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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Batman Fans

seriously need to go watch this serial GIF. If your browser opens it as an "undertab", then you'll need to immediately shift to it to not miss the first panel.

(cue the 30-second interval song from Jeopardy)

Did I not say you had to go to it *immediately*?

(It came from here)

Domestic Terrorism

Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women's clinic was the epicenter of the state's battles over abortion for nearly two decades, was shot and killed at his church Sunday morning, his family said.
For all of the Right's blathering about Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, it is worth noting that for the last few decades, it has been people on the far-Right who have sought to advance their political agenda by killing people. It has been the rhetoric of the far Right that has created a climate where some people feel justified in slaying others who do not adhere to the Right's ideas as to what is proper.

I have no doubt whatsoever that there are people across this country who tonight are celebrating the murder of Dr. Tiller. Those people are monsters, one and all.

(I will wager this: The jerkwad who murdered Dr. Tiller, inside of a church, no less, will not be tried as a criminal subject to the death penalty.)

And yes, what I said this morning still goes.

The Wright Stuff

Probably the oldest reporter (and delivery man) on the planet. His airplane is probably close to being two-thirds his age.

(I had the video embedded, but the damn thing launches itself automatically. I find that annoying as all hell. So you'll have to click on the link.)

The Greatest Security Threat to Our Nation

It is a very long post, so you will have to go here in order to read it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

How Quickly the Republicans Forget

The soulless goons in the GOP put out a press release castigating President Obama for taking Mrs.Obama to a Broadway show today.

I guess they forgot the point that their boy spent 977 days away from the White House,split almost evenly between Camp David and his pseudo-ranch in Texas, Camp Chimpy. If you do the math, you will see that the Tsar of the Baboons was on vacation for a third of his presidency.

So the RNC has a lot of damned gall criticizing President Obama for taking his wife to a Broadway show.

Do Try to Listen When the Gods of Aviation Tell You to Go Home For the Day

It is a nice day here, so I went flying.

I had a plug slightly foul on run-up, probably due to lead fouling. A little high-RPM operation with the mixture pulled out a lot cured that.

I shot a landing and then, on the second takeoff, I was 500 feet in the air when the engine coughed, slightly. Maybe a touch of carburetor icing, maybe a touch of a leaded plug, so I added carb head, climbed out, and leaned the crap out of it. An in-flight mag check revealed nothing unusual.

Then I knocked off an engraved strip when I reached to turn on a switch on the panel (landing lights, there was another airplane heading my way).

At that point, I figured that the Gods of Aviation were gently suggesting to me that I go home and take a nap. So I quit flying for the day.

This is a homebuilt that, according to the FAA's database, is called a "Barracuda." This one apparently has a 220hp Franklin engine. I suspect it probably goes like stink.

Bad Welds

An inspector at the Newport News Shipyard signed off on welds that he didn't inspect. He falsified reports on thousands of welds, which means that welds on about 13 ships and submarines will need to be reinspected. This is after Newport News was caught using the wrong type of welding rods for several years' worth of welding.

The Russians had the best headline: Lazy inspector endangers US submarines.

I first saw this story in the New London Day; there is probably no shortage of schadenfreude going on since Electric Boat, in Groton, CT (across the river from New London) has been building submarines for over a century. The problem is that the Day only allows access to non-subscribers for 24 hours, so there is little point in linking to them.

Caturday

I did not take many photos this week.

A closeup of Jake. Usually his eyes are not as wide open as this, he seems to prefer the wise look rather than the startled look.



A rare moment of calm between Jake and Gracie before they begin bapping at each other over who gets to lie on the couch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Truth Will Come Out, Eventually

And so will the photographs that depict torture and rape.

They will come out. There will be one story after another, just like this one. The Duty Liars Public Affairs Officers will deny the photos exist, they will attack whoever says they exist.

But they exist. We all know they exist. When they finally come out, besides the outrage over what is depicted, more and more people will learn that any relationship between what the Pentagon (or any PAO anywhere) says and the truth of the matter is accidental at best.

What the GOP and Pakistan Have In Common

Both sought to co-opt the religious zealots.

In the case of Pakistan, they (more specifically,the Army and the ISI) sought to nurture, support and use the religious militants as a strategic tool to keep India off balance. Pakistan's security apparatus was complicit in the rise of the Taliban.

In the case of the GOP, the traditionalists in the GOP sought to whip up the support of the religious right, the talivangelists, to work for and support the GOP. The traditionalists in the GOP clearly desired to milk the talivangelists for manpower, support and votes and then shove them aside whenever the GOP came to power.

It hasn't worked out well for both of them. For both of them, the consequences have been devastating.

In Pakistan, the Taliban began taking over territory. The government effectively ceded control of areas to the Taliban in the hopes that would satisfy them. It didn't, the Taliban sought to extend its reach until the patience of the Army and of the people evaporated. The battle is spreading across Pakistan, with bombings in Peshawar.

In this country, the crazies in the GOP are in the process of driving everyone who is not a true believer out of the party. The comments of the GOP's party activists in the current nomination process of Sonia Sotamayor to the Supreme Court is guaranteed to piss of Hispanics and women:
G. Gordon Liddy: Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.
And this, also by Liddy:
I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, “the race.” And that should not surprise anyone because she’s already on record with a number of racist comments.
Or Newt Gingrich:
White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.
Or Tom Tancredo:
If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.
The two best-known Hindenbergs on the Right are also calling Sotomayor a racist.

Of course it isn't going over well in Hispanic circles. Liddy's comments are not going to go over well with most women, either. (Of course, the racism of the Right isn't confined to Sotomayor.)
Republicans such as John Coryn are expressing qualms about the comments made by Limbaugh (which usually means an apology is in the offing) and others. Peggy Noonan went so far as to call the rabid base of the GOP "idiots".

The rabid fools of the GOP will, of course, hold sway. These are the same people who, during the Bush Administration, called people like me "traitors" and now that they are out of power, they throw "teabagging parties" and mutter about secession and a second civil war. (You might want to ask yourself who are the real traitors, but I digress.) They are out of the box that the GOP traditionalists had them in and they, like the Taliban and yes, like the spoiled rotten brats that they are, are willing to destroy everything if they don't get their way.

Unlike the Taliban, all the talivangelists are doing is destroying their own party. They will hold power in a few states, but if the GOP does not break the iron grip that the crazies have on the party, the GOP will be nothing more than an ineffectual regional party for a long time to come.

Wise Advice to Cat Owners

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Starring Karl Rove, as Gilligan

The GOP is going to go on a cruise. Seriously, for nothing says "we want to reach out to the middle class" like going on a cruise where the cabins start at five grand a pop.

(I suppose that chartering a submarine and buying a few Mk48s or Type 65s is out of the question.)

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

On Wednesday's episode of "the Unusuals", ABC's slightly quirky cop show (which replaced the really twisted "Life on Mars"), a kidnapper demanded $10 million, to be placed in a child's backpack.

Riiight.

Sixty years ago, that might have been possible, when the largest bill in use was the $10,000 bill, that might have been possible. But not now. A million dollars in $100 bills supposedly weighs about 22 pounds.

That is $1.6 million in this photo.

Ten million would weigh 220 pounds. If you have ever had the occasion to pick up a box of copy-machine paper, those boxes (letter size paper) weight roughly fifty pounds. You are not going to fit the contents of one box in a kid's backpack, let alone 4.5 boxes' worth of paper. Even if you could do that, you are not going to be able to run down the street with 220 pounds of weight strapped to your back. I doubt if the Governator of California could have done that in his prime.

The point that a cop was also able to submit a subpoena and get about six file boxes full of records in a couple hours was similarly laughable, but time compression is sort of understandable when they have 44 minutes to for an entire episode. It'd still be nice if they stuck to the rules governing the physical world.

"Bing"??

Not Bing Crosby. Not the Bada Bing Strip Club. No, "Bing" is the name that Microsoft, the computer equivalent of the Forces of Darkness, has chosen for its new search engine.

What is amusing is that Microsoft is touting its new search engine as being "user friendly." Yeah, that's a real hoot. "Microsoft" and "user friendly" go together about as well as chocolate milk and cyanide.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rich White Guy From Privileged Family Threatens Sotomayor

Yeah, this is going to play well:
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t dismiss the possibility of Senate Republicans’ filibustering Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Barring any surprises, which is unlikely as Judge Sotomayor has been through the confirmation process twice before, the antics of the GOP and their Wingnut fellow-travelers are almost guaranteed to drive the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote down to maybe 20%. When you add in the overtly sexist comments that will also be made about Sotomayor, the GOP's percentage of the female vote will also shrink.

At this rate, the GOP's demographic is going to end up being not much different from the typical voters for David Duke.

Heck of a job, Mittens.

Political Picture - Mitt Romney
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If You Have a Teenaged Daughter

You need one of these!



Ah, hell, this one is still my favorite:

Even Zombies Know the Value of a Good Education

Headline: Child finds body on way to school

Just Drive. Or Stay Home

Because as sure as cat shit stinks to high heaven, the lovable jackbooted fascist goons at the TSA are busily thinking of ways to make traveling by airline even more of a hassle than it already is.

I'm surprised that the TSA isn't asking for fingerprints, DNA samples and copies of all of the report cards from the grammar schools attended by all travelers.

Уходите, Я Устала.

Surf the blogroll. Read some of the news links for outlets that you've not read before. Hell, go read a dead-tree book.

monorail cat is out of service
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Don't Kill Yourself, Soldier. That's an Order."

I'm sorry, but if the best that the commander of the 101st Airborne can do is to order his troops not to kill themselves, then he has a very serious problem on his hands. And, for that matter, between his ears.

What is he planning to do, hold an Article 15 (NJP) on every dead soldier who disobeyed his order?

Proposition 8

I know people who think that Proposition 8 was OK because, to them, it is permissible for a majority of people to deny or take away rights from others.

Let's explore that with a little hypothetical:

You are a resident of California and you own guns. Proposition 47 goes on the next ballot to amend the state constitution and it reads like this:
It shall be unlawful for any person residing in the State of California to purchase, sell, gift, devise or otherwise transfer a firearm to any other resident of the State. It shall be unlawful for any resident of the State to receive a firearm from any other person. Violation shall be a felony punishable by incarceration in a State penal institution for no less than five years. This provision shall not apply to peace officers nor to military personnel on active duty.
It passes with 50.1% of the vote and becomes the law.

Setting aside the Second Amendment argument for now, would that not be just what happened with Prop. 8? If you already had a gun, you could keep it. You just couldn't sell it or give it away. You may think that you had a right to buy a gun, but if a majority of the voters say so, that right is stripped away from you.

How would that sit with you?

What a Terrific Way to Swindle People!

The Reincarnation Bank.
Scriptures throughout the ages predict man's reincarnation and rebirth. During the transition period to your next life, 2i Limited is offering safe keeping for any asset you wish to deposit.
As noted by Ten Bears, there doesn't seem to be any way to withdraw money from the bank. Good luck trying to prove that you were somebody else in a past life and getting your money from them. I suppose there are probably enough idiots out there to make setting up a website, a post office box and a wire transfer account worth the effort.

Hopefully, there guys will soon be inhabiting a room with a door made of steel bars.

An American Car Company. Really.

The latest plan for the troubled automaker, which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M.
Care to bet as to which models of cars and trucks the Feds will be buying for fleet purchases?

Class Act, No Doubt

The GOP is a class act:
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has released to the media its list of talking points on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The talking points went to a few hundred influential Republicans who were the intended recipients. Unfortunately for the RNC, members of the media were also on the list.
If you look at the list of GOP talking points, you'll find this bit of Wingnut crazy speculation as to what Judge Sotamayor would do:
Stripping "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance
President Obama has set a wide open pitfall trap for the party of Hoover. Most of the party professionals know this and for them, opposing the confirmation of Judge Sotamayor to the Supreme Court is not the hill that they want to die on.

The batshit-crazy base of the GOP either doesn't understand the risks of vigorously opposing the confirmation or they do not care. Given their penchant for over-the-top rhetoric and virulent anti-immigrant bombast, the crazies are almost guaranteed to drift into anti-Hispanic screeds. Even the Former Chimperor recognized that the GOP needs to appeal to Hispanics in order to have a hope to remain a national party, but the various Hindenbergs on the Right don't care.

The GOP needs to get a clue, fast. They are tromping down the track of becoming a smallish regional party with no power at the national level, at least for the next few electoral cycles. They do this nation no good if they cannot at least have enough numbers in the Congress to influence policy and they are dangerously close to that point now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Utterly Inconceivable!!

Wow, who could have ever foreseen this:
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released information that showed 14 percent of former detainees have turned to, or are suspected of having turned to, terrorism activity since being released from Guantanamo. The data represent the most recent statistics of former detainees tracked by military and other U.S. government intelligence agencies.
Oh, that's right. I did, about a year and a half ago:
You hold people in stark conditions, without trial, for over half a decade. You torture some of them. And then, when they are released, you express some concern that they may have taken serious offense about the way they have been treated and that they might want some revenge?
Maybe you have read this:
"I didn't see a worse situation in my life than Bagram," recalled Zaeef. "They were beating me, they put me in the snow, in the cold, until I was unconscious."
Or this.

If you take young men and hold them for several years, without charges, brutalize them in barbaric "law free" zones, release them without so much as a "by your leave" and then if you were to profess shock at the idea that some of those men might want a little payback, most dispassionate observers would think that you were insane.

And so it is here. We are reaping what the Bush-Cheney Administration has sown. That only 14% of those released are trying to get some vengeance is astonishing. I'd have thought the number would have been much higher.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Terrific Idea

CT scanning and autopsying the war dead to see what can be learned.

It is one of those ideas that makes me wonder why nobody thought of it earlier.

Andy Rooney on Memorial Day

Worth the 2:40 it takes to watch.



Note that he dispenses with the "they gave their lives" line pretty quickly. Virtually every soldier and sailor goes off to war thinking that he'll come through it all right and get to come home to raise a family and grow old with his (or her) loved ones. Rooney is right: Their lives are taken from them.

When they are sent to fight and possibly die for no damn good reason, we dishonor their sacrifice. Soldiers do not get to chime in on whether what they are being sent to do is right or not. It is up to us, both the politicians and the voters, to make certain that their blood is shed for a just reason.

(H/T)

Aerials

This would seem to be some sort of equestrian facility. In the lower left corner is a covered track with a corridor that connects the two straight segments. Keeping horses makes flying small airplanes look like a cheap hobby.


This island is too circular to be natural. I wonder if it was once a fort.



Barge transport is still the cheapest way to move stuff.



This drive-in theater does not appear to be overgrown. The screen seems to be in excellent condition, so this must be one of the rare survivors. Note that passers-by can see the screen as a way to entice them to come and see the movie.


Three Presidents, One Problem

North Korea's nuclear program.

I'd be inclined to try to persuade China and Russia to close their borders with North Korea. I cannot see what can be done if those two countries are not willing to go along with it, as they both have land borders and they both are permanent members of the US Security Council.

Springfield

I took this rifle to the range yesterday. It is a Springfield M1903A1, manufactured by Remington in May, 1942. This rifle was made just around the time that production of the M1903 was changing to the M1903A3, which had a peep sight mounted on the back end of the receiver.


I find the sights hard to use.


The "ladder" sight sits on the front of the receiver and the front sight is a very thin blade. I find them difficult to use accurately with presbyopia, which is why I shot it at 25 yards (also to confirm the 200 yard zero). It took me about nine rounds to sight it in and then I shot another 20 or so just for shits-and-grins, mostly milsurp Lake City ammo that I purchased from the CMP last winter.

Before yesterday, I hadn't fired this rifle in a very long time. It was the first centerfire rifle I bought, over 25 years ago (through Shotgun News). It might be worth several times what I paid for it, or maybe not. It doesn't matter to me, I bought it to shoot, not to collect.

On my next trip to the range, I'll shoot my M-1 rifle, assuming that I get in the adjustable gas port I ordered last week.

The Useful Idiots of George W. Bush

Those would be all of those dim bulbs bright lights of the conservative movement, who backed the Iraq War because of the stated concerns that (a) Saddam was a vicious dictator; (b) freedom would reign in the Middle East if he were removed; (c) Saddam had nukes; (d) Saddam had bankrolled the 9/11 attack; (e) Halliburton would make a shitload of money; (f) the oil companies would make a shitload of money: (g) a through d; or (h) e and f.

It may be that none of that was true. George Bush sought to go to war because, in what passes for his soul, he believed that going to war with Iraq would kick-start a Biblical prophecy.
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
...
There can be little doubt now that President Bush's reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam's Iraq was the fulfilment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.
I do not overlook the possibility, however remote, that this story is a clever bit of disinformation by Chirac to make himself look to be the wiser party to the conversation. That could be, but there are two arguments against viewing the story as disinformation. First, given the state of Bush's reputation, there is no need for a leader of another country to portray himself or herself as smarter than Bush. That is automatically assumed. Second, when this story makes its way to the enemy, they will seize on it as proof positive that American motives in Iraq were indeed religious. It would take an exceptionally cynical and cruel man to launch that sort of story, knowing full well that the story would be used as a rallying cry and propaganda tool for the enemy. On the other hand, Chirac may just be that evil a person.

I view this story as highly probable and very disturbing. If one adds in the various contractors, about 5,000 Americans have died, tens of thousands have been wounded, over a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed and millions have been made into refugees, all because George W. Bush sought to use their blood and suffering to trigger a Biblical prophecy.

My father warned me to beware of people who acted based on religious beliefs, as they had no problem with justifying dishonest, immoral, evil and horrific acts as "God's work."

Dad was right.

(H/T to Jill)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

This is what I wrote last year.

It bothers me that Memorial Day has been devalued into just another damn floating holiday so that people can have a three day weekend. It has for decades. Whoever thought up the phrase "Memorial Day Sale" blasted and blackened their soul when they did so.

About 25,000 men died in the Revolutionary Army to free this nation. Over a million have died in wars since and tens of millions of men and women have served in our armed forces. It is they who should be honored tomorrow. They should be honored with a proper day of remembrance and reflection, not with a cruddy three-day weekend.

But I'm spitting into the wind on this.

Weird Jets

A jet-powered cropduster wasn't weird enough.

Now there is a jet-powered sailplane.

Amoral Political Whore of the Day

Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

You may recall that last month, ol' Slimeball appeared at tea-party events in Texas and suggested that Texas might want to secede from the Union (like they haven't already tried that). He rejected aid from the stimulus package to help the unemployed, a nice example of standing up for your principles on the backs of the downtrodden if there ever was one.

But seems that Perry's principles of "hooray for Texas and fuck the Federal government" only go so far. First, he demanded that the Federal government send over 37,000 doses of Tamiflu to help Texas fend off the swine flu. I guess he couldn't buy them on the free market.

Now, Gov. Bush-Lite wants to use $11 million in stimulus cash to help rebuild the governor's mansion. So it is OK to stand on principle when other people pay the price, but in order to spiffy up his official residence, he'll take Federal money from the same pot that every congressman from the party of Hoover voted against.

Perry can go live in a refrigerator carton under an overpass at the interchange of I-20 and I-35E for all I care. Not a thin dime of Federal money should be going to rebuild the Texas Governor's Mansion. If Texans don't care enough about it to fund it, why the hell is money being taken from the Federal purse?

Fuck him, hard.

(H/T)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two Hours I Won't Ever Get a Refund On

Terminator Salvation, AKA T-4. I went to see it today with a friend. I wanted to see Star Trek, she did not.

It was borderline horrible. The movie was far too heavy on special effects and waay too light on a story. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington would have been better off if they had shot the director and the writers instead of the various Terminators.

My friend admitted that we'd have been better off going to Star Trek.

Update: My post on another blog.

Torture Nation

By request:

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The use of torture should be something that civilized societies just do not do. If we were in a famine, would we be discussing if it was ethical to cook and eat children?

This Is Just So Wrong



If your lights stay on for more than four hours, call your electrician.

Caturday!!!

This will be an intensive one:

Feeding time and the cats are annoyed that I'm mucking about with a bloody camera.



Jake is doing his best impression of a doorstop.




INTRUDER ALERT!!!

Actually, that bird is pretty friendly towards me.



This cat is new to some people I know. They haven't given him a name. I fear that it will be some zero-imagination name such as Shadow. He tolerates the bird, since they are close to teh same size.




George in mid-groom. That cat bed has been largely unused for years, but now George has taken it over.




Gracie, as always, is ready to be adored. So get to it.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Just For Fun

Two out of three deal with fictional characters. It might be hard to guess which one, at least if we were living in a rational world.





This one is a little old:

One Advantage Of Being Older

Is that by the time these things will be mandatory, I'll likely be long gone from this mortal world:
A Saudi Arabian inventor has filed for a patent on a potentially lethal science fiction-style human tracking microchip, the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) told The Local on Friday.
I can see this being adopted by some of the more human-rights-impaired regimes, such as those led by the Burmese Junta, Kim Jong-Il and Dick Cheney.

(H/T)

I Don't Know What To Make Of This

David Brooks seems to be siding with President Obama against Lord Vader Dick Cheney.

One thing seems clear, though. Brooks is trying to salvage Bush's reputation by vigorously throwing Cheney and Addington under the bus, as if "it's all Cheney's fault." That is not going to work. Bush was the president. He did not abdicate for three years (though admittedly, he was on vacation a lot). Bush is responsible for everything Cheney did. It's not as though Cheney was some rogue sergeant at Abu Ghraib Prison, Bush was Cheney's immediate supervisor.

Nice try, though.

I Still Don't Understand This

Why is someone who carries a gun as part of his or her job called an "operator", especially in the special forces?

"Operators" run stamping presses and paper mills. Guns are not telephone switchboards or forklifts. Can't they come up with a better term for special operations and SWAT team folks than "operators"?

Next time someone uses the term "operator", ask them how much is a person-to-person telephone call to Duluth.

Fleet Week

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well I Love That Dirty Water

NASA's Mission Control gave the Expedition 19 astronaut crew aboard the International Space Station a "go" to drink water that the station's new recycling system has purified.
This is a really big deal for the ISS. There cannot be a large crew on the ISS if every drop of water has to be lugged out of Earth's gravity well. It is a bigger deal for future long-duration spaceflight, as a mission to Mars would likely be impossible if the crews had to carry enough water for three years.

I Can Haz Warrant?

In New York, the cops need a warrant to affix a GPS tracking unit to a suspect's vehicle. They cannot do it, as was apparently done in this case, for shits and giggles.

Because the NY Court of Appeals (the top court in the state) relied on New York's constitution to make its ruling, Chief Justice Roberts and his merry band will likely not be able to touch it.

This Is What Passes For Good News These Days

Analysts are happy because only 1.2 million people filed unemployment claims over a two-week period.

This is good news? An economic version of "cheer up, things could be worse"?

Expect Glenn Beck to Have a Meltdown About This Book

"Confessions of an Alien Hunter"

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Apropos of nothing whatsoever, here is John Oliver's defense of the use of moats for home defense:

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Scamalot
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Do These Clowns Advertise For Help On Craigslist?

"Wanted: Explosive Expert to Assist in Blowing Up Synagogues. References Required. E-mail Resume to killtheinfidels@gmail.com."
Four men were arrested Wednesday night in what the authorities said was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.
The FBI seems to be pretty good at catching these mooks using good old traditional police work.

Who Did the CIA Brief and When?

Sen. Bob Graham explains that the CIA has been getting it wrong:

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Child Abuse By the Catholic Church

It took place in other countries. It was an institutionalized practice in Ireland for at least 70 years.

And they think they have a right to pass judgment on other people, why, exactly?

Bi-Partisan Pearl-Clutching & Fainting

From CNN:
The U.S. Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would prevent detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from being transferred to the United States.

The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 90-6 vote. A similar amendment has already passed the House. It was attached to a supplemental war funding bill.
90 lily-livered pantywaists in the US Senate. I'll let Jon Stewart explain why:

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The Torturer's Lament



(H/T)

Lying Fucking Credit Card Companies

And their butt-monkeys in the New York Times, especially the reporter who let this statement go unchallenged:
“There will be one-size-fits-all pricing, and as a result, you’ll see the industry will be more egalitarian in terms of its revenue base,” said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, which tracks the credit card business.

People who routinely pay off their credit card balances have been enjoying the equivalent of a free ride, he said, because many have not had to pay an annual fee even as they collect points for air travel and other perks.

“Despite all the terrible things that have been said, you’re making out like a bandit,” he said. “That’s a third of credit card customers, 50 million people who have gotten a great deal.”
First off, nobody put a gun to the head of the credit card companies to offer this "great deal". Second, any anyone who has ever had any involvement in a retail business will tell you, credit cards are not "free." The merchant pays a fee for credit card transactions.

But the biggest thing is that the credit card companies could easily have structured their plans differently. They didn't. They chose to set up a system where if you got into trouble, they would grab onto your ankles, pull you down and drown you. That lasted only for so long as our government did a "Justice Roberts" and sided with the powerful over the powerless, which is why they could get away with 30% interest rates.

But now that the credit card companies are being reined in by a government that actually occasionally gives a shit about working people, they are squealing about how unfair it is that they won't be permitted to retroactively increase interest rates or sneak changes in by sending notices in 2-point type.

Fuck them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If You Are Blind, Avoid Flying On US Air

For if you have the temerity to ask what is going on, they will drag your ass off the airplane and lock you in a cell. And then you'll be charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Ah, fuck it, It doesn't matter if you are blind or not: Stay the hell off US Air. Take Jet Blue or Southwest (provided you don't mind wearing a burkha) or Amtrak. Or stay home.

(H/T)

Is the Army Trying to Lose in Afghanistan?

You might be forgiven for thinking so, given this post:
Now, some genius has decided that we should have 2LTs advising ANA Battalion Commanders on how to plan, support and employ their Kandaks in combat. That alone will be perceived as an insult in an Army where rank means a great deal. Who the hell thought this one up?

By the way this is occurring throughout eastern Afghanistan, right against the Pak border. A border with a country that is gradually melting down and the Taliban is attempting to consolidate. Is this the time to bring in your least experienced team?

I can comment on this as I’ve been a 2LT, they do not have the requisite skill set or judgment to be effective of even taken seriously. This is why teams such as these are manned with senior officers and NCOs. You’re taking a kid who is learning to lead his platoon and now having him advise a 600 man ANA battalion. With guys who should be team leaders trying to advise Sergeants Major, First Sergeants, Platoon Sergeants, Operations Officers, Intel Officers and other staff sections.

I advise a Colonel. These teams are being set-up for failure, these kids will pay for it and the ANA will regress back to the unprofessional gang that they were previously.
A battalion is generally comprised of several companies; a rough guess would be that there are 800 soldiers in a battalion and the Army is going to send, as the chief adviser to an Afghan Army battalion commander, a 22 year-old kid who has barely figured out how not to shoot his own foot off with a M-4? This is beyond insanity.

Given the sheer boneheadedness of sending a second lieutenant, a "butter bar", if you will, to give advice to senior officers in Afghanistan's army, one has to wonder of someone in Ft. Fumble is actively sabotaging the war.

(H/T)

American Ingenuity At Its Finest

Gas-powered La-Z-Boy:

Gas Powered La-Z-Boy At Oshkosh Flyin 2005 from Hafast on Vimeo.

Cat Is My Co-Pilot

A tiger cat rides on the glareshield of a Cessna 172.

Damn Daylight Savings Time

As the Sun comes up earlier and earlier, there is a certain cat that thinks that the clock also shifts and that he should be getting his breakfast earlier.

There might be an advantage to living in Toledo, Ohio, one that would counterbalance the strong negative of living in Toledo, Ohio.

Rumsfeld's Bibilical Quotes

Driftglass noted that the problem with Rumsfeld's biblical quotes is that Rummy used the wrong quotes. So Driftglass provided a number of examples of better ones. This is my favorite.



This might be the best cartoon I've seen about torture.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stinger-Toting Pirates

From the Korea Times:
South Korea's naval unit operating off the coast of Somalia has been placed on high alert over Somali pirates' possible attacks using U.S. surface-to-air guided missiles against its helicopter, according to intelligence and Navy sources Monday.
Maybe I'm missing something, here, but even if the pirates had some Stingers left over from the First Afghan War in the 1980s, would they be any good? I am pretty sure that the missiles used a proprietary battery and that, after twenty years, the batteries would be flat, if not have sprung a leak.

Anyone know anything different?

When Will This Country Get a Clue?

Let's suppose, for the sake of discussion, that this is accurate:
Marijuana became the cartels' biggest revenue source for the first time in 2007, bringing in $8.5 billion. Cocaine came in second, at $3.9 billion, and methamphetamine earned $1 billion, a top U.S. drug policymaker told a group of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials last year.
And let's suppose, from the same article, that this is accurate:
So far, the U.S. has largely been spared the violence seen in Mexico, where the cartels' running gunbattles with police, the military and each other claimed about 6,500 lives last year. It was a sharp spike from the 2,600 deaths attributed to cartel violence in 2007. Once again, drug war casualties are mounting on the Mexican side at a record pace in 2009 -- more than 1,000 during the first three months of the year, [DEA Agent Joseph] Arabit said.
Would not the best way to stop the cash inflow to the cartels be to legalize the use of drugs? Back in the Age of Prohibition, there was no shortage of violence and corruption associated with the illegal trafficking of alcohol. But since the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, other than maybe some moonshiners, we don't have alcohol distributors contesting their territories anymore with Chicago Typewriters and BARs.

When will this country smarten up and realize that the best way to deal with the drug cartels is to destroy their illegal market by making the stuff legal?

Nice Parody

The Amazon Kindling.

(H/T)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Well, Yeah

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Snow and Ice

From the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival of 2003.



The photographer also visited the festival in 2005, 2007 and this year. This is an ice palace from the 2009 festival.

Preflight Eviction

The weather turned out to be nicer than forecast, so I went to the airport to do a little flying. An unwelcome sight greeted me: I had squatters in the engine compartment of the airplane:



Like a lot of aircraft owners, I have an engine cover over the nose of the airplane. That keeps birds from building nests on top of the engine, which are no fun to get out, as the straw from the nests falls between the cylinders and it all has to be poked out. I have never had birds come up from underneath the cowling and build a nest on the tubes of the engine mount.

All that crap is one nest. There were four little eggs in it. I can see why they'd like to build a nest there; it is completely sheltered from wind and rain and nothing (other than an irate pilot) is going to disturb them.

I set the nest off to the side, with the eggs in it, cleaned all of that other shit out and then went flying. As I was doing that and preflighting the rest of the airplane, a small bird kept flying by and squawking that seemed to be alarm or upset noises. It was probably one of the parents.

I imagine that I'll find another nest, next time. I might have to get some screening to cram in there between flights.

"Our War With Iraq Was Not a Religious War"

Except, however, when Don Rumsfeld found it convenient to characterize going to war with Iraq in religious terms.

(I've got to run, more later)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crack-Smoking-Level Stupid

That would be Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Louisiana, who gave the Hoover Party's version of the Saturday address this morning. While professing a desire to "work with President Obama", Boustany unleashed this corker:
"A government takeover of health care will put bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions that should be made by families and doctors. It will limit treatment options and lead to rationed care."
I don't know what reality Boustany is living in, but in the real-world, the health care decisions already are being made by bureaucrats: The ones who work for the insurance companies and who are hard-wired to say "no".

It doesn't matter what you or your doctor think is best; if the insurance company says "no, that is not approved", then you are shit out of luck. Your choices are to appeal the denial (good luck with that), do without, or find a way to pay for the course of treatment you need. "Medical tourism" started because people who needed procedures traveled to cheaper places, such as Thailand or India, to have medical procedures done that their insurance companies refused to pay for.

If this is the level of deep thought and real-world concern that the Hoover Party is bringing to the debate on health care, then they are as "willing to work with President Obama" as rust is willing to work with an engine.

Caturday!!

These photos were taken early one morning, after the cats had had their breakfast. From start to finish, maybe 90 seconds elapsed in shooting all three shots.

As you can see, two out of three cats were asleep.

Gracie:


George:

Jake. Note how his tail has curled around his hind legs:


Friday, May 15, 2009

CIA: "It Is Against Our Values to Lie to Congress."

That's what CIA chief Panetta said.

So the CIA tortured and abused people, held them in secret prisons for years on end, beat them to death and committed Lord knows whatever unspeakable and depraved acts at the whim of of Vice President Dick "the Impaler" Cheney, but they absolutely drew the line at lying to Congress?

Give me a fucking break.

Wow. Color Me "Surprised."

Earlier this month, four "security contractors" shot up a car in Kabul, Afghanistan, wounding two civilians. The "contractors" were off duty and were drinking at the time.

Now here is the real non-shocker: They worked for Blackwater (or one of the shell companies that Blackwater is using to disguise themselves).

Blackwater fired the four "contractors" for "failure to follow standards and regulations", which I take to mean that (a) they shot too few people, and (b) they didn't kill any of those that they shot.

Also, I just love how CNN uses the word "accident", as if what happened was a fender-bender in heavy traffic.

When Duty Calls

You have to go, even if you're not properly attired.


"I swear Omar, there was some American guy wearing shower shoes and pink boxers and he was shooting at us."

The Tunnel Vision of the Conservatives

I received a lengthy e-mail screed about how the bailouts of Chrysler and GM are against the rule of law because they tromp all over the sanctity of contracts.

First off, conservatives have no problem with using bankruptcy law to abrogate union contracts. In point of fact, they cheer those on. But, boy oh boy, let there be any modification of the deals with the big-ass financial guys and their sock-puppets on the Right can be counted on to bleat like sheep being sheared with dull clippers.

Second, how come the conservatives' concern for the rule of law doesn't extend to matters such as warrantless searches, warrantless wiretaps, detentions without charges or trial or the use of torture?

Funny how those guys only stand up when it is rich financial clowns who are doing the complaining.

A Smile From the Past



Note the name of the bar just down the block.

To Conservatives, Torture Is OK, But

Working with gay people is not.

Jon Stewart takes it on.

Part 1:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Moral Kombat
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


Part II:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dan Choi Is Gay
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Life In the Korangal Valley

An Afghan outpost.

Blog Rolling

I have added a few blogs to the Military/Security blogroll.

So check out Springbored, War Pigs, War is Boring and War and Piece.

National Health Insurance

Short Woman has a cogent analysis. It is well worth the read.

Torturing to Cover One's Ass

Dick Cheney wanted to have an Iraqi prisoner tortured in order to confess that Saddam Hussein was sponsoring al Qaeda. Cheney needed the confession extracted to cover his ass on the false claims that Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.

In this way, Cheney was no different from the Red Chinese interrogators, who were torturing American POWs during the Korean War to get the prisoners to confess to nonexistent war crimes.

Dick Cheney is a truly evil man.

I Am Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That The CIA Is Lying

So now it seems that, according to Senator Bob Graham, the CIA is lying about who they briefed and when:
Bob Graham just appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. In addition to repeating earlier reports that he was never briefed on waterboarding, Graham revealed that the first time he asked the CIA when he was briefed on torture, it claimed it had briefed him on two dates when no briefing took place.
This whole "who got briefed when and was told what" kerfuffle is meaningless. It only matters if you assume, as do people like Juan Williams (on his segment this morning on NPR's Morning Edition), that the torture fracas is all about partisan politics.

It is not. It is about the rule of law and whether the Executive Branch has to obey the law. The Bush/Cheney apologists in the Hoover Party are taking the position that, when their guys are in power, that they have the power of a king/tyrant, that they are above the law, beyond the reach of the law and it is only when a Democrat is president that the president is encumbered by the law.

Those who are against the use of torture take the position that every president is subject to the rule of law.

Jesse Ventura has the right of it: Prosecute those guys.

No Honorary Degree For You

President Obama gave the commencement speech at Arizona State University, which declined to give him an honorary degree. Their standards are just too high, it seems.

Jason Jones took a look at the controversy:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Arizona State Snubs Obama
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Also Killed Off Written Letters

E-mail, of course, is obvious. So is the continual rise in the rate of a first-class tamp.

But not discussed as much is an older technology than e-mail: The telephone. Letters still had their place back in the day when Ma Bell sold long-distance at at least a dime a minute at off-peak rates, 25 cents or more per minute for daytime (and don't ask about making a person-to-person call). Deregulation of AT&T made long distance calls cheaper and then, finally, the "bundled plans" most people have now means that making a call anywhere within North America (other than to Cuba)is no different from calling the woman who lives two doors down.

Why write a letter to your brother in Milwaukee when you can just pick up the phone and call him?

When was the last time you put pen to paper and wrote a letter to someone?

Captain Queeg On Piracy Patrol

That is about what life sounds like aboard Blackwater's Xe's anti-piracy ship. A drunken captain, a racist engineer, and that's just for starters.

The litigation couldn't happen to a more deserving company. I hope they sue Blackwater's asses off.

Springbored picked up the story.
He also commented, a bit coyly, on how Blackwater has been playing the Wingnut bloggers like a fiddle.

Obama's Torturing General

None of this is unknown, only the reluctance of the DC-based press to kick over the rocks.

Tell me: Has the press learned anything from their complicity in the Iraq War? I do not see any evidence that they have. Oh, they talk a great game of "we've learned our lesson, we'll try to do better" and boy are they wizards at uncovering some clown of an appointee who didn't file a tax return, but as for continuing to throw sand into any investigation of torture or being complicit in hiding allegations of torture against high-ranking military officers, it's business as usual for the press.

Update: You can read the hagiographic articles in the WaPo and the NY Times. Not a whiff in either one about General McChrystal running his own little black prison in Iraq.

(H/T)

Obama's Flip-Flop

President Obama has changed his mind and decided to oppose the release of photos showing alleged abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the reasons why the Administration had agreed to release them is that their lawyers had concluded that there was no good legal grounds on which to contest the release.

So, for now, the pictures will stay out of sight, but we all know that the Bush Administration encouraged people to commit illegal and horrible atrocities. Hiding the photographs does not change that. The mantra of the Obama Administration seems to be "we believe in full disclosure, except when it is inconvenient to do so."

In that way, there is no difference between the Obama and the Bush Administrations, other than quibbling about where the line is drawn.

I Am Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That Gambling Was Going On In the Casino

[N]ew details are emerging about how long federal officials were aware of the company's recent bonus payments to its executives and of how inflammatory the payments could be.

Documents show that senior officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York received details about the bonuses more than five months before the firestorm erupted and were deeply engaged with AIG as well as outside lawyers, auditors and public relations firms about the potential controversy. But the New York Fed did not raise the alarm with the Obama administration until the end of February.




Of course the NY Fed didn't raise any alarm. Why would they? They swum in the same sea as those people and they were well aware of the fact that huge-ass bonuses are regularly given out in the financial industry. That was normal business, to them, and it probably was inconceivable that there would be anything wrong with paying people bonuses in the million-dollar range after taking over a hundred billion dollars in bailout money from the government.

The NY Fed guys probably don't know anyone who makes less than seven or more figures a year. To them, everybody else has a middle name of "the" and a last name of their job. (Karen the Secretary, Joe the Doorman, Vinnie the Plumber, and so on) They had no idea how badly the bonuses would go over with the American people, many of whom are struggling to keep their homes and many of whom have already lost that struggle.

That the NY Fed had no clue what sort of shitstorm they were about to trigger is not really rocket science.

Left Handed Movie Ads

Critics and audiences agree: "Angels and Demons" is better than "The Da Vinci Code".
At least that is what the current TV ad claims. From what I've heard of the movie of The Da Vinci Code, that is sort of like saying that something is more pleasant than being punched in the throat.

By the way, does anyone have a comment on the new Star Trek movie?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rowing Down The Crimea River

New MBA graduates are finding it hard to find jobs:
Unfortunately, the economy stinks right now, so newly minted MBAs find themselves in the same boat as many of their non-MBA counterparts. They're sending tons of resumes that go unanswered and rethinking their career goals and aspirations because the money and job opportunities just aren’t what they were even last year.
MBAs (such as Mitt Romney and George Bush, who were classmates at Hahvahd Bidness Skool) and the other finance guys (like Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan) are the very people who broke our economy.

We need more MBAs in this country like we need more cases of the Black Death.

Change of Command in Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Bill Gates fired the commander in Afghanistan, General McKiernan and brought in General McChrystal.

But, as linked to by Abu Muqawama, McChrystal has his own skeletons, including the cover-up of Pat Tillman's death and the operation of black camps where prisoners were tortured. Note that what was going on under McChrystal's command was so brutal that even the CIA refused to take part, in the same way and for the same reasons that the FBI refused to take part in what the CIA was doing.

When what is going on was so brutal that even the torturers were squeamish, something was going on that requires some serious investigations. McChrystal may be a terrific general. Yet if he was indeed one of the officers who were in the ring of torturers, his appointment may be a propaganda windfall for the enemy.

Springbored also points out that General Petraeus now owns the Afghan War. He also suggests that one of the reasons McKiernan was fired was because of logistical failures, which is rather amusing, given that in the last administration, the excuse for logistical failures was a snarky "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you need."