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, August 31, 2007

One In Ten of You Are Slacking Off!

According to some group of jerks in Geneva, there are 90 guns for every 100 Americans.

So 10% of you had best get your asses to a gunshop and buy something. (Why do you hate freedom?)

Tam over at View From the Porch
thinks the figures are low and I suspect there is something to her argument.

Pure Bred GOP Weasels

Now, in the Washington Post, the Prince of Darkness, Robert Novak, admits that he has known since 2001 that Alberto Gonzales was not fit for a senior job in government, let alone a cabinet post. As Novak writes:
"I first met Gonzales in 2001 when, along with other conservative journalists, I went to the White House for a background briefing by presidential counsel Gonzales on the new president's judicial nominations. I was stunned by the incoherence of the briefer. When I checked with several Republican senators, I received the same verdict. Their judgment was that Gonzales was not qualified to hold a senior governmental position."
But that old soulless fucker kept his mouth shut for over six years.

And so did the other Republicans in the room.

Let's put the truth out there: Those dirtbags put the interests of their party ahead of that of their country. They not only deliberately sat on their hands, they actively supported Chimpy McIdiot as he put one unqualified ideologue after another in high government positions. By only considering party loyalty over all, including competence, the Republicans acted from the same motives as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Republicans. Communists: Party over all!

Craig Cartoon

Click on it to enlarge.

The Iraqi Kleptocracy

This should not come as a surprise to anyone: the Iraqi government is wholly corrupt.

Just another thing the Bush Administration would rather you not know. But given the model that the Iraqis had to follow, namely, the Bush Administration's procounsel in Iraq, is this any real surprise?

Canary Guards

I don't know who coined the term "canary guards", but you've all seen them. Those are the security guards and the cops who walk around in front of buildings and around the grounds of installations.


They are the "canary" guards because if something happens to them, that may be the first indication that some really heavy shit is going to happen. So in that regard, they are like the canaries in the coal mines back in the day.

My question is this: Why don't they wire those guys with some sort of datalink that would transmit their vital signs?

Whiny-Ass Airlines

You may have read or heard stories about how the air traffic control system is congested and that it is all the fault of us evil private pilots.

Bullshit.

The new complaints about ATC delays follow not because of the flooding of the skies with the very light jets (VLJs). Hardly any VLJs have gone into service.

There are two primary reasons and several other ones.

First off, weather. If a series of thunderstorms is going over a major hub airport, the flow of airline traffic is going to be seriously screwed.

Second is the airlines's switch to smaller regional jets, the "RJs". Before the switch to RJs, the smaller feeder flights were handled by turboprops such as this:

The turboprops operated at lower altitudes than the RJs. The RJs fly right up there with the larger airliners, so from pushing back from the departure gate to taxiing into the arrival gate, the RJs and the big boys are occupying the same airspace and pavement.

You don't see a lot of private aircraft at the big airports and one reason is that the airport authorities tack on hefty fees for parking or fueling. Fuel at LaGuardia for a turboprop is $1/gal more than at Islip, for example.

Most of the larger business jets fly at higher altitudes than the airliners do. The VLJs and the private turboprops fly at lower altitudes.

The switch to RJs has been not only at the expense of the feeder turboprops, but also at the expense of larger jets. The airlines have shifted a lot of their formerly mainline service to their feeder operations (where co-pilots earn barely enough to get off food stamps) and that has resulted in more airliners flying in the same airspace and into the same airports.

For the airlines to cry "congestion" and blame general aviation for their problems is akin to the Menendez brothers asking for mercy because they're orphans.

Big News In Texas

Only in Texas is it huge news if the state declines to execute someone.

William T. Piper, Jr., R.I.P.

Coverage of his memorial service.

He was the son of William T. Piper, who made his airplane a synonym for any airplane that was neither military or an airliner.


Chimpy's Two Tools

George W. Bush seems to have only two things that he can do to help people:

1. Cut their taxes; or

2. Kill them.

If your problem cannot be solved by either tool, you're screwed.

When it comes to any other option, Preznit McFlightsuit is out of airspeed, altitude and ideas all at the same time.

Staggerwing

This is the Beech-17, also known as the Staggerwing. It is quite possibly the most elegant single-engine airplane made for private pilots.



Designed and first flown 70 years ago, they were the Learjets of their day. It is said that the Staggerwings had speeds that were on a par with the Army's P-26 fighter.

Staggerwings are fully capable of fulfilling the role of fast personal transportation today. Their only drawback is that the structure of their wings is made of wood (spruce) and covered with fabric; redoing the wings of a Staggerwing is not a job for the faint of heart.

Which may be one reason why Griffon Aerospace designed the Lionheart, a roomy, fast, six-place homebuilt. The Lionheart is a composite aircraft.


Unfortunately, Griffon Aerospace stopped selling their kits, as they found it a lot more profitable to make UAVs for the military. As far as I know, less than a dozen Lionhearts were completed and flown.

Landings

One thing I've noticed is that the quality of my landings tend to have in inverse relationship to the number of people who are watching or could be watching. I don't even have to know they are there. If a bunch of ramp-rats are looking on, I will land the airplane with all the finesse of smacking a F-4 onto an aircraft carrier in heavy seas, one of the "did we land or were we shot down" types, where hopefully no large parts fell off the airplane. But if nobody is within eyeshot, it's more likely to be a "skygod" landing.

Several years ago, I was practicing night landings at a certain airport that Scully and I both know. Landing at night has its own challenges, since the only portion of the pavement you can see is the portion lit by the aircraft landing light. I've found it better to not even use the landing light and then I focus on the optical picture of the overall runway as presented by the runway's lights. The technique is to level off and stop the descent just above the runway, hold a nose-high attitude and keep that as the airplane settles onto the runway (this is called "flaring"). If everything is good, you flare a foot or so above the runway and land gently. If everything is not so good, you flare several feet above the runway and do a slam-test of the landing gear.

That night, everything came together and I must have flared an imperceptible height above the runway, for as I held the control wheel back, the airplane slowed. And slowed. And slowed. And then I turned off the runway onto the taxiway, with no idea when the airplane made contact with the runway. "Smooth as glass" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Of course, nobody saw it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chimpy Still Wants to Twist the Facts

"Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

"The person who provided the draft report to The [Washington]Post said it was being conveyed from a government official who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down in the final version -- as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq."


And now it seems that the Pentagon is going to present a "Chinese menu" of a report to Der Monkey Fuhrer, so he can pick and choose the recommendations he happens to agree with.

And everybody who is surprised about this, get a clue.

Back to Some Airplanes

This is a Gullwing Stinson:


They are a very elegant airplane. A decent flyable one will run you over $100K. But if you want a good cross-country machine that will get lots of other pilots drooling when you taxi up at an FBO, this is almost as good as a Staggerwing.

This one is in American Airlines paint:

Airlines flew them in airmail service to communities that did not have airports.

This is how they did it (click on the image to enlarge it):


All-American Airlines, which operated the service in Pennsylvania and several other neighboring states, is an ancestor of USAir. They ran this service for almost ten years, including World War II.

Blab, Blab, Blab

I started this blog a month ago. I had two mental hurdles to overcome.

First off, I'd read some other blogs and I was afraid I wouldn't measure up to them. I just figured to hell with it, maybe I'd improve over time. And if my writing sucked, it sucked.

Second, I was afraid that I'd not have anything to say or write about.

I think I got over that problem.

3 Wars at Once (con't)

I should have mentioned this in my earlier post: This is not the first time that people have warned that war with Iran was imminent.

They were wrong then. I hope to God they are wrong now. I'd be more than happy to eat crow over this.

But I am fearful that, this time, they are not wrong.

Bush to Lose Three Wars at Once?

Both Jeff Huber and Juan Cole have entries concerning the apparent eagerness of the Bush-Cheney criminal conspiracy Administration to go to war with Iran.

First off, I find it hard to believe that the people in the Administration are that stupid. When stuck in a quagmire, widening the quagmire is a real dumb-shit maneuver. It didn't work in 1970, I do not see any reason why it would work now.

Second, like it or not, Iran is as close to a functioning democratic state as exists in the Persian Gulf region. Any attack on Iran is going to cement the power of the current regime. It's the same sort of stupidity that we saw in World War II when the British, who had just withstood the Blitz, seriously thought that the Allies could bomb the German people into rebelling against their government.[1] External attacks tend to unite a nation. Is everybody in the Bush Gang so ignorant that they do not understand that point, or are they willfully blind? Is there anybody in the Bush Administration who is not driven by neocon ideology and who has a glimmer of understanding of what is going on in this reality? (I know, dumb question.)

But let's face facts: Nobody in their right mind should bet that the Bush Administration will ever do anything based on rationality.

If they are indeed stupid enough to do this, we will see crude oil futures go over $100/barrel in a fucking nanosecond. And we may well look back on paying $3 a gallon for gasoline as the "good old days of cheap gas."

[1] There were good reasons for bombing the cities of Germany, not the least of which was "you did it to us, we'll do it to you". All I am saying is that the rationale of "breaking the morale of the enemy's civilian population" was a false one.

Perp-Walking Gonzo?

The Justice Department's Inspector General is investigating whether Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress. So it is possible that Gonzales may wind up swapping the title of "attorney general" for that of "convicted felon."

While I am all in favor of hauling his ass into the courtroom for deterrence of future jerks, as a practical matter, I think there is no question at all whether Chimpy McFlightsuit will issue a blanket pardon for ol' Lyin' Al. If anybody knows where the bodies are buried, it's Gonzales.

(A pardon won't help him in a war crimes trial, but I can only dream.)

What I Don't Do In This Here Blog

I don't do long discourses on meaning of life stuff. Even if I could write that stuff, I'd feel as though I was poaching on Scully's turf. If you want to see what I mean, go read her blog at Skywritings. (The blog has since gone defunct and was pulled.)

This is her photo:



I can't hold a candle to her writings. I'm not even going to try. Her writing is well-thought out and meaningful and sometimes it brings tears to my eyes.

So I'll stick with the snarky and sarcastic. If I can occasionally get you to laugh or enrage you to the point that you smash your fists into your keyboard, so much the better.

But seriously, go read her stuff and be awed. And remember this: She is a friend of mine. And she shoots a handgun way better than I do.

Speaking of R.I.P.

Princess Diana is dead.

She has been dead for ten years.

Get over it.

Richard Jewell, R.I.P.

Richard Jewell has died at age 44.

He was a security guard at the Atlanta Olympics. His actions saved dozens of lives when Eric Rudolph planted a bomb there. And for that, in their haste to nail somebody, anybody, for the crime, the FBI tried to frame Jewell for the bombing. The news media followed right along.

The Jewell Fiasco should be kept in mind whenever you see or read an announcement by the FBI concerning arrests for high-profile charges, including terrorism charges.

And if you think the FBI learned anything from the Jewell Fiasco, then look into what happened with Dr. al-Hazmi or Brandon Mayfield.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So, Anyway...

This morning I was sitting on my couch, having a cup of coffee and watching the sky light up from the Sun. I wasn't a morning person before, but I once lived in a high-rise by a large body of water. My apartment was high up and faced to the East. I loved sitting on the balcony in warm weather with a cup of coffee and the morning paper as the Sun rose over the countryside.

So, anyway, I'm sitting on the couch, enjoying that first cup of joe when one of my cats hopped up on the couch. It was readily apparent that she had managed to get poop all over her butt. So I picked her up, carried her to the bathroom, plunked her in the tub, washed the shit from her ass with baby shampoo and rinsed her off with the hand-held shower nozzle. After patting most of the water from her with a dish towel, I let her out of the bathroom to go and recover her dignity.



That turned out to be an apt metaphor for the rest of the day. I would have been better off calling off sick.

The Money Quote

"Asked whether the paper has any photographs, video or other kinds of tangible evidence of Craig's alleged homosexual activity in public, Popkey said, "We have no hard evidence.""

Attack cat

Is Vista a Complete Turkey?

Every so often, I look at the result of a app that reports on system statistics of visitors. One thing I've noticed is that the percentage of visitors who use Windows Vista is in the same ballpark as those who use Linux and less than those who use Max OS X.

I just checked a couple blogs, one of which is rather popular (averaging over 1,000 hits a day) and the stats are similar. Vista has more users than maybe Windows 98 and Linux, but that's about it.

It is appearing that Vista is not winning over people.

Excuse du Jour

First we have the Republican state rep (and state co-chair of the McCain campaign) who wanted to perform oral sex on another man because he was afraid of being mugged by Black guys.

Now there is the Republican senator (and state co-chair of the Romney campaign) who pled guilty because he was afraid the story would come out in the newspaper.

Of course, Republicans can't talk about any of this without blaming Bill Clinton, but that's to be expected.

Bush- Sabotaging the Internet Since 2001

If you are reading this on a dial-up connection because no broadband is available or if you are paying $50 a month or more for broadband, then this is another issue where you can blame George Bush.

The cable and telephone companies in the U.S. are more than happy to serve up relatively slow-speed service and charge a premium for it. And this is all in connivance with the Bush Administration.

In essence, if you're one of the people who pays for something, anything, the Bush Administration has not, is not and will never be your friend. If you get up each morning and go to work and get a paycheck and that is how you support yourself and your family, the Bush Administration is going to figure out any way it can to help the big guys extract cash from your wallet.

"Hooray for us, the rich, and fuck you" is the Bush Motto.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Zombie Attacks!


73%


I don't know where Tam finds this stuff. But I beat her by 1%.

As they say, age and treachery beats youth and skill every time. :)

Turning a Gazillion Corners

Turning the corner, again and again and again and again. Haven't they gotten completely dizzy by now?

Light. End of tunnel. Oncoming train. Somebody tell Chimpy what went on during the 1960s and 1970s while he was busy destroying his higher cerebral functions with alcohol and cocaine.

And now it seems that even the latest NIE was cooked by the pro-war folks to put a bit of a shine on the turd.

How shameless can these people be? Do they not think that people are paying attention to them?

Do they not know that some of us still remember the last time we were in an Asian war and how our government kept telling us that things were getting better and better? How the end was in sight? How we can do better if only we send another 10,000 or 50,000 or 200,000 more soldiers into the meat-grinder? How all we have to do is stay a little longer and hang in a bit more and maybe widen the war into two or three other countries?

And does anybody remember how those statements were all exposed as lies and exaggerations and cynical attempts to cover up the realities of the situation? And how anybody who criticized the war at the time was vilified for being unpatriotic and blamed for losing the war?

Does anybody not understand that the Bush Administration has done little more than dust off the LBJ Playbook, complete with the "oh, let's not bother trying to pay for the war" part?

If you think Bush is a great president and the Iraq War was justified, maybe you should sober up, wise up and try a little reality.

Feeling Sorry for Folks

If you saw this video of the beauty contestant blowing her answer, then maybe you'll understand why, besides having a good laugh, we should feel a little sorry for her.

She's a teenager, which means that she has a life expectancy of about 65 more years or so. For all of those years, whenever it comes to light that she was Miss Teen South Carolina of 2007, that video is going to come up in a search. Her great-grandchildren are going to be laughing at her.

That has got to suck.

(And if you thought "blowing her answer" was a sexual reference, gitchermindouttadagutter.)

Don't Forget- Buy Gun Stuff Today!

Stop off at the gun shop on the way home today. Buy a Kimber .45 or a box of ammo or a holster or some gun-cleaning stuff or something.

Send the anti-gunners a message of "go fuck yerself."

Bushie Timing of Bad News

Doesn't it seem as though they time these things (such as Lyin' Al's departure announcement) for weeks when the Daily Show is on vacation?

Oh, Give Me a Fucking Break!

Sen. Cornyn says that the environment in D.C. has become "hyperpartisan."

What a crock of shit. The party that wrote the book on hyperpartisanship, the administration that, instead of using the 9/11 attacks to bring the country together, used them as a partisan wedge issue, now complains about the partisan atmosphere in Washington.

This is like a Gilded Age steel tycoon complaining about the smog and smoke in the vicinity of his steel plants and not acknowledging his part in the creation of the bad air.

The amazing thing is that anyone takes them seriously.

Newspaper Copycats - Ammo Shortage

Over ten days ago, the Associated Press ran a story about how the police forces in this country have been dealing with sharply increased costs and shortages of ammunition thanks, in part, to Chimpy's War.

But you might not have known that the AP ran the story first, if, for example, you took a pass through the Washington Post or FirstCoastNews.com. Other news outlets probably did the same thing.

Do that in academia, it's "plaigarism." In the news biz, it's "getting inspiration."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Death Penalty

This is one that I have some problems with.

There are people who deserved to be put to death and frankly, the planet is better off with them dead sooner rather than later. Adolph Eichmann. Ted Bundy. Timothy McVeigh. John Wayne Gacy. Michael Ross.

I don't doubt for a second that the death penalty is a failure at general deterrence. When the British were hanging people for what we now would consider misdemeanor theft charges, that didn't stop thieving. The death penalty is, however, very good at specific deterrence, as dead men rarely commit more crimes.

The problem I have with the death penalty is that there are no shortage of cases were inmates have been let off Death Row or out of prison for crimes that they were wrongfully convicted. False confessions do occur. Evidence is mishandled or falsified. Experts in forensics have lied on the stand. Cops have lied on the stand. Other criminals will lie someone onto Death Row in order to shorten their sentence. Attorneys in death penalty cases can be overworked, underpaid, unexperienced, asleep or just incompetent. Judges have been biased. District attorneys have been blind to exonerating evidence or covered it up.

All of those things have happened. You can do a little bit of research and find examples for all of those things.

If a felony case is screwed up and fifteen years later, it comes to light because those who lied have seen the light or better testing reveals the evidenciary flaws, then you can let a wrongfully-convicted prisoner out of the pen. They can be compensated, somewhat. Restitution can be had, maybe the truly guilty can be punished.

But all of that is hard to do if the wrongfully convicted person is six feet under.

And what really gripes my caboose is the prosecutors who take the position "the jury found them guilty" and flat-out refuse to reopen the case if new evidence comes to light. Where is the justice in that? If someone is innocent, where is the justice in keeping them in prison? I see folks on the Right rail about someone getting off "on a technicality", but I have yet to see them state that keeping someone in prison on a technicality is equally offensive, if not moreso.

Yes, I see the argument that the courts could become clogged if we allowed prisoners to endlessly reopen their cases. That can be addressed, to some degree, by shifting the burden of proof: After the appeals have run on the original conviction, the prisoner would have to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the conviction was wrongful.

Hard to do if you're dead, though.

And because a case that looked ironclad can be shown later to be "Swiss cheese" clad, I have to conclude that we, as a nation, ought to get out of the business of executing people.

GOP Morality, Part MCXIV

Sen. Larry Craig pled out to disorderly conduct rather than go to trial on lewd behavior, or some such charge.

I don't know where we would go for comic relief without these guys from the self-styled "party of morals."

Wait, don't tell me, let me guess: He's gotten closer to Jesus as a result of this.

You know, for a party that has, as a central plank in its platform, a rabid hatred of gay marriage, there sure seems to be an awful lot of male homosexuals in the GOP.

I think they all need some serious therapy to get over this self-hatred they seem to be afflicted with.

Alberto, Lying to the Last Minute

From the New York Times:

"On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports."

What a lying dishonest piece of work that man is. It's not that he can't handle the truth, he wouldn't know what "truth" is if you engraved the definition of the word on a baseball bat and smacked him in the head with it.

It's going to be interesting to see who they can dragoon into doing the job of Attorney General. It's akin to the captain of the RMS Titanic handing his command off to his relief after smacking the iceberg.

The only thing to keep in mind is that it should come as no surprise if Der Monkey Fuhrer nominates an even more dishonest and grovelling hack than Gonzalez.

Gonzo is a Goner?

The New York Tims is reporting that Lyin'Al has resigned.

It will be interesting to see which presidential syncophant is nominated to replace him. At this point, even John Ashcroft would be an improvement.

Doing Nothing in New Orleans

Professor Douglas Brinkley published an opinion piece in yesterday's Washington Post, which has this premise:

"Why are volunteers practically the only ones working to reconstruct homes in communities that may never again have sewage service, garbage collection or electricity?

"Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine."

I think an argument can be made that New Orleans should be allowed to wither. The city is sinking below sea level and, as sea level rises due to global warming, New Orleans is going to become untenable and the surrounding wetlands are disappearing, largely because of the extremely short-sighted cutting of canals through the wetlands.

But if that is the choice we, as a nation, are going to make, to abandon New Orleans, we owe it to the people of New Orleans to have the discussion. The passive-aggressive tactic of the Bush Administration, to say they support New Orleans while doing everything they can under the table to bring about the opposite result, is nothing other than cowardice.

Which is a common thread of the Bush Administration.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Look! Up in the Sky!

More from Richard Seaman's website:

This is a P-26, the first monoplane fighter flown by the United States. Until Boeing got the F-35 contract, it was also the last fighter designed and built by Boeing.



This is an F3F, the last biplane fighter. The F3F entered service after the P-26


And now, a fighter that needs no introduction:

Edjumacating Our Children

Just watch the video clip



And hope like hell that she is not a typical product of the South Carolina school system.

Fun With Hand Grenades

Let's take two paragraphs from the blog of a soldier who has been "stop-lossed":

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

"I think about how the Army is taking it's big green cock and sticking it in our ass. Someone please explain to me the sense in stop loss? 160,000 soldiers in Iraq and 10,000-some are stop lossed? Seven fucking percent. What. The. Fuck. Let me tell you something, America; I don't owe you SHIT. I've shed blood, sweat and tears for this country. And I'll continue to do so until the fucking idiot in charge decides to let me go on my merry way... but let's get one thing straight: I'm gunna be on expired time for thirteen months. I have friends who are already on expired time; they were supposed to be out of the Army a month ago, they're still here and we haven't even left yet. After I watch the day I'm supposed to get out pass me by on a calendar and go out on patrol the next day... I don't owe anybody anything. Nothing. I've paid my debt to king and country. Fuck you.

"I think about whether my twelve month deployment that already got extended to fifteen months will get extended to eighteen months once they realize the US Army is BROKEN. You heard it here first, folks, from the horses mouth. We're fucking broken. And don't let anyone tell you different."
-----------------------------------------

Read the entire post, if you wish.

Learn about stop-loss.

You know, if the Army wants to you to stay longer than you agreed to, it's called "stop loss" or "involuntary extension." But if you want to leave the Army earlier, it's called "desertion."

BOHICA

Stop-loss is a backdoor draft, but instead of taking the kids who didn't want to serve in the first place, it victimizes those who did agree to serve.

"You know that EAOS in your contract? Well, fuck you, buddy, we're changing it."

Only in the Army can one party unilaterally change the terms of a contract, tell the other party to go fuck themselves and get away with it. It would be like your bank telling you "oh, we know you agreed to pay 6% interest on your fixed-rate loan, but since we're not making enough money on it, we are going to jack it up to 15% and you can't do a fucking thing about it."

If the Army needs more soldiers, I suggest they start recruiting the children of the people at the American Bush-Worshippers Heritage Institute or the folks in the College Republicans or the Federalist Society. But you know, deep down in your soul, that those cowardly ratfucks will continue to support the war, but they won't put their fat pink asses on the line for their beliefs.

So it's easier to fuck over those who are powerless. Which is what the Bush Administration keeps on doing.

It's the only thing they are truly good at.

Stopping Those Evil Grade-School Terrorists

This one comes from Badtux the Snarky Penguin:

The rocket scientists in the Terminally Stupid Agency have detained a seven year-old boy three times on suspicion of being a terrorist.

Does anybody in the TSA or DHS have a functioning brain? I find it hard to believe that even this guy, the French civil servant whose brain has been squished to the thickness of a pancake, would be as inept and unthinking as the TSA appears to be.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More Echoes of Vietnam

The word is that more and more people think that Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, must be removed.

We've been down this road before, engineering the removal of a national leader in a country where our troops were fighting to put down a guerrilla war. And it didn't work out so well. Ho Chi Mihn is reputed to have said that he could not believe that the Americans would have been so stupid.

History is repeating itself, it seems, but with even worse possible consequences. Like it or not, unlike Ngo Diem, al-Maliki is an elected leader, elected pursuant to a constitution that America had a large hand in drafting. If it appears that America is behind his removal from power, it will show to the rest of the world that the American commitment to democracy is as durable as a contract written on flash paper.

But given the Bush Administration's actions in our own elections, that should not come as any great surprise to the sentient.

Why the Military Hates a Free Press

Because of stories like this, which shine a light on the corruption in Iraq. And mind you, this is not about Iraqi corruption, this is about American corruption. This, in part, is about Halliburton robbing the American taxpayer for all they can steal. This is about an Iraqi contractor selling weapons to anyone with the cash to buy, including insurgents. So we buy weapons, send them to Iraq and they get sold on the black market to the insurgents, who then use them to kill Americans. And the people who report on this get treated like criminals.

Of course, given Dick Voldemort Cheney's ties to Halliburton, you know that nothing will ever be done.

During World War II, the Truman Committee investigated graft and corruption and fraud. The Committee saved $11 billion, which in today's dollars is about $145 billion. That is not chump change.

We need another Truman Committee. And we need an administration that does not turn a blind eye to graft.

Between the Dumbercrats in Congress and the corrupt thugs in the White House, fat chance either will ever happen.

The Fallacy of Supply Regulation

We all know, at least in sketchy terms, of the concept of "supply and demand." This is something that the government willfully ignores and the willful ignorance is on a bipartisan basis.

Here is a principle that the government, and I mean at all levels, ignores: If there is a demand, a supply will be made available.

Here is a second concept: If the demand is there, trying to stop the supply will only drive up the price.

Here is a third: If enough people want the supplied item and the government outlaws the item, the government will only turn the population into criminals.

Let's start with the obvious: Prohibition, the "noble experiment" of writing socitial goals into the Constitution by ratifying the 18th Amendment. It was a complete and utter failure. Once the legal sources of supply were abolished, criminal networks sprung up to supply the demand. The government tried to stop the supply, but the demand was so strong and the money was so good for the criminals that the government had to surrender the effort.

All throughout Prohibition, there were few attempts to choke off demand, for alcohol was (and is) the drug of choice of the majority of Americans. The Astors, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers were not going to go to jail for having a liquor cabinet or a wine cellar.

But the prohibitionists never learn, they shifted instead to the next "killer menace", drugs. I wrote about that here, so I won't go into the governmental stupidity aspect now. The attempts to control the demand for drugs has been pathetic and, at their core, racist, for the efforts to crack down on drug users have focused primarily on Blacks.

So now we come to illegal immigration and the demand by the mouth-frothers of the GOP for border fences and all other manners of idiotic proposals. Here is a truth to wrap your heads around: You do not see a lot of people from wealthy countries jumping the border. The illegal immigrants are (largely) economic migrants seeking economic opportunity. Life is very hard in their home countries and the jobs beckon here.

And yes, the same thing is going on with guns, in the attempts by various mayors to "crack down" on the gun trade.

If you want to change things, you have to work the demand side as well as the supply side. If you want an easy example, ask yourself if you have seen a "pet rock" for sale in a store recently. (Google that if you're under 35.) The demand for SUVs and the bigger pickups has fallen off as a result of the price of gasoline rising.

But demand side controls are not popular. No politician is going to support tossing a bunch of white suburban kids into prison for having some reefer, at least not any politician who wants to be re-elected. And if the price of stopping the illegal migrants translates into far higher food costs and farmers going out of business, you can bet your sweet ass that the thugs in the GOP will shut up about this, let the employers hire illegals with no penalty (as they did int he 1980s) and find another issue to scream about.

There's always gay marriage for them to demagogue about, and I'll tear into them on that at a later time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Life Just Doesn' Get Much Better!



You can see a lot more at Richard Seaman's website.

You have to be a pretty good airplane nut to recognize this one:


If you like airplanes, don't visit his website unless you have a bunch of time to spare.

You have been warned.

We Are So Screwed

This is the analysis of the National Intelligence Estimate by the McClatchy DC Bureau.

Here are the first three paragraphs:

"One way to look at the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq released this week is to review what it describes as the best-case scenario.

"In that scenario, Iraq's security will improve modestly over the next six to 12 months, but violence across the country will remain high. The U.S.-backed central government will grow more fragile and remain unable to govern. Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue their bitter feuding. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure.

"In Iraq, best-case scenarios have rarely, if ever, come to pass."

In other words, "we are so screwed."

So the best case scenario is a civil war in Iraq, only later. That is a far, far cry from the secular democracy the neo-cons in the the Bush Administration said would arise, back when they were saying that the Iraq War would pay for itself, we'd be greeted as liberators, and that the war would last six days, maybe six weeks but not six months.

Let's be frank about what is going on here: Bush is spending our money and the lives of our young people to pass this clusterfuck off to his successor. This is not about doing what is right or what is feasible, this is now only about avoiding blame. This is all about the neo-cons and Bush avoiding being held responsible for this war, they want to be able to go to their graves denying that they screwed the pooch. And Bush is being aided and abetted by careerists in both the Pentagon and the State Department who are hoping like hell that Iraq doesn't fall into the shitter on their watch.

Their hope to avoid the blame is, of course, a false hope. Unfortunately for them, historians are very good at walking back the cat and they have a lot of time to do that. The Bush fiasco in Afghanistan, Iraq (and possibly Iran) is going to be a gold mine for Ph.D. candidates. Some of the better talented writers may be able to make serious money from the books that will be published on these wars.

If Bush had a smidgen of integrity, he would fix his fuckup. But he doesn't; George Bush has never had to face the consequences of his bad behavior. At the core of his being, he is still the 20 year old frat boy who can count on his Daddy's influential friends to bail him out of a jam.

Well, not this time.

The blame for this mess is going to be hung around his neck, for when push coves to shove, the neo-cons will blame Bush for faulty execution of the war. They will roll over on him faster than Michael Vick's buddies did on him.

If the best case scenario does come to pass, Bush can read all about it, as he finishes out his days in a prison for his war crimes. The guards will probably be more than happy to pass the books to him.

Sociopath-in-Chief

This story did not get a lot of play in the press:

Bush is changing the rules
to speed up the pace of executions. Instead of the courts passing on whether or not an execution is proper, that power would go to the Attorney General.

And we all know how fair and ethical ol' Lyin' and Forgetful Alberto is.

Let us not forget that Bush is in favor of executing everyone he possibly can. The mentally retarded? Fry them. Bush does not care if someone may be innocent, if the trial was flawed, if the attorney defending the accused was incompetent, it just doesn't matter to Bush. All he wants to do is see people die and the more, the better.

I think the argument can be made that Bush is basically a passive serial killer. Worse, he is a cowardly one, for rather than do the dirty deed himself, he manipulates the levers of power to make the government kill for him. Giving Bush the power of life and death means giving Bush the power of death. Our president is both bloodthirsty and a coward.

He may also be the first president to be tried for war crimes, but that's a topic for another time.

Another Gutless Wonder

I read through the publicly- released portion of he National Intelligence Estimate (see my earlier post). Most of it is bureaucratic gobbledegook about what a NIE is and what words like "unlikely" mean (obviously it was written for Der Monkey Fuhrer).

The four pages of the actual report can be summed up as follows: "We are so screwed."

The major press reports have it right: What security gains are being made by the increased troop presence are not being capitalized upon by the Iraqi government. Even as the Sunnis in al-Anbar Province are turning against al-Qaeda, the central government is not supporting them and is not turning the Sunnis resentment towards al-Qaeda into support for the central government. The Maliki government is little more than a tool of the the Shiite militias so that at the end of the day, the US will have armed all of the parties in the sectarian struggle.

And then there is Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who has spoken out against the Bush strategy, is calling for the troops to start coming back but is unwilling to lift a finger towards that end.

Guess what, Senator? I'm also against the Bush strategy, but unlike me, you are in a position to do more than just speak your mind. It is time for you to stand up and fucking do something other than run your mouth.

"I'm against this but I won't buck the President."

Now there is a profile in non-courage.

Hocking the Family House

This one is pretty dead on:


Bush is starting to come across like one of those saps who, having lost all of his cash at the craps table, is putting the deed to his house up as collateral so he can return to the game. If anything, his recent reference to the Vietnam War is showing how desperate he is, for if the best he can do is compare his war to that quagmire, he is in rhetorical trouble. Bush saying "Iraq is not Vietnam" may be his "I am not a crook" moment.

I need to go read what is available regarding the new National Intelligence Estimate and maybe what Sen. Warner had to say.

But things are not looking so good for the Cheerleading Chimperor.

Concentrated Incompetent Asswipes?

Someone passed this book review onto me. The premise of the book is that the CIA, far from having fallen down on the job with regard to Iraqi WMDs, was never up to the job.

This anecdote was in the review:

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

In 1994, the CIA chief of station in Guatemala confronted the American ambassador, Marilyn McAfee, with intelligence, as she recalled, that "I was having an affair with my secretary, whose name was Carol Murphy." The CIA's friends in the Guatemalan military had bugged McAfee's bedroom, Weiner reports, and "recorded her cooing endearments to Murphy. They spread the word that the ambassador was a lesbian." The CIA's "Murphy memo" was widely distributed in Washington. There was only one problem: the ambassador was married, not gay and not sleeping with her secretary. " 'Murphy' was the name of her two-year-old black standard poodle. The bug in her bedroom had recorded her petting her dog."

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

Now that's pretty funny, but one thing we should keep in mind is that the CIA is very much an agency where its successes (if any) are not going to be made public. And the CIA did get it right regarding the consequences of invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.

Flies!

It was a little hard getting anything done last night. A fly got into my apartment and that meant, as far as two of my cats were concerned, that hunting season was open (the third cat doesn't seem to give a shit). The fly would buzz around, the cats were tracking it and if it got near ground level, they'd try to get it. That process included leaping across furniture (and me).

After awhile, the fly vanished, so either one of the cats killed it, the fly blundered into the web of the "daddy longlegs" in the bathroom or it made its escape. If George was the cat who caught it, it became a snack.

Elsewhere on the Internets

Look over at the Unforgiving Minute and see the Airsoft poster (steer by Tamara from View from the Porch).

When I was much younger, there was a kid a little younger than I down the street. His mother would not let him play with toy guns. Sure enough, when the kid turned 18, he bought a toy gun. When he turned 21, he started buying real handguns and, when I last heard about him maybe 20 years ago, he had a shitload of guns.

Jewish kids have their first glass of wine at the Passover Seder as soon as they are old enough to hold the glass. French kids, as you might suspect, grow up drinking wine at dinner. It should not come as a shock that the rate of alcoholism among both the French and the Jews is low. Supposedly, if an Arab or a Mormon start drinking, their chances of drifting into alcoholism is close to fifty percent.

If you want to make something desirable to kids, tell them they can't have it or do it. It's far better to expose kids to things and teach them about things that they will eventually have a legal right to do, use or consume.

Racist Batshit Republicans

(I am not sure this link will work, because of "Times Select",) Paul Krugman makes an argument in today's paper that one of the problems that the Republicans face today is that their base is, in essence, made up of white racists. The Republicans decided to appeal to the racist right because the core message of the Republican party, which can be summed up as "hooray for the rich and fuck the rest of you," wasn't selling so well.

While I agree with Krugman's point (like you expected otherwise), I think that the other message of the Republican party should be examined. The Republican party seeks to turn back the clock to the 1890s by getting rid of the following:

1. Wage and hour laws. They not only want to get rid of the minimum wage, they want to get rid of all overtime rules.

2. Employment discrimination laws. If you're a minority or a woman and the white guy doing the same job is being paid a lot more, then too bad, so sad, hard cheese.

3. Pure food and drug laws. You want safe food, pay more.

4. Safe drinking water regulations. If you don't want to drink or bathe in the in the hot and cold running sludge coming out of the tap, buy bottled water.

5. Pollution control laws. If you have enough money, you can afford not to live next to that smelly factory. This, by the way, was how it really worked. The upscale neighborhoods in Akron, Ohio were on the west side, which were upwind of the tire factories.

6. Automotive safety regulations. Forget the fact that if we now had cars as safe as we had in 1964 and, given the much higher amount of miles driven each year, that we'd be killing about 150,000 a year in accidents. You want a safe car, buy one from Volvo.

7. Education regulations. If your child is learning disabled, the Republicans are all for warehousing the kid until he or she is old enough to swamp floors in a whorehouse. And if your local schools are piss-poor with more than fifty kids in each classroom and if you can't afford to send your prize rugrat to Andover, then get richer.

8. Product safety laws. According to Republicans, it's not the government's concern if your baby's nightgown catches on fire or if kiddie toys are painted with lead paint or if the kitchen implement you are using has a propensity to electrocute its users. You want a safe product, buy a more expensive model.

And let's not forget that Republicans want to get rid of all taxes that rich people pay. Republicans, at their core, are fine with sales taxes and taxes on wages, because those are taxes that working people pay. They are not in favor of taxes on investment income, gift taxes or estate taxes, for those are taxes that primarily the rich pay.

If you needed to put all of the above on a bumpersticker so that Chimpy could read it, it would be:

GOP, the Party of White Greedy Racists

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Falling Out of the Sky

This is a 1951 Approach Plate for Idlewild Airport (now JFK). Look at the glideslope and the speeds (you will need to click on the images to get a good look.


From the Outer Marker to the runway was 2.5nm and, at 160mph, took just over a minute.

This is for the Space Shuttle.



From the Final Approach Fix to the runway is 8nm and the Shuttle flies that in 40 seconds. The glideslope is 18 to 20deg (not 3 or 4deg) and, of course, there is no missed approach procedure. The damn thing just about falls out of the sky. About the only thing that would fly a steeper engine-out glidepath might be a Seabee. Or a brick.

Here is one more plate, just for fun:




(Anyway, I'm done for the night. )

Unforeseen Consequences

I think this is a topic worth mentioning and, if you want to get a legal view of it, go to any secondhand bookstore near a university and pick up one of the student guides to "torts".

Unforeseen is a little more than "gee, I didn't think that could happen." This gets into concepts of reasonableness and prudence. And when we are discussing decisions about whether or not to go to war, the reasonableness standard is not what is reasonable to the average schmuck on the street or even a commentator on Fox Noise. A reasonable person would consult experts on the issues at hand, rather than going with what some exile with an ax to grind says or what the decision-maker's gut feeling is.

For instance, the current clusterfuck in Iraq is not an unforeseen consequence. There was no shortage of expert analysis done before the war that predicted what has transpired since this event took place:


("Accomplished", hell, it hadn't barely begun, Chimpy, you ignorant putz. But I digress.)

Unforeseen consequences are those that even experts could not rationally be expected to foresee. For instance, no rational person could blame the rise of Adolph Hitler and fascism on Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter World War One. If Wilson had not brought America into that war, the British likely would have had to sue for peace, leaving the French out to dry. The Germans then might have forced an unfavorable peace on France and maybe then fascism would have risen in France. But it probably would not have arisen in Germany.

As much as some would like to blame Reagan for terrorism, and certainly the decision to arm the Mujahdeen in Afghanistan contributed greatly to the current situation, I think this one falls into the category of unforeseen consequences.

Rape is Rape, You Fundie Fuckwits

You can go to "Baptists for Brownback" (and no, I am not going to give those ignorant shitheels a link, read about it here if you want) and see that they don't like the word "rape". No, they want to call it an "unplanned sexual event."

What a bunch of motherfuckering self-righteous asswipes.

First off, "unplanned sexual event" is solely from the point of view of the person being violated. The one doing the raping probably planned it. This is like saying that I were to walk up behind one of these idiots, press a .38 to the back of his/her head and blow their brains out, that would be an "unplanned firearms dicharge."

That analogy is accurate because rape is a crime of violence. It is a serious felony that, up until a few decades ago, could get a perp strapped into Old Sparky for one last sit-down with the preacher.

Second, these holier-than-thou douchebags regard being raped as akin to being impregnated by God, that the woman being raped is having some sort of quasi-religious experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe they would regard the aforementioned bullet into the back of their vacuum-containing skulls as a religious experience.

Rape is a violent crime and anybody who has been raped or knows someone who has been raped understands that. The rapists certainly understand that.

The fundie fuckwits either do not understand it or, for their own twisted ideological reasons, want to make it so that a crime against a woman is no more serious than a parking violation. I suspect it is the latter, the Bible-spouting clowns are no different than the Taliban in their desire to keep all women barefoot, pregnant and ignorant.

They are the evillest of creatures, for they seek to impose their twisted religious beliefs on others.

They are the Christian Taliban.

Paving the Road to Hell

Juan Cole argues that the root cause of the rise of armed Islamic fundamentalism is Reagan's decision to arm the Afghani Mujahadeen. While I think a good argument can be made that was one of the causes, I don't know that we can or even should lay all of the blame on Reagan.

Charlie Wilson also gets credit/blame as he was the one who really pushed to arm the Mujahadeen. The decision to arm the Afghans was not made in a vacuum. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan less than five years after the Vietnam War came to its sorry conclusion and it was a sore spot that both the Soviets and the Chinese supplied thousands of tons of war materiel to the North Vietnamese. There was a clear feeling of "I'll do unto you like you did unto me."

Further, one might argue that a root cause was the fact that when the Afghans managed to drive out the Soviets, the first Bush Administration said "nice job" and then had nothing to do with Afghanistan. There was no serious development aid, nothing to help the Afghans transition to a stable government.

(And this was not the only example of the perfidity of George H.W. Bush. His Administration urged the Shiites to revolt and when they did rise up against Saddam's government, Bush41 did nothing other than wring its collective hands at the brutal crushing of the rebellion by Saddam's forces. )

If the Russians had not gone into Afghanistan, then there would not have been an Afghan resistance to arm. So if one is going to mine history, one should excavate all the way down the vein.

Shithook

While the Marines are chasing perfection (and courting disaster) with their two-decades long quest to get the V-22 Osprey into service (and running their existing helo fleet into the ground in the process), the Army is buying 100 new CH-47 Chinooks.

(Thanks to Main & Central for this one.)

I think the Army has got this one right. And I will not be surprised if the Chinook buy gets expanded with some of the birds going to the Marines.

Class of 2021 Mindset List

(With apologies to the fine folks at Beloit College)

Someone I know suggested that we start compiling the "mindset list" for a future class of freshmen at the nation's colleges. I am going with the Class of 2021. These will be kids who were born in 1999 and 2000 and, since my niece was born in 2000, I'm adopting that group for his exercise.

So what will the Class of 2021 have as a mindset? Here is a start to the list:

1. The Federal government has always held people without charges in secret prisons.

2. Torture has always been a permitted interrogation technique.

3. The Iraqi Army has always been just about ready to assume responsibility for security in Iraq.

4. The Federal government has always had the right to listen in to your telephone conversations and read your e-mail without a warrant.

5. The Army has always had problems recruiting soldiers.

6. The Federal budget has never been balanced.

7 The economy has always been in great shape if you're rich.

8. The politicians who have been advocating wars have never sent their kids off to fight in it.

9. The President has never heard or seen a protester.

10. Fox News has always been the propaganda arm of the Republican party.

11. Everyone has always had a RFID chip embedded between their shoulder blades.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Smorgasbord of Suck

Bill Maher pointed out last Spring that, while a lot of presidents have sucked in their own way, George W. Bush is a veritable "smorgasbord of suck." Bush combines the warmongering of James Polk, the incompetence of Franklin Pierce, the corruption of Warren Harding, the inflexibility of Herbert Hoover and the naked lust for power of Richard Nixon in one neat, tidy, inarticulate package.

So, here is the question: What has he done right?

I come up with two things:

He let the Brady Law expire, but since that was more he didn't have to do anything, it's hard to say he did something.

He persuaded Libya to give up nuclear weapons.

That's all I have.

I don't accept that he persuaded North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, for all he did was get back on track with what Clinton did after Bush derailed it. So that counts more as one of the few times in his life that Bush has fixed one of his fuckups.

So, what has Bush done right?

The comment lines are open.

Marine Wedding

Go to Nina Berman's website and look at the photos in the portfolios "Marine Wedding" and "Purple Heart".

I dare you.

I don't care if you have supported Chimpy's War from the start, have turned against it recently, or have opposed it from the beginning. You should not be blind to the human costs of the war.

Bush: Historically Ignorant or Stubbornly Stupid?

Read the whole story that is in this Washington Post link. And then you have to wonder if Chimpy has been residing in the same reality as the rest of us.

Is he seriously commenting that we should not have ended the Vietnam War?

First off, that's easy for him to say because he, along with the rest of the 101st Chickenhawk Division, used their family connections to avoid having to carry a M-16 during that War. It's easy to say "we need to fight this war longer" if you and yours are not at risk for paying the blood price.

Second, to imply, as he does, that "killing fields" were a natural outgrowth of the Vietnam War is either historical stupidity or willful blindness (or a combination thereof). The widening of the war into Cambodia and the toppling of the Cambodian monarchy was a direct result of Nixon's decision to widen the war. Cambodia was not a participant in the war, other than having its territory violated by the armed forces of both sides (more NVA than us).

Third, the Chimperor ignores the fact that the Pol Pot regime was deposed by the armed forces of Vietnam. Yes, those dastardly commies put a stop to the killing fields. That could have been learned by Chimpy, if only he had bothered to to a quick search on "the Google", as he puts it.

Bush is always willing to float ideas that require other people's kids to bear the burden.

Listen to Yourself, Chimpy!

This nugget of advice was contained in a story in today's Washington Post:

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

"The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government."

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

No shit. The Repulsivans and the Dumbercrats had better take that advice on board, too. The American people spoke pretty plainly last November: This war needs to be concluded and sooner rather than later. The opinion polls consistently convey the same message.

So why is it that the only person immune from the requirement that the "government respond to the demands of the people" is Der Monkey Fuhrer? Why is he the only one in the picture who gets to operate as though he was handed a mandate from God?

Oh, that's right. He thinks he was handed a mandate from God. So what we have is a president who is both ignorant and batshit crazy.

Funny Advertisement

This one has been floating around for a few days.



Kudos to Rising Hegemon for spotting it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

National Sheepification Day

The Brady Campaign to Sheepify America, in conjunction with some other gun haters, is having some kind of rally or demonstration or kumbaya-in on August 28th. So, in reaction to that, the various pro-gunners and supporters of the Constitution in the blogosphere are advocating to make sure that on August 28th, you Support Your Local Gunshop.

So, on August 28th, go buy a gun. If you can't buy a gun, buy a box of ammunition or something. If the gunshop has a shooting range, go use it.

Support Your Local Gunshop. Fight the Sheepification of America.

2008 Mindset List

This is the annual "mindset list" from Beloit College. This year, it is for the incoming Class of 2011.

From Another Blog

Do I ever wish that I had thought of this contest to provide a photo caption!

For the terminally lazy who can't conceive of using energy to click on the link, the photo was:



And the winning caption was:


"EEEK! It's the Constitution!"


Yeah, I sure wish I had thought of it. I'd have suggested something along the lines of "come to the Dark Side, young Anakin", but the winner was way superior.

Anyway, go check out the "Near the Salty City" blog.



Endeavour is Back

Beautiful landing at KSC a few minutes ago. NASA TV had live shots through the heads-up-display on Endeavour.

Welcome home,folks.

Bears! Bears!

I am indebted to View From the Porch for this one:

Two bears in a zoo in Serbia ate a naked man. He stripped off his clothes, and jumped into the bear cage. The authorities think he was probably drunk.

Ya think?

We probably have a sure bet for a finalist in the 2007 Darwin Awards.

"Alive Day"

HBO will air a documentary on September 9th called: “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.”

The documentary reportedly consists of interviews with ten soldiers and marines who were seriously wounded in Iraq.

You probably should watch it, especially if you think that this war was a good idea, so that you may get a glimmer of understanding about the true cost of the war.

Departed Connecticut Airports

I bought a 1977 edition of FlightGuide in a used bookstore a little while ago. I compared the listing of airports in one small state, Connecticut, with the listing in the current edition of the Airport/Facility Directory.

These are the airports that are no longer there:

Ansonia
Burlington (Johnnycake)
Griswold (Lakeside)
Madison (Griswold)
South Woodstock (Woodstock)
Waterford (New London)

Burlington and Madison closed recently. Madison is (or was before the credit crunch) going to be developed into a housing project of some kind. Burlington closed when the owner of the property raised the rent by a factor of ten.

Waterford is a sad case. That airport closed over 20 years ago and nothing has been done to the property since. At least one of the developers has gone bankrupt (serves them right).

Not all news is bad, as there were two airports not in FlightGuide which are in the A/FD:

Candlelight Farms
Toutant (Putnam)

I don't know if they were in existence back then, just that they were not listed.

Still, in the northwest corner of the state, there are no public use airports. If the concept of revitalizing General Aviation with "light sport" aircraft is going to work, we need places to land them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cat Grass

No, it's not reefer for cats. Cat grass is similar to yard grass; supposedly it helps their diet. I only have sun in my apartment for a few hours a day, so a friend grows it for me in little planters. I bring it home and let my cats nosh on it. Then I have to put the planter on the windowsill and block it off from access by the cats so it recovers a little.

I brought a planter back yesterday, filled with grass about six inches high. Today,the grass shoots that survived the initial devouring are about an inch high and some were pulled out. One of the cats ate a bit too much, I suppose, because there was a grass/food/hairball on the floor to be cleaned up. I'm just glad it wasn't yocked up on my furniture, but since I spread towels on the living room sofa and chairs, as well as my bed, it would probably have been no big deal.

Getting a bunch of old towels to spread on the furniture was the best thing I've done. It keeps the furniture relatively clean and I wash the towels weekly.

42% Strange

You Are 42% Strange!

You are a bit strange, though still more normal than strange. You definitely have some quirks, don't get me wrong. But you aren't exactly freaking out old ladies on the street. It's okay though, you've got a healthy mixture of strangeness and normality.

How Strange Are You?
Quizzes for MySpace



Well, I am some disappointed. I'd have expected a higher score.

Another thing to work on in my life, I guess.

Still Time For Military Horseshit

Regardless of how well the Great War Against Terror and the Iraq Clusterfuck are going, there is still time for stupid horseshit.

The Navy doesn't like that when folks show up for physical training, that they wear a conglomeration of shorts and t-shirts. So now there is going to be an exercise uniform. This must go right well with the at-sea cammies that the Navy is adopting so all of its sailors look like jarheads.

Betcha Al Qaeda in Iraq is impressed by the Navy's dedication to matching attire.

The Opinions of Some Others

There have been some rather critical op-eds about Der Monkey Fuhrer's War.

One was printed in yesterday's New York Times. It was not written by some guru from think tank or an academic. It was written by seven soldiers, and by that I do not mean officers.

This is a quote from it, and click on the quote to read the entire piece:

The most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

Nice going, Chimpy.

So now, the view of an academic:

In history, the most important consequences are often the unintended ones. We do not yet know the longer-term unintended consequences of Iraq. Maybe there is a silver lining hidden somewhere in this cloud. But as far as the human eye can see, the likely consequences of Iraq range from the bad to the catastrophic.

Bravo, Shooter and Rummy. Way to go, you Kagans.

As Bill Maher said: You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid. It is no secret that the Surge is a plan that did not originate from the military. It originated from the American Warcrime Heritage Institute. It originated from the very same people who dreamed up this clusterfuck, the very same people who thought it was not necessary to plan for the occupation of Iraq, the same people who thought that the Iraqis would come out into the streets, start singing "Kumbaya" and form a secular democracy if only we guided them a little. And it is no secret that Bush started firing generals until he found one who would salute his little plan.

It is also no secret that, given the rotation scheme of 15 months in Iraq, 12 months home, that the Surge will end next spring, as there are not the troops to keep it going. Everybody knows this.

And, from what I can see, the discussion of what happens next is as lacking as the discussion was about what would would happen after Saddam was deposed. It is shaping up to look like this:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dumping on the "Greatest Generation"

Provided you haven't been living down the canyon from Ted Kaczynski's old place for the last ten or so years, you probably have heard the name given to the World War II generation by Tom Brokaw: "The Greatest Generation." The book told the stories of people involved in the war and spawned a horde of copycat books.

It is my premise that the term the "greatest generation" is tantamount to a theft of glory, for it takes the true glory from those who earned it, their parents and grandparents.

The idea put forth is that it was the massive participation of the World War II generation that brought about the defeat of the Axis. And yes, there is something to that. But let us not forget that the American World War II generation had their counterparts in every other major country involved in that war. Millions of young Germans went off to fight and die for the Fuhrer. Millions of Japanese went off to die for Emperor Hirohito. Millions of Soviet citizens fought for their country, including thousands of women soldiers, sailors and airmen. While our women were doing "Rosie the Riveter" in our defense plants, Russian women were building T-34 tanks in the middle of winter in open-air factories in the Ural Mountains. The Japanese civilians were making and machining parts in their homes, essentially turning entire residential neighborhoods into factories (and justifying the firebombing of Japanese cities). The "greatest generation" were the foot soldiers, the factory workers, the cannon fodder for the war.

The true "greatest generation" were those who planned and executed the war strategy to win the war. They were the parents of the so-called "greatest generation." They were the military officers who conceived of the strategies to win, men like George Marshall, Chester Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Georgy Zhukov. They were the men who designed the equipment needed to win the war, such as Karl Probst and John Garand. They were the men who ran the companies that produced war equipment, such as Henry Kaiser, Donald Douglas, William Boeing, and all of the other companies and organizations. They were the ones who got the job done. They were the ones who sparked the post-war economic boom.

The "Greatest Generation" stole the glory and the credit for winning World War II from their parents, who were, by 1998, conveniently dead.

So what was the first thing that the "Greatest Generation" did when they took over from their parents' generation? Against the advice of their parents, they got this nation into a land war in Asia, a war that consumed hundreds of billions of dollars, cost the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and accomplished nothing. It was not the "Greatest Generation" that struggled against segregation in the 1960s, it was the in-between generation that was too young for World War II and the leading cohort of the Baby Boom that opposed segregation. And yes, it was the Baby Boomers who took to the streets to stop the Vietnam War, a war that the "Greatest Generation" largely supported to the bitter end.

The "Greatest Generation" had their war to command and they fucked it up. (And yes, the Baby Boomers elected an ignorant sociopath who promptly repeated that mistake, but that's a topic for another time.)

More Bipartisan Stupidity From Our Government

Here is another one: The War on Drugs is not working. It is a complete and utter failure. Adjusted for inflation, the price of powdered cocaine is one third of what it was in 1990.

But we keep on doing what we have been doing. We let the courts and the police chip away at civil liberties. We turn our police into quasi-mercenaries by giving them a financial stake in the Drug War. Thanks to the War on Drugs far more than the War on Terror, our police have become quasi-military organizations, using military-type weapons and gear.

It is sheer insanity. After 36 years, only the completely obstinate or the wholly stupid could argue that the War on Drugs has been anything other than a failure.

Why can't we figure this out? Why can't we try something else? We realized that Forced Temperance was a failure after 14 years, why have we not realized that the same method of dealing with the drug trade is also a failure? Are we that much stupider or that much more stubborn than our grandparents and great-grandparents were?

They broke the code. Why can't we?

Sad, Just Sad

I was at a small airport today. A Stinson 108 was on one of the grass tiedowns. From its appearance, it has not flown in several years. Vines were growing up the side of it and had reached the venturiis that are in front of the pilot's door.

When I see one like that, I never know what the story is. Did the owner get sick and lose his medical or maybe he fell on hard times? Is he even alive? If not, does the executor of his estate even know of the airplane? I did not take a close look, but after that many years, it's a fair bet that the tiedown ropes are not in very good condition. One more hard thunderstorm and that could be the end of a sixty year old airplane.

Airplanes are meant to fly. People who cannot keep them flying should sell them or even give them to someone who can. If you love airplanes, seeing one rotting away on a tiedown is one of the saddest sights in aviation.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why the Rest of the World Thinks We Are Idiots.

Americans are flocking to a hi-tech Creation Museum where man and dinosaurs frolick happily together.

Click on the link and read the story.

Do I really need to riff on this Magnet for Morons?

The Press vs. the Government

H.L. Mencken once said: “The only way a reporter should look at a politician is down. “

He had the right of it. Fewer things make me want to barf more than when I hear some toady Right-Wing Water-Carrier complain that the the “press isn’t supporting our President.”

Well, guess what, bucko? If you really think the job of the press is to support the government, then you would have been really happy reading Pravda or Izvestiya in the days of the Soviet Union. Those newspapers existed to support the State, which is why when the rest of the world knew that something bad was happening in the USSR, the Soviet media was publishing trenchant stories about improved crop harvests in the Ukraine.

The relationship between the press and the government in a free society, at all levels, has to be adversarial from the point of view of the press. The job of the press is to tell us, the voters, what is truly going on, not to tell us what some public relations flackazoid in the government wants us to know what is going on. The job of the press is to go around kicking over rocks, to shine bright lights into the dark corners of government and to see what is going on.

One of the worst examples of the American press not doing its job has to be in the early years of the Iraq War. A few months before the war started, the movie “Chicago” was in the theaters. One of the scenes in the movie was Billy Flynn, the defense lawyer, singing the “Press Conference Rag”. At one point in that scene, Billy Flynn is seen to be the puppet master working the strings to the marionettes in the press. When I saw Chimpy’s press conference before the war started, the similarity was eerie. The questions were all softballs that Our Retard-In-Chief could hit out of the park. The press fell down on the job, the various spinmeisters in the Administration fed them bullshit on a shingle and the press just ate that shit up.

The press fulfills its job under our Constitution when it goes after the stories that the government does not want us to know, when they expose the spin, the lies, the corruption. If the job of the press is to support the government, then we don’t need a First Amendment, for no government in history felt any restriction on its right to “catapult the propaganda.”

Without a free press, all we would have would be variations of Pravda, Izvestiya and Fox Noise. Democracy depends on an informed population. Without a free and aggressive press, democracy withers and dies.

Our Founding Fathers knew that. Too bad the Republicans do not.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken.

It is the job of the press to point out that the hobgoblins are not real. Failing to do that is, in essence, betraying the trust of the Founding Fathers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Secret Photograph of Dick Cheney!


"Civil liberties make me very angry. The Constitution is in my way. I must blow it up.

"Where is my Illudium-238 Explosive Space Modulator?"

Why I Hate Glocks

This is a Glock 23 in .40 S&W:
This is a Colt Government Model in .45 ACP:
These are not mine, but I have owned similar handguns. Now, I'm no expert and I don't try to play one. Anything I say anywhere on this blog and especially when I am writing about firearms is my opinion and only my opinion. If you ever say "but the Earth-Bound Misfit says that", then go look up Bill Engvall and ask him for a sign.

The Glock is the only firearm that I have ever owned or fired that scared the shit out of me.

Both the Glock and the Colt Government Model have similar trigger pulls of roughly 5.5lbs. Scroll up and take a close look at the trigger of the Glock. You can see a little protrusion in the front of the trigger. That is the only user-operated safety device on the gun.

Now compare that to the Colt. Directly behind the top screw on the wooden grip is a safety. If the hammer is cocked on the Colt, you can move that safety lever up and the gun will not fire. Directly behind the safety lever is a grip safety. If you are holding the gun, you are actuating the grip safety.

Glocks have internal devices that lock the striker unless the trigger is depressed. So do Series 80 Colts. Glock counts its internal devices as additional safeties. (Probably sounds good in court.)

Nobody I know of who is in their right mind would carry a Colt automatic with the hammer cocked and the thumb safety off. But that is exactly the carry situation with a Glock. And it scared the hell out of me, which is why I traded it away.

(Updated 5/4/09 to replace the photographs)