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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's 2012, So Where Is All of This Shit?

Orbiting space stations which generate their own synthetic gravity by rotation:


Colonies on the Moon:


Manhattan as a prison island:


Robots:


If this is the promised future, then I want a refund.

Happy New Year

I truly hope that 2012 is a great year for all of us, Gentle Readers.

(But keep your powder dry, nonetheless.)

Politiicans Who Routinely Lambaste Lawyers, But Can't Wait to Sue When Things Don't Go Their Way

(CNN) - Four candidates left off the Virginia Republican primary ballot joined Rick Perry Saturday in suing the state's board of elections over laws they say are "unconstitutional."

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum joined the lawsuit, originally filed Tuesday, challenging provisions that determine who can appear on the primary ballot.
Virginia probably has a million or so Republicans, including the batshit crazy folks who came up with this idea. That the whiners couldn't get their shit together enough to get ten thousand people to sign their nominating petitions is pretty frelling pathetic.

So even though you can probably find statements by at least Newtie, Bachmann and Gov. Goodhair where they rant and rail against trial lawyers, they are showing no hesitation to sue when things don't go their way.

They'll need a special vehicle to get to the courthouse:

Caturday

Rocky, looking for an opportunity to rip my throat out.


A little bit of kittie pr0n.


Bella


All of mine: George is left front, asleep, Gracie is right front, Jake is on the back cushion.

Company, About Face!
Verizon Edition

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Well, that didn't take long.

Verizon said Friday that it was scrapping a controversial $2 fee for one-time bill payments announced just a day earlier. The announcement had immediately sparked an uproar online from customers irate about the prospect of incurring further fees simply by paying existing ones.
About the only good thing to say about Verizon is that they were a lot faster to recognize that they had stepped in dogshit than the banksters.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I saw the movie this afternoon. From my recollection of the book, the movie followed it pretty closely. Which means that there are some pretty goddamn brutal scenes in the flick. This is not a movie for kids. if you're looking for a feel-good date movie and you pick this one, you've got some serious issues.

Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are thoroughly believable in their roles as Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Supposedly, Noomi Rapace, who played the Salander role in the Swedish versions (three movies and a six-part series) was even better, which is hard to comprehend.

It is a tough movie to watch, very detailed. If you haven't read the book, you might have trouble following the story.

I'd be somewhat surprised if there is an American sequel. I just don't believe that, absent some Oscar wins, this movie will pull in enough to make filming the second book in the trilogy.

Great Train Robbery

1903, reported to be the first American movie that told a narrative story and the first action film made in the U.S. It was also the first movie that used location shooting.

This version has music added, so you might want to switch your speakers off.



If you can believe the stories about the movie, at the time, it was regarded as being very violent. Legend has it that people panicked when the outlaw shot his revolver at the camera.

When you see the steam locomotive, note the height of the driving wheels. That was a fast passenger engine.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Your Daily Squeeee!

Funny Pictures - Cute Kittens
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Idiot With a Gun

A man was hospitalized on Christmas Eve after shooting himself while using the bathroom, police said
. The idiot is a convicted felon, so he's probably going to be staying in the Crossbar Hotel for a few years. Like this guy.

Yeah, Sure, and Unicorns Will Frolic On the Banks of the Tigris River

Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the head of the American Embassy office that is selling the weapons [to the Iraqi military], said he was optimistic that Mr. Maliki and the other Iraqi politicians would work together and that the United States would not end up selling weapons to an authoritarian government.
They must really have some good drugs available in the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone. For Maliki is already well down the road towards converting his government into a dictatorship. He has his own personal goon squad internal security force.

The Maliki as Dictator cake was baked years ago. So were the seeds for another civil war. Maliki and his cabal figure that they will prevail and they'd just as soon bring it on and get rid of the political influence of both the Sunnis and the Kurds.

The point that 90% or so of the Iraqi people just want to live their lives and have no taste for further warfare means nothing to those who will order the start of the war. It never does.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TSA-- Totally Stealing Anything; Cookie Monster Edition

Really, guys? You really rifled through inspected a woman's checked bag and swiped half of the homemade peanut-butter cookies that she had packed away?

You fuckers are pretty goddamned low to steal Christmas cookies or, for that matter, any cookies from passengers' suitcases.

This is why most thinking Americans regard the TSA with the same level of contempt that they have for child-molesters and congressmen.

(H/T)

Jon Swift Memorial Blog Roundup for 2011

Is here.

Gas Prices and Iran

Iran threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if foreign sanctions were imposed on its crude exports over its nuclear ambitions, a move that could trigger military conflict with economies dependent on Gulf oil.
I would not use the word "could" in that sentence. "Likely would" might be better.

What a blockage and almost certain war would do to the price of oil is not worth belaboring.

For decades, now, the local dealers have been telling us that the price they charge is based on the wholesale price of gasoline and diesel fuel and that they are not making any money on high pump prices. They have been telling us that as their margin was based on gallonage and the credit card companies charged them on dollar amounts, that they made little on credit card sales (which is why you now see two prices at most pumps).

Well, this time around, it is bullshit. When the wholesale prices dropped over the last year, the retailers were very slow, slower than usual, to lower their prices. It wasn't a matter of collusion or price-fixing; they all realized that if they didn't lower their prices to follow the drop in wholesale prices, they'd make money. So instead of making twenty cents per gallon, they have been making fifty, sixty cents a gallon.

And here is something that has been widely ignored: The United States has become an exporter of oil. Which proves the point that it doesn't matter how much oil this country produces, for oil is a commodity sold on a world market. Global demand sets crude oil prices.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Willard M. Romney: Show Us the Tax Returns

Romney is refusing to release his tax returns.

Since Watergate, presidential candidates have released their tax returns. But Mittens doesn't want to.

Which presumably means that there is all sorts of shit in there that he wants to keep secret. Such as maybe he is still getting millions of dollars a year from his former firm of corporate pirates. Or that he is paying an unconscionably low tax rate.

Where are your tax returns, Willard?

Space Junk

An expended Soyuz rocket booster burned up over Europe just after sunset on Christmas Eve.



(H/T)

Why Congress Doesn't Give a Shit About You

Because those fuckers are not only rich, but while most of the rest of us have lost ground, those asswipes have only gotten richer. It will probably be no shock that some of that increased wealth comes from borderline corruption and insider trading.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Color Me "Suspicious"

Stamford, CT: Fire tore through the home of an advertising executive in a tony neighborhood along the Connecticut shoreline Sunday, killing her three children and both of her parents on Christmas morning.

Madonna Badger and a male acquaintance were able to escape from the house as it was engulfed by flames, said Stamford Police Sgt. Paul Guzda. But Badger's three daughters — a 10-year-old and 7-year-old twins — perished in the fire, Guzda said. He said Badger's parents, who were visiting for the holiday, also died.
If this story was about a fire in a ghetto or a trailer park, people would be thinking "yeah, the bitch and her boyfriend torched the place to get rid of the kids". But not here.

I'm not saying that Badger and her boyfriend set fire to her home. And maybe I'm just a cynical old crank. But when I see a story about how just one family member escaped as the house roared into flames, I start wondering how a multi-million dollar house in the richest town in Connecticut apparently had no functioning smoke detectors. I wonder how the fire spread so quickly (and I hope that those who died, did so in their sleep of smoke inhalation).

Maybe this is the big Christmas tragedy that the papers say it is.

But if there is a story in 2012 about how the fire was ruled to be arson, don't be too surprised.

Amateur Hour; Primary Edition

Washington (CNN) -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the Virginia primary ballot, the Republican Party of Virginia announced Saturday morning, leaving the longtime Virginia resident without a place on the state's ballot and raising questions about his campaign's organization.
In his own frigging state, no less. This gives grounds to the suspicion that the Newtie's primary bid was more about raising his own name recognition to ensure a continuing flow of invitations to give speeches at $60,000 a speech.

Which is a pretty good gig, when you think of it. One speech a month, added to his Congressional pension, and no wonder Gingrich has a good line of credit at Tiffany's.

But failing to qualify for a significant primary makes Gingrich's campaign look as though it's being run out of a clown's tent at some low-rent circus.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Kwanzaa and Boxing Day

And a double-blast if your family covers both!

Walking Directions; Nerd Edition


(My brother told me about this one.)

Ho. Ho. Ho.

The gifts from my sister came in this handy tote bag;



And no, she did not give me a gun.  But she did give me this t-shirt:


Makes me feel bad as the last Smith & Wesson that I bought was a compact 9mm in the `80s that I hated and traded away, three weeks before they were recalled.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas

Joy to you and yours, Gentle Readers.

Caturday

Jake: "You kids get offa my lawn!" (He was really yawning.)


George naps. At his age, he naps a lot.


Gracie


Gracie sometimes naps inbetween this bed and the wall. She probably feels secure there.


Merry Christmas from the Cats of Caturday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shorter Bachmann: "Vote For Me, I'm Fucking Incompetent!'

That is her pitch: That she should be elected president because she is not good at her job.
"I am not a politician. I am a real person. I don't even know how to be a politician," Bachmann said in a news conference outside a high school in Grundy Center, Iowa.
Bachmann has been a Congressman for five years. Before that, she was a Minnesota state senator for six years. She'd been politically active for years before that.

Eleven years in elective office, more than that flogging for donations, and she claims that she's not a politician?

She's either one of the biggest liar in this year's pack* or she's telling the truth, in which case she is bragging about a stunning level of incompetence.
____________________________
* Given that population includes Willard Romney (every word that he speaks can be presumed to be a lie) and Newtie, that's saying something.

TSA- Billions and Billions of Dollars Wasted

The TSA has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in its relentless production of security theater. One wonders how confiscating the Cupcakes of Death is keeping us safe.

Someday, people will smarten up and realize that it is high time that we stop giving blank checks to the "we're only trying to keep you safe" crowd. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. So we'll keep surrendering our liberties, freedom and dignity to the "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear" security goons.


(H/T for the cupcakes.)

I Got a Lot of Problems with You People!
And Now You're Gonna Hear About It!

Happy Festivus!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unabashed Product Endorsement

See's peanut brittle.

I usually don't care for the stuff. Some of the peanut brittle that I've tasted in the past were about as brittle as reinforced concrete.

But this stuff might be the crack cocaine of peanut brittle. I'm visiting a friend for the holidays and my mother sent a box of See's peanut brittle.

We just about inhaled it. That's how good it was.

Flying the Airlines

How airliners should be laid out.

Lots more good stuff there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Winter or Summer, depending on where you are today.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

It's the Holiday Season, a Time for Joy and Family and Hopes for a Better New Year

Which is why I am not, this morning, ranting about the motherfucking Teabaggers in the House of Representatives.

Which is why I'm not excoriating John Boehner for being the most ineffective leader of a legislative body in my lifetime, other than maybe Harry Reid.

Which is why I'm not blasting Eric Cantor (may only he die soon, painfully and often) for throwing tens of millions of Americans off unemployment, only so that his rabid caucus can score a few points, if only in their own deranged minds.

It is what it is. Millions of Americans voted for this state of affairs. Only the holidays and the fact that one should think good thoughts at this time of the year keeps me from wishing that Santa Claus fill the stockings of Teabaggers with rancid fish and decayed vermin.

I'm hitting the road.

So all of you stay safe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight begins the first night of the Jewish Festival of Lights.



Or more traditional:

The Criminalization of School Children; Missouri Edition

Let's say that you want to be a school administrator. So here is the test: It comes to your attention that a student with Down's Syndrome has hugged a teacher's aide.

If your reaction is to have the kid arrested and charged with sexual harassment, then: Congratulations! You're qualified to be a school administrator.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Glomming from the Government With Both Hands; Teabagger Edition

Rick Perry, who is "serving" as the governor of Texas, officially "retired" in order to boost how much money he got paid for his semi-no-show- job.
Gov. Rick Perry claimed his retirement benefit from the state last January and has padded his salary with an additional $92,000 in taxpayer funds, financial disclosures filed in the presidential race show.

Under state law, Perry, 61, is eligible for retirement through his 25 years in public office coupled with his five years of military service. The supplemental pay boosted his state-paid gross income to $242,000 annually.

He was able to retire and continue in office through a quirk in state law provided for statewide elected officials. And while the double-dip benefit is available for other state employees, Perry has signed laws as governor that make it more difficult for others, especially teachers, to take advantage.
So with his phoney retirement, Perry gets to take another ninety-two large home for doing whatever the hell he does. Which apparently is sort of limited to selling Texas out to big campaign contributors, executing people, and screwing over the middle class every which way he can.

Might be worth recalling that at the same time a couple of years ago that Gov. Gayboy Goodhair was bleating about secession, he was also quietly taking billions of dollars in Federal money to balance his budget.

Perry is as much a hypocrite as Flip-Flop Mitt, only with about half the smarts. Perry's an ideologue because it removes the requirement that he do any thinking. If there is one thing that the GOP debates have shown, it is that asking Perry to think on his feet is like asking Stephen Hawking to do a buck-and-wing.

(H/T)

Calvin & Hobbes Snowcritters



(H/T)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lester Maddox Would Have Loved Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is giving fair warning to judges and courts across the country: If he becomes president, the judiciary won’t reign supreme. The former House Speaker and current Republican presidential front-runner convened a conference call with reporters on Saturday to expand on his call for Congress to subpoena judges or even abolish courts altogether if they make wrong-headed decisions.

"It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 5 US 137 (1803)

That has been the settled law of this country for over two centuries. Congress passes laws, the Executive enforces laws and the courts interpret laws. If the Congress or the Executive don't like the rulings of the courts, they can try again. If the Constitution mandates a result, then they can try to change that.

The last vocal group of politicians to claim that they did not have to follow the rule of law were the segregationists in the 1950s-1970s. They would have loved a President Grinch Gingrich.

The End of a War, But Not the End of the Dying

The last convoy of US troops to leave Iraq has entered Kuwait, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. The final column of about 100 armoured vehicles carrying 500 soldiers crossed the southern Iraqi desert overnight.
Meanwhile, the veterans from the war are finding it hard to find work. The unemployment rate for young veterans is 30%.

Many more Americans will die from short-term and long-term medical problems from injuries or diseases associated with this war. If things follow the Agent Orange timeline, sometime around 2050, those poisoned by the burn pits may see some help.

Another prediction: Later in this decade and into the `20s, "homeless Iraq/Afghan War Vets" will be as much a part of the lexicon as it was for Viet Nam vets in the 1980s.

Another: In the `20s and `30s, there will be a scandal as to how underfunded the Veterans' Administration is and how shoddy their treatment of aging Iraq/Afghan War vets is.

Another: The Marine Corps will shrink and go back to being a light sea-mobile infantry force. They have to do it to survive, for if they remain the heavy infantry force that the Afghan War forced them to be, eventually Congress will start asking what is the difference between the Corps and the Army and "wuffo we need two armies?"

Another: The Army will lose big in the upcoming postwar budget battles. Almost everyone will have lost the taste for another big war. This country will not want to pay for another trillion-dollar exercise in boosting the manhood of an insecure silver-spoon president. The thinkers will foresee limited interventions, with drones, some manned aircraft and special forces. Heavy armor, artillery and heavy infantry forces will be slowly slashed.

Another: The Navy will, sooner or later, bleat about how CVs and LHAs make perfect mobile drone bases. The Air Force will have to explain why its F-22s were of no use in the last two wars. The F-35 will be scaled back and ultimately axed.

Another: The huge American diplomatic presence in Iraq will not last for very long. The Iraqi government will place greater and greater restrictions on the mercenaries who provide security and eventually run them out of the country. The billion-dollar embassy complex will be scaled back and eventually abandoned.

Still another: The big losers in the end of the Iraq War, other than the now thoroughly discredited neocons, will be the Kurds. Take a look at this CIA map of the region:


What passes for Kurdish lands is completely landlocked. The Kurds claim territory that is now controlled by three peoples who pretty much hate them: The Arabs, the Turks and the Persians. Other than the standard guerrilla tactic of retreating to the mountains, they have no safe areas, no lands controlled by a friendlies. The Kurds thrived because of American protection, and now that is gone. The "go to the hills" tactic will become of marginal utility once Iran, Iraq and Turkey begin to deploy their own armed spy drones.

Finally, the Republicans will continue to wail and whine about how we should have stayed in Iraq. Like the amoral douche-nozzles that they are, they will ignore the point that the withdrawal date was negotiated by President George "Chimpy" Bush. They will ignore that if troops had remained, that they would have been subjected to Iraqi law and that the Republicans would have complained much about that.

Heh. Heh. Heh. (Tea Party Edition)

The story is here, but you can watch him run!



(H/T)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drone Wars

You probably know, by now, that the Iranians have claimed that they hacked into a RQ-170 drone and caused it to land in Iran.

No doubt that there are several "I toljaso" emails going around the CIA and DOD right now. The concern about what would happen when we began flying those drones against a technically-capable adversary is not new.* If the Iranians can spoof the GPS of a drone to make it land several hundred miles off course, one might suppose that they can spoof the GPS guidance of a cruise missile or a rocket-propelled bomb to cause it to miss its target.

My point, though, is to discuss what is going on with the Iranian disclosures. It could be simple as one Iranian engineer foolishly running his mouth to a reporter, which might explain his subsequent fatal heart attack. Generally, though, one of the last things that a nation should want to do is brag about its intelligence capabilities and methods. If the Iranian spooks were running the show, the capture/recovery of the RQ-170 would have gone unacknowledged. Then our spooks would be left with the fact that a drone was missing. Under the pressure of higher-ups, they'd have flown more of them and maybe the Iranians would have gotten a couple more.

Or maybe they did. Or maybe the Iranians found out that we knew they had the drone, but still, a better tack would have been to say "hey, look what we found" and still leave our side guessing what happened.

The propaganda of "look what we can do" leads to a few possibilities. First, the ideologues overruled the spooks, in which case the Iranians have destroyed their own capabilities for a short-term (and probably ephemeral) political gain. Their political gain may also be internal; showing the Iranian people that Iran does have enemies. Second, the drone may have truly just malfunctioned and the Iranians are running a slick bit of disinformation to persuade America to stop flying those drones over Iran. Third, the Iranian spooks may have learned that the American spooks found out what happened, in which case, the Iranians incurred no cost for its propaganda display of the drone. Fourth, American spooks may have discovered that the Iranians were trying to hack the drones, so they sent a "Trojan horse" drone over Iran to mislead Iran, Russia and China as to what the capabilities of the RQ-170 are.**

Whatever the objective truth is of what happened with that drone, the chances are that we (as in "you and me who aren't spooks") don't know it.
__________________
* I toljaso
** That may sound like "technothriller" level stuff, but weird shit does go on in the shadow world.
.

Caturday; Warm Bodies Edition

All of the cats were snoozing on the heated cat beds. The problem is that I only have two of them (they're not inexpensive) and I have three cats.




George sometimes uses those heated beds as a butt-warmer.


On rare occasions, George and Gracie will share one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Water Rat

These photos were taken with a pocket camera, a Canon A1000.


This is possibly its home:



The photos were taken from a bridge over the waterway of the swamp. Only the need to try to keep some of the New York City watershed intact protected the swamp from being completely drained decades ago. NYC does not filter its drinking water, the watershed does that.

How the Internet is Polarizing the World

So if Tam or BlueGal or LabRat or I enter the same search on a lot of search engines, we will all see nearly completely different results.



So if you want to break out of the bubble that the filter software is creating for you, you're going to have to make an effort to do so.

(H/T)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Police Perverts-- Coming to a Sky Near You!

You know what's going to happen next, don't you?
The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing new rules that could make it easier for law enforcement agencies to use drone aircraft in the U.S., raising concerns about privacy at a time when the aircraft are already conducting surveillance.
The cops are going to be flying those drones around, looking for women who are sunbathing in the nude in places where they thought they were safe from the eyes of perverts.

We need our own domestic hackers to fuck them up.

Tea Party Founder: The Law Doesn't Apply to Me!

A co-founder of an influential Tea Party group was arrested at LaGuardia Airport Thursday for illegally trying to bring a pistol and ammunition aboard a plane, authorities said.

Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots had a Glock 27 pistol and 19 bullets in a locked gun box — but he didn’t have a New York State permit for the firepower, which he told authorities he needs because he gets threats.
Apparently, he was trying to check the pistol, which is still a no-no in New York. Meckler has been in New York for four days with his heater, so even trying the "hey, I was in transit" defense isn't going to cut it.

New York does not recognize any out-of-state pistol permits. The prosecutors in the city are pretty big on hard time for illegal possession of handguns, which Plaxico Burress found out the hard way.

Jacques Chirac, Convict

Jacques Chirac was found guilty of corruption. One of the slightly humorous things about this is that his doctors claimed that he suffered from the Politician's Disease: A really bad memory.

So it seems that there really wasn't that much difference between Jacques Chirac and Black Jacques Shellacque.


Are You Using Military Network to View This Post?

If so, you can be pretty damn sure that your visit here was logged by DARPA. Hell, everything you do on a military network is being tracked by DARPA.

Doesn't mean that your CO knows about reading this blog, which he or she would probably regard as being borderline seditious, but if they want to really check into what you're doing on line, they have the tools.

Have a nice day.

"My Views Will Progress In Any Direction Necessary."

Romney isn't the only one blasted for being outrageous in this funny piece.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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www.thedailyshow.com
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"We Can Accept Fascist Powers If We Can Waive Using Them"

That seems to be the position of the Obama Administration, that as long as they don't want to throw people in prison indefinitely with no Constitutional protections, it's OK with them if Congress gives them that power.

Are they all nucking futs? The entire point of having a written constitution is so that we don't have to depend on the good will of any particular sovereign. Maybe President Obama is not comfortable with labeling people as "terrorists" and imprisoning them forever, but for damn sure, a President Cheney would have had no problem with locking up everyone who was not a registered Republican.

We already know that there is an entire political party which regards "the rule of law" as an outmoded principle for a gentler age, like back when the enemy was the Soviet Union and we lived under the threat of being annihilated in less time than it took Herman Cain to deliver a pizza. But now we have a president, a man who once taught Constitutional Law, saying that it's OK if he has dictatorial powers as long as he doesn't use them.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Oh, and once again, the Democrats showed their negotiating ability on the matter of the payroll tax cut. But that's nothing new.

Drink Irish Coffee, Go to Jail?

“FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner at the FDA, wrote in a press release. “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”
Then there was the point that the FDA was pissed at the "high alcohol content" of the drinks, because, apparently, people are too stupid to read the labels on the cans.

But you can go into any bar and order a double-shot of Irish Coffee. Hell, you can drink six of them and, instead of passing out from the liquor, you'll be awake until 4 am.* "Generally recognized as safe"-- are they kidding me? How does alcohol pass that standard?

I guess the FDA had been able to get a good handle on salmonella-tainted meat and eggs, along with making sure that there is only a certain amount of rat shit in peanut butter.
___________________________
* I'm not going to say why I know this to be true.

Predator Up Over New York

They're being flown:
Boston Center (Nashua NH) [ZBW]: November NOTAM #158 issued by Bridgeport CT [BDR]
Airspace unmanned aircraft FL180 - FL300 WITHIN AN area BOUNDED by: 36 nautical miles on the 194° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 81 nautical miles on the 102° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 75 nautical miles on the 060° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 90 nautical miles on the 070° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 50 nautical miles on the 050° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 90 nautical miles on the 123° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 40 nautical miles southwest of Watertown [ART VOR] 52 nautical miles on the 229° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 37 nautical miles on the 250° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 25 nautical miles west of Watertown [ART VOR] 11 nautical miles on the 102° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 36 nautical miles on the 194° radial of Watertown [ART VOR] 1400 - 2000 daily effective from December 01st, 2011 at 10:00 AM EDT (1112011400) - February 29th, 2012 at 04:00 PM EDT (1202292000)
So if you're flying an airplane in Class A airspace, but under the RVSM block, be careful. "See and avoid" doesn't work worth a shit when the other airplane isn't looking.

Hopefully, TCAS will spot one of those puppies, as presumably, they have transponders. But "public aircraft" often don't follow the rules, so don't count on them having one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WW2 Nurse: "They Took Their Bloody Time, Didn’t They?"

That was the reaction of Dame Augusta Chiwy,* a civilian nurse in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, upon having her bravery formerly recognized by the 101st Airborne (she was awarded the Department of the Army Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service). Among her other actions, she accompanied an American Army doctor to the front lines to assist in retrieving wounded soldiers.
________________________________
* Dame Augusta was knighted by the King of Belgium for her service during the battle.

Good Luck With That, Bucko; NTSB Edition

Washington (CNN) -- Federal accident investigators Tuesday called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving.
Good luck doing that.

I live in New York State. Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving has been illegal for ten years. Right now, a violation is a $150 fine and two points on the violator's driving record.

I can stand out alongside the secondary state highway that goes through my town and it will take me less than thirty seconds to spot someone driving and yakking away on a hand-held cell phone. It's widely flouted, right up there with speed limits, "everybody wear seat belts" and "turn on your headlights when it's raining.". People regard getting a ticket for illegal use of a cell phone in the same way that they do when a bird shits on their car: It was just bad luck.

Passing laws that people widely disobey only lessens respect for the rule of law.

A Pack of Notorious and Murderous Gun Thugs Now Claims to be Bookish Teachers

Blackwater's previous name change to Xe didn't take. So now they want to be known as "Academi". They say they've changed.

They can change their name to the "Sparkling Unicorn of Peace and Love" and they would still be the same pack of goons that they have always been. Putting on a new dress and having a makeover does not change the blackness of their soul.

"Nope, We Ain't Found That Higgs Thing Yet"

But CERN says that they are "close" to discovering the Higgs boson.

"Close" counts with horseshoes, hand grenades and hydrogen bombs. Other than that, "close" means "not yet" or "failed."

Get back to me when they've found the frakking thing.

Even in the Best Case, Over Five Million GPS Units Will Be Frelled by LightSquared

Federal testing has shown that three-quarters of marine and automotive GPSs will be fucked by LightSquared's proposed 4G network. The government has not yet finished testing of aviation and high-precision GPS devices.

LightSquared is, of course, outraged. They say that "only 10%" of GPS units will be unusable if they can build their network. When you count installed units, portable units and cell phones, I'd guess that would mean that fifteen million or more GPS units would be fucked up, even with LightSquared's optimistic figures.

So tens of millions of people would have to replace their cell phones and other GPS units, all so that some billionaire hedge-fund asswipe can make even more money.

Quote of the Day

"Everything about [Mitt] Romney tells the tale of the man who just fired your dad."-- John Oliver, on the Daily Show.

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That and "Rick Perry has an Achilles's head"...

The Romney campaign is sending out his mother wife to counter the perception that ol' Willard is nothing more than a rich douchebag who would gladly run over his dog if he could see a profit in it.

Death From Above

The cops are now using Predator drones.

I respectfully submit that anyone who doesn't think that the day is coming when the cops will be firing weapons from those drones should have their head examined. The government is rapidly developing missiles way smaller than a Hellfire. They will be used one of these days, probably sooner: "Them bad guys were holed up and so we blasted them out with a missile from a drone. Sorry about the hostages, though."

The paranoia of Gene Hackman's character in the movie Enemy of the State is about to become the way that people are going to have to live if they don't want to be watched all of the time.

(H/T)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do You Have Cash in a Brokerage Account?

If so, move it to a local bank or S&L. Do it now. Because what happened at MF Global seems to have been legal under U.S. rules: The brokerage firms can use your cash as security for their obligations.

I'm surprised that someone hasn't by now gone looking for Jon Corzine with a pair of flexi-cuffs, a soldering iron and a .44.

(H/T)

Har! (Rick Perry Edition)




(The original, which has probably set records for "dislikes")

(H/T)

Higgs

CERN has called a press conference for tomorrow. Speculation is rampant as to whether or not they will announce that they have found the Higg's boson.*

To be frank, I don't understand all of the bits of the Standard Model and how quarks, letons, muons and the rest all fit together. I can't comprehend the math.**

The Wright Brothers were able to make a working flying machine because the basic science of fluid dynamics had been developed. Understanding how things work is key to then being able to make use of that knowledge. So this is pretty exciting.
_____________________________________________
* One might be nationalistically churlish and reflect that if Congress had not canceled the Superconducting Super Collider in 1993, we'd be well past this point.
** Newton certainly could have.

Fairchild-24

Stu Savory posted a series of photographs of old airplanes in a German collection. One of them was a Fairchild 24.

The Fairchild 24 was an interesting airplane. It was, for its time, a simple and reliable four-seater. It was produced in both radial engine and inverted in-line engine models.



The in-line engine, a Ranger, was also built by Fairchild.*

If you have ever read Richard Bach's book Biplane, you might recall that he traded a Fairchild-24 for his biplane.

There was a Fairchild-24 at the airport I once flew from. The owner had spend years restoring it. Three weeks after he began flying it, a lineman at the FBO drove his truck into one of the wings.

This is what a F-24's wing looks like, uncovered:


The FBO had to contract out the repair, as they weren't terribly experienced at wood and fabric repairs. The lineman, who was kind of an unthinking boob,** was fired.
_____________________
* Sherman Fairchild was an interesting man. He was both an inventor and entrepreneur, he provided the funding to develop the first integrated circuit chips.
** He had a tendency to use the vents on fuel caps as a hand-grip. I caught him doing that to my airplane and, on close examination, both of the vents had been broken loose. They bought me two new fuel caps. But they could not fix stupid.

146% of Muscovites are for Free Elections!

That was the text of a protest sign at the rally in Moscow on Saturday. That seemed like a rather odd number to me, but I figured it was a number that was chosen at random.

But it was not. Stu Savory's blog had this picture of Russian election returns from the Rostov Oblast:


Add them all up and you have the vote totals of 146% of ballots cast.

Mayor Daley and Ken Blackwell would have been proud.

(Yes, I know, Blackwell's fraud went the other way, by reducing the 2004 vote total in Ohio by over a quarter of a million, but the point stands.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Caturday

George is hanging out on one of his favorite places.


I have two cats who like to lie on heated cat pads. So why they insisted on sharing this one is beyond me. Jake can take up an entire pad by himself.

With a Jaundiced Eye

If there was ever a reason to put zero trust in whatever the Washington Post has to say about education, this graphic from the NY Times is it.

Kaplan "University", one of the country's "for profit" colleges, is the cash cow for the WaPo. Like all for-profit colleges, its student take on massive debt loads and the vast majority do not graduate.

Here's an example: Last month, the GAO released a study reporting the abysmal academic standards at for-profit schools. The WaPo noted it on one of their blogs, thus ensuring that maybe a few thousand people saw the story. Some other papers and magazines did take not of it in print, jut not the WaPo.

It all goes back to the primary rule: Money talks.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Well, That Was Fun

I finally dragged my dead ass to the pistol range. They had these targets, which were fun to shoot at. I pretty much shot the head out of this one:


The worrisome thing is that this range, which has something like a dozen firing positions, was pretty busy. Normally, it's almost dead in there early on a weekday afternoon, but not today. Either a lot of people had time off or a lot of guys found themselves with more free time than they had anticipated. Which may not be a good local economic indicator.

Art


You can see more engraved firearms here.

I've not been able to justify, to myself, the cost of having a gun engraved. But I like the looks of the ones that are moderately done so that the weapon is still usable.

The Flocking of the Goyim

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The first bit about Bachmann was hilarious.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

OK, Play Us Out Tonight



Sleep well, everyone!

Farewell, Colonel Potter

Harry Morgan has died. He was 96.

I know that a lot of people have posted this clip of Col. Potter expressing outrage over the varied ways men kill one another. But I'm fond of this clip:

Drone

You've probably heard by now that a RQ-170 drone was lost over Iran and that the Iranians recovered the wreckage. What caught my eye, though, was this quote in the NY Times:
Dennis M. Gormley, a missile and drone expert at the University of Pittsburgh, said reverse-engineering the aircraft itself would be difficult even for a sophisticated military. “Unless somebody put the engineering drawings in the U.A.V.,” he said, using the abbreviation for unmanned aerial vehicle, “it won’t be easy. In any complex piece of aviation equipment, you have to replicate the tolerances precisely.”
Let me offer, if you will, Exhibit A: The Tupolev-4, NATO codename: "Bull"


If it looks familiar, it should:


After three B-29s landed on Soviet soil during the war, Tupolev produced a damn near exact copy of the B-29. The one real problem Tupolev had was that due to the differences between the English and metric systems, Tupolev had to use slightly thicker aluminum and larger rivets. The Tu-4 was reportedly had an empty weight that was over a ton heavier than a similar B-29.

Copying is possible. But more likely is detailed analysis and copying of the sensors and passive anti-radar characteristics of the skin.

What isn't being discussed is the effect that the drone crash will have on the push by the U.S. and U.K. for increased sanctions on Iran to punish them for their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iranians now have a nice bargaining chip to help persuade the Russians and the Chinese to push back against more sanctions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Barry Sucks Up to the Far Right

If you don't think that this was a political decision, email me. I have a bridge to sell to you.
The federal government Wednesday rejected a request to let young teenage girls buy the controversial morning-after pill Plan B directly off drugstore and supermarket shelves without a prescription. ... In a statement, FDA Administrator Margaret A. Hamburg said she had decided the medication could be used safely by girls and women of all ages. But she added that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had rejected the move.
My guess is that the Obama Administration is betting that whoever is nominated by the GOP will not sit well with the Christian Taliban. What they want to do is not give those folks a reason to go to the polls. A "Plan B goes on the OTC shelves" would give them a reason.

It's a good think that the Talibanistas don't regard taking pain meds as a sin. Otherwise, we'd need a prescription to buy a bottle of aspirin.

The Sheer Douchebaggery of Fox News's "War on Christmas"

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Jon Stewart issues the formal declaration:

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Occupied America

So it seems that the military will be allowed to arrest an American citizen on American soil, say "he or she is a terrorist" and that's all it takes: They can hold that person without trial forever. No trial, no judicial review, fuck the Sixth Amendment.

So what's next? Are they going to eviscerate the First Amendment while they are at it? Why the fuck not; just send in the Army, arrest the protestors, declare that they are terrorists and throw them into a concentration camp.

Didn't those chowderheads in the Senate take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? Can we now impeach all of those who voted for this craptastic provision?

Every senator who voted for this provision is a traitor. These are the senators (a "nay" vote was for obliterating the Sixth Amendment):

Alexander (R-TN), Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Blunt (R-MO) Boozman (R-AR), Brown (R-MA), Burr (R-NC), Casey (D-PA), Chambliss (R-GA), Coats (R-IN), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Conrad (D-ND), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hagan (D-NC), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), Hoeven (R-ND), Hutchison (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Inouye (D-HI), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Johnson (R-WI), Kohl (D-WI), Kyl (R-AZ), Landrieu (D-LA), Lee (R-UT), Levin (D-MI), Lieberman (ID-CT), Lugar (R-IN), Manchin (D-WV), McCain (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), McConnell (R-KY), Moran (R-KS), Nelson (D-NE), Portman (R-OH), Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Rubio (R-FL), Sessions (R-AL), Shaheen (D-NH), Shelby (R-AL), Snowe (R-ME), Stabenow (D-MI), Thune (R-SD), Toomey (R-PA), Vitter (R-LA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wicker (R-MS).

I'm not surprised that most of the votes for this provision were Republicans, they're pretty much a pro-police state bunch. If you're one of their constituents, you might want to drop them a line, anyway, but I urge you to really hammer the living shit (metaphorically speaking) out of the goddamn Democrats who think that authorizing the military to detain American citizens without the protections of the Constitution (which we fought for to both get and to protect) is just peachy.*

230 years ago, we fought a war over shit like this. We fought a war against an occupying force that claimed the right to lock up anyone it wanted for as long as it wanted without judicial review. The Bill of Rights was deemed to be so important that, without an agreement to pass it and offer it to the several states, the Constitution itself would not have been ratified.

This is how our freedom in this country dies. Not by invasion, but by gutless weasels in our Congresses who give it away. Shame on all of them. May boils break out on their butts. May beets grow in their intestines. May they all go insane from syphilis, for they are nothing but cowardly whores.**

Finally, I should give a shout-out to those two Republicans who were loyal enough to this country to fight this tyrannical provision and stand against their own party. They are: Kirk (R-IL) and Paul (R-KY).
__________________________
* I didn't bold "Traitor Joe" Lieberman, for he's nothing more than either a Republican who is too stupid to sit where he belongs or a Trojan horse.
** I take part of that back, as referring to sitting United States senators as "whores" is probably deeply offensive to working whores
.

FAA Job Opening

Right at the top:
Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned Tuesday, three days after he was arrested on a drunk driving charge near his suburban Washington home.
The beef wasn't that he was driving drunk. No, the problem was that he didn't inform his boss, the Secretary of Transportation about the arrest. So his boss read about it in the paper. Which is never good for a political job.

I don't have any beef with Babbitt's performance. He was light-years better than two of the previous Administrators who wouldn't have known a pitot tube from a relief tube.

Russian Elections

The Russians claim that their elections were "transparent".

What was transparent was widespread fraud.
International monitors said yesterday that of 150 polling stations monitored, 34 were "very bad", and reports came in from across the country of multiple voting, stuffed ballots, and public-sector workers coming under pressure to vote for United Russia.
Before the election, Putin's party wanted to exceed the margin of victory in the previous election. Even with rampant ballot stuffing, they couldn't get there.

I suspect that if the ballots were honestly counted, United Russia would have come in well under 50%. They'll boost their percentage to somewhat over 50%, so they can hold a majority in the Duma.

It was about as free and fair an election as the ones held in Chicago under Daley the First.

Welcome Home, Guys



They went out for a seven-week exercise and were gone for seven months.

Phoenix Crash

The NTSB preliminary report is available here (4-page PDF).

(Original post)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Six-Foot Long Vertical Brush-Hog

The editor of an online fashion and lifestyle magazine was severely injured at a McKinney airport Saturday when she walked into an airplane propeller.

Lauren Scruggs, 23, landed at Aero Country Airport -- off Virginia Parkway -- about 9:30 p.m. after viewing North Texas Christmas lights from a small, private airplane. The prop struck her upper body, according to her friend Janeé Harrell, resulting in a skull fracture, severe facial cuts and the amputation of her left hand, among other injuries.
Props are dangerous. From behind, they are almost invisible, for the back side is painted flat black so as not to reflect light into the pilot's eyes. At night, you won't see it on the ground. They've killed people who were supposed to be familiar with them.

Some airplanes you might safely exit and enter with the engine running. Some you can't (older Navions). But if you're going to load and unload passengers with the engine running, they must be thoroughly briefed and, if at all possibly, escorted. For if you are the pilot and someone strolls into the prop, it's on you.

Bombed

How many times does this need to happen, people?
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt was placed on a leave of absence Monday and U.S. officials said his employment is under review following his arrest for drunken driving in suburban Northern Virginia.

Babbitt, 65, was charged with driving while intoxicated after a patrol officer spotted him driving on the wrong side of the street and pulled him over about 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Fairfax City, Va., police in the Washington, D.C., suburb.
Considering that a DUI pretty much means the end to a lot of different careers now, I'd be surprised if Babbitt comes back to work.*

Too bad for him that he wasn't a congressman or a senator. Then it'd be no big deal to have a moral slip like that. After all, Diaper Dave is still in the Senate.
_________________________
But really, folks, it's been something like 25 years since the cops started cracking down on driving while intoxicated. At what point do you just roll your eyes and say: "Jeez, what the hell is wrong with that guy?"

It's Not Just "Operation Gunwalker" Anymore

Yesterday's New York Times had a lengthy article on how the Drug Enforcement Administration has been laundering money for the Mexican cartels.

I respectfully suggest that anyone who doesn't think that the DEA was taking a cut of the money and that, in itself, was a reason why the DEA has been so eager to engage in money laundering, probably should stop reading this blog and go out looking for unicorns and leprechauns' gold.

(Of course, if you happen to work for the Feds and you wonder aloud if this makes any sense, you'll be fired.)

"No Brains Required to Work Here"; TSA Edition

Indeed, a functioning cortex is probably a detriment for employment with the TSA.
Vanessa Gibbs, 17, said officials with the Transportation Security Administration at Norfolk International Airport stopped her during a security screening because they said her handbag -- which has the shape of a gun designed on it -- was as a security risk, WJXT-TV reported.
This is the purse that so freaked out the TSA:


Does the TSA work hard at recruiting people who apparently were shitcanned from being school administrators?

Meanwhile, the TSA is strip-searching women in their upper 80s at JFK Airport because of the terrorist threat posed by great-grandmothers.

(John Richardson has a good idea.)

And Yet Martha Stewart Went to Jail

Three years ago, the politicians were fighting over bailing out the banks to the tune of $700 billion. It was sort of a fight between "you want to have all the banks fail and throw us into another depression" and "our ideology must be pure-- no bailouts", with Mr. Conservative himself, Richard (the Torturer) Cheney going personally to Republicans to plead with them not to saddle their party with causing a second depression in eighty years.

But while that was going on, the Federal Reserve was quietly loaning the banks eleven times that much money in interest-free loans. Nobody outside the Fed knew that it was going on, other than the banks, and they kept their mouths shut.

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It was a hell of a scam. Some banks borrowed a hundred billion dollars in virtually interest-free money. What they did was then to buy Treasury bills at 3% interest. Think about that for a minutes. What if someone came up to you and said: "Here's a hundred million bucks. Do whatever you want with it, but you have to give back to me in a year, plus fifty grand in interest." You would take that money, buy a hundred million in T-bills at three percent interest. At the end of the year, you'd cash in the T-bills, pay back the hundred million, toss in the fifty grand and you'd go home with two million, nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars, all at zero risk.

Now here is the best part: You and your benefactor tell nobody about this. So you can pretend to the world that you're a real smart businessman who managed to make nearly three million clams in tough times. When what you did was something that was readily apparent to your average fifth-grader.

All of the big banksters did this. And because they were playing on a huge scale, they individually were making billions of dollars. So their banks seemed profitable and they then badly sprained their arms by patting themselves ont he backs and handing out huge bonuses.

Talk about a rigged game.

We, the American people, bailed those greedy fucksticks out, not with $700 billion, but $8.4 trillion. Yet when it came to trying to do something for the tens of millions of Americans whose home values are underwater, the banks screamed: "No way, no bailouts!!"

So now here we are, today. The Party of Hoover is trying to do whatever it can to strip away the modest banking regulations enacted by the Dodd-Frank bill. They are going to the mat to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Because the Republicans are, when you get right down to it, in favor of Half-Socialism for the Rich, where the rich get to keep their profits and everyone else gets stuck with their losses.

Jon Stewart had the right question: How the fuck is it that Martha Stewart went to jail?