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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Veggie Burgers

I do like meat, but I have been trying to cut down on my intake of red meat and, to some extent, I have. (That was helped by the fact that good cuts of beef are not exactly cheap. )

I have tried several varieties of veggie burger and I have a testimonial that Boca Burgers are the most like the real thing.

I know this because my cat George will eat them. He won't touch the other brands.

George likes beef, but only if it is cooked. I had had him for a few months, George is the first cat I've ever lived with, and I'd share bits of beef or chicken with him. A friend of mine, who has cats, told me to give him a piece of raw beef, she said "he'll go nuts over it."

So I did.

George walked over to his dish, sniffed it, and gave me a look of "aren't you going to cook this?" He tried to bury it under the linoleum.

But when I cooked up the rest of it and shared a portion of it with him, he was happy.

A "Phony Soldier" Answers Rush Limpballs

I have had Army of Dude blogrolled for awhile now. It is well worth the time to read.

This is his response to the Gasbag
. Note that the Army Dude just returned from a fifteen month tour in Iraq.

Headwinds

This weekend I flew up to visit my mother, went up yesterday and back today. The wind gods have a real sense of humor, for I had a 32mph headwind component. If I had been flying along a highway, the faster cars would have been passing me. On the flight home today, there was not much wind, so I was clanking along at about 115mph over the ground, according to the Battery Sucking GPS. Close to a half-hour difference in flight time for the two legs of the trip.

Care to guess at which airport the aviation gasoline was close to a dollar a gallon higher?

(Yep, the one where I was in the air longer and burned 4 gallons more.)

Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me, a PT-17?

My friends all have Mooneys, this airplane would be keen,
Been quiet all my life, I'd like to be seen,
So Lord, won't you buy me, a PT-17.


So the Estate of Janis Joplin can sue me.

Automatic Weather Observation

"Little City Municipal Airport Automated Weather Observation, time 1353 Zulu. Sky condition: Clear."


I don't think so!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Reverse Midas Touch

There is a common thread running through the Bush Administration (other than the part about being so incompetent that if he ran a restaurant, the menu would consist of a selection of soup sandwiches), and that is this:

Let the Next President Do It.

Whether from laziness or incompetence or a desire not to harm his wealthy friends, George Bush basically does nothing other than create problems or delay resolving problems so the next person to sit in his office has to fix what he ignored.

Iraq is obvious.

Federal deficits are another. Bush went from inheriting budget surpluses that were paying down the Federal debt to massive deficit spending, the logical result of giving tax breaks to the wealthy while ratcheting up spending. His recent conversion to being a "fiscal conservative" is about as convincing as the John Wayne Gacy Children's Fund.

NASA is another. Bush announced his plans to go to the Moon and Mars; plans that are largely going to be carried out and paid for by future generations. The main effect of his grandiose schemes has been to cripple other NASA programs, including those which monitor the climate of the Earth.

The near total destruction of the senior levels of the Federal civil service is another topic that has been widely ignored, other than what happened to FEMA and the conversion of the Justice Department into an employment agency serving those law schools that offer courses in over-the-road truck driving. Bush and his henchmen have tried to destroy the professionalism of the Federal civil service and replace those professionals with ideological idiots. To see the inevitable outcome of that sort of effort writ large, take a look at how the Coalition Provisional Authority operated. The CPA was mostly staffed with ideologues, it certainly wasn't staffed with people who had any idea how to do the job.

Climate change may possibly be the one thing that Bush is remembered for long after the last veteran of the Iraq War has been buried in the early years of the 22nd Century. His insistence on "voluntary limits" on greenhouse gases has been a flop, which would be expected by anyone with more than three functioning neurons. That was a dumb an idea as voluntary taxes or speed limits. But now, seven years into his illegitimate tenure, with mounting evidence that his stance on climate change has only served the interests of Dick Cheney's buddies in the "awl bidness", he now tries to say that he is concerned about the issue?

In all of these areas, Bush creates or ignores problems that his successors will have to fix. Our Mountain-Biking Preznit has trashed almost everything he touched.

In truth, he had the Reverse Midas Touch: Everything he touched turned to shit.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sycophant General

So let's see when the Republicans line up to criticize Pat Buchanan's magazine for calling Gen. Petraeus a sycophant. Or let's see if they are going to criticize that modern version of the Hindenberg, Rush Limbaugh

(.....pardon me while I clean up the barf from typing that name.....)

who called active duty soldiers who are combat veterans and who dare to disagree with the Chimperor "phony soldiers."

Hey, you drug-addicted fascist gasbag! Let's see your DD-214!

Bailing on the Salt Mine

This afternoon was pretty slow at Ye Olde Salte Mine, so I went to the range. This time, I unlimbered my Ruger Vaquero in .45 Long Colt, loaded with 250gr. flat-nosed lead rounds that were loaded to SASS standards.



I shot the target at about 25', one handed style, as it seems just wrong to shoot a big thumb-buster using a two-handed hold. What is curious is that the head-shots are drifting off to the right, while the body shots are pretty well centered. I suspect that may be because the sights are the shitty traditional 19th Century thin post and notch and there was not a discrete thing to aim at. I also need to tape the target to something to get the top clear of the hanger so I can not worry about aiming low to avoid dinging the hanger.

I was half-way tempted to aim just below the bottom of the 7-ring, as I have a friend who is having a bit of man-trouble in her life and she might have appreciated the gift of an appropriately ventilated target.

I'm taking off for the weekend tomorrow morning, I don't expect to be online until I get back home on Sunday afternoon.

Have a good weekend!

The Chimperor Has No Cred

President Bush spoke at the UN on Tuesday and condemned the brutal crackdown in Burma. It is indeed good to see him do that.

Problem is, though, that George Bush championing human rights is like Jeffrey Dahmer advocating vegetarianism. The Bush Administration has also championed secret arrests, secret prisons, detentions without trial, wars of aggression and the use of torture. Then we can get into lower-level violations of human rights, such as warrantless wiretapping, warrantless searches, mass arrests, suppression of free speech, and domestic spying.

And you can be damn sure that, as he spoke in front of the UN General Assembly, at least 95 percent of the audience was aware of all that.

Sadly, he has no credibility.

Doofus-in-Chief

"Childrens do learn." -- George W. Bush. 9/26/07

Notice where he said that. George Bush, the Edjumacation Preznit.

George H.W. and Barbara Bush ought to send a letter to Andover and Yale to demand the refund of the tuition they paid to send their kid to be educated.

Beyond that, the comedians are going to have to work at their jobs if we get a president who is fluent in English.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Flies

As I've written before, I try to go for a walk each day after work. This evening, a fly must have come through the door with me.

It's buzzing around my place and it is being watched by the cats, two of them in particular. If that fly comes close enough to one of them, it is going to become a tasty snack.

I give that fly 8 hours, 24 tops, before it becomes a food item.
------------

p.s., the fly was gone by morning. 8 hours was about right.

How to Almost Kill Yourself in an Airplane

This story took place a long time ago. There are soldiers in Iraq who were not at the “baby can hold his head up” stage when this happened. So I think we are well past any statute of limitations.

A friend and I flew a Cessna to an airport in a touristy area. It took about 90 minutes or so to get there. Clear sky all around, except for one thunderstorm waay off in the distance. We arrived at the airport, I tied the Cessna down and we took a cab into town. We strolled around, looked at all of the cheap crap for sale at tourist prices and then had lunch. It was a nice lunch.

We came out of the restaurant and heard a “boom” off in the distance.

Friend: “Think it’s coming this way?”

Me: “Yeah, I think so.”

Friend: “Think we ought to go?”

Me: “Yep.”

So we hailed a taxi and hightailed it back to the airport. We trotted out onto the ramp and beat feet to the airplane. We got passed by an elderly couple on knock-down bikes. I figured we’d beat them to the punch as they’d have to disassemble and secure the bikes,

As we got to the Cessna, I looked out towards the town and sure enough, that damn thunderstorm, probably the only one in 200 miles, was drawing a bead on the airport. I abbreviated the pre-flight to the essential items: No fluids dripping: Check. Tiedown ropes untied and clear: Check. We hopped in, I started the engine, I got the ATIS and then called for and received clearance to taxi to the runway.

This airport had a runway that was about 5,000' long. As I was taxiing to the far end, Ground Control radioed me and said the winds had shifted and that if I wanted to do an intersection takeoff, I could turn right there, 3,000' available. I said I’d take it. I checked the oil pressure, skipped the mag check, put in a notch of flaps and called the Tower that I was ready. Tower said “clear to takeoff” and we did.

About 50 feet above the ground, we flew into the rain and even above that Lycoming 4-banger at full power, it was loud. I couldn’t see ahead, but I could see to the side and down. I lowered the nose to get more airspeed, retracted the flaps and immediately began a left-hand 180 degree turn. We flew back out of the rain and I began climbing out.

I keyed the mike and said: “Well, that was fun.”

The controlled replied: “We lost sight of you, I think my heart stopped.”

I said: “Yours wasn’t the only one.”

I looked back over my shoulder and saw a Piper Malibu, sitting at the same intersection I had departed from, its engine running and being hammered by the rain.

As you probably guessed, the reason the wind shifted was because the thunderstorm got close enough that its winds took over.

And as for my friend, I didn’t hear a peep, not a comment or a gasp or a blood-curdling scream. I asked why and got this answer: “I thought you had enough to do without listening to me. And don’t ever do that to me again.”

"I'm the Mom"

I am not going to say anything about this. I don't want to spoil it.

Just watch Anita Renfroe at work:

Irony May Not Be Dead

Senator Larry Craig (R/Gay-UT ID), voted against the Matthew Shepard Act.

Irony may not be dead, but neither is self-hatred by closet cases.

Of course, George Bush is determined to protect the rights of gay-bashers to commit their brand of terrorism.

(Corrected re: name of the state)

"We Need Another $42 Billion"

So says SecDef Gates. That's on top of the $150 billion "supplemental" in February.

Whether or not it is proper is one thing. What is shameful is the Administration has no problem spending money recklessly on its idiotic wars, but when it comes to health care for children, all of a sudden it's wrong to spend the funds.

The Republicans may not get control of Congress for another generation at this rate.

Blackwater, Payback is a Mother

There has been a number of statements by US military officers about how reckless Blackwater's goons are. I referenced some of them yesterday.

What may be going on, at least in part, is some payback by the military brass against Blackwater and the other contractors. There has been some stories over the years in which various officers expressed frustration at the contractors for providing a market for special forces trained soldiers, who can leave the military and then come back as a contractor for six figure salaries.

Payback is indeed a mother.

"Stupid Activist Judges"- Homer Bush

Seems that a judge has the opinion that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution still is relevant in the Age of the Chimperor.

The question to Bush is this: What part of "you need probable cause and a search warrant before you can search" is unclear to you?

You probably can go read the blogs of the "conservatives" today to see the outrage of those who profess they believe in liberty and freedom, but who really do not.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I am Not so Nice

So I am checking my site monitoring gizmo and there has been a bit of an uptick in traffic. Some are coming from a mention by the field negro.

Others are coming from a marginally unclomplimentary mention by some Kool-Aid drinker in his blog (and no, I am not going to give him a link). The little putz referred to me as "some fellow." I guess he didn't do so well at reading comprehension.

So I dropped a little welcome to those guys into the post they are clicking into.

I am not a nice person, I admit it. Too fraking bad.

Future Darwin Award Nominee

If he lives that long, that is.

I'm out for my walk and it's about 25 minutes after the sun was last visible and probably ten minutes after sunset. A lot of the streets are tree-lined, so it seems darker than you'd expect.

I hear a whirring sound and there is a kid, riding an electric dirt bike down the street. There are no lights on the damn bike, the kid is wearing dark clothing, the bike is painted black or dark blue and to top it all off, the kid isn't wearing a helmet.

I just sighed. Some soccer mom is going to come around the corner there some day in her four-ton Chevy Gas-sucker while she is yakking at her ex- on her cell phone and that kid is going to be turned into a chalk outline on the road.

Yet Still Again More Stupid Racial Shit

Four teenaged goons beat a Black college student with baseball bats and tried to drown him.

It's worth noting that the victim's two friends were also assaulted, but the thugs did not try to kill them. One guess as to why.

With any luck, some of those idiots will get to spend a few formative decades as guests of the State of Florida.

George Bush: Hooked on Foniks

The White House staff released an advance copy of Chimpy's speech to the UN, which contained the phonetic hints for El Disgusto.

Besides giving the 75% of Americans (and 98% of the rest of the world's population) another opportunity to poke fun at him, the sad thing about this speech is that he needed to be given a hint how to pronounce the name of President Sarkozy of France. Sarkozy went to Maine and hung out for the day with Chimpy. Sarkozy is Chimpy's new best friend in Europe.

And he still had to be told how to pronounce his name?

America's TV Racist

And that would be: Bill O'Reilly.

Al Sharpton took him O'Reilly to Sylvia's in Harlem and O'Reilly was amazed that the patrons weren't yelling "bring me more iced tea, motherfucker" or throwing chicken bones at the waiters or shooting at the hostess with their cheap-jack 9mms.

(OK, I made the last two up)

"It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun," he said. "And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."

That he would even feel the need to make that comment speaks volumes.

Blackwater's Roof

The Congress is trying to investigate Blackwater and surprise, surprise, the State Department is dragging its feet. And this is a real shocker: Being guarded by heavily-armed, trigger-happy goods isn't exactly a good plan for winning hearts and minds. The State Department is supposed to be smarter about this than, say, FEMA or the TSA would have been.

There are some damning quotes by Army officers in the third link.

Like this one:

"This is a nightmare," said a senior U.S. military official. "We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we're trying to have an impact for the long term."

This one:

"This is a big mess that I don't think anyone has their hands around yet," said another U.S. military official. "It's not necessarily a bad thing these guys are being held accountable. Iraqis hate them, the troops don't particularly care for them, and they tend to have a know-it-all attitude, which means they rarely listen to anyone -- even the folks that patrol the ground on a daily basis."

And this one:

"They are immature shooters and have very quick trigger fingers. Their tendency is shoot first and ask questions later," said an Army lieutenant colonel serving in Iraq. Referring to the Sept. 16 shootings, the officer added, "None of us believe they were engaged, but we are all carrying their black eyes."

But because of Blackwater's ties to the Administration, nothing is going to get done about them unless Congress does it.

For, as has become clearly evident to all but the Kool-Aid drinkers, Iraq isn't exactly a sovereign nation. If they were, Blackwater would be gone.

Ugh, Morning

Stupid alarm clock.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rudy andthe Exploitation of 9/11

Is there any doubt anymore that Rudy has been shamelessly exploiting 9/11?

Let's state the obvious: Rudy Guiliani was going down as a failure when the 9/11 attacks occurred. He was compiling a lengthy record as an intolerant race-baiting fascist. But because of 9/11 and his shameless exploitation of that tragedy, he has made millions of dollars and even came close to putting his corrupt "associate," Bernard Kerik, in as Secretary of DHS.

As a result of his constant hooking himself to the events of 9/11, most people in the New York City metropolitan area don't like him one bit. Lots of people in the NYC area either know someone who died that day or they know the family of someone who died and Rudy's constant exploitation of 9/11 for his personal and political gain rankles folks.

And don't forget that 9/11 showed that Rudy's devotion to democracy was about as thin as an onion's skin, for one of the first things he tried to do was postpone the mayoral election by three months because nobody could run the City better than he could. Or so he thought.

Only in the places in this country where 9/11 had no real impact is "Mr. 9/11" popular.

And that ought to tell you something.

Still More Stupid Racial Shit

Another outbreak of using nooses to intimidate Blacks took place, this time at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.

"Dear Valued Customer"

That's the salutation on the mass-mailing from the Evil Bastards at the Cable Company, announcing how they are going to "realign" some of the cable channels, for no goddamn good reason other than they can. And then they are going to "add a couple of exciting new channels", which means that in a couple of months, there will be an exciting new rate increase of about four bucks.

"Exciting new channels." What a load of horseshit. Unless one of those new channels shows cable TV executives being interrogated by CIA torturers interrogators under the direct supervision of Vice President Vlad Cheney, I can't see anything exciting about it.

In one of the more recent Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich, one of the bail-jumpers was staying home because the cable company was supposed to come by any day now. He had been waiting for five months. Whenever one character in the story mentioned the words "cable company", the other party to the conversation would invariably respond with "those fuckers."

That's about how I feel.

Those fuckers.

Sunset

Unless something is going on in Ye Olde Salte Mine, I get home from work a little after 6pm. I feed the cats, change clothes and go for a walk. At this time of year, the Sun is just setting as I head out the door, so I don't need sunglasses.

Tonight, the Moon was just clearing the ridgeline to the east. I walk about a mile more or less to the east and then turn around for the walk home. The days have been warm and the evenings cool. As I walked back home, I saw a jet, high in the sky, heading southwest. The sunlight was reflecting from its wings and belly. The jet was putting out a contrail that dissipated only a mile or so behind the jet, so it looked like a rocket going across the evening sky. Far below the jet, a Cessna was on its way back to its home airport, the pilot probably hoping to have enough light left in the sky to make tying down the airplane easier.

Soon it will be dark when I finish my walk, then it will be dark for the entire duration. It will turn cold. I'll switch from shorts to jeans, from a t-shirt to a sweatshirt and then to an overcoat. I'll go back to carrying a flashlight to illuminate the dark corners of my walk. Then the snow will come and I will be done walking until it melts.

Same Shit, Different War

Allegations that the M-4 is too finicky for harsh combat conditions.

A long time ago, I read comments about the Israeli Army's reaction after experience with the M-16 and the AK-47. They called the AK-47 "the lion of the desert." There's a damn good reason why the Galil rifle is a clone of the AK.

I know the Army can be boneheaded when it comes to service rifles, but Jesus! You'd think they'd break the code on this one. If it helps, they can blame the Air Force for the M-16 and go back to the M-14. They could use the short-barreled variant that Springfield Armory makes for the troops riding around in Bradleys and suchlike.

Probably too much to hope for them to buy a bunch of AKs from the Russians and issue them out, though.

Cowardice on the Campaign Trail; Democratic Edition

While there has been a fair amount of commentary on how the major Republican candidates would not appear at Tavis Smiley's debate, just after only John McCain had agreed to appear at the Univision (Spanish language) debate (and even the conservative press thinks they are being idiots), there was little commentary about how most of the Democrats ignored the NRA's convention last week.

I think the Democrats passed on a golden opportunity to get their views out to a skeptical audience. And if the crowd had been openly hostile, it could have been a PR plus, showing that Democrats are not afraid of those who oppose them.

Beyond that, as a Democrat who holds the opinion that the Second Amendment is as vital as the First in preserving our democracy, I'd have liked for them to confront this issue head-on.

And they didn't. Shame on them.

Television Recyling

I saw an ad for a new show called "Reaper," about a condemned soul whose job is working for the Devil, bringing escapees back to Hell.

Yeah, fresh new concept. Unless you had seen Brimstone.

Profiles in Cowardice; Junior High Edition

These are the Democrats who folded:

Baucus, Bayh, Cardin, Carper, Casey, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Johnson, Klobuchar, Kohl, Landrieu, Leahy, Lieberman, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (Ben), Nelson (Bill), Salazar, Tester, Webb

No surprise about Lieberman. But Leahy? Feinstein? When did they check in for a spine-ectomy?

Let's forget about trying to end the war that has cost the lives of about 5,000 Americans (including the Coalition of the Billing), somebody was mean to Chimpy's star-wearing mouthpiece.

Profiles in Principle

These are the Democrats who stood up against the Republicans' "MoveOn is Mean to Chimpy's pet General" resolution:

Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Byrd (D-WV), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Stabenow (D-MI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR)

Biden, Cantwell and Obama didn't vote. Rumor is that Obama left the Capitol shortly before the vote.

The "Sheets With Eye-Holes" Party

Bob Herbert thinks its time that a protest march is held against the GOP.

"This is the party of the Southern strategy — the party that ran, like panting dogs, after the votes of segregationist whites who were repelled by the very idea of giving equal treatment to blacks. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. (Willie Horton) Bush, George W. (Compassionate Conservative) Bush — they all ran with that lousy pack."

Amen to that.

And they are doing it again.

An American Family

Too bad the Brady Bunch wasn't a real family, for they'd certainly be poster children for the GOP.

First off, you'd have Greg dating both his stepmom and his stepsister, Marsha.

Now it seems that Marsha and Jan were getting their freak on.

All that's left is to find out is who was blowing the dog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

George Bush- Terrorist in Chief

"You will be attacked if you don't give me what I want."

That, in essence, was the message that the Bush Administration sent to Congress last month to get it to pass the revisions to the FISA law: A statement that there was intelligence that terrorists were about to attack the Capitol.

Problem was this: It was bullshit. It was all bullshit.

So let us be plain about this: George Bush and Richard Cheney and the rest of their henchmen are terrorists.

And the Democrats are spineless weasels in not calling them on it. This little instance should be the subject of some investigations, if not impeachment hearings. I'm pretty sure that threatening a terrorist attack is a crime.

Unless you happen to be the Chimperor or his Evil Regent, I gather.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

One very cool thing happened when he spoke today at Columbia University.

He got laughed at.

Bet that doesn't happen too often to him in Iran.

Seems he tried to tell the students that Iran doesn't have gay people and they weren't buying it.

There is a larger lesson here, and that is in this country, even in the Age of Bush, we will let a complete nutjob like Ahmadinejad say his piece.

I am sure of a couple of things:

1) The Iranians would never let Bush speak at a top level university in Tehran; and

2) If they had their way, those freedom-loving folks on the Right, such as Mitch McConnell and Joe Lieberman, would not have let Ahmadinejad speak.

Which shows that they have a lot more in common with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than they care to admit.

Detroit Strike

GM is on strike.

Yes, I know the conservatives love to blame the unions for the downfall of Detroit, claiming that the union benefits make the American automakers uncompetitive. Problem with that is it's mostly bullshit.

Last time I checked, the UAW doesn't design or engineer the cars. I don't see how it is the UAW's fault that Honda and Toyota and Mitusbishi and and and can all run rings around the American automakers when it comes to value and quality. Just about all of the Japanese makers build cars in the US now because it's cheaper, even with American wages. The Japanese managers know full well that if you want good, skilled, loyal workers, you have to pay them top wages. And they do, as do the Germans.

So you might want to look at the engineering and the design of the pieces of shit that Detroit pumps out. It wasn't the UAW that failed to keep up the design of the Ford Taurus, a car that used to compete with the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry and now is defunct. I rented a midsize Chevy sedan in the early `90s and it was the first car I ever drove that had 9,000 miles on it that should have been driven to the junkyard. It had a brilliant personal security feature that unlocked all the doors once you put the transmission in park. The headlight switch on the dashboard was located in a position so that if you swiped at the turn signal for a left-hand turn, you'd shut the headlights off. That wasn't the UAW's fault.

One time, I looked at buying a small Chevy. The fit and finish on the demonstrator model was atrocious. It was the first car I ever drove that accelerated so poorly that you'd have to time 0-60mph with a calendar. I felt sorry for the salesman, in a way, for when he asked if I was ready to deal, I just laughed. That time, I bought a Mazda GLC, which wasn't a terrific car, but compared to the Chevy, it was a luxury car and was the same price.

My mother used to have a Ford Galaxy in the late 1960s that had the annoying habit of stalling in the rain. She said she'd never buy another piece of shit from Detroit and kept to that point of view for 30 years, when she bought a Jeep Cherokee in the mid `90s. After she got tired of repeatedly fighting with the idiots at the Chrysler dealership over different problems with it, she bought a VW Beetle, drove that for awhile and then bought a Subaru (the unofficial car of northern New England) when she felt that a AWD might be a better choice for winter driving.

My sister-in-law had a Jeep Cherokee of similar vintage; my brother is very vocal that it was the biggest piece of shit he ever had the misfortune of owning. They bought a Volvo.

The UAW has its share of blame, for they were slow to react to the need to make high-quality cars and they fought almost every attempt by the automakers to adopt a higher quality method of production. It didn't help matters that the automakers were not shy about admitting that one of the collateral objectives was to break the union.

I love it how they refer to the JD Power survey of car owners' satisfaction after 90 days. Who the Christ keeps a car for only 90 days? A few cars ago, I took a Honda to a gas station for an oil change, it had 30,000 miles on it. The manager of the gas station asked me if I had any problems with it, and I said no. He then pointed at a Buick LeSabre of the same vintage and he said it was there for the fourth time, each time for a different repair.

About the only way you could do worse than buy a POS from Detroit is to buy a Land Rover.

One of these days, the executives that run those automobile companies will step up to the plate and really try to design and build an affordable car of high quality, the same kind of car that the Japanese makers have been churning out for decades.

I'm probably not going to live that long.

And neither will you.

Ol' Black Water, Keep on Shootin'

Great parody song.

Just Because You're Paranoid...

...doesn't mean they are not watching.

Yesterday I posted a short entry about a KGB DHS cop using their database to stalk his ex-girl friend.

This morning, in my little site-metering app, I see that this blog got visited by a computer at the TSA headshed.

Guess I had better forget about flying the airlines unless I want to have the pleasure of a full cavity search.

Racists Republicans, part 2

In today's New York Times (which you can read from this link, thanks to the demise of Times Select), Paul Krugman argues that the Republican Party has, by linking itself with the people formerly known as the segregationists, sown the seeds for its own demise.

The "big tent" that the Republicans used to talk about is now a pup-tent.

Blacks, Latinos and Asians are getting this message from the GOP: "Fuck off." Republicans have done everything they can think of to keep minorities away from the polls, other than the re-institution of literacy tests and poll taxes.

People remember, though, which may be one reason why Ken Blackwell, who was the Ohio Secretary of State who stole that state for George Bush in 2004, got shellacked when he ran for governor two years later.

Some Republicans get it. They know the risk their party is running. Arnold Schwartzenegger has spoken out on this. But the GOP presidential candidates are going to play to their base of rebel-flag-waving racists, for they think that is what they have to do to win the nomination. And they may be right.

The problem is that the days of "say X during the primary season and Y during the general campaign" are long past. Words don't go away anymore. You can't appeal to the racist vote in 2007 and expect that folks won't remember after the convention.

If the Republicans want to become the party of the segregationists, the loss is to our country.

Junior High School Government

The Republicans, both in the Administration and in the Congress, seem to be channeling the conduct of a bunch of kids in junior high school. Or maybe elementary school.

First example: The Bush Administration. When asked why they will not engage in talks with a country they disapprove of, the answer is almost invariably along the lines of "they know what they should (do)(stop doing) before we will talk to them."

Oh, please. "Shawna was mean to me, I'm not going to invite her unless she apologizes."

The mere point that it has to be explained to these mental midgets that diplomacy is the process of negotiation and discussion boggles the mind.

Second point: Republicans in the Senate said that the MoveOn advertisement "General Betray Us" made it far easier for them to stand with Chimpy.

"You were mean to Chimpy's pet general so we are not going to work with you to try and end the war."

Bush co-opted Gen. Petraeus to be his mouthpiece on Iraq. Let's not forget that Bush went shopping early this year to find a general who would implement the Kagan Surge. Petraeus signed onto the surge and for that, he got his fourth star. If you really expected Petraeus to say anything other than "the surge is working," then you probably chase rainbows after a late-afternoon shower.

And that line of his that he had not cleared his testimony with anyone defies credulity.

So because some group took out an ad, the Republicans are going to let Bush continue to feed his meatgrinder in Iraq and continue to prop up the Iraqi politicians as they waste month after month doing nothing. All because MoveOn was mean to Bushi's pet general.

Amazing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

DHS Stalker

A Department of Homeland Security special agent used the DHS databases to stalk his girlfriend.

So what happens when Vice President Voldemort calls up and demands information on someone?

Froggy

I was feeling a bit off yesterday, so I canceled some plans and just rested. I did make a trip to the range and got in a little more practice, but other than that and cleaning my bathroom (which was approaching "biohazard" status), I did bupkis and I got in a 3-hr nap.

The weather was awful, anyway. Lots of low clouds and foggy until almost noon yesterday. A few airports in the Northeast had Fall fly-ins Saturday that were probably trashed by the weather.

After really sleeping in today, I went flying. There is a bit of a breeze around here, so it was a bit bumpy. Great visibility, but bumpy enough that I left my camera in the flight bag, so no aerial shots today. There were a couple of nice Pitts Specials at the airport restaurant's ramp. I think they were both S-1s, which are single-seaters. A really pretty Stinson 108-3 taxied by as I was doing my pre-flight and I saw a gorgeous looking Cessna 170B.

This is a Pitts, not the one I saw.



This is a Cessna 170:




One of these days, I need to take my Vaquero to the range. It's fun to shoot, even with the 19th Century sights.

Marcel Marceau

He died at the age of 84.

He did a lot more in his life than reviving the art of mime ("mimeing"?). He was in the French Resistance and served as a liaison officer with Patton's Third Army.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder if this time, he's going to be in an opaque box. And at the funeral for a mime, do they mark his passing with a respectful minute of pure noise?

All Hat, No Cattle

Bush just plays at being a cowboy, according to Vincente Fox.

Heck, I bet he can't even handle a sixgun, let alone a horse.

Richmond Follies

Goings-on between the Mayor and the School Board.

Of note is how Mayor Douglas Wilder used the police in an attempt to prevent a public meeting of the School Board from taking place and then to keep the reporters and the public from attending. (I gather there is an open meeting law in Virginia.) And note that being told to do that, that is just what the cops did.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Suck it, Jesus!"

Racists Republicans

Keith Olbermann has a story concerning Republican presidential candidates who refuse to participate in minority forums (primarily Black and Latino).

Which would "all of them," by the way.

Be you Black or Hispanic or Asian or anything else other than "straight white evangelical Christian", the Republicans have a message for you.

It is: "Fuck off and die."

"Liberal Media?" Oh, My Ass!

You've probably heard and read a ton of stuff about Hillary Clinton's troubles involving a major donor, Norman Hsu.

But you probably have not heard that Mitt Romney's national finance committee co-chairman has been charged with 23 counts of money laundering, mail fraud, perjury, etc., etc. Seems this guy, Alan Fabian, was also a "Bush Pioneer", which means he raised lots and lots of money for Chimpy.

So why are folks so eager to keep slamming Hillary when Mitt gets a "get out of jail free" card on this? In this one story in the LA Times about campaign fundraising, you have to go 2/3rds of the way down the page to find out about this.

Might want to ask why this is so.

(Thanks, Field)

Thugs With Badges

You may have seen this video of a police officer harassing a young motorist and threatening to make up charges:



Well, it now seems that he had damn good reason for installing a video camera in his car: Cops have threatened to kill him.

I hope this little POS punk bastard tries his little video stunt with me when I pull him over alone- and I WILL pull him over - because I will see "his gun" and place a hunk of hot lead right where it belongs.

(Thanks to Tam)

Two Photographs

Women of the SS Auxiliary at Auschwitz arrive by bus at the SS holiday camp:


Women and children, having just arrived at Aushwitz by train, walk to the gas chambers.


It would probably be a safe bet that the women in the first photograph thought that they were doing their part to serve Germany and to protect Germany from danger. (Photos from the website of the US Holocaust Museum)

Think about that the next time you hear some Right-wing bombast proclaiming how all the Muslims should be rounded up. There are no shortage of people in this country who would volunteer to help do that.

But that should not come as a surprise:


By the way, if you thought that lynching was a Southern phenomenon, this one took place in Minnesota.

"9/11 Changed My View of Gun Control"

Or at least that is the line of bullshit that Rudy Guiliani trotted out at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.

The truth of the matter is that it is Rudy's quest to get the Republican nomination that changed his view of gun control.

Saying that the events of September 11th changed his view of gun control is stunning in both its stupidity and hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is obvious. The stupidity is that unless the Second Amendment is going to be interpreted to permit the private possession of radar-directed 20mm antiaircraft guns, nobody was going to shoot down those airplanes.

Laws Are For Little People to Obey

That seems to be the unofficial motto of Blackwater. They're not just operating that way in Iraq. Seems Blackwater has been ignoring our own laws, too. You know, that pesky law about owning machine guns that was passed in 1934, the one that if you break it, you become a guest of the Feds for ten years? That law.

Oh, and those bothersome laws about exporting weapons? They have also been ignoring them. And they have their friends in the State Department covering for them. Or they were until reporters started asking uncomfortable questions.

Might have something to do with the fact that the founder of Blackwater has given about $225,000 to the GOP.

Federal Goons

Have you ever made a reservation through a travel agent for a hotel room? Did you ask for a king-sized bed? List someone as an emergency contact? Carried a book through Customs?

Guess that, sports fans. The Department of Reich Homeland Security knows about it.

Ever had an opinion piece critical of the Feds? They know about that, too. Read to the end of the article and see where agents from the Department of Homeland State Security Committee were questioning an American citizen because he had the temerity to exercise his First Amendment rights.

Almost every fifth word out of the Chimperor's mouth is about "freedom." Yet in practice, his henchmen are doing everything they can to strip freedom away from Americans.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Evil Wears a Human Face

From Marko, the Munchkin Wrangler, comes a link to this story about off-duty photos taken by the Germans who worked at Auschwitz.

Read his post about this.

I hope he won't mind, but for your consideration, let me quote the last two paragraphs of his post:

"I look at the faces of those SS officers, laughing and having a good time at their hunting lodge only a few miles from the extermination camp, and I know one thing for sure: none of them were evil in their own minds. They were all, to the last man and woman, convinced that their cause was righteous, and that what they were doing every day was necessary and morally justified. None of them could have made it a week at their jobs if they hadn't thought their own actions to be normal. Like Robert Heinlein said: the enemy is never the enemy in his own eyes.

"Evil is rampant in the world, but it's not tied to a nationality, religion, skin color, or other factor...and when you propose to fight it by wiping out a group that shares any of those identifiers, you are already well on the path of evil yourself. When you accept that premise, the most important groundwork is already laid--the tilling of your mind--and then putting on the uniform and herding the Others to the gas chamber at gunpoint is a comparatively easy step."

Well said, Marko. Bravo.

Blogging About Race

One of the basic rules in writing is to write what you know, or at least write about stuff that you might spend a little time learning about. When I write about airplanes, I write about small airplanes. I don't know from jets. I don't know from home decorating. Unlike Scully, who has spent the last few weeks rehabbing her new house, I'd probably would have just bought somewhere else. I know about some small arms, but you're not going to get a discourse from me on the proper uses of a 120mm smoothbore tank gun. I know about my cats. There are also things I know about that, for one reason or another, you won't seem me blogging about.

Which is why, as a white chick, I feel funny writing about racial discrimination, for doing it without sounding inauthentic is hard. It's sort of like listening to a man prattle on about discrimination based on gender or a straight guy talking about how awful homophobia is. Except in those situations, the speaker may have a sister or a gay sibling, so it's real to him.

I don't have to allow time on cross-country road trips for being stopped by cops. One of my classmates from law school was from Atlanta and I asked her how long it took to drive there. Her answer was about three or four hours longer than I guessed and when I asked why so long, she explained, in the same tone of voice that she might have used to mention Orange Barrel Season, that she planned on being stopped, on average, three times each way. But that's something I have never experienced.

Discrimination is there, it is real. It is not an "isolated occurrence." And it is wholly evil. We are closing in on two generations since Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, can we not get past this? When are we going to break the code that discrimination means the cream does not rise to the top, just the scum? If person A thinks he is better than person B because person B is (insert racial or ethnic group here), doesn't that just mean that on some level, person A is recognizing that he can't compete on a level playing field? If a guy says "a woman can't do my job", is he not really saying that he is afraid, on some level, that she can do it better? Those two idiots dragging around nooses from their pickup truck have, in all probability, probably peaked in their lives and will wind up being nothing more than mean-spirited crackers at the bottom rung of the economic cesspool, but their hate makes them feel superior.

Does anyone not understand the concept of "white male privilege?" For example, if it wasn't for that, Chimpy would be a golf pro at some fourth-rate country club.

Discrimination is a waste of talent. That, for any true capitalist, should be the bottom line of the matter. And that we even have to talk about such things and bemoan crap going on like the Jena 6 is a goddamn shame.

Are we ever going to evolve a little?

What I Don't Get About My Fellow Liberals

Is that for the most part, they are very big on not trusting the government. Freedom of Information Act, sunshine laws, open meeting laws, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Section 1983 lawsuits (42 USC 1983, go look it up), that sort of stuff. Government is to be watched to make sure they do not do sneaky shit and trample on the rights of individuals.

But then they would willingly give government the sole power that makes all of the legal guarantees worthless: the power of the gun. This I do not understand.

I hold this belief: Unarmed citizens have privileges. Those privileges are just like drivers' licenses, governments give them and governments can take them away.

Armed citizens, on the other hand, have rights. Governments can try to take them away, but they run the risk of then getting what all tyrants deserve. When the population is armed, government has to govern with the consent of the governed. It is no guarantee against tyranny, but the tyranny has to be imposed by consent (sort of the way that Cheney has in mind) and not by force.

Iraq is Sovereign?

Not so much. Blackwater is back on the job.

Iraq is as sovereign as Vichy France was. Or maybe Norway under Vidkun Quisling. Blackwater's goons can and have killed people for no goddamn reason and they have never been held to account for it.

If part of the job of the American forces in Iraq is to win the battle of persuasion, Blackwater is not just pissing in the well, they are dumping poison in it. It's pretty hard to conduct effective diplomacy when you go to meetings surrounded by your private army of untouchable stormtroopers.

More Stupid Racial Shit

Like these two dumbasses in Alexandria, LA. They dangled nooses from their pickup truck and then drove by a large group of demonstrators who were waiting for their buses back home.

You can write your own rant on these two samples from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Chimpy's Take on the Jena 6

"There is litigation taking place."

No shit, Preznit Numnutz.

That is a weasel answer, there is almost always litigation taking place about anything. And I'll bet the fact that Norman Hsu has pending legal problems won't stop Republicans from bashing Hillary Clinton over it.

He Really Said That??

My morning routine is to have breakfast, do laundry (if needed) and watch the tape of the "Daily Show" show from the night before.

So I'm sipping my coffee and there is Chimpy at yesterday's press conference, who said: "Mandela is dead."

Holy shit. When did this happen?

I stopped the tape and went to Google News to find a reference.

He did say that, much to the astonishment of the reporters. But it seems that what he was doing was referring to the Iraqi equivalents.

Hey, Chimpy, wave to the visiting Wingnuts! :-)

Stick around and do a little reading, guys, if you can stand putting down your Kool-Aid for a little bit. You might actually be exposed to a different viewpoint; your heads probably won't explode.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jena 6

So a friend of mine yesterday is asking me if I knew anything about the Jena 6. I said "hell, yes." Not that there has been a lot of news coverage about it until recently, but the Field Negro has been blogging about it for some time now, so has the Angry Black Bitch and Pam's House Blend. NPR and MSNBC have had some coverage, too. It's not exactly a hidden story, even if the New York Times apparently didn't pick it up until the 15th. If this is the first time you have heard about this, clearly you have not been paying attention.

She tells me that the folks in her office were discussing it the other day. She said something along the lines of "as the only Southerner in the room, I'm really embarrassed that stupid shit like this can still happen."

And this isn't the only example of such stupid shit. Two weeks ago, a noose was found hanging from a tree outside of the Nyumburu Cultural Center at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Let's be clear about this: Hanging a noose up for Black folk to see is as offensive and disgusting an act as is spray-painting a swastika on a synagogue.

No rationalizations on this one. I don't see why Blacks are expected to sit back and take shit like this. If some guy was painting a swastika on the local synagogue and he got shot for his trouble, I'd be pretty damn happy about it and I can't see why Blacks are supposed to feel any different.

Stinsons

This is a Stinson 105, also known as a HW-75.



The 105s had 3 seats and a 75HP engine. Stinson 10As had a 90HP engine. The third seat was for a very small child, they were, in essence, two-seaters.

This is a 10A:


The 105s and 10As were prewar airplanes, as the development of horizontally-opposed engines made it practical to build light airplanes smaller than the far larger Reliants.

This is a Reliant, this one was the personal airplane of the Governor of Connecticut:


After World War II, Stinson developed the 125, which, with a Lycoming 125HP engine, was a bit underpowered for a 4-seater; the prototype was re-engined with a 150HP Franklin and became the 108.

This is the prototype:
And this is a Stinson 108 Voyager:

Hah, I Knew It!

George W. Bush is mentally ill. He's nuttier than a fruitcake.

OK, not quite that. But people who know when to give up on a bad idea are healthier. So we can look forward to Chimpy sliding into depression and quite possibly hitting the sauce again, if he hasn't already started.

Concur Ref A

Ref A: Bipartisan Warm and Fuzzy Condemnation of MoveOn

Let me drop a quote from that on you:

"Well, part of the joy of being a right wing bully is standing up there and knowing you’re full of shit, and everyone listening knows you’re full of shit, and STILL you force the Democrats to their knees. And it works every time. No doubt they appreciate the Democrats doing their part in this “bipartisan” effort."

Except for Hillary Clinton, that is. She's not buying this shit. As for the rest of the jellyfish in the Democratic Party, not so much.

Figuratively speaking, Hillary is one of the few Democrats in the Senate with any balls. The rest of them are a bunch of spineless weasels who have no guts to stand up to the bullies in the GOP.

Get a fucking clue, guys.

And what might help you get a clue is this: The BushPetraeus Dog and Pony Show did not move the poll numbers on the Iraq War. The American people are of the same opinion they have been for a long time, of the same opinion that sent you spineless clowns to D.C. last November:

End this war.

Bring the troops home from the Sandbox.

Get it done.

Chimpy Gets Outraged

Old Disgustus Maximus is mad, mad, I tells ya, about the MoveOn.org ad denouncing Gen. Petraeus.

Here is my suggested response, which, of course, the Democrats will not have the spine to send:

--------------
September 20, 2007

From: The Democrats
To: George W. Bush, President

Re: Moveon.org ad

Dear Mr. President:

With due respect to your demand that we denounce MoveOn.Org's recent advertisement concerning General Petraeus, our response to this demand is as follows:

Go fuck yourself.

You did not stir yourself when your lackeys were slandering John McCain in South Carolina in 2000, alleging that he had engaged in homosexual conduct when he was a prisoner of war.

You did not voice a peep of outrage when your allies "Swift Boated" John Kerry.

But now you get upset because someone attacks your latest sycophant of a general. Curious. You claim that attacking Petraeus is an attack on the troops, when in reality, it is an attack on you.

So, Mister Preznit: Fuck you. And your star-wearing pets.

Sincerely:

/s/ The Democrats

p.s. and please go fuck your horse

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

But no, they'll go along with denouncing MoveOn.org, because they have no spine.

None at all.

A Product of Fundie Education?

It seems that one of the new co-hosts of the View doesn't believe in evolution.

And she is not sure whether this planet is round or flat. She claims that she is too busy spoiling her kid to pay attention to such weighty scientific matters.

("Oblate spheroid" is apparently the really correct answer, but "round" is close enough for third graders and government work.)

Another Flip-Flopping Whore

This time, it is Rudy Guiliani, who now is seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

I am all in favor of gun rights, as any reader of this blog knows. What I am not in favor of are politicians who change their principles as though they were soiled underwear. Guiliani used to think that the NRA was evil, he was against the private ownership of handguns. Basically, he was in favor of every position of the rabid anti-gunners, such as Sarah Brady's group of mouth-breathing fascists.

Only now, that he is trying to get Republicans to support him, he knows he can't get anywhere by being against the private ownership of firearms. So he'll give up on opposing private gun ownership (for now).

In this, Guiliani is a brother to Mitt Romney, who has thrown his pro-choice, anti-gun and pro-gay positions under the bus in order to run for the GOP nomination.

Neither man should be trusted with pocket lint.

Cold War II

Jeff Huber, in his Pen and Sword blog, argues that what the Republicans are doing is promoting a constant state of national emergency in order to be able to justify keeping military forces in the Middle East. He also thinks that the real fear of Cheney and his cronies is that Iran will develop a nuclear energy industry.

I don't know about that. But his over point, that what is happening is a second round of the Cold War with Russia and China. Only that this time, the Russians and the Chinese have absorbed the lessons learned from the first Cold War, which is to let the adversary spend itself into a huge hole and break its military in protracted counterinsurgencies.

(The only quibble I have is that if it wasn't for the Iraq War, we'd have just as large deficits, because Chimpy would have just given the money away to his rich buddies.)

There, he might have a point. The fiscal year 2008 military budget is somewhere north of 600 billion dollars, and that does not include a couple of hundred billion a year for the Iraq War that keeps being added in as "supplementals," which is why the Democrats can wage an ineffectual effort to end the war every few months. Chimpy couldn't be bothered to do any serious reconstruction in Afghanistan because it would "cost too much" (giving the Taliban its window of opportunity) but he could spend hundreds of billions of dollars on his war of choice with Iraq.

It very well could be that in destroying American power, the Republicans are allied with the Chinese and the Russians. Not for the same reasons, but they have the same goals, except the Republicans also have the goal of destroying American democracy.

But that's a subject for another time.

Profiles in Cowardice; Political Edition

Today's political coward is Sen. Olympia Snow, Republican, of Maine. She switched her vote on the bill to restore habeus corpus only after it was clear to everyone that the Fascists Republicans had the votes to block the bill and that her vote was not necessary for the Bush Loyalists to prevail.

So she gets to go to her voters in next year's election and trumpet her opposition to Bush on this issue.

What a fucking weasel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Weather Morons

So I finish dinner and I turn on the Weather Channel. There is some sort of tropical disturbance hitting Florida and betcherass, there is some dumbshit from the Weather Channel, standing out in the rain and wind in order to show the viewers that yes, it is windy there.

All together now: No shit.

I suppose their next trick is going to be holding an aluminum pole over their heads in a thunderstorm.

I see this every hurricane season; those lunatics are standing out in the wind and the rain to show us, yes, indeedy, it is raining and the wind is blowing. I guess they are going to keep it up until some day, a wind-driven 2x4 or a sheet of steel roofing comes blowing by and puts one of those idiots right into the finals for that year's Darwin Awards.

Maybe someone ought to suggest to the Weather Channel that having a bunch of meteorologists working for them who are too stupid to come in out of the rain is not exactly a sterling endorsement for the Weather Channel.

Anger Issues

As I noted yesterday, I dropped Gracie off at the vet's this morning to have her butt shaved and then I drove into work. The vet's office is ten minutes from the office, forty minutes later I was pulling into the parking lot. Seems they are trimming trees along the main road to get the overhanging branches cleared away prior to winter. That's a good thing to do, but it backed traffic up worse than a snowstorm.

The office building is on a little side street off the main road. Coming up to the turnoff, I figured I could just scoot down the shoulder and make the turnoff.

Wrong.

Some cranky blonde bitch in a Ford sedan was sitting with half her car in the shoulder to keep people from doing that. There were two other cars ahead of me and three behind, all wanting to make that turn, which that skank was stopping us from doing. We had to wait about five minutes until she moved far enough down the road to clear the intersection.

I wanted to beat her into a coma with an entrenching tool. Just for fun.

So, after work, when I'm making the (thankfully) short drive to pick up my cat, I'm telling the story to a friend. She said: "Clearly you have anger management issues."

To which I said: "No, I don't. I managed my anger just fine. I didn't beat her into a greasy spot on the pavement."

Blackwater

This cartoon, from a few years ago, is worth revisiting in light of the Blackwater's recent "shoot the fuck out of Baghdad" incident.

Robocalling Assholes

I got a "robocall" the other day. In case you don't know the term, a "robocall" is typically a recorded political announcement.

I hung up.

Then the phone rings again, and it's the same announcement with a preface of "please don't hang up, this is an important message."

I hung up. But the call didn't go away. When I picked up the handset again, the announcement was still going on.

You bastard.

I know who you are. I'm not voting for you, period. Ever.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Skycatcher

This is the Cessna 162 "Skycatcher," Cessna's entry into the light sport aviation category.


I think it looks as though it has the razorback fuselage of an early Cessna 150



the tail of a later model 150



and the nose gear of a Grumman Yankee.



In other words, it looks kinda kludgy to me.

I'm not convinced that the LSA category is going to make it over the long haul. I don't see the market for $100,000 two-seaters that are limited to VFR day only (they can be flown at night, but you need a private pilot license for that, which defeats the whole "no medical exam required" purpose of LSA). Lots of companies are jumping into this market and, based on the boom-bust cycle of general aviation over the last 60+ years, I'd say most of them are going to lose their shirts.

Once Great Britain

This tale comes courtesy of the Munchkin Wrangler:

A woman is accosted by two thugs. One jumps on the hood of her car. She drives off, at low speed, and manages to shake the thug off. She then calls the cops and she's the one who gets arrested!

Here is my modest proposal:

The next time the Germans want to invade the place, let's give the guns to the Germans.

Cat Blogging

George is comfy on his husk pillow.


He loves that pillow. I have to wash the cover fairly frequently.

Gracie is hiding.


Tomorrow she is going in to have her butt shaved; I brought down her carrier tonight. She heard the clanking the door makes, so she is hiding.

Sights

This is the rear sight from a M1903A1 Springfield rifle. It is a "ladder" sight, graduated out to over 2,000 yards. I have to wonder what utility these sights really were on a battlefield, they seem designed for target shooting. On the ladder part is a notch that is visible when you flip the sight flat, supposedly regulated for a 500 yard zero.


This is the rear sight from a Moisin-Nagant M1891/30. They were originally calibrated in arshins; the Soviets recalibrated them to meters when they reworked the rifles. The sights are sturdier, if not as precise, and to my non-groundpounder eyes, seem better suited for the intended use.



(I need to get better at the exposure bit, sorry.)

Lest We All Forget

We are about this far past this moment, when Lieutenant Command Codpiece was strutting his stuff:

Several thousand dead Americans (including those from the Coalition of the Billing).

A couple tens of thousands of Americans wounded or maimed for life.

Up to eighty years worth of services to be provided for by the Veterans' Administration for those wounded or maimed.

Several million Iraqi refugees.

Tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, if not hundreds of thousands.

Several hundreds of billions of dollars from the US Treasury, to be paid for by our descendants.

"Mission Accomplished." "Stay the Course." "Return on Success."

Yeah, right.

Might I suggest this, in memory of Sen. Aiken of Vermont:

"Declare Victory and Get the Hell Out."

News for the Stupid

The Director of National Intelligence says that Russia and China are spying on us.

No shit, Bucko. Did you have to become the DNI to realize that?

They spy on us. We spy on them. Everybody spies on everyone else. That's the way it is. We are decades past idiots like Stimson, Hoover's Secretary of State, who shuttered American codebreaking in the late 1920s by proclaiming "gentlemen do not read each other's mail."

Spies spy. Get over it.

Republicans Bashing Hillary

As the Republicans bash Hillary Clinton for favoring universal health care, keep this in mind.

Governor Mitt Romney signed a bill providing universal health care for all residents of Massachusetts.

So by going around bashing Hillary Clinton over this issue, he is showing himself to be the vilest sort of hypocrite. He is a Bill Bennett level hypocrite (remember him, the guy who was in favor of virtue and against vice, but he exempted playing slot machines as as "vice", having bet more than $200 million over several years).

This is even more hypocritical than his sons serving the nation by campaigning for him.

Bush: Fantasy Warrior

Dan Froomkin, in yesterday's Washington Post, noted that the Chimperor told a bunch of sycophants that he wished he could serve in Iraq except that he is too old.

That is just too rich. Chimpy did everything he could to avoid having to carry a M-16 during the Vietnam War. Anyone who was sentient during that war (and who was paying attention) knows that the National Guard was a place where people pulled strings to get their kids and younger relatives into. While General Hershey and the draft boards were taking everyone they could get their hands on to feed into the McNamera/Westmoreland Meatgrinder, the National Guard didn't need recruiters.

Chimpy got into a "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, a unit that was the place of choice for politically connected Texicans and athletes from the pro teams in the state. And sure, Disgustus Maximus was so interested in aviation that, to my knowledge, he never flew another airplane after he deserted from the Alabama National Guard.

But now he pines for war. Too bad nobody else in his family, such has his daughters or his nephews, share his desire to go to Iraq and run around in 130deg heat with a M-4 and full body armor.

Here's a solution: Congress should pass a bill granting Bush a waiver of the Army age requirements. And then let the little fuck resign, go through basic and go off to Iraq and fight in his war.

Congress should call the bluff of this disgusting weasel.

TimesSelect

The NY Times announced this morning that Times Select, their pay-only access "feature", is going away. They'd rather have the increased traffic and the revenue they can get from advertising, which they determined from the number of links from other web sites.

For their columnists, I think it is a good thing. More readers means more influence. So instead of people blogging about what they said, you can go read it for yourself.

For the Times, it's a bet whether the increased ad revenue will make up the loss of the subscription fees. They said they were pulling in $10 million a year from online subscriptions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jewish Revival in Poland

So they're having a Jewish revival in Poland. Only they're kind of short on Jews.

Color me "unimpressed." No, that's not right.

Fuck them.

One thing not mentioned in the article was that immediately after the war, thousands of Polish Jews tried to go home. The Poles would have none of that, they celebrated the end of World War II by having a pogrom and killing roughly 1,500 Jews who had survived the concentration camps. Most of the other Jews got the message and those who didn't mostly left following crackdowns by the Polish Communist government.

Poland is getting what it has coming to it. Their loss.

Formative Literature

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a story about how Ayn Rand's works were formative for a lot of people. It wasn't for me. But the story got me thinking of which book did I read early in my teenage years that I would consider formative.

That book was "Mila 18," Leon Uris's novel about the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. I haven't read the book in probably 30 years or more, but I remember it to be a work about endurance, suffering, how people can tolerate the unthinkable, and, finally, people rising up against overwhelming odds.

(You can read about the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in a lot of different places, from short entries in Wickipedia to lengthy discourses of a scholarly nature. I won't get into it here.)

What struck me, most of all, was that the Jews in the Ghetto took on the German Army and the SS with very few weapons at the beginning. Some handguns, a few rifles and mainly Molotov cocktails. With that and what they could capture, they held off the Germans for about six weeks, with little if any support from anyone. At one point, they raised their flag and the flag of pre-war Poland high over the Ghetto and those flags flew for days, despite the efforts of the Germans to take them down and much to the displeasure of Himmler.

Six weeks. How long did France last against the Germans? How long did Poland, Denmark, Belgium, or Norway last against the Germans? It wasn’t six weeks. Days, a few weeks at best. Not a month and a half.

The lesson I took away: Having an education is a good thing. Having an education and weapons is better.

And never go quietly.

I Was Trying

And I really have been trying to get something written tonight. I went for a walk after work, then ate dinner and returned some calls. But as I try to write this, I have a cat pawing at me, for she feels I haven't paid her enough attention.

An old classmate got married out in Scully-Land. I wasn't invited, which was probably a good thing. From the reports I heard, not only were the wedding vows very big on the bride being submissive to her new husband and obeying him in all things (there are advantages to being single), the Wingnut of a preacher made comments exhorting them to be like Jesus Christ in all things and held out George Bush as an example a man who emulates Jesus.

I would have projective-vomited my appendix all over the church.

My religious edjumacation is lacking, but the last time I looked into this, I didn't find where it said that Jesus thought that waging wars of aggression were good ideas. And correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I kind of doubt that Jesus would be in favor of torture. Maybe there is something in Scripture where Jesus says: "Hooray for the rich and fuck the poor," but I've never heard anybody cite it.

So I'm Certifiable. Deal With it.

I don't quite know why this is so, but there is something about this video that grabs me. I'm not a fan of anime, but I suppose I'm going to have to track down a copy of "Jin-Roh" and see the original.

"Return on Success"

Yes, the Surge is so successful that the Army is taking its soldiers who worked in the supply chain and giving them rifles. So they need to hire contractors to do those jobs.

What's next: "All walking wounded, fall out and draw rifles."

Look at the bottom of the article: 129,000 private contractors in Iraq, so many that the Army is considering getting a private medical provider in the country to service them.

(Ayup: "Did you get pre-approval to have that sucking chest wound treated?")

160,000 of our troops, about 13,000 in the Coalition of the Willing (Bribed) and 129,000 in the Coalition of the Billing. Of course, you rarely hear about the latter number.

Of course, the latter number may go down since Blackwater is being kicked out of Iraq for being trigger-happy. Or so the Iraqi government claims. Guess we are going to see how "sovereign" Iraq is.

My bet: Not so much.

Greenspan, Part 2

Paul Krugman, in today's New York Times (hidden by those fuckers at TimesSelect), blasts Alan Greenspan for being a moral coward (my term, not his).

I don't always agree with Krugman, though I did admire his "send Bill-O to Darfur" campaign (though the fundraising for that was probably slowed by the fact that donors could not just pay for a one-way trip). This time, I think he is skewering someone who badly needs it. It's easy to criticize when the folly of a particular policy has become apparent over time, which is what Greenspan is doing. It is a lot harder to criticize a popular policy before it is obvious or before it becomes politically easy to do so.

It is especially easy to criticize when one has left office and has no responsibility for cleaning the bloodstains from the carpet. Waiting until after the evil deed is done and the corpse is cooled before saying "this was not a good thing to do" is belated honesty at best.

Especially after Bush started his overseas adventures, it was clear that his penchant for tax cuts was a really bad idea. War is expensive and that the Republicans refused to recognize that fact is inexcusable. That the party of "fiscal responsibility" opted for massive deficit spending was hypocritical to a legendary degree. None of this is exactly rocket science.

Republicans stood aside and cheered as Bush carried out the two policies that he is good at: Cutting taxes and killing people. Greenspan kept his mouth shut.

Those on the Right (and I include Greenspan) who are now saying that the tax cuts (and the war) were bad ideas and that they were always against them are nothing more than moral cowards. They could at least take some responsibility for enabling the Chimperor in his policies of pillage and burn.

Let's be clear about this: Republicans have forfeited any claim they once had for being the party of fiscal discipline. Reagan and both Bushes ran huge deficits so they could give tax cuts to their supporters while passing the bill to the unborn generations. Bush the Last has been particularly aggressive in this regards, his "economic success" is only benefiting the wealthy, the economic boom of his Administration is confined to those who do not need it. It has not trickled down, the people who do the work that makes society function are not feeling the good times, they are getting squeezed.

Krugman has it right, but he could have concluded his column by stating the obvious conclusion:

Greenspan is a moral coward.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Brave One

I saw Jodie Foster's new movie "the Brave One" this weekend.


If I wanted to be snarky, I'd call it "Jodie Does Death Wish," but I think the movie aspires to be more than that. I think it tries to be two movies in one; one of them being a blood-soaked vigilante flick and the other being a discourse on revenge and how violence changes the victims. The performances by Foster and Terence Howard were very good. Nicky Katt is almost funny as a detective who indulges in dark humor. One line (from memory): "It's a toss-up which killed him; the seven-story fall or the crowbar in his skull. No, make that 70-30 on the crowbar."

I thought the audience was interesting. Besides the usual collection of guys that one would expect to see for a blood-soaked thriller, there were almost as many women, including women who had either come alone or with other women. From the comments I overheard in the ladies' room following the mandatory post-flick pit stop, the reaction towards the movie was positive.

More News from the Toljaso Dept.

According to Alan Greenspan, the motive for the Iraq War was oil.

"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Gee. It's not just lefties making this charge anymore.

Here's another nugget from Greenspan:

"The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

I can't argue with that. Not that I'd want to.

Light and Shadow

I like the way that the shadows cast by clouds play across the landscape.

IFR

"I Follow Roads."
Divided highways are excellent visual navigation aids, if one happens to be going in your direction. Railroads, by comparison are pretty poor. When Cal Rodgers flew the first airplane across the US in 1911, railroads were about all he had to navigate by. He had state maps, nothing like a modern sectional chart.


Following a course line on a sectional chart is the most basic method of aerial navigation. In the 1930s through the 1950s, four-course radio ranges were used. You can see the "beams" of one just to the west of Detroit in this sectional:

All you needed to fly those was an AM receiver, a set of headphones and a magnetic compass. If you were "on the beam", you heard a steady tone. If you were off to one side, you heard Morse code for A (.-) or N (-.). And you needed a ton of smarts, because if you were lost, finding out which side of the station you were on took a lot of know-how. Some of the "beams" could be bent by weather conditions and in thunderstorms, all bets were off.

Four-course ranges were replaced by VHF Omni-directional Ranges, or VORs. You dial in the frequency, dial in the bearing and fly to or from the station. If you scroll back up to the first chart, the large circle northeast of Topeka indicates a VOR station. Draw a line on the chart to the station, note the number on the bearing circle and that is the radial bearing from the station. You fly that away from the station and you fly the reciprocal bearing to the station.


Easy as pie, especially compared to trying to find your way by a sectional over rural Illinois, where all of the small towns look the same from 4,500'.

OMEGA was used in high-end airplanes for many years, but the OMEGA stations were shut down ten years ago as GPS came online. LORAN was also used in airplanes, although it was developed for maritime use. VORs are still in wide use, though it's pretty clear that the Feds want to shut them down soon.

Are They Fucking Serious?

This is a web site that purports to follow Biblical principles and where people offer their daughters for marriage for a "bride price."

I don't know if this is a spoof or not. If it is a spoof, it is a damn good one.

If it's not, well,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Crocodile Tears From Bush

Bob Herbert, in today's New York Times (it is "TimesSelect" online, a real royal pain in the ass), makes the point that for all of the professed concern of Chimpy's henchmen that what they are trying to do is avoid a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the crisis long ago arrived.

To wit:

Der Monkey Fuhrer's minions do their best to not know how many Iraqis have been killed since Bush began his war of choice. It is probably over 100,000, and may be far higher than that.

Nobody knows how many Iraqis have been maimed.

8% of the population of pre-war Iraq has fled the country. An equal number have been displaced internally by sectarian cleansing.

Approximately one-half of the doctors have fled.

Due to a lack of safe drinking water in a country that formerly had safe drinking water, cholera has appeared.

And that doesn't even get into child malnutrition or the collapse of the electrical grid or the scarcity of consumer-level petroleum products in a nation sitting on huge amounts of oil.

Let's scale those numbers so that we can apply them to the USA. If something like that was going on here, 24 million Americans would have fled to Mexico and Canada. 24 million more would have had to move in an attempt to escape death squads. 3 million would have been killed, maybe ten million. Major cities, such as New York and Chicago, would have one to three hours of electricity a day.

This is "success" according to George W. Bush.

Bush's definition of success is like praising a child for doing well when the kid got a D on a third of the coursework and failed the rest.