

8 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
Noon - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
5 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8 pm - Wow! Watched TV with my people! My favorite thing!
11 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


CAT DIARY

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.
Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However,I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow - but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.
For now.

Fashion Tips for the Clueless

This guy has some fashion tips. Some are absolutely priceless.

One is this, about Crocs:

"When I see people wearing Crocs, I know immediately that we have nothing in common, and that we could never be friends or have any meaningful kind of relationship. They come in every color imaginable yet look bad with every other article of clothing ever created. The only thing that goes with Crocs is social ostracism. To their credit, though, Crocs serve as an excellent idiot barometer..."

Ayup. As evidence that Crocs are a good idiot barometer, I offer these photos:


And not to be content with one fashion fuckup, His Douchebaggedness has to wear them with presidential socks:


The guy is right about another thing: Red lipstick makes you look like either a clown or a whore. I had a whole series of jobs where makeup was definitely not called for; makeup doesn't go so well when you are trying to troubleshoot a balky pump in a boiler room in the summer. So when I went for a makeover in law school, the woman doing it first made me over with bright red blush and bright red lipstick. I told her that unless she really thought that I was going to leave there and start blowing sailors down by the piers, she had better try again.

(H/T to Tam)

Self-Financing Candidates

Seems that the GOP is so short of money these days that the only way they can get candidates for offices is to look for rich ones who can pay their own way.

Foxwood to Unionize

The dealers at the Foxwoods Casino have voted to unionize.

Here is a tip for employers: Unions rarely win such elections, rather, employers lose them. Employers lose them because they don't treat the employees fairly; the supervisors have their favorites and those favorites get the best assignments and all of the overtime. They may be paid more. That creates resentment and then the union comes in, promising that the contract they will negotiate will require the bosses to play fair.

If you lose a unionization vote, don't blame your workers and don't blame the union. Take a good look at your operation and ask yourself why your people do not trust you to be honest and fair with them. If you cannot come up with a reason, odds are that either you are willfully blind or you don't know what is going on in your own company.

Moving the Goal Posts In Iraq

Remember when the goal of the Bush Administration was a secular democracy in Iraq, then it got scaled back to a sectarian democracy in which the parties addressed the issues facing Iraq?

Well, forget about that.
Now it's little more than hoping that they can talk to each other without shooting at each other.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Universe

Tam posted the lyrics, so I checked on YouTube.




And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

BSG-Razor

I wound up watching the tape this morning and to say "it was fraking awesome" understates it. Shit, in this country, we kick out gays and lesbians from the military. In the Twelve Colonies, a lesbian makes admiral and she is so mission driven that she personally shoots another officer in the face for refusing to carry out her orders.

Battlestar Galactica has a lot going for it. It is probably the best action show on television in years. The stories themselves have a lot of nuances in them. If you haven't seen the show, the next season begins its run in March (assuming the writers' strike doesn't frak it up), so you have 4+ months to go rent the four-hour miniseries that started it all and then rent Seasons 1-3. The story arc that took place on New Caprica is some of the best storytelling outside of HBO and it dealt with some very tough subjects. The women characters are some of the strongest and most capable women on TV since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air (and no, they are not imbued with super powers).

Besides the stories themselves, the sets are just amazing. The two battlestars (Galactica and Pegasus) in the interior have the look and feel of a Navy aircraft carrier. The multi-pushbutton intercoms that you see on the wall are the same that were (and probably still are) used on USN ships (they were not referred to as "intercoms", but as "bitch boxes"). The ranks are not the always the same, but many of the jobs are, including the CAG.

The current incarnation of Battlestar Galactica is not, in any way, the cheesy show of the late `70s. If you haven't watched the current show because you remember the old one, well, you've cheated yourself of some excellent tube time.

Are You Missing the Daily Show?

This, from the Times of London, may be an alternative. Audio only, unfortunately.

"Shoot first, hold court-martials later."

Republican History Repeats Itself

Eight years ago, "push polls", which alleged that John McCain fathered an illegitimate Black child, were used by George W. Bush's campaign to defeat McCain in South Carolina.

Now, somebody is using push polls to attack Romney. The interesting speculation is that it may be Romney himself doing it.

Opening Words

"You’re born, you live and you die. There are no do-overs, no second chances to make things right if you frak them up the first time. Not in this life, anyway.

"Like I said, you make your choices and you live with them. And in the end, you are those choices."

--Battlestar Galactica- Razor.

So say we all.

Dave Barry's Holiday Gift Guide

Read it here.

I love that the three ghosts in "A Christmas Carol" are the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Great Disconnect

One of the great disconnects during the Vietnam War was between those who looked at the results of individual battles and extrapolated from that to say "we're winning the war" and those looked at the political situation in Vietnam and said "we're probably going to lose."

The same thing is happening in Afghanistan. While supposedly every fight between the Taliban and American forces ends with the Taliban being defeated[1], the political situation is not at all promising. President Hamid Karzai remains little more than the mayor of Kabul, as his government has little control outside of the capital city. The Taliban is expanding its areas of influence.

Yet we're winning. According to our military.

[1] The military has demonstrated that it has earned all the trustworthiness accorded to MACV and the Five O'Clock Follies. (Look it up.)

Reason #5,628 Why Not to Fly the Airlines

They suck. And they suck by design.

This article
in today's New York Times, while not saying this precisely, explains why the coach section of an airliner now has all of the amenities and comfort of a Greyhound bus, complete with lavatories that probably are broken and oh, if you want food, bring your own.

But if you can afford business class or first class, the ride is a different experience altogether.

Sure, the airlines are trying to save every cent they can. American Airlines saved $34 million a year by ripping the coach-class galleys out of its DC-9s and replacing them with four seats (yeah, I know they call them MD-80s or MD-90s or Boeing 717s, but they will always be DC-9s to me). Not giving out free snacks saved Northworst $2 million a year. American also is saving almost a million a year by not handing out pillows. Everywhere the beancounters can cut service and save, they are doing that.

But if you want to know who is truly to blame for all of this, you need only look in a mirror.

When so many people book flights based solely on price, that tells the airlines that the only interest you have is getting there, hopefully with your luggage. And they can play with this, they can offer better service and comfort and they have. Not to keep picking on American Airlines, but they ripped out a few thousand seats from their fleet several years ago and advertised that they had more room in coach. That didn't sell worth a frak. Since there was not a flood of customers into their airplanes, American put the seats back.

You wanted cheap flights, you got cheap flights.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

OK,I have the VCR ready to tape "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" tonight. But do I stay up and watch it, anyway, or just go to bed?

When I was a lot younger, I did second shift work. Since then, I've had day jobs. My last job before I went to law school was a job where I had to attend a pre-production meeting every workday and that meeting began at 6AM. An early day had me leaving at 4:30PM, a late day could be, well I don't even want to think about it. So I've sort of been re-tuned for early days and going to bed when most folks were getting ready to hit the bars.

At my age, now, hitting a bar is the farthest thing from my mind.

Decisions to make, forks in the road.

Driving Tips for Imbeciles

Tip No. 1: When you are in heavy traffic and all lanes are clogged, you will not get where you are going any faster by riding on the bumper of the vehicle in front of you. If the driver in front of you gets pissed off enough and decides that he or she really wants a new car, as well as all of the damages that result from a successful lawsuit, that driver may jam on the brakes. You can discuss settling the litigation after the troopers finish writing you a ticket for following too closely.

Tip No. 2: If the cops have another car pulled over to the side of the road, do not slow down and look. Odds are that the cops are not stupid enough to be doing a Rodney King in front of a few thousand motorists, half of whom have cell phones that can shoot video.

Tip No. 3: If it is dark outside, turn on your fucking headlights.

Tip No. 4: If you are driving a car painted in a dark shade of paint, as soon as the Sun sets, turn on your fucking headlights.

Tip No. 5: Turn on your headlights anyway, you fraking moron.

Tip No. 6: If tips 1 through 4 come as news flashes to you, consider turning in your drivers license before you kill yourself, your family, or someone else. Cabs, Greyhound, Amtrak and the airlines are all better choices for you.

Why Some Retailers Deserve to Be Tarred and Feathered

It's not so unusual for retailers on Black Friday to run specials "quantities limited", to try and generate traffic. But when the "limited quantity" turns out to be "one", that's fucking abusive.

That's just what happened in a Radio Shack in Monroeville, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They advertised Zune MP3 players for $50 off and they had just one of those little fuckers.

That's a way to generate foot traffic into your store, I guess, but don't be surprised if they are holding pitchforks and torches.

Chimpy Loses Poodle #2

John Howard, Stupie's ally in Australia, lost power. Not only was his party defeated, he becomes only the second Aussie PM in over a century to lose his own seat in Parliament. Howard stood right alongside Owwr Leedur in denying global warming and promoting the policy of forever warfare.

The voters in Australia didn't agree.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ma! Hurry Up!

Tonight's dinner was, of course, leftovers. My friend made a very yummy pumpkin pie cheesecake for dessert, too.

Of the five cats here now, only two of mine, Jake and George, like human food. So I was slipping both of them little pieces of turkey. I was slow to drop a piece of turkey for Jake, so he rose up and smacked me lightly on the hand to let me know I should drop it now, now, now.

It takes Gracie about 36 hours to settle in; this morning she stopped hiding (other than when she wanted to eat, drink, use the litterbox or hop up on my bed). Last night was quiet, so I didn't need to use my earplugs.

Operation Wild Kingdom is tapering down.

Back home tomorrow night.

It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down

Well, this time, not so great. But still, 95 years after the RMS Titanic sank, cruise ships are still running into icebergs.

I don't know if I buy the "submerged ice" line. Ice pretty much floats, as we all know, and you probably heard the "1/7th rule" in school. I'm suspecting they got a little too close to a `berg.

Um, No, He Didn't


I'd give credit, but they'd kick my tipster out of the Party for being disloyal. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Utah Tasering

Cop Tasers a driver who refused to sign a traffic ticket.

The driver got the video on a freedom of information request and posted it on YouTube.

Dress by Goodyear

I had Thanksgiving dinner a few hours ago and, for social reasons, I'm about to set off for another place where I am going to have another Thanksgiving dinner that can't be beat.

And I don't even have to deal with a half a ton of garbage.

I'm upstairs in the place I'm visiting because I found that if I go up here, I have my choice of hotspots to tap into. But I'm not going to scan the news today, fuck that noise. If Chimpy takes over as dictator or does something equally foolish, you'll have to read about it elsewhere.

Today is a day for that most American of pastimes: Overeating.

Biting the Waxed Tadpole!

There are no wireless hotspots where I am. So I am on a dial-up modem and, at 46.6Kps, web pages load with excruciating slowness. Expect few comments on the news.

There is this, though, that 60% of the foreign fighters in Iraq come from nations that are our friends (supposedly). 41% are from the Kingdom of Saud, the good friends of the Bush family.

Being friends of the local oppressive monarch or dictator does not make friends among the populace. You'd think we'd have learned this lesson by now.

I'll sign off now, I'm tying up the sole phone line.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Driving Question

Q: You are driving in the left-hand lane of a four-lane divided highway. Cars are moving to the right to pass you. You are:

A1. Getting set up to take the left-hand exit that is a mile or so ahead.

A2. An oblivious moron.

A3. An arrogant imbecile.

Show all work.
-----------------------------------------------

I'm where I needed to drive to. It took me about 3-1/2 hours to get here (normally, 1-3/4 hours). Thanksgiving Day traffic doesn't bother me; I know what to expect and it is what it is. There is no point in getting frazzled, just allow the time you know you'll need and pay attention to the traffic. I did come close to getting rear-ended by someone in an SUV who hadn't noticed that traffic had slowed greatly (and would have if he or she hadn't veered onto the shoulder).

The cats are hissing and growling at each other, Operation Wild Kingdom is in full swing.

Why Bureaucrats Deserve to Be Beaten, Flogged and Shot

If a soldier signs up and receives a signing bonus and then is wounded in Iraq and, as a result of those wounds, is medically discharged, the motherfucking Army wants part of the bonus back.

The bureaucrats should be doing whatever it takes to make the wounded veterans' lives easier, not hounding them for refunds. This is beyond unconscionable. This is beyond outrage. Not one of those soulless beancounters had the humanity or the integrity to stand up and say: "This is just not right."??

The people who dreamed up this, who are enforcing it, have no humanity. They have placed themselves beyond the pale.

The people doing this (and I use the word "people" reluctantly) need to be tarred, feathered, dragged through the streets, hung until nearly dead and then drawn and quartered. Sort of like they used to do in Merry Olde England, except for the tarring and feathering. Whoever dreamed up this scheme should receive the same, but omitting the "hung until nearly dead" part.

Get the pitchforks.

Our Moron-in-Chief

There is a story in today's Washington Post, in which Chimperor Stupidicus declares that Generalissimo Pervez Musharraf is "truly someone who believes in democracy."

Oh. Let's look at the record.

Musharraf declared a state of emergency. He then sent his goons out to shut down all television stations not under his control. He has banned demonstrations and imprisoned political opponents. He has fired all of the justices of Pakistan's Supreme Court who would not swear an oath of fealty to him and replaced those judges with his lackeys.

Those aren't the actions of a person who believes in democracy. Those are the actions of a dictator.

And they are further evidence that Stupie McFuckwit is not inhabiting the same reality as the rest of humanity.

"Freedom is on the March"

That is the Cry of the Chimperor. But is it true?

Georgia had a state of emergency to permit the crackdown on dissenters and the shutdown of an opposition television station.

Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf. Need I say more?

Lebanon is at risk.

And then there is our own country. And here.

The worst player in this, of course, is Richard Cheney. For the last thirty years, he has been an unalloyed, unapologetic believer in a presidency that treats the other two branches of government as rump entities with no real power, other than that which the Executive Branch lets them exercise. Cheney would make the Executive Branch the trunk of the government, in derogation to the Constitution.

I do not think that it is a real stretch to say this: Dick Cheney is an enemy of the Constitution. Since he took an oath of office to "preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic," if he had any honor left in his blackened and blasted soul, he would either resign in disgrace or kill himself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gee. Guess Bush Was Lying All Along. What a Surprise.

Scott McClellan puts the blame squarely on Bush and Cheney for lying about outing Valerie Plame.

So now we know: The fix was in. Bush and Cheney conspired to destroy Valerie Plame's career and then commuted Libby's sentence as a clear pay-off for keeping his mouth shut.

We are clearly into the realm of "criminal conspiracy" here.

Kucinich is right: Impeach these fuckers.

The Supremes Throw the GOP a Bone

The Supreme Court is going to consider the D.C. handgun ban.

Their decision will probably come out right around next June, which puts the issue of gun control smack-dab in the middle of the presidential campaign. That's good for Republicans, as igniting a debate about gun control works well for them. Democrats fuck up on gun control, because they are not smart enough to say "look, this issue is a loser and we are not going to enact any gun control laws."

You want two examples? Clinton handed the Congress to the GOP in 1994 by signing the Brady Bill in 1993. He admitted as much in 1995. When Al Gore pooped off about requiring photo gun licenses in 2000, he cooked his goose.

So the Supremes will rule and regardless how they rule, the Democrats will fuck it up, the gun owners will be energized and that is how the Republicans will retain the White House.

Our Allies

If you get gang-raped in Saudi Arabia, you get a flogging to add injury to injury.

From the story:

------------------------------

Shying away from criticism of key ally, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the case and the punishment "surprising" and "astonishing."

"While this is a judicial procedure -- part of a judicial procedure -- overseas in courts outside of our country, still while it is very difficult to offer any detailed comment about this situation, I think most people would be quite astonished by the situation, " McCormack said.

--------------------------------

Expect no harsh criticism of the Saudis from Chimpy.

Another Right-Wing Hypocrite

Self-styled conservatives like to sneer anytime someone plays the race card in "they don't like me because I am (insert racial category here). Conservatives like to say that it is ability that matters.

But when they mess up, they have no qualms about playing the race card. I offer, for your consideration, Rachel Paulose, the now-former US Attorney in Minneapolis, an attorney who got her job solely because of her loyalty to Chimpy and his designated torturer, Gonzo. She is stepping down for a staff job in D.C. She says she is being shitcanned because she is a "person of color."

Managerial incompetence had nothing to do with it, I gather. Normally that would be a snarky comment, but given the level of competence of the Bush Administration, Paulose was pretty much par for the course.

And the World Yawns

A grand jury in Washington is looking into the Blackwater Baghdad Massacre.

Color me less than impressed. I have not seen any credible analysis as to how U.S. law can be applied in this situation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Forecast: Light Blogging

I am going away for a good part of the Thanksgiving weekend and I am taking my cats with me. Where I am staying will then have a total population of five cats. So there will be things going on and anyway, the Internet availability is kind of lousy.

I bring earplugs, for the first night, Gracie is so upset that she growls and hisses at every cat she sees, including George, whom she grew up with. She climbs up on my bed and it is just nonstop sound effects right out of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. George is not much better, but he just becomes more aloof. Except on Thanksgiving Day, when he begs and begs for turkey.

George loves meat, as long as it is cooked.

But they'll settle in; my apartment has two large windows, but the house I am visiting has lots of windows and two floors to run around. I've clipped their claws so if they get to fighting, hopefully they won't cause any serious damage. They haven't yet (and this has been going on for ten years, now), but there is a new cat where I am going, so it could be interesting.

Vile! Pew! Pew! Pew!

I'm usually the first coffee-drinker to show up at Ye Olde Salte Mine, so I get to make the first pot of coffee. I did this morning and when I went to draw a cup, I noticed there was no milk. I called a co-worker on her cell and asked her to stop off at the store and pick up a quart of half-and-half.

She did. She bought non-fat half-and-half.

Non-fat half-and-half has got to be the worst concept ever. The sole reason for half-and-half is to have something that has almost all of the tastiness of cream but a little less fat.

There is another term for non-fat half-and-half: Skim milk. I used the non-fat stuff and let me tell you, it is not just vile, it is fucking vile. Non-fat half-and-half is such a horrible concept that if George Bush ran a dairy farm, that's be what the cows produced.

Disaster Brings Opportunity

As you may know, yesterday some hackers broke into Scully's blog, Skywritings, and trashed the place. She was pretty pissed off and, with the help of some people who know a hell of a lot more about computers than I do, she managed to salvage her writing. But she thought about it some and realized that rather than trying to rebuild her blog and get back to where she was, this is a good opportunity to go off in a new direction.

And so she shall.

I am going to miss her blog. I really didn't pay much attention to blogs, other than a few heavy political ones, until she told me about her blog. I never thought I could do one, but then after reading her blog some and looking at other blogs she linked to and so on and so forth, I decided to give it a whirl. So if any of you are looking for someone to blame for my stomping around this little portion of the digital universe, you can blame Scully for that (but only out of my earshot).

I imagine that she is going to keep writing, I can't see her not putting fingers to keyboard (gads, that sucks compared to "pen to paper"), and I hope to be able to read it sometime. Her talent is large and it should not be hidden, but that is her call. She's got a lot to say and it's worth reading.

Tailwinds always, Scully.

Birdbrained Analysis?

Badtux the Snarky Penguin has a post which sets forth his reasons as to why the presidential candidates for next year's elections should be Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

His argument seems to be: "Since the conventional wisdom is what got us into this mess, let's try something completely different."

Both men are intelligent, no doubt, and that in itself would be a big advance over our current president. In one way or another, though, both men are arguably batshit crazy, though not in either the evil batshit craziness of Vlad Cheney or the imbecilic batshit craziness of George W. Bush.

Still, Badtux's argument is worth considering.

And I shall.

Is Our Childrens Reading?

No, they aren't.

It's probably not George Bush's fault, but let's face this: He's not exactly a sterling example for the importance of education.

Another Taser Death

A man in Virginia dies after being shot with a Taser by a deputy sheriff.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the Taser was supposed to be an alternative to guns. If that is the case, then shouldn't the use of a Taser be subject to the same level of review as the use of a firearm; if it's not justified to shoot the guy, it's not justified to Taser him?

If that is the equivalence, then the fact that a few people die after being Tasered is no big deal, as there is certainly a greater risk of lasting injury or death after being shot a few times by a 9mm or a .40.

But if the Taser is supposed to be an equivalent to a nightstick or to the cop wading in and getting physical with the perp, then I think that maybe some more work needs to be done, as these folks shouldn't be dying.

The Why of Aerial Refueling

You can read about the history of aerial refueling on the web, if you like, for I'm not going to delve into that. If you read them, you may notice that after the endurance flights of the 1920s, aerial refueling was not widely used until jets came into service after World War II.

I think there were a few reasons for that.

First off, the wings of swept winged aircraft are very inefficient at low speeds. Since you have to make more lift than the weight of the airplane, one way to get the airplane off the ground faster is to make it lighter. You can do that by leaving some of the load on the ground, so by aerial refueling, you can fly the airplane off in a shorter distance.

This is not a small consideration. If you look at the runway length on some of the former Air Force bases, you find very long runways. Portsmouth, NH, Newburgh, NY and Chicopee, MA (the former Pease, Stewart and Westover AFBs) all have runways over 11,000' long . Few airports that were built for civilian use have longer runways; O'Hare and LAX have slightly longer runways and JFK has one runway that is 14,500' long.

So you can take a less-heavily loaded airplane into the air and then top it off. One example of this was the SR-71, which, if the anecdotal stories are correct, loaded up from the tankers soon after takeoff.

Second, if you carry less fuel and then refuel along the way, you can replace the weight of fuel that you would have carried with other things, such as bombs.

Third, jet engines, especially the early jet engines, are notoriously thirsty. Without refueling, the early models of jet bombers would not have been able to hit distant targets. Even so, the unspoken fact of the strategic bombing force was that the Air Force relied on a propeller-driven bomber for true strategic taskings, the B-36, until the B-52 entered service.

Fourth, jet fuel is not as volatile as gasoline. (There is not that great of a difference between jet fuel (Jet A, JP-5), diesel fuel and, for that matter, home heating oil.) Gasoline has a flash point of -40degF while jet fuel has a flash point of 100degF. (The fire point, where a flash becomes a fire, is a tad bit higher, but flash point is a good yardstick.) If you have a leak in flight from the tanks or the piping and you are carrying gasoline, one spark will turn the airplane into a fireball. You certainly do want to be careful when dealing with a jet fuel leak, but it is just not as hazardous to deal with. This is also why the carrier Navy was very happy when the Hoover (S-3) replaced the Stoof (S-2F), which was the last carrier-based piston-engined aircraft in the inventory.

(You might also note that JP-4, which is a gasoline-based jet fuel, is not used by the Navy, because of the risk of fires. JP-4 has a flash-point of about 0degF.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Goddamnit to Hell!

Some asshole of a hacker took over Scully's blog. People who do things like that are pond scum.

(No, that's unfair to hardworking pond scum.)

I've dropped her from the blogroll until things get fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Oh, and did I say the person who did that should only rot in hell, but only after a long, lingering pain-ridden death? They should be reincarnated as a chandelier, so they can hang by day and burn by night.

Why Not Mannix?

This article in the Washington Post asks why the series "Mannix" has not been released to DVD.

That's a very good question. The show doesn't deserve to fade into oblivion. Though probably nobody much under 50 would remember it.

Irony is Not Dead

"However, we are still in a fight with an enemy that has both the will and capacity to conduct barbaric attacks," Rear Admiral Smith said, "and unfortunately we are reminded of this daily."

(Smith is the duty liar spokesman in Baghdad.)

The irony is that the quote was contained in an article about a US military convoy shooting up a bunch of Iraqis.

So Much for the Wingnuts' Views on the New York Times

Today's issue of the New York Times contained an article on the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons, in particular, what the US has tried to do to help the Pakistani Army safeguard them.

Within the article were these three paragraphs:

"The New York Times has known details of the secret program for more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons.

"Since then, some elements of the program have been discussed in the Pakistani news media and in a presentation late last year by the leader of Pakistan’s nuclear safety effort, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who acknowledged receiving “international” help as he sought to assure Washington that all of the holes in Pakistan’s nuclear security infrastructure had been sealed.

"The Times told the administration last week that it was reopening its examination of the program in light of those disclosures and the current instability in Pakistan. Early this week, the White House withdrew its request that publication be withheld, though it was unwilling to discuss details of the program."

OK, Wingnuts, explain to me why they kept quiet about this for three years. To hear the foam-mouthed blatherers on the Right, you would have assumed that the Times would have immediately rushed this story into print in 2004.

But they didn't.

The View From the Porch


You thought I was referring to the blog, perhaps?

Eau de 100LL

I went flying today, which is getting to be a more and more expensive exercise. Gas here is up to $4.65/gallon. I hadn't refueled after my lst two flights, after this one, the airplane took 27 gallons. Do the math. (wince)

There is a ski resort in northwest Connecticut that is already laying down artificially generated snow. Even from thirty miles away, the streak of white stood out against the brownish landscape. there wasn't enough snow down to ski on, though, for the lifts were not operating.

I use a GATS Jar for taking my pre-flight fuel samples. The advantage of the GATS Jar is that it has a screen to catch debris and water, so you can pour clean fuel back into the tanks. You can also take larger samples than you can with the traditional fuel tester.


This time, though, as I drew the fuel sample from the fuel strainer in the engine compartment, I managed to run a stream of gasoline right down my arm, soaking my sweatshirt. Fortunately, I had another sweatshirt in the car, so I was able to do a quick-change after I wiped my arm down with a baby wipe.

And I was wearing a t-shirt, so no, I didn't "flash" the airplanes on short final.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Addition to the Blogroll

LiberalCCW.

Anyone who can link to both the Republican Party and the Communist Party is worth a look. His most recent post on his alarm system is a real hoot.

The Law of War

You can read about the 1949 Geneva Convention (Convention III deals with prisoners, this is the one that Chimpy thinks is "quaint") or the other international agreements on the conduct of armed conflict or the Lieber Code if you like.

This is my take on the rules of war. Most can be boiled down to variations of "I'll do unto you like you'll do unto me" or "do not do unto others that which is hateful to you." The rules of war are, to some extent, self enforcing, because if you violate them, your enemy will retaliate.

If you have read "All Quiet on the Western Front", you might remember a mention of how the new German soldiers were arriving in the trenches with saw-toothed bayonets. The veterans confiscated them and replaced them with smooth-bladed bayonets, for one of the practical rules of trench warfare was if you were captured with one, you were killed with one.

In World War II, Germany mostly observed the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs with regard to the Western Allies and the Western Allies reciprocated. Germany abrogated those same conventions in its conflict with the Soviet Union (with rationales that were stunningly similar to those voiced set forth by Alberto Gonzalez, John Yoo and the cabal of war criminals in the Office of the Vice President), the Russians reciprocated and millions of prisoners died. Japan, in World War I and the following intervention in Vladivostok , was lauded for its correct handling of POWs. That changed in WW2 and, although the Allies did take prisoners, nothing much was thought of just killing every Japanese soldier found.

"I'll do unto you like you did unto me."

This is why you see a very wide difference on the use of torture between Chickenhawks like Romney and Guiliani and veterans like McCain. In any conflict in the future, by our actions, we have legalized the use of torture against any of our combatants who are taken prisoner.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Signs of the Democrats Growing a Pair of Gonads

The Senate majority leader has decided that the Senate will not go into recess over Thanksgiving, in order to thwart Chimpy's plans to make recess appointments.

The Democrats are showing signs of not caving immediately
to Chimpy's demand for another hundred billion of dollars for his war.

It's about time that the Democrats send a large steaming pot of "go fuck yourself" to Bush. Bush's idea of bipartisanship has been "you do it my way" and it's high time that the Democrats return the favor.

Five Favorite Pistols

#5: Webley .455 revolver:


If the Colt Peacemaker was the "gun that won the West," the Webley was the gun that won an empire. Most in this country were cut down to accept .45 ACP cartridges with moon clips. The Webley, in its various Marks, was in the service of the Empire for eighty years or more. The pictured model is a Mark VI, the model used in two wars for killing Jerries. Indiana Jones carried one in the third "Raiders" movie, there is a shot of him opening it up and the extraction star lifts up, but the gun is empty.

#4: Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece, .22 rimfire:

The K-22 was the first really accurate pistol that I ever owned. I shot it a lot and learned a lot about shooting from my range time with one. When I spent time at my parent's farm, I used it with .22 shorts for popping feathered rats pigeons. For a time, I lived in a place where I had no access to a range, so I loaned it to a friend. His place was burglarized and the gun was stolen.

#3: Ruger New Model Blackhawk/Vaquero:


This is a Vaquero, Blackhawks have adjustable sights. They are modern versions of the Colt Peacemaker. They are a lot stronger, though, and with the transfer bar ignition system, they are true six-shooters. That was dangerous with a Colt Peacemaker, for if you dropped the gun with a loaded chamber under the hammer, the gun would fire. Which is why, back in the day, nobody loaded the sixth chamber unless they were going into a fight.

#2: Smith & Wesson M-29, .44 magnum:



Not the most powerful handgun in the world, but good enough for most jobs. They are excellent for hunting hoofed rats deer in forests. I carried one for deer hunting in Vermont, because most of the time I couldn't get a clear shot of more than 100' and when pushing through heavy brush, it's a lot nicer to be doing that with a holstered revolver than with a rifle.

#1: Cold M1911, .45 ACP:


Probably the finest military handgun ever. In a bout of sheer foolishness, the US replaced it in 1984 with the M9 Beretta 9mm, a move that has been unofficially regretted ever since. Often copied, there have been many attempts to make guns that were as good as or better, but almost a century after John Moses Browning designed it, the 1911 Colt is the gold standard of handguns, firing the cartridge that is, in itself, the gold standard of self-defense cartridges.

I have a fondness for automatics, but it is pretty interesting that when I come up with five favorite handguns, four are revolvers.

Rebuilding Computer History

They have rebuilt a Colossus computer. And it works.

This is fascinating. They rebuilt a vacuum tube computer and it runs. It took almost twice as long as a modern PC to crack a coded message, which isn't too shabby for a sixty three year old design.
I'm not versed in computer history. Yet my understanding is that the Colossus was one of the first binary digital computers and probably was the first model to be made in any quantity, rather than a one-off experiment.

I Wish I Had Written This!

Fuck Bush. Give him nothing, unless it's a stroke.

I second the motion.

Wow, You Thought Our Cops Were Vicious?

They have nothing on the British cops. A man fell into a diabetic coma, so the cops tasered him.

That must be a new treatment in the upcoming revision to the Torquemada Medical Manual.

More From the Church of High Morals

A priest in Texas has pled guilty to having sex with two inmates. He may do up to ten years in prison.

George Bush to the Poor: "Go Fuck Yourselves"

That is the essential message of the Bush Administration, which has been complicit in letting Mississippi get away with funneling post-hurricane aid and assistance to large businesses and rich people.

But as for the poor: They get fucked. Again.

All those who are professing surprise, report to the psych ward for a full workup.

Surging to the Brink of Failure

The argument that the Chimperor made for his escalation surge of troops was that by tamping down the violence, that would give the Iraqis time and space to reconcile politically.

The first apparently may be happening
. The second is not.

If the Iraqis do not get their shit together and get it together very quickly, then all of those tour extensions, casualties, and stressed and destroyed families of our soldiers and Marines will have been for nothing. And to say that this is "news" is stretching the definition. This has been apparent for several months, that the Iraqis were in no mood to try to knit their country back together.

It's probably not going to happen. The prime minister of Iraq is little more than a tool of the Shiite militias. (Which admittedly is not a criticism an American can make in good faith, since our preznit is a tool.) When the Surge is over and our troop levels are back to pre-Surge levels or smaller, the Iraqis are going to restart their civil/sectarian war.

And of course, the Wingnuts will figure out a way to blame the liberals for that, since they long ago stopped looking in their mirrors.

Guiliani Fundraiser Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

That would be James Ortenzio, the former chairman of the New York County (Manhattan") Republican Committee. He failed to disclose $180,000 in income.

GITMO; again

The United States of America had a written policy of "disappearing" prisoners by denying access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Either you get it or you don't.

Either you understand that the prison at Guantanamo Bay has badly stained the honor and reputation of our country or you do not.

Either you comprehend that the Bush Administration has turned itself into a cabal of war criminals and the Department of Defense has willingly gone along with that or you do not.

Either you are a "good little German" or you are not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Were They Thinking....

... when they made "Lions for Lambs?"

First off, at 26% on the Tomatometer, it's a lousy movie.

Second, in the first week, it kind of bombed at the box office.

Third, and this is my beef with this movie and "Rendition" and "In the Valley of Elah" and the upcoming release of "Redacted" and all the rest: Who the fuck wants to drop ten bucks or so on a movie about the Iraq War? You can see all the depressing shit you want on the evening news or on cable or on the Internet for nothing. You can pick up any newspaper (other than those printed by the Reich News Corp.) and read about this stuff.

Why the hell would anybody in their right mind go pay good money to see that stuff on the Iraq War?

You might recall that during the last bloody quagmire, there weren't any commercially successful movies about the Vietnam War (that I know of, at any rate). John Wayne's movie "the Green Berets" was a fucking joke at the time. About the only popular war movie at the time was "MASH" and that was about the Korean War. "Apocalypse Now" and "the Deer Hunter" came out in the late `70s, after the end of the war.

So why is Hollywood so stupid this time around?

Standing in Moral Quicksand

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, saying the Democratic Party has been persistently hostile to opponents of abortion rights, asserted yesterday that the support of many Catholics for Democratic candidates "borders on scandal."-- Boston Globe

I'm sorry. A national church that, in essence, elevated pedophilia to an art form has no foundation from which to broadcast any sort of moral outrage. The American Catholic Church colluded with the pedophiles within its midst and did nothing about it until it was forced to by the victims who sued and by the belated reaction of law enforcement.

The Boston Archdiocese paid over $21 million to settle claims before the most recent scandal broke. Then they had to pay another $85 million and that was after they sought to drag all of the plaintiffs through the mud.

But the Boston Archdiocese was a bunch of pikers compared to the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which agreed to pay over $600 million.

From one end of the country to the other, the dioceses have transferred or sheltered or covered up child abuse by priests. If it wasn't for the sheer weight of the evidence and the persistence of the victims, they'd still be covering it up and transferring their child-raping perverts around the country.

And these clowns feel they have a moral basis on which to preach about anything?

Give me a fucking break.

Let's See the Wingnuts Rally For Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds has been indicted for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Bonds faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the Neo-cons and the various Wingnuts to come flocking to Bonds's defense. They should, though, for Bonds has not been charged with any underlying crime. Aand they should spout off how the charges will ruin his reputation and tarnish his home run record, and they should be talking to Bush about commuting Bonds's sentence if he gets convicted and maybe pardoning him.

But they won't, because Bonds is not, just as Martha Stewart was not, one of Dick Cheney's asshole minions who knows all of the dirty little secrets of Dick Voldemort Cheney's fiefdom in the White House.

Unlike Scooter Libby.

For Jean Shepard Fans

Ho, ho, ho! You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

Spacebar pumps up the rifle, use the mouse to aim and fire.

Arrr, Me Hearties!! Heave To And Prepare To Be Slaughtered!! Arrr!!

My pirate name is:


Black Ethel Bonney


Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!



Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network


Since, as they say, the difference between being a pirate and being a chimperor is just a matter of scale...

Differences Between the USA and Bush (a Primer for Morons)

Just go look at it.

I am so blogrolling this guy! The entry he posted on Matthew Dowd, the latest Bushie to gag on the Kool-Aid, is worth quoting in full:

I'll leave it to you to read this profile [see the original entry- EBM] of former-Bushie Matthew Dowd, but the best I can say for it is that it is a profile in squishy self-serving courage, and a precursor of many more to come, as members of this misbegotten administration will be busy trying to wash the blood from their hands and the stink from their bodies before the last body drops. Each one will be an admission that it took years of closely working with George Bush before they recognized that, although he is good-hearted, at the end of the day he is still an incompetent boob; something that most people recognize after ten minutes of watching him in a press conference.

It's not the Nuremberg defense, but it's close enough for government work.