Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

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

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Friday, April 30, 2010

"Our Governer Haff Commanded: You Vill Learn to Sprechen Der English Mit Der Proper Akzent! Jawohl!"

Arizona seems to be taking the lead when it comes to writing the book on running a state in as both as lunatic and as mean-spirited a manner as possible:
School districts in Arizona are under orders from the state's Department of Education to remove from classrooms teachers who speak English with a very heavy accent or whose speech is ungrammatical.
It's probably not rational, given what is going on in Arizona, to wonder if a teacher who was born and raised in Yazoo, Mississippi or Boston, Massachusetts or the Borough of Brooklyn, NY or Machais, Maine would be rejected as an English teacher in Arizona.

Of course they would not be rejected. There is only one accent that is going to be forbidden in Arizona schools. And it sure isn't going to be a German one.

C'mon, Arizona, you're making it far too easy for us to make fun of you. In the space of a handful of weeks, you've managed to overtake Texas ("Thomas Jefferson, who?"), Kansas ("what is this `science' you suggest we larn our children?") as the looniest state in the Union. At this rate, we'll end up stringing razor wire around your borders and proclaiming your state to be the National Nut House.

Will Apple Be Prosecuted for Filing a False Police Report?

Yeah, I doubt it, as well.

But the fact remains is that someone at Apple filed a false police report. The 4th generation iPhone was never stolen. It was found by someone in a bar, who then sold it to Gawker.

Worse yet, Gawker returned the prototype iPhone to Apple before Apple filed the police report that the phone had been stolen.

Apple reported stolen property; property that had never been stolen and which Apple had already recovered.

In most places, Apple would now be on the hook for at least a misdemeanor filing of a false police report.

But not in San Mateo County.

The Federal civil rights lawsuit should be entertaining to watch.

Pass the Popcorn

And learn how to knit:
Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into trading at Goldman Sachs, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, according to people familiar with the matter.
It'll be interesting to see how far this goes. It could possibly implicate some of the former partners/employees of GiVampSquidCo.

Free Advice to Every Teabagger Along the Gulf Coast Who is Ranting About What the Federal Government Should Be Doing to Mitigate the Massive Environmental Damage From the BP Oil Spill:


Let state and local governments fix it. Hell, let BP fix it, for isn't that what you Ayn Randian cranks all believe, that the corporations would never ever do anything like this or, if they did, they'd fix it because "their good name is on the line"?

Every asshole now yelling about what the Feds should be doing who, not long ago, was waving a sign around at a tea-party and screaming about how "we don't want anything from the Federal government" should just shut the fuck up and go swimming off the Gulf Coast.

You're welcome.

p.s.; hey, Sarah, how's that "drill, baby, drill" working out for you?

Short Zombie Movie


Which is about as short as my favorite horror movie:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Short Song to Keep in Mind

From "South Pacific":



(H/T)

The Longest-Awaited and Largest Non-Surprise in American Politics in Many a Year

This astonished absolutely nobody whatsoever:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Former GOP darling Gov. Charlie Crist defected from the Republican Party on Thursday to run as an independent for U.S. Senate after months of being ripped by conservatives as too supportive of President Barack Obama.

Engage Brain Before Pressing the "Send" Button

Here's something that should be next to every computer:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PRIVATE E-MAIL. BEFORE YOU CLICK THE "SEND" BUTTON, ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU WOULD FEEL IF THAT E-MAIL APPEARED ON A BILLBOARD NEXT TO THE INTERSTATE WITH YOUR NAME AND E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Seriously, people. If you send out a stupid e-mail, it could go viral. And then there you are, with your skivvies hanging down all over the Internet.

In this case the sender was a third-year law student at Harvard. She sent out an e-mail to proclaim that she wasn't a racist and then made comments that would not have been out of place at an upscale cross-burning. Maybe it took her an hour's worth of typing to hammer out an obnoxiously racist and stupid e-mail.

She will never be able to run far enough away from that. It may take her decades until that e-mail is buried under a torrent of other data associated with her name. (It's not e-mail, but think of how long it'll take Miss Teen South Carolina to get away from her little YouTube moment.)

I know from past experience. In the 1980s I wrote a short story. It was a little bit "blue" and "off-color". You might have found something like it in certain magazines that were not sold to children. (Are you getting the flick?) I posted it to an adults-only section of a proprietary computer network, under my own name. This was, mind you, years before the development of the World Wide Web, let alone the explosion in Web usage. There were several levels of access one had to go through to get to that story, back then. That story migrated from that computer network to the Internet. I can't prove it, but I am fairly certain that the existence of that story has hurt me.

There is no excuse for that sort of stupidity, not any more.

Second story: In early 1998, within a week of each other, both Sonny Bono and a member of the Kennedy family died when they skied into trees. There was an e-mail circulating soon afterwards that went something like this:
Dear Humans- We will kill a celebrity every week until you stop all logging. Sincerely, the Trees.
I forwarded it. It got forwarded by others. And, like in many of those forwarding chains, somebody along the way truncated the chain of senders. The e-mail eventually wound up being sent to a neurosurgeon who took great exception to it and wrote me a scathing e-mail, assuming that I had originated it. (I wrote back a 3 point e-mail, (1) It was not original to me (2) I have no idea who the frell you are and (3) lighten. the. fuck up.)

Point is: If you are not willing to stand on a soapbox and read your e-mail aloud to random passers-by and if you are not willing to have to defend what you wrote to everyone you know, don't send the fucking e-mail.

Boeing Pr0n, or "How To Build a 737"

Yeah, I know it's all Boeing PR. But it's still cool.

Oopsie

A real short landing, 40+ years ago:

Three Weeks to "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day"

Unless you're living in a cave in North Waziristan, you have probably heard that Comedy Central censored an episode of South Park after a radical Muslim group (headquartered in NYC) issued a veiled threat to have the creators of the show killed. The issuer of the threat is some punk-ass douchebag of a kid from Fairfax County, Virginia named Zachary Chesser (hereinafter referred to as "al-Douchie"), who also posted address information for Comedy Central and the production company for South Park.

Jon Stewart had a few things to say last week:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
South Park Death Threats
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

In response to the threats issued by al-Douchie, an artist issued this cartoon:


and suggested that on May 20th, everybody draw something representing the prophet Mohammed.

I'll spare you the exposition of freedom of speech and all that, I'm still recovering from a bug. I'll instead just quote Jon Stewart: "I say this to anyone who is threatening death in the name of religion or politics-- Go Fuck Yourself."

Freedom of speech is a core American value. Without that freedom, all of the rest don't really matter that much. Let's all stand up for it on May 20th.

(H/T)

The "Appholes" at Apple

Jon Stewart asks how can Apple pretend to be the rebels of the tech industry when they can use the cops as their private goon squad.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Appholes
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

"It wasn't supposed to be this way. Microsoft was supposed to be the Evil One. But now you guys are busting down doors in Palo Alto while Commandant Gates is ridding the world of mosquitoes, what the fuck is going on?"

Hey, Oil Slut, Let's Hear More About that "Advanced Sub-Sea Technology"

The oil industry has been using their Oil Slut to tout their "sub-sea technology", though those commercials seem to have been yanked off the air. Small wonder.



That technology seems to be working really well, since the BP well that is nearly a mile underwater is now thought to be dumping about 5,000 barrels of crude oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. That is over 200,000 gallons a day.

The attitude of BP (or Transocean, which drilled the well for BP) seems to be an amazing one of "hey, it could be a lot worse". That'll play really well as the oil begins washing ashore. When it starts washing up on the beaches of the Redneck Riviera, maybe we can ask all those Palin supporters there: "How's `drill, baby, drill' working out for you?"

Stephen Colbert weighed in:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Party of Hoover Keeps Standing Up for the Banksters

For a third time, the Hooverites stood up for Wall Street and the banksters. The Democrats are going to make them keep doing so.

Took the Dems longer than it should have to come up with this one:



My prediction is that there will be a couple of more votes at best and the Republicans will then throw in the towel. They'll go to Wall Street and the banksters with their hands out (Sen. Nelson will crawl back to Warren Buffet), they'll tell them that they did the best they could, but donations to elect more Hooverites would help in the long run.

UPDATE: The GOP caved faster than I thought. I thought that the party of Hoover would be good for at least another day or two of their obstructionist nonsense.

The Wingnuttery on Immigration Intensifies

Say that a couple of foreigners are in this country illegally. They have a child while they are here. Under the law, that child is an American citizen. That cuts no ice with Rep. Duncan Hunter, who would deport the child as well.

That's right. He would deport American citizens. So, if your parents or grandparents came here illegally, Hunter would presumably deport you, as well.

Here's an idea: Let's go right back to the source. Let's start by deporting everyone who can trace their ancestry back to the first group of illegal immigrants: The settlers at Jamestown, VA.

In the meantime, Arizona now wants help from the Feds in enforcing the new Arizona law which requires Hispanics to show their papers to the cops whenever the cops feel like asking for them. I'm thinking that the answer should be somewhere in between "No", punctuated by a gale of laughter and one of "if you think that `state's rights' is such a big deal, then you are on your own."

(Maybe secession is a bad thing, but can we at least consider voting some of these states out of the Union? Why not start by repealing some of the bills which admitted states like Arizona and Texas to the Union?)

Cue the Chorus of Howling Rich People

And, of course, all of their lawyers.
The first U.S. offshore wind farm, a giant project 5 miles/8 km off the Massachusetts coast, was approved on Wednesday after years of opposition involving everyone from local Indian tribes to the Kennedy family.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the 130-turbine, 420-megawatt Cape Wind project in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound, in what supporters considered a huge step forward for renewable energy in the United States.
Rich environmentalists love them wind farms, but only so long as they are located in barren hellscapes such as West Texas or on mountains without ski slopes where less-than-rich people live, such as the Poconos or off of Queens, NY. Let someone propose putting a wind farm where they will see it from their estates or their sailboats, however, and my oh my, how do they howl.

President Obama could serve two terms and the 45th president could keep Salazar on and he still wouldn't be on the job long enough to see Cape Wind built.

A Great Application for Phasers

Cranky goes to a children's dance recital and relates the asshattery of a number of the parents. Read it and you will see why, if phasers are ever invented, they should come with settings for "deep fat fry", or, at least, "annihilate".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Eccchhh.


Surf the blogroll.

Back when I feel up to it.

Quote of the Day

This may have been in the minds of some of the senators taking part in the Goldman Sachs hearing today:
"I'm sick of it. I'm sick of needy, crazy stupid liars, seriously, I can't take it anymore! I grew up with them, I live with them, I work with them and no matter how fast I run or far I go, they breed and come after me. It's like a zombie movie except the only scary part is it never ends!"
Mary Shannon, In Plain Sight, ep.302.

As Greece Swirls the Economic Drain

Greek and Portuguese government bonds have been given "junk" status by S&P and Moody's, two firms who proved that they know what junk is when they rated the trash that Goldman Sachs was selling as "triple-A" grade.

Still, it's worthwhile to keep in mind that Goldman Sachs's greasy fingerprints are all over this one, as well.

Apple Computers- Using the Cops as Their Private Goon Squad

Why else would the San Mateo cops seize all of the computers of a reporter who has been writing about the next generation of iPhone?

I smell a good civil rights lawsuit coming down the road.

UPDATE: Apple has very close ties with the cops that bashed down the door to the reporter's home.

Teabaggers Only Care About the Rights of White People

As Eugene Robinson has pointed out, in his column in today's WaPo, one might rationally expect that a law which demanded that people, American citizens, no less, carry ID with them and present it whenever a cop asks to see it should normally be expected to arouse the ire of the Teabaggers.

After all, the Teabaggers were the ones screaming about the Constitution and their rights and so on and so forth.

But when the rights to be trampled on are those of non-whites, the Teabaggers are conspicuously silent.

Curious, isn't it?

So, if you are to visit the police state of Arizona, carry your national ID card.

Sometimes, When You Whomp On a Person Long Enough, They Learn to Stop Taking Being Whomped On.

In this case, Sen. Harry Reid, who evidently has finally, after years and years and years of being beaten and fooled and lied to, has learned that the Senate Republicans are a pack of lying weasels and that the best way to deal with them is by clubbing them about the head and shoulders.

About fucking time. It'd have been nice if Reid had found his spine in January of `07, when he became the Majority Leader. But better late than never, I guess.

As to why Reid has been so determined to be nice to people who keep playing him for a gullible jackass, a relative of mine, who lives in Utah, tells me it is because Reid is a Mormon and my relative thinks that Mormons seem to have a compulsion to be nice to everyone (at least since the Mountain Meadows Massacre).

Hey, Oil Slut, How's That Deep-Water Drilling Working Out For You?

Since the BP well, the one where the drilling platform caught fire, burned and then sank has been leaking 41,000 gallons per day from the wellhead, which is nearly a mile under the sea.

So, has anyone notice that the Oil Slut's commercials seem to have all of a sudden vanished from the air?

The Main Use of PowerPoint by the Military

When the goal is to not impart any information, but to baffle them with bullshit.

I wish that were a joke. It's not. It seems that the key skill for getting promoted in the Army is the ability to put together a spiffy PowerPoint presentation.

Pay With Poultry

Stephen Colbert explains how that would work:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2010 Midterm Elections - Sue Lowden
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Two Sides of the Immigration Debate

Two people recently a "point-counterpoint" style opinion pieces in a paper in North Carolina. The pieces were written by the local party chairmen for Moore County.

Here is one side, which started out with this batshit screed:
With the president's new entitlement spending spree, the United States has completed its economic -transition based upon three important items of "change": (1) the import of illegal immigrants, (2) the export of factory jobs and (3) the guarantee of unlimited social welfare for those unemployed by the previous two.
The other side started out rationally:
Ours is a nation of immigrants. That’s what we’re told from our earliest years in grade school. The vast majority of Americans are descended from those who came (voluntarily or not) from other continents.
It shouldn't be too hard to figure out which opinion piece was written by the Democratic chairman and which was written by the Republican.

Dong-Dong!

A day at the Cop Shop.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Standing Up for the Banksters, Cont.

The Republicans, as promised, stood up for the interests of Wall Street and the rest of the banksters.

They truly are the party of the "go fuck yourself" media blowhards lile Beck and Limpballs. They were willing to bring the entire global financial system crashing down in the Fall of 2008, rather than sully their wingnut principles. They were perfectly willing to throw millions more Americans out of work rather than throw a life preserver to the auto industry.

They truly are the party of the rich, of the top 0.1% of the economic pyramid, the people who can survive an economic collapse every five to seven years.

Oh, and Sen. Ben Nelson is an asshole and, as far as I'm concerned, he's a Republican who is so addled that he raised his hand for the wrong caucus.

Aviation Safety Violations

There are a few in this photo:



First off, notice the position of her right hand. She has her fingers wrapped around the blade. If the engine kicks back, the back edge of the prop will take the ends of her fingers right off.

Second, the wheels are not chocked. They really should be, for if the brakes don't hold, she'll be sliced and diced.

Third, with her feet like that, when she pulls the prop down, she won't move out of the way. The reason you always saw the guy who yanked on the prop stand on one leg and swing his other leg when he yanked down was to move his body out of the prop arc as he completed the pull. Even a J-3 is swinging a long cutting blade with a 65hp engine and this airplane has a far more powerful motor. In fact, I would doubt that she would be able to hand-prop it.

Fourth, note that it's a 3-blade prop.  Hand-propping an engine with a 3-blade prop is almost as risky as propping a nose-dragger airplane.  It's close to asking to be chopped up, as you have very little time to move your precious appendages out of the prop arc.

Hand-propping is a serious deal.  Hand-propping anything much over 100hp is a very serious deal.  I've hand-propped my Stinson once in the time I've owned it and I'd rather not ever do it again.  I moved so fast from the prop's arc when it started that I swore I had teleported myself by thirty feet.  I had no memory of moving away that far.

(WHAT?!?  WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING AT??)

Standing Up for the Banksters

The Senate Republicans are poised to go to the mat to defend the interests of the people who wrecked the economy. Financial reform has the support of a clear majority of Americans, probably 2/3rds or better, but that doesn't cut any ice with the party of Hoover.

Republicans are all about obstructionism, after all.

Remember When WW2 was Referred to as "Mr. Roosevelt's War"?

That is how most Republicans once referred to the Second World War. (Some of the hardcore conspiracy-freak Wingnuts still do.)

But now, there is at least one young member of the Party of Hoover who has forgotten that little bit of history. Probably because Glenn Beck has likely never mentioned it.

Life in Soviet America, or Жизнь в Советской Америки

(From a comment left by Bridget)

An American citizen was arrested and held by the Immigration goons because he was (a) driving while Hispanic and (b) he did not have proof of citizenship on him. Apparently if you have brown skin and you live in Arizona, ICE requires you to carry your birth certificate or your passport at all times.

And this is before the local cops in Arizona join in.

How many people carry their birth certificate or their passport with them when commuting to work, going about their job or going shopping? If you were born in this country, do you carry proof of citizenship wherever you go>

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Harbinger of Suck?

For the last several years, it has been one of my rules of thumb that if Nicolas Cage is in a new movie, it's probably going to suck.

Kick Ass was an exception. The movie most definitely Did Not Suck.

But then again, Cage wasn't playing the starring character.

What if the Teabaggers Were Black Folk?

Think about it. Make that one change, so now you'd have Black people walking around, openly carrying guns and calling for "watering the Tree of Liberty" with blood. What do you think the reaction would be of the government, of the local cops, of the FBI and the ATF? Do you think there would be word one spoken about "respecting Second Amendment rights?

Tim Wise thought about it. It's worth the time to read it.

I, for one, don't have to imagine it. I remember a time when Black protesters, primarily the Black Panthers, did protest by openly carrying firearms. A Republican governor, named Ronald Reagan, immediately rammed through a law to outlaw the open carry of firearms in California.

(H/T)

They Should Have Called it "Hit Girl"

I'm referring to the movie Kick Ass. For that kid stole the movie.



On another movie note, the humorless asswipes who are behind the movie Downfall have demanded that the parodies be removed. Good luck with that.



The parody made a very good point, besides the one that parody is indeed fair use, and that is that few people outside of Germany had ever heard of their fucking movie until the parodies began.

Forgotten Civil Rights History

People have forgotten that the history of the 1960s civil rights movement was not just about non-violence. There was a group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice. They carried guns. They used them. As one of them put it: "[The Klan] found out that when they ride at night, we ride at night." (The FBI, predictably, was more upset at the idea of Black men with guns than they were at the violence being visited by the Klan.)

I had never head of them until I read the obituary of Robert Hicks.

I'll probably have to add this one to my book pile. As Zeno Deb likes to say, "self defense is a human right."

Doom for the GOP

Maybe not this election, but soon the GOP may be relegated to the an also-ran party for a generation or longer.

The new "Brown People-Your Papers Please" law passed in Arizona will anger Hispanics for a very long time. Bush split the Hispanic vote as governor; he still got from a third to a half in his two presidential elections.

That might have been the high-water mark for the party of Hoover. If their intention has been to re-brand the GOP as the modern-day White Heterosexual People's Party, they are doing a damn fine job of it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kaboom

I didn't realize that the Kaboom blog had been resurrected.

Nor did I realize that it had become a book: Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War.

I've got a shitload of books about the larger picture in Iraq that I just can't get into. For example, both Fiasco and the Assassin's Gate have some great stuff in them, but every time I try to read them, it's like picking at a scab and I put them down. I suspect, though, that Kaboom is destined for my dead-tree library.

The Vampire Squid Made Money Shorting the Housing Bubble, Which They Had a Major Part in Inflating... What a Shock.

Yeah, like this is any real surprise to anybody anymore. Not only did Goldman Sachs make a boatload of cash on both sides of the housing bubble, they also lied about the fact that they made money when the housing markets collapsed.
In late 2007 as the mortgage crisis gained momentum and many banks were suffering losses, Goldman Sachs executives traded e-mail messages saying that they were making “some serious money” betting against the housing markets.

The e-mails, released Saturday morning by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, appear to contradict previous statements by Goldman that left the impression that the firm lost money on mortgage-related investments.

In the e-mails, Lloyd C. Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, acknowledged in November of 2007 that the firm had lost money initially. But it later recovered by making negative bets, known as short positions, enabling it to profit as housing prices plummeted. “Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” he wrote. “We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

In another message, dated July 25, 2007, David A. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, reacted to figures that said the company had made a $51 million profit from bets that the value of mortgage -related securities would drop. “Tells you what might be happening to people who don’t have the big short,” he wrote in an email to Gary D. Cohn, now Goldman’s president.
Goldman Sachs created a risky set of mortgaged-based securities. They then got Moody's to give those garbage securities a triple-A rating, sold them to other investors, and then shorted their own products.

But do you see the Teabaggers out calling for the heads of the banksters? Do you see the Teabaggers demanding that the Wall Street goons who knowingly created those CDOs and then sold them off pay the price for their misdeeds?

No, you don't.

Did you see the Teabaggers out in the streets while the Bush Administration was trampling all over the Bill of Rights?

No, you didn't.

Did you see the Teabaggers protesting when Bush pushed through tax cuts which were designed to take the Federal yearly budget from running surpluses to running deficits?

No, you sure didn't.

Did you see the Teabaggers screaming about the deficit when the Bush Administration put the entire cost of two wars on the national credit card, or when they rammed through an expansion of Medicare without providing a penny of additional revenue to pay for it?

No, they were as quiet as a pack of sleeping church mice.

The Teabaggers are only concerned about two things: They hate the idea of making health care universal and they hate the idea that a Democrat, let alone one who is not a white man, is sitting behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

Happy Birthday, Hubble

Full name: The Hubble Space Telescope, sent into space 20 years ago today.




It has made images such as this a part of our lives (for those who are paying attention):



That is the Carina Nebula. (Photo from here)

Edwin Hubble was one of the very first Rhodes Scholars. He had a masters degree in Spanish, was a lawyer, he quickly gave up the law, earned a Ph.D in astronomy and he served in the Army in the First World War. Dr. Hubble was the first to recognize that what other astronomers were nebulae in our galaxy were, in fact other galaxies. Astronomers before WW1 had noted that some of the nebulae they had observed were redshifted, the stars were redder than they should have been. Dr. Hubble realized that the redshift meant that those galaxies were moving away and that the Universe was expanding.

It was very appropriate to name the Space Telescope after Dr. Hubble. The telescope is so well known that if you mention "the Hubble", a large number of people outside of the scientific community will know what you are talking about.

One of the saddest things about the retirement of the Shuttle is that the Hubble will not be retrieved at the end of its service life; it will be de-orbited and allowed to burn up as a useless bit of space junk. For what the telescope has added to our understanding of the Universe, it deserves better.

Hubble will be replaced by the James Webb Telescope. The JWT will be at the 2nd Lagrange Point, or nearly a million miles from Earth. The risk is that if they fuck up in grinding the mirrors of the JWT the same way that they fucked up in grinding the mirror for the Hubble, the JWT will not be as useful as they hope, for unlike Hubble, nobody can fly to fix the JWT.. Presumably, the mirror-makers are well aware of this.

If you feel like reading:

Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae

Hubble: Imaging Space and Time

Caturday

George and Gracie are sharing a chair in my bedroom. the green husk pillow is one of George's favorite places to snooze on.



George in his box seat at the window:



A hoofed rat. I wish there were a lot fewer of them, for the deer ticks they harbor have made the woods pretty inhospitable, unless you love the smell and feel of deet-based bug repellants.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How Many Chickens For a Colonoscopy?

514.

You can find out how many chickens you'll need to raise, if you are going to pay for a medical procedure in NV Senate candidate Sue Lowden's chicken-based economy.

(H/T)

GOP Had a Racist Strategy (Yawn)

I saw this last night and yawned mightily-- GOP Chairman Michael Steele admits what has been obvious to everyone else for many, many years: The GOP's "Southern Strategy" was based on racism and divisiveness.

No shit. That's news of the "hey, lookit, the fucking emperor ain't wearing no fucking clothes, dude" grade. Nixon pioneered the Southern strategy and every Republican presidential candidate since then, except maybe Gerald Ford, has followed it. Reagan campaigned on a state's rights platform. Bush the First ran TV ads that implied "Dukakis will release the nigras from prison so they can rape your daughters". Dog-whistling to the racists has been a GOP strategy for 40 years and all Steele is doing is owning up to it.

But no doubt that there will be a lot of Republicans who will want to fire Steele for telling this particular truth.

Cell Phone Rant

For the love of your Dear and Fluffy Lord, don't go making cell calls if you are in an area with bad reception. Do you have any idea how fucking annoying it is to be on the other end of the call and not being able to understand or even hear you because you persist in trying to make fucking calls from the Black Hole of Calcutta?

Well, No Frakking Shit, What Were They Supposed to be Doing?

SEC employees were surfing porn sites at work. Republicans are, of course, outraged.

First point: The Bush Administration effectively neutered the SEC. Republicans, in general, are opposed to investigating any bank or financial institution for anything, let alone bringing an enforcement action. (Exhibit A: The Republican SEC commissioners opposed taking action against Goldman Sachs.)

Second point: If the Republicans are so determined to look back at what people in the government did during the run-up to the financial collapse, then there is a whole host of other government misdeeds that were committed during the Bush Administration. But we can't look into those, can we, for fear of upsetting the delicate flowers in the party of Hoover who will have the vapours if any investigation is begun which could possibly send some folks from the Bush Administration to prison, such as: John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Joyn Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Doug Feith, John Durham, John Rizzo, Harriet Meiers, and, of course, the lead characters in the Darth and Chimpy Show.

FBI = Federal Bureau of Invention

"Invention", in this case, means "lying like the motherfuckers that they truly are".

This is why.

You would be well advised to never believe anything that the FBI has to say about any criminal case whatsoever. At least not until there has been a trial and all appeals have been exhausted.

(H/T)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

52 Years and Counting

That is how long Atlas rockets have been flying. First developed as an ICBM, the first launch was in 1957.

An Atlas-V was launched earlier tonight to boost the X-37 into orbit. That particular launched used a Centaur upper stage; those have only been flying since 1965.



There's a lot to be said for mature tech.

(H/T)

Party of Hoover- the "Gunga Din" of Wall Street

The Republicans keep carrying water for the banksters and for Wall Street.

Hey Oil Slut, Tell Us Again About How Offshore Drilling Is So Great

The Oil Slut keeps telling us, in those commercials by the oil and gas folks, how more offshore drilling is such a terrific deal.

Sure, it is.
The oil rig 50 miles off the southeast coast of Louisiana where an explosion occurred Tuesday night has collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico, a Coast Guard official said.

The rig had been taking on water from the firefighting efforts.

Petty Officer Tom Atkeson said on Thursday that the rig sank “sometime this morning.”

“We have multiple vessels on scene — all response vessels — and they are on scene there to help to mitigate the effects of the pollution,” Petty Officer Atkeson said in a telephone interview. He added that it was not clear how much oil had spilled into the ocean.

Nor was it immediately clear what, if any, environmental implications the rig’s collapse would have.

Justified

I have enjoyed the quality of the new show Justified on F/X. It seems as though the writers have been doing a pretty good job in capturing the spirit of Elmore Leonard's work.

Better yet is that the show seems to be moving away from Raylan Givens having to shoot someone in each episode. At the rate he was shooting people, he'd have spent more time on the couch of the Marshall's Service's contract shrink than he would have in his own bed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seven Minutes

That's pretty much about how long it took to ruin four jet engines by inadvertently flying through a volcanic ash cloud that was diffuse enough that the pilots could not see it.

A NASA DC-8 did that ten years ago. The study is here (27 page PDF).

(Somebody tell Volcano Booby about this.)

P.G. County Cops Are Channelling the Ghost of Rosemary Woods

Maye you remember her, maybe you don't. It seems that the PG County cops took a page from her book:
University of Maryland officials have asked Maryland State Police to investigate why university video footage, subpoenaed by lawyers on behalf of a student who was beaten by Prince George's County police, was not immediately turned over to the lawyers -- and why a portion of the video is missing.
The cops attempted to delete a bit more than 18.5 minutes:
The campus Department of Public Safety downloaded about 60 hours of video onto 31 CDs, the statement says. No university police employees viewed any of the videos as they were being downloaded, the statement says.

The university also created an index of the CDs, the statement says. In examining the index, a university employee discovered that a 90-minute video segment was missing from Camera 158, the statement says. Camera 158 is trained on Knox Road, in the area where McKenna was beaten by county police, the statement says.
Why would the campus cops stick their necks out and apparently engage in a little bit of evidence tampering?
The university police lieutenant in charge of copying the videos, Joanne Ardovini, is married to John Ardovini, one of the officers on horseback said to have been assaulted by McKenna and Donat.
They're going to need an entire wing at the prison for the PG cops, if this keeps up.

And it's not the first time that the PG cops have engaged in this sort of fuckery, by the way.

Pay Your Doctor With a Live Chicken!

That is what the leading candidate from the party of Hoover for the senatorial election in Nevada is advocating:
"Let's change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I'm telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I'll paint your house. [That's] what people would do to get health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system."
That was a system called "bartering". Bartering largely went away when "money" was invented about seven thousand years ago, because it was pretty darn inconvenient to have to carry around a bag of squawking chickens or a few bushels of wheat every time you needed to buy something. (If only they had invented the MasterCluck card!)

So here is my proposal: If you live in Nevada and if Sue Lowden's fundraisers call you for a donation, send her a chicken.

They Buy Some Costly "Office Supplies"

The RNC and the DNC. Of the money they raise, the RNC spends 68% on "costs", the DNC spends 59%.

Those have got to be some expensive pens, pencils and copy paper.

The moral of the story probably is that if you want to give political donations, you may have a better effect by donating directly to candidates.

"I Know I Criticize Fox News a Lot...."

"...but only because you're a truly terrible and disingenuous news organization."

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McConnell Says That There Will Be a Deal

Sen. McConnell thinks that a deal can be made on financial reform.

This may be the key sentence in the Kaplan Test Prep Daily Washington Post article on it:
Democrats have been unwilling to alter the legislation without a guarantee that it would bring Republican votes.
That would imply that the Democrats have learned something from the process of passing health care reform. It could be that McConnell is feeling the blowback from his and Cornyn's little pandering trip to Wall Street. (H/T)

But given the Senate Democrats' long track record of spinelessness, I am not too optimistic that a deal will happen. The party of Hoover has a very long track record of doing the bidding of the banksters and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Self-Writing Snark

Too easy:
[New Hampshire] Gov. John Lynch removed one of the state's liquor commissioners from office yesterday after the commissioner, Richard Simard of Manchester, refused to take a Breathalyzer test and was arrested on drunken driving charges Saturday.

Shuttle Discovery

It landed just a few minutes at the Kennedy Space Center.

There are three shuttle flights left. Each flight will now be the farewell space flight for that particular shuttle.

I'm not sorry to see the Shuttle Program come to an end, but I sure wish I had more confidence that there will be more American manned space flights anytime soon.

The Best Friends the Banksters Ever Had

The Republican Party.

So the Republicans are going to go to the mat to stand up for the interests of the banksters, the same people who pumped up the housing bubble and then deliberately popped it, so that they could try to make money on both sides of it?

Let's refresh, shall we? The banksters created the "liar loans", the mortgages where the only thing that it took to qualify for a large loan was a pulse at the closing table. It was so bad that the mortgage brokers could basically take a homeless dude, give him a shower, a shave and a haircut, dress him in a suit and get him a half-a-million dollar mortgage. The banks then packaged all those mortgages into securities, got the rating agencies to label them as triple-A grade investments and then sold them on the bond markets.

So all of those bonds rested on the ability of that formerly homeless dude to make his $3,500 per month mortgage payment, which he could do provided that he was able to pick up 70,000 discarded soda bottle each month. And the banksters professed surprise and shock that the homeless dude couldn't make his payment.

They say they have learned their lesson. But history teaches us otherwise. They all said that regulations should be lifted from the savings and loans because the lessons of the Great Depression were learned. It took less than seven years for them to fail massively. Then the banksters, though their personal Senator, Phil Gramm, got most of the bank regulations lifted in the 1990s. They got the rules forbidding banks from operating as investment houses lifted and within eight years, several large banks were teetering on the edge of failure and were absorbed by even larger banks, when then almost collapsed.

The people who set all this up took home huge amounts of money and then stuck everyone else. It's not just the bailouts (the only thing that the Republicans are faux-angry about), it's the millions of people who were thrown out of work. It's the employers who went out of business because they couldn't get operating capital or whose customer base evaporated or a mixture of both.

But now the banksters say they have learned their lesson.

Bullshit. The next group will be just as greedy as these guys. They will realize that they will also be able to take the money and run. It has all happened before, repeatedly and without strong regulation and the regulators to enforce them, it will happen again.

Which apparently suits the Republicans just fine, which is why they are carrying water for the banksters.

Those Fucking Guys

Jon Stewart starts with dismantling Jim Cramer and then swings at the cable news shows and the GOP.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

A Fighter With an Accurate Rifle Is to be Feared

A marksman with a decent rifle and who is shooting over a fair distance is still a very dangerous opponent.

Have a Happy "Extreme Wingnut Appreciation Day"

Remember, people who do things like the OKC bombing are "domestic extremists", not "terrorists".

Yet the Wingnuts are still out there, talking about revolution and insurrection and shooting people who disagree with them.

Such patriots they are and such dedication they show to the political process.

Why Gay Marriage Matters

To prevent assholes like the unmitigated douchenozzles who run Sonoma County, California, from taking the assets of a gay couple by pretending that they are "just roommates."

The bureaucrats of Sonoma County responsible for this outrage should be frog-marched down to the beach and buried in the sand, up to their necks, just above the low-tide mark.

South Carolina, a Hotbed of Sedition

It was true 150 years ago.

It is true today.

This time, let the stupid bastards secede.

Note to All Blogspot Bloggers

The blogging gizmo is doing some really weird shit if you compose your posts in anything other than the "Edit HTML" mode. It is throwing in a bunch of funky codes and, when you attempt to double-space your paragraphs, you wind up with what looks like triple or even quadruple spacing.

So if your posts look funny to the eye, that may be why.

(Fucking programmers never can leave well enough alone. They always have to try to "improve it a bit". More often than not, they just fuck it up.)

Buy a Ticket, Be a Test Rider

The European airlines, predictably, are going apeshit over most of the airspace in Europe being shut down by the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. They want to resume flying.

Which means that they are willing to play the game of "test pilot" with airplanes laden with passengers.

Here is my idea: Spread out the top management of all those airlines and make them take a seat on every flight into the vicinity of the volcanic ash cloud. That also goes for every politician over there who is blathering about the economic catastrophe from ceasing air travel and every executive in the International Air Transport Association, which is moaning about the cancellations.

Let's see if they'll back up their mouths with their fat pasty asses.

About the Most Fun You Can Have With Your Clothes On

The Your Hand on the Throttle course at the Essex Valley Railroad.

This is the locomotive for the 2010 course; different engine will be used next year, as #97 is going in for rebuilding.

This is the "office", as it were:

The lever at the top is the throttle. The vertical lever with the red handgrip is the reverser, also known as the "Johnson Bar". The two brass levers are the brakes; one for the train, one for just the engine and tender.

This is the view from the cab.

If you're a railfan, you need to do this. It's the best money you will ever spend.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Somebody Warm Up the Popcorn Machine

Because this could be fun to watch:
Federal criminal investigators looking into the collapse of Countrywide Financial Corp. have been calling witnesses before a grand jury, say people familiar with the matter. Such a step suggests that the investigation of the one-time mortgage giant, which has been continuing for about two years, could be moving closer to a resolution.
Is it too much to hope that we may see some of the banksters doing time?

Pass the popcorn, please.

(H/T)

235 Years Ago

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Revere was one of many riders who rode out to alert the Colonists that the Lobsterbacks were marching out to confiscate the military supplies of the local militia.*

The Battle of Lexington fought just after sunrise on April 19th, 1775, was the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. The Colonials fell back, the British Army marched on Concord and were turned back at the North Bridge over the Concord River. The Lobsterbacks were harassed all the way back to Boston.

Boston, in the 18th Century, was almost an island; it was connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land known as the Boston Neck. The British Army had fortifications at the mainland side of the Neck, but the Redcoats were effectively bottled up in the city, with their only supply route by sea, which was iffy in bad weather and when the wind wasn't right.


A month after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Eathan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys took Ft. Ticonderoga from the British. In June, General George Washington was appointed by the Continental Congress to command the Continental Army, which at that point was the Massachusetts Militia and some troops from other colonies in New England. A brilliant young officer from Boston, Henry Knox, proposed that he could bring the guns of Ft. Ticonderoga to Boston and he did so, without losing a single gun along the way.

On the night of March 4th, 1776, in an exceedingly well-planned and massive overnight effort, the Continental Army constructed fortifications and emplaced many of the heavy guns from Ft. Ticonderoga on the Dorchester Heights. The British planned to attack the new fortifications, but a heavy snowstorm blew up, delaying their attack and giving the Continental Army time to improve their works. When the storm ended, the British officers concluded that an attack on Dorchester Heights would make the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was a Phyrrhic victory for the British, look like a garden party and that this time, they would likely lose.

The British abandoned Boston on March 17th, 1776, never to return, ending the Seige of Boston.

There would be many British successes in the war, but they ultimately were defeated, thanks in part to the French Navy defeating the British Navy in the Battle of the Chesapeake and ending all hope of General Cornwallis of lifting the Siege of Yorktown. The surrender of the British Army at Yorktown effectively ended the Revolutionary War and sealed the independence of what would come to be known as the United States of America.

And it all began this night, 235 years ago.

*What people forget was that it was common, back then, for obvious reasons of safety, to have a communal store of gunpowder in a local magazine. People kept on hand the amount of gunpowder they expected to use before their next trip into town, which was typically the amount that fit into a powder-horn.&

Land of the Fee

So, does that mean that this particular wingnut supports privatization?


Or maybe he is just your run-of-the-mill Teabagger.

One can guess as to whether he was (a) a product of the public school system; (b) home-schooled by someone who was unclear on the concept of spelling, or (c) went to a religious school and spent most of his days trying not to be raped by the clergy.




The comment lines are open.

(H/T  and more images here)

Information. Gone.

Eck! has a post up about the consequences of information that is thrown away because nobody needs it. Until decades later.

When I read her post, I thought about the recent replica that was constructed of a Farman F.E.2b:



They had some drawings, some parts, some photographs. But it is only a replica, in no way is it a restoration like the "dataplate" restorations some builders have done. The data isn't there. And there is nobody left alive who built or wrenched on the originals.

Once data is gone, it can be gone forever. One need only look at the various attempts to recreate the Wright Flyer to see that.

Who Pays State and Local Taxes?

Not the rich. In point of fact, the overall tax structure in this country is highly regressive.

When you add up all the taxes, this is how it breaks down, by income percentages:

Those in the lowest 20% of income pay 10.9% of their income in taxes.

Those in the bottom 20-40% pay about 9.9% of their income in taxes.

Those in the middle 20% pay about 9.4% of their income in taxes.

Those in the top 20-40% pay about 8.4% of their income in taxes.

Get the drift, here? It goes on.

Top 20-5% pay about 7.4%

Top 4-1%: 6.8%

The top 1%: Only 5.2%

Think about that the next time you see a Fox News blatherer or someone from the party of Hoover going on about how the rich pay too much in taxes.

It's all bullshit. And the burden on the poor is the highest, predictably, in states that rely heavily on sales taxes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

Not much, 600 words or so.

About. Frakking. Time.

The Feds are going after the Global Vampire Squid:
The Securities and Exchange Commission Friday charged Goldman Sachs & Co. and one of its executives with fraud today in a risky offshore deal backed by subprime mortgages that cost investors more than a $1 billion.
Note that the SEC also charged some Goldman veep named Fabrice Tourre.

This is a civil action; I don't know which evidence standard the SEC is required to meet. All this means is that the defendants wold have to cough up a small fraction of their ill-gotten gains, but it's better than nothing. I'd rather see some of these banksters behind bars, but that's probably never going to happen.

What will probably happen is that those bastards will reach a settlement with the SEC and pay a shitload of fines, the record will be sealed so that their actions are not aired in open court.

Capitol Fuckery

The CIA is going to learn the old rule for governmental misdeeds: "It's not the crime that brings you down, it's the coverup."
Porter J. Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2005 approved of the decision by one of his top aides to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees, according to an internal C.I.A. document released Thursday.

...

The e-mail messages also reveal that top White House officials were angry that the C.I.A. had not notified them before the tapes were destroyed. The e-mail messages mention a conversation between Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, and John A. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, in which Ms. Miers was “livid” about being told after the fact.
It's called "destruction of evidence". It could be some decent time in a Federal rest home.

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

Here's one from the "No Shit, Sherlock" files: The Republicans are going to stand up for the interests of Wall Street and the banksters. One more, the GOP is showing that they have been in the pocket of the banksters and Wall Street since before the Great Depression and that is not going to change anytime soon.

Yeah, like that's any surprise. There are certainly enough Democrats who are inclined to carry water for the banksters, but the party of Hoover is shameless about it.

The commercials almost write themselves:

"Republicans: Standing Up For the Same People Who Wrecked the Economy"

"Out of Work? Thank a Republican!"

Bankster for Senate?

Some putz, who was one of the parties responsible for the near-collapse of the global economy in 2008, wants to bring his expertise in wrecking things (and making a shitload of money from it) to the US Senate.

This boob was the "chief economist" for Bear Stearns and was the guy who was asleep at the switch as that company imploded. It'd be like running for the Senate in Texas as the "chief economist" for Enron.

Need I say more?

I didn't think so.

(H/T)

Ashes, Ashes

And the planes don't fly.
Air travel chaos across the globe deepened on Friday as a vast, high-altitude plume of volcanic ash from Iceland spread further across northern and central Europe, forcing authorities to close airspace and ground airplanes to forestall potentially catastrophic damage to jet engines.
Or to the entire airplane, as volcanic ash will clog jet engines and the old rule of "engines turn or passengers swim" still applies. Two 747s in the 1980s had all four of their engines quit when the aircraft flew into a volcanic ash cloud, though both crews were able to restart them upon exiting the cloud. It's also not terribly good for the windows on the airplane to be blasted by volcanic ash.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sus Papeles, Por Favor.

If you don't look as though your ancestors came from Heidelberg, you might want to avoid traveling through Arizona. For if you have a hint of brown in your skin tone, the cops may yank you over and make you prove that you are not an illegal alien of some kind.

Yes, it's true. Walking While Hispanic will soon be probable cause in Arizona for the cops to jack your ass up, prone you out on the pavement and hold you there for as long as it takes them to satisfy themselves that you are not here illegally.

So unless you look as though you could have stepped right off of a recruiting poster for either the SA or the Bund Deutscher Mädchen, then if you have the misfortune to live or be passing through Arizona, you may want to obtain a passport (or a passport card) and carry it with you at all times.

And if you are thinking about retiring to Arizona, I respectfully suggest that you reconsider.

And if you are Hispanic and if you are ever inclined to vote for a Republican, then you may want to refresh your recollection as to the political affiliation of the politicians pushing the "Stop and Question Brown People" law. {Psst! They're Republicans.}

"Ignore the Laws Regarding Appropriation"

Otherwise known as "plagiarize the shit out of stuff".

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Bullshit. If you take somebody's work for your own without citing or crediting them, that's theft.

In a venue without any real cops (this one), most bloggers are actually pretty ethical about crediting each other when they post something that another person wrote. Hell, even when they see a story on another blog, even if their snark is their own, bloggers will credit the blog where they saw the story.

As far as I'm concerned, if David Shields shows up for a book-signing, he should be pelted with rotting vegetables.[1]

Because the law would frown on pelting him with stones, bricks or Molotov cocktails.

Turning the Tables on Fox News

Heavy-duty snark.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Am Shocked, Shocked, to Learn That....

... the average supporter of the Tea-Bagger movement is white, older, relatively well-off and Republican. They even think that Chimpy did a good job and they seem to gloss over how much the Bush Administration did to jack up the Federal deficit under the IOKIYAR Theory.

Yeah, who'd have ever thought that? A bunch of rich old white guys with guns, not exactly the scariest concept out there.

Hypocritical bunch, too, as they want to cut government spending, but hands off of Social Security and Medicare.

Oh, and they also have a tendency to be a bag of racist pricks, though the poll sort of seemed to gloss over that point.

Men In Space

Because, as Neil deGrasse Tyson put it, no one names schools after robotic space probes.

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