Words of Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wait, What??



If I go outside and find out that my Honda has morphed into a unicorn that is farting eyeballs, I guess I won't be too surprised.


(A translation of the lyrics)

(H/T)

Dear Republicans: This Mess Is On You

Do you remember back eleven or twelve years ago? The national debt was gone as an issue. The "debt clocks" were running backwards. There was a budget surplus of over $200 billion. There was actually talk that the national debt might even be fully paid off.

So what happened?

First, the Bush tax cuts.

Second, the Bush Administration began two wars with absolutely no attempt to pay for them. That was nearly unprecedented in American history. Wars were deficit generators, but there was some attempt to raise revenue to offset it. Not this time, Bush prided himself on keeping taxes low. Dick Cheney declared that "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

Third, Bush rammed through a large expansion of Medicare, again, with no moves to pay for it.

Fourth, the recession. While recessions happen, the Bush Administration and the Federal Reserve turned their back on the risky behaviors of the banksters.*

What we have are four direct causes of the current massive budget deficits, of which , 3.5 can be laid at the feet of the Republican party. But when you point this out to conservatives, they bleat about "we can't look back". They claim that only they know how to fix it, which is sort of like taking advice on building construction from the arsonists who burned down the previous building.

This is on you, conservatives. You guys pushed through the laws to ramp up the Federal debt. You guys advocated for and got the banks and financial institutions deregulated. You guys pushed through the wholesale scrapping of the Glass-Steagell controls.

All of those things not only brought about the current mess, they largely benefited the rich at the expense of everyone else. Yet any discussion of how we got here and any suggestions to reverse the things that brought about this mess, other than increased Medicare spending, are met with howls of outrage from you guys.

Why is anyone listening to you?

____________________________
* This whole mess will repeat itself because the Obama Administration refuses to hold those thieves accountable.

What Are the Policy Differences Between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?

There are only two that come to mind: Same-sex marriage and pollution regulation, and I'm not so sure about environmental regulation. When ol' Willard M. Romney was running for office in Massachusetts,he was well to the left of Obama. Romney signed a bill that made permanent the Brady Bill gun controls in Massachusetts. Romney signed universal health care into law in Massachusetts. Obama is willing to gut Medicare and Social Security. Obama has been and continues to be willing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

As far as I can see, Obama's message to the base of the Democratic party next year is "vote for me, because the Republicans would be worse."

I personally prefer enemies over friends who shiv me in the back at every opportunity. At this point in time, if the Republicans have the good sense to nominate someone like Jon Huntsman next year, I'm going to sit on my hands.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Conservative Statist Republicans

They are so concerned about government intrusion that they want to facilitate it.
A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.
They are taking a page from ramming through the "USA Patriot Act" and naming it in such a way to make it harder to oppose it. But one thing we learned from that law was that the FBI will use all powers granted for one thing for everything else.

Funny thing: You'd think that those teabagging Republicans would not be in favor of anything that makes it easier for the government to monitor what people do.

But you would be so wrong.

I'm not even going to riff on the point that the change in the law was quietly pushed for by the George W. Obama Justice Department. For when it comes to expanding the power of the government to spy on its citizens, ol' Torturer Dick has nothing on President Romney Obama.

(H/T)

Caturday

Gracie and Jake take their ease, at separate times, on the couch:



Jake and a friend. She loves animals; Jake is the only cat that doesn't run and hide at the prospect of attention from a child. But even this level of closeness was too much for him, for he jumped down and went under the kitchen table a few seconds after this photo was shot.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hewlett-Packard Probook Piece of Shit Laptop

I own one. It's a "ProBook 4510" and I am here to tell the world that it is a piece of shit.

First, less than a year after I bought it, one of the mouse buttons stopped working. Fine, it was still under warranty. I sent it back to HP's repair center and, if the documentation for the repair was to be believed, they replaced the entire top of the laptop. Which includes the keyboard.

So now, well under a year since that, the letters "R" and "O" are acting funky. A lot of the time, they work. Smetimes (as in "just nw"), they don't.

Tell me, HP, please: How the fuck do you get away with selling such pieces of shit? Hw do yu sleep at night, knowing that you have sold computers that are about as duable as something made by Ronco?

Crimus, the problems with the "O" key are bad enough. But lose the "R" key and what I write will read like it was witten for the priest in "The Princess Bride."

So it looks as though, for the duration, I'll be packing another keybard with me wherever I go.

And so, to the manufacturing engineers and executives at HP: May you all have boils inside your anus.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Christian Exception For Mass Murders

As in "just because the guy says he's a Christian is no reason to tar Christianity." Of course, if the killer is a Muslim, then the rules change.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
In the Name of the Fodder
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Conservatives see persecution all around them, yet they project their fears onto liberals and then lambaste them for it.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
GOP - Special Victims Unit
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Firefox 5: Is This Usual?

Apparently Firefox 5 is out or soon will be and then each new version of Firefox will release every two months or so.

What the hell? Frankly, I'm happy with FF3 and I plan to stick with it as long as possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is It Against Federal Law to Hope That John Boehner and Eric Cantor Die In a Fire?

What really pissed me off was Boehner's comment that "the President wants a blank check."

That is a willful disregard about how the entire fucking budget process works. Do I really need to explain how budgets are passed? Maybe I should, because it seems clear that the goddamn Republicans don't understand it, but I'm just too tired, too cranky and too motherfucking angry about this.

Where were these cocksucking conservatives when George W. Bush repeatedly got raises to the debt limit? And did they completely forget the slogan of their 2008 presidential campaign: "Country First"??

May they all die in slow fires (unless it is against Federal law to do so).

Airline Robbery

The taxes that you, as travelers, were required to pay taxes as a part of your airline tickets, are now being pocketed by the airlines.

It is exactly as though a state stopped collecting sales tax, but the businesses kept charging shoppers sales tax. Peple would not stand for that for a femtosecond. But the airline business is run by pirates who spend their days figuring out how to screw over their customers, so this bit of fuckery is no big surprise.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lone Wolf

In reading through a lot of the coverage of the Norwegian massacre three days ago, it all reminded me that the murdering asswipe has given the world a good lesson in the near-impossibility of countering an attack by an individual acting alone.

For the most part, the vast internal listening apparatus that has gone up in this country and others depends on loose-lipped idiots to trigger it. It depends on people doing really stupid and suspicious things, such as buying large amounts of chemicals for no apparent reason.

Asswipe apparently planned his actions for several years. He jumped through all of the strict hoops in Norway to legally purchase weapons. He purchased or made a police uniform so that nobody would question his open carrying of weapons. He picked a "target rich" environment with no security and no means of escape for his shooting victims. He bought a farm and operated it as a cover for the purchase of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Farms use diesel fuel; not having a tank of diesel on his farm would have been unusual. It was probably easy for him to carry out pre-attack surveillance; nobody would have thought anything about a blond Norwegian male walking around either location.

Most critically, Asswipe apparently talked to nobody. He did not join any groups neo-nazis or the Norwegian equivalent of the Arizona Minutemen. He allegedly did not have a big online presence and he seemed to have kept his heavily plagiarized rantings to himself until a few days before he carried out his attacks. Compared to the Norwegian Asswipe, the Oklahoma City and Ft. Hood Asswipes were blabbermouths.

One of the keys in recent years to preventing terrorist attacks has been capitalizing on the mistakes of the plotters. Whether faulty bombs or plots that are complicated enough to bring in people who will inform to the authorities (or agents provocateur who instigate the plotting), there has to be some trigger for law enforcement to realize that something is afoot.

But when the attacker is operating on his own, is not acting on impulse and does nothing to alert the cops, then it is going to be almost impossible to prevent an attack. Unless we are prepared to give up all freedom of movement and submit to 1984-levels of surveillance, then all we can really do is try to create an environment where such actions are not acceptable, even to the fringes.

I am not going to riff on the fact that Asswipe apparently will do no more than 21 years in prison, as that is the maximum prison sentence in Norway. So he is going to do roughly five weeks in prison for every person that he slaughtered. Here, even in no-death penalty states, he'd be doing consecutive sentences and would be sentenced to a minimum prison term of 2,000 years or more.  So pardon me for expressing the hope that he gets shanktified sometime during those two decades.

As the GOP Destroys This Nation

It used to be that raising the debt limit was something that was done with a clean bill. Raising the debt limit has been done, repeatedly, by both Republican and Democratic presidents, Republican and Democratic congresses. All of the current GOP congressional leaders have repeatedly in the past voted to raise the debt limit.

Raising the debt limit was not something that one party needed to do. But that is how the Republicans are now treating it. With that mindset, they have taken what was a two-day exercise in passing a ministerial bill into an exercise that is in the process of wrecking our national credit rating and our economy.

We have unemployment in this country that is stubbornly over 9%. Consumer demand has crashed and is dragging down any prospects of bootstrapping the economy. And thanks to the ideological fools, nothing is going to improve anytime soon. Because rather than do anything to get the economy going, the Republicans have tied Washington in knots for two months over this bullshit.

Worse, the Republicans are using a threat to destroy the economy, to drive the nation into a depression, as a lever to achieve their partisan agenda, one that serves hardly anyone (other than big business and the rich). It is nothing short of fiscal terrorism.

I don't much care for the Democrats. I was once a registered Republican. I've donated to Republican campaigns. But Hell will freeze over before I ever again vote for a Republican for federal office.

And what is it with everyone paying attention to the ratings companies? They're the ones who glossed over the shitty mortgage CDOs and helped drive the crash of the economy in the first place. Most of their executives should be in jail, now, if there was any thirst for justice in this country.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crash? What Crash?

There are allegations that the Chinese government is hastily burying the evidence from this weekend's deadly collision of two high-speed passenger trains.

Would that really astonish anyone?

Low Rent Cable

While I do like some of the shows on the USA Network, the last week has gotten me pretty close to heaving a brick through my set.

First, Covert Affairs. The episode dealt with how one of the characters lost his sight in Iraq. He was the leader of a Special Forces team that went from Baghdad to Tikrit to capture or kill one of the guys on the deck of cards. So they set out. Four or five guys. In one Humvee. In 2007.

Horseshit.

Second, Suits. The idea of the show is that a partner in a white-shoe law firm in Manhattan hires this very bright 20-something kid with a phenomenal memory who has studied law but is not a lawyer. So the kid, with the help of the partner, impersonates being a Harvard law grad and practices law.

Bullshit. You don't get hired into those kinds of firms without a transcript. While it might be possible to go to the school and fly under the radar (class size is over 500), the whole practicing law without a license bit isn't plausible. New York has an online directory of attorneys, so if there was an question of whether or not the kid was legit, it'd take thirty seconds to find out. And once that came out, his boss would be hauled in front of the disciplinary board so fast that his brain would liquefy.

Finally, Burn Notice. I like the show, but the attempt now to "re-burn" the protagonist is getting old. If somebody doesn't like him that much, why don't they just shoot the fucker? I fear that the show is jumping the shark.

Switching networks, AMC's show The Killing ended its first season last month and, rather than end the season with a solution of the murder (which they do in the Danish original), they went with a cliff-hanger until the next season in a year. Which pretty much guarantees that most of the people who could put up with the idea of one homicide case spanning thirteen episodes, won't bother to return. Including me.

SyFy's new show, Alphas, sucked so bad that I didn't make it to the second commercial break.

A Serious Question to the Whackos Out There

When, in human history, has going out and killing a bunch of people helped win an ideological argument as to whose brand of religion is "better"? What does engaging in acts of mass murder accomplish as far as persuading people that the cause of the murderers is right and just?

(I'll leave the snark to others about how differently the Murdoch-led media and their fellow-travellers would be handling this if the Norwegian murderer was a olive skinned Muslim immigrant rather than the actual killer: A blond-haired conservative Christian fundamentalist.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Caturday; "I'm Living In a Box, I'm Living In a Cardboard Box" Edition

George has a fascination with corrugated cardboard. It might have to do when he was a little kitten, he lived in one.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Enough for You Guys on the Right?

I ask that question because last winter, when it was snowing to beat the band, I found no shortage of conservative bloggers chortling, in essence: "It's snowing again! Take that, AlGore!"

But they seem to have all fallen silent in the last couple of weeks.
The "dangerous" heat wave baking the central United States is expected to extend its reach eastward in the coming week, and ultimately cover most of the eastern part of the country, the National Weather Service said Monday.
Maybe we should ask Dubya II Rick Perry:
A record drought is forcing Texas cattle ranchers to send their cows to slaughter because it's too costly to keep buying feed for herds finding little forage in parched pastures.

They'll probably now say that "the weather of a few days or a month doesn't prove that global warming is real." Yet they were more than willing to say that one or two snowstorms proved otherwise.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hell, He's Not Kenyan. He's French.

The Washington Post is reporting that the deal being worked on between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner is pretty much a complete cave by the President.

I'm starting to feel the same way about Obama that I did about Bill Clinton: I'd rather be shot at by my enemies than stabbed in the back by my so-called allies.

Update: When Harry Reid has to tell the White House to buck up and stay strong, we're in Bizzaro Land

The American Police State

Interesting exercise: Read this post about "rising communities", which, as far as I can see, is about getting people to buy into being part of the American police state.

Compare and contrast with this series of three four posts (one, two, three, four) about our American police state. (H/T)

I fully support the personal possession of firearms.[1] But we are not going to do away with our police state by shooting people.[2]

The only way that the American police state will start withering is if we, the American people, start taking political action. We have to start electing politicians who are behind the idea of reducing the footprint of our police state and we have to start throwing out those politicians in favor of having a police state.

I have some modest proposals:

First, reduce the funding for (or defund entirely) local SWAT teams. They are being overused when they are, as is the practice nowadays, used to serve routine arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses. This era of strapped local budgets offers the perfect opportunity to whittle away at the overuse of SWAT teams.

Second, remember this principle: The police forces are civilian police. They are not military forces. Keep that in mind.

Third, ban the transfer of military technology and equipment to civilian police forces.

Fourth, remove all weapons exemptions from the police. They would be permitted to carry the same types of weapons as everyone else. If a citizen cannot go to a gun shop and purchase a weapon or magazine, then the cops don't get them.[3] So if the city of Cincinnati wants to only let civilians have revolvers, then the cops better practice with those S&W Model 65s. No tasers for us, no tasers for you.

Fifth, remove the judge-made doctrine of "qualified immunity". Everyone else has to comport themselves with the law. Only public officials have this exemption where, if there is any haziness to the law, they get a free pass for their actions.[4]

Sixth, require a separate finding of fact for any search warrant that is executed outside the hours of 9AM to 7PM, with a separate judicial signoff for such searches. Raids in the middle of the night are the hallmark of a police state. Breaking down someone's door at six in the morning is plain fucking evil. Does anyone not get that?

Will any of this happen? Probably not. With few exceptions, the police have pretty much resorted to using excessive force and illegal searches against minorities, so a lot of people don't care. As Badtux has repeatedly pointed out, there are plenty of Americans who hold to the view that it is just peachy if the cops bust the heads of only those people.[5] The police brass (and their political supporters) will bleat that they need the ability to violate our rights, tote military weapons and act like KGB goons in order to keep us safe and enough people believe them.[6]

So I don't think that anything is going to change soon.
_______________________
[1] Hell, I'm in favor of repealing the `34 NFA. I'd love for suppressors to not only be legal, but for their use to be seen as courteous towards the neighbors.
[2] If there were a modern-day Shays' Rebellion, the Air Force would have Global Hawk and Predator drones overhead in very short order and those Predators would be raining down Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs upon the rebels.
[3] Can someone point to a recent situation where the police had to have MP-5s or M-4s?
[4] The rest of us get to slug it out in court. If what you didn't wasn't clearly wrong under then then-state of the law, you can still be made to pay damages if a judge and/or jury thinks that you should have known better anyway.
[5] "Those people" being those groups traditionally out of favor with the "good folks": Niggers, spics, pinko commie faggots and, more recently, ragheads.
[6] Mostly fearful Republicans. You need only refer to every other public statement by Rep. Peter King (R-IRA Provos) to see that in action.

And, We're Done

Shuttle Atlantis has landed, ending the Space Shuttle Program.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Libertarian Paradise?

For-profit cops. (Yes, it's fiction. for now.)

SSBNs to Go Away?

The New London Day is reporting today that Ft. Fumble is considering scrapping plans to replace the Ohio class ballistic missile boats and, instead, modifying the Virginia class of attack submarines.

I'm kind of skeptical about that. The Trident SLBM reportedly has a launch weight of 65 tons (compared to the old Polaris missiles, which weighed about 15 tons). The Ohio class boats have a beam of 42 feet, the Virginias have a beam of 34 feet. The Trident D5 has a length of just under 45 feet. It's hard to get a decent figure on the thickness of the turtledeck over the missile tubes, but five to eight feet may be about right.

Unless the Navy develops a new and shorter SLBM, then the designers are kind of stuck with a overall height of 48 to 50 feet for the missile compartment. A turtledeck 16 feet high over a Virginia hull is going to be, well, ugly. One of the older guidelines for ship design is that if a ship looks ugly, it probably will sail ugly. I'd imagine that a turtledeck that high would suggest that such a boat would have stability issues.

But I'm no naval architect, so what the hell do I know.

But if the Navy then has to develop a new SLBM for a shorter missile tube, then the cost-savings from using the Virginia hullform will evaporate.

GOP: Party Before Country, Always

Despicable:
President Obama's embrace of a bipartisan breakthrough on contentious debt talks may have doomed the deal.
...
"Background guidance: The President killed any chance of its success by 1) Embracing it. 2) Hailing the fact that it increases taxes. 3) Saying it mirrors his own plan," a GOP leadership aide e-mailed to Politico's Playbook.
It should be clear to everyone, by now, that if the choice was between having their mothers drown or having President Obama rescue them, Republicans would arrange for the funerals.

At what point can we start to charge these bastards with willfully sabotaging the country? They are no different whatsoever from the Confederates in 1860, for if they don't get their way, they will do whatever it takes to destroy this nation.

Get Yours Hands Off Me, You Damned Dirty Ape!

There is an Internet meme going around that, when Shuttle Atlantis lands tomorrow, it would be really funny if everyone on the Shuttle's ground crew was wearing gorilla suits.

The Hypocrisy of the Tea Party's Politicians

They have turned out to be as eager to funnel Federal cash to their districts as any other politician.

Because it is apparently not pork if they want it.

Shorter Rupert Mudoch: "I Know Nothing, Nothing!"

Which was pretty much what he told Parliament:
Rupert Murdoch defiantly insisted on Tuesday he was not responsible for what he called "sickening and horrible invasions" of privacy committed by his company, claiming he had been betrayed by disgraceful unidentified colleagues and had known nothing of the cover-up of phone hacking.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Do You Improve On Perfection; Conan the Barbarian Edition

Some group of clowns is set to release a remake of Conan the Barbarian.

30 years ago, Schwartzenegger's command of English was on par with Sean Connery's ability to speak Russian, so, except for Conan's prayer to Crom before the final battle and some laughable lines about "hear die lamentations of die wimmin", Schwartzenegger's lines were mostly a few words here and there, interspersed with cries of pain and grunting. The majority of the speaking lines went to James Earl Jones, who was a really creepy Thulsa Doom, Sandahl Bergman (Valeria) and to the other bodybuilders in the movie who could actually speak English.

In spite of all that, the original was a fine movie. It wasn't a great movie, but it worked.

So what have they got to offer this time around? Tons of CGI and an actor who can speak English?

Ecch.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Borders is Bankrupt Dead

All that is left is to liquidate it (and fire 11,000 people). That leaves only Barnes & Noble for a national book chain and I imagine that they aren't doing so well.

Just a Coincidence, No Doubt

Nothing to see here, folks:
A former News of the World reporter who alleged Andy Coulson "encouraged" him to hack phones was found dead today.
Meanwhile, another of the top brass at Scotland Yard has quit, no doubt to spend more time with his family.

We'll also get to see whether or nor Eric Holder really has any stones.
With pressure mounting in the US for the launch of a full-blooded inquiry into News Corporation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the daunting consequences of such a move are becoming evident. Mike Koehler, a law professor at Butler University who is an expert in the act, said a costly and expensive worldwide investigation into possible bribery activities on the part of the company's subsidiaries in America, Australia, Europe, India and China was now almost inevitable.
Meanwhile, Fox News, which knows a few things about piling on and beating shit deep into the ground, has been reduced to whining about the coverage of their parent corporation's fuckery.

More Mush From the Wimp

Typical:
President Barack Obama said Sunday that he would nominate Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, passing over Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor who was the driving force behind the agency's creation.
If Barry thinks that the Republicans in the Senate would go along with nominating anyone to be the head of the CFPB, other than maybe one of the Koch Brothers, then I think he is very much mistaken.

The counter-argument is that by nominating someone other than Warren, Obama can use that to point to the party of the Confederacy and say: "Look, I tried to be reasonable. But they're not reasonable and they never will be."

I don't think I buy it.

Drill, Baby, Drill

BP had another oil spill in Alaska.

You don't have to do much research to find out that BP chose huge profits over doing maintenance on its pipelines in Alaska.

I've seen nothing to indicate that BP has changed its ways, other than self-serving proclamations by the folks who replaced Mister "I Want My Life Back".

Do You Have a Borders Gift Card?

Better use it up. Today would be good.

For it appears that Borders Books will soon go the way of Circuit City and Linens N Things.

The comparison to Circuit City is probably unfair, as CC slit their own throats when they fired all of their experienced sales people and hired a bunch of inexperienced kids as a way to save money.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Herm Cain: People Should Have the Right to Ban Synagogues

That would be because observant Jews would want to conduct their affairs in accordance with Talmudic Law.

That sounds really stupid, doesn't it. That, of course, is not what Cain said. What he said was this:
"Let's go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to," Cain said. "They are objecting to the fact that Islam is both religion and (a) set of laws, Shariah law. That's the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it's just about religious purposes.

"The people in the community know best. And I happen to side with the people in the community."
Cain is so full of shit. Virtually every religion has a series of codes that devout adherents of that religion will try to live by, For him to pretend otherwise merely shows him to be the sort of asswipe bigot who is firmly at home in the Republican party these days.

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better; Murdoch Edition

Rebekah Brooks, who up until two days ago was president of Murdoch's News International Corp., was arrested and interrogated at Scotland Yard.

Meanwhile, the head of the London Metro Police (aka Scotland Yard) has stepped down over allegations that the cops were too damn cozy with Murdoch's people. I don't know how many people are going to buy the time-worn line of "I'm quitting under fire although I didn't do a damn thing wrong."

Now this is a real shocker: The British member of parliament who is going to be investigating this mess is a close friend of the Murdochs. I'm certain that he'll be shocked, shocked, to find out what has been going on.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

TSA: "I'll Grope Thee, But Thou Shalt Not Grope Me."

Turn-about apparently is not fair play for the TSA:
Authorities say a Colorado woman who allegedly groped a female Transportation Security Administration agent at Phoenix's international airport is facing a felony count of sexual abuse.
Because they get to feel you up whenever they want. And there isn't a damn thing that you can do about it, because as far as the DBP is concerned, if they can't grope you, the terrorists win.

Not Sure I Understand This

The "El Presidente" drill:



I'm not sure that, with four bad guys, I'd want to have to reload in order to shoot BG#4. Seems to me that that better choice is to shoot BG#3 once and BG#4 once, for at least then there would be the possibility that you're reloading against two BGs with sucking chest wounds, as opposed to one healthy BG who has had all of the time in the world to shoot you.

But what do I know; the only places I can go to shoot at are formal ranges and they don't allow any of that fancy stuff.

Space Flight

Unlike past program changes, when NASA's prime contractor either was already cutting metal on the next series or at least had plans underway, this time, there doesn't seem to be a single direction.

The good news, if there is anything, is that there are several proposals underway for manned spaceflight. The difference between private spaceflight projects and government spaceflight projects, though, is pretty thin. Both flavors are being funded by the government. The only difference is that with the private programs, they are keeping their cards very close to the vest and We Who Are Footing the Bill have not much of an idea what is going on.

This article seems to do a decent job of summing things up.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The cancellation of the Saturn V program by Richard Nixon was one of the most stupidly short-sighted decisions made by a politician in my lifetime. A single S-V would have likely cost less to fly than a Shuttle and had a payload far greater than a Shuttle.

If we had kept the Saturn V alive, the costs probably would have come down as it would be the premier super-heavy lift rocket. By now, we'd have probably built several hundred of them and, as technological evolution occurred, the rocket would have become more efficient.

But there are no super-heavy lift rockets. There hasn't been for 38 years.*

Rot in Hell, Tricky Dick. Between your War on Drugs and your gutting of the space program, you truly set the stage for fucking up this country for a very long time.
__________________________________
* Yes, I know that the Shuttle was classified as a super-heavy rocket system. But since most of that was to get the spaceplane itself into orbit, I don't regard it as such. So sue me.

Caturday

Bella shows off her feather-duster tail.


My cats are hanging out on my bed.


Gracie and Jake on a couch,


This was a bird at my mother's hummingbird feeder. Despite that broken beak, the bird was able to feed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lightening the Sleigh; Murdoch Edition

Rupert Murdoch is apparently throwing his loyalists over the side in order to save his own skin. One of them, Les Hinton, has worked for Murdoch since Eisenhower was president. Rebekah Brooks, who Murdoch tried to save by instead closing News of the World, still had to be axed.

You probably won't see much about this story on Fox News, though.

America Looks to Space and Says: "Meh."

"All people have to have certain goals, certain things to strive for, something that they can look up at and say `hey, I did that'. To give up on that dream is to give up on America." -- CAPT James A. Lovell, Jr., USN-ret, commander of Apollo 13.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Final Countdown
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

We may be at the point where it could be possible that private industry, although with massive amounts of government money, can fly to the International Space Station. I've not seen anybody cutting metal, though.

Fifty years from Alan Shepard's flight in Freedom 7 to the end of the Shuttle flights. That's less than a lifetime. Hell, there are people under the age of sixty who remember Shepard's flight. And we're just going to stroll away from flying into space because it's hard, man and because we'd rather give more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy?

There's also been some bleating about the Russians charging $50 million a seat to fly to the ISS in a Soyuz capsule. That's compared to about $1.5 billion for a Shuttle flight, which took up seven people. On the other hand, the Shuttle also could fly a large amount of cargo up and it could bring stuff back.

The walking away from space by this country could be construed as further evidence that we have degenerated into a large pack of very short-sighted people. I hope that is not the truth of the matter. But it may be. The Republicans clearly do not give a fuck about anything that does not put money, today, into the pockets of the rich and the corporations. The Democrats would seem to be little better.

If it doesn't involve going overseas and killing people, we seem to have given up on doing things that are hard and risky.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pass the Popcorn; Murdoch Edition

This could be fun to watch.
The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
In the U.K., where the politicians have been running scared of the Murdoch media empire for decades, the knives are out.

For Bastille Day

The rendering of La Marseillaise that is likely most familiar to Americans:



And from "Escape to Victory":

Religious Freedom; FSM Edition

Going for the win.
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear".

Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.

Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.
Good for him. One of the things that bugs me about a number of organized religions is that they want the government to recognize that they are a religion and, in many cases, ban everyone else's religion.

I hold that religion is no business of the government. Any government. And yes, I'd be all in favor of removing all special treatment in tax policies for religions. It's not the state's business who you want to worship or where.

(H/T)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Unfit to Fight

The U.S. Navy.

I wish I could say that I'm surprised about any of this, but I'm not. Warships take a lot of TLC to keep in good condition. A decade ago, the Navy went to a concept called "optimal manning", which was a bureaucratic way of saying "not enough sailors to keep the ships up." From what I've read, a Burke class DDG had a complement of 290, yet the Navy sent those ships to see with the the crew size of a Knox class FF (or a Perry class FFG). Those two frigate classes displaced 4,100 tons, but a Burke class DDG displace between 8,300 and 9,500 tons.*

The Burkes are much larger ships. Those who thought that the Navy could send them to sea with the crew size of a smaller ship and not eventually pay a price had to have been drinking the Ft. Fumble Kool-Aid. The practice of not sending enough sailors to ships to properly man the ships was a factor in the grounding of the USS Port Royal.

As the article also noted, the Navy cheaped out on maintenance and now has to make it up (in an era of tightening budgets). You have to wonder what retard genius came up with the idea of "just run it until it breaks" as a way to save on doing preventative maintenance. That defies a couple of centuries worth of experience with mechanical systems. You can't not maintain things, not if you are going to count on them to work when you most need them.

I have to imagine that this is the sort of shit that happens when the black shoes who have real experience with sailing and maintaining ships are either too afraid for their careers to speak the truth or are ordered not to. This smacks of the sort of stupid shit that Rumsfeld would have dreamed up.

The ships don't get maintained, they sail with over-tired and stressed crews. Bad things happen when people are standing watch and they are too exhausted to think. When their tour of duty is up, the good ones, the ones that the Navy wanted to keep, will get out.

Fucking admirals. Not one of them apparently had the integrity to stand up and say "this shit ain't right." And so the men and women on the deckplates have to pay the price.

There are times when maybe it's possible that Stalin did the right thing when he had almost all of the top brass shot.

(H/T via email)
____________________________________
* Of the 230 or fewer sailors on a Burke-class DDG, that includes those who are away for schooling, on medical leave, those detailed ashore to do security and other shit for the base (gotta support the shore establishment), and those who were sent as "individual augmentees" to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shorter Mitch McConnell: "Congress Is Not Made Up of Responsible Adults."

MdConnell's plan is to give the President the power to raise the debt ceiling on his own without congressional approval.

So then the Republicans could scream like raped chickens every time the President raises the debt ceiling while, at the same time, avoiding any responsibility for the process.

That's pretty damn cowardly of him. But it's worth remembering that is the GOP mantra, "ideology uber alles". If these current clowns were running the Congress in the fall of 2008, the banking system would have collapsed.

Meanwile, the real masters of the GOP, the business community, are starting to tell them to shut the fuck up, start acting like grown-ups and get to work getting out of this crisis of their own making.

I don't know how the Republicans walk this one back.

Monday, July 11, 2011

There Has Been a Disturbance In the Force

Glock is making a 1911??


The company that pioneered the plastic fantastic pistol and all that is making a steel-frame 1911?

Ack! Medic!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

If You Are an Owner of Haynes Management in Wellesley, MA,
Here Is a Wish For You:

May you die soon, painfully and often. May you suffer through indictments and prison terms for fraud before you die.

This is why:
Massachusetts accountant Carl Sorabella had every reason to believe that his employer would grant his request for a more flexible schedule so that he could assist his wife, who had just been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and given only months to live. After all, he'd been with Haynes Management in Wellesley, for 13 years, and had just been given a raise in November.
He was wrong in thinking that his employer would be sympathetic. They fired him on the spot.

This is evil conduct of the kind that would have Chainsaw Al saying: "C'mon, you gotta be kidding."

If you do business with Haynes Management, may you come down with a bad case of gout. If you have retained Haynes Management as your accounting firm, may you be plagued with visits from the IRS and the MA Dept. of Revenue.

Update: Check the comments for the official statement by the heartless weasels and for contact information for said weasels.

(H/T)

Captain Obvious To The Rescue!

As Don Brown has pointed out, anyone who claims to be stunned by the job numbers for June hasn't been paying attention. It's a damn good point. Those "stunned" economists need to have Captain Obvious give them a hard dope slap.

There are three chances, however, that the Villagers will wake up and start paying attention: Slim, Fat and None Whatsoever. Because the Democrats are too gutless to do anything and the Republicans are out drinking with the assholes who wrecked the economy.

Robbie is Right: They're All Crooks

John Schwartz of the New York Times wrote in today's paper about two studies that, in essence, allege that Senators and Congressmen who play the stock market are using their inside information to make money in the stock market. That implication arises because the average return on investment by those politicians outpaces the market in general.

Fat chance getting anything done about that bit of fuckery. If the SEC were to look into insider trading by politicians, the Congress would zero out the SEC's budget faster than a congressman returns the phone call of the head of a ten-figure PAC.

Blackwater- Open for Business in Connecticut

The sign on the place reads "U.S. Training Center", but it is a Blackwater operation.* It is in Salem, in the building that was formerly E&B Sporting Goods, which was a gun shop. The range was in the basement, then, and I presume it is there now.

The lights were on and there were a few SUVs in the parking lot. I don't know if it is invitation-only or open to the public, but as I drove by, I can't say that the place looked particularly inviting.
_____________________________________________
* Or "Xe Services" or "Princess Sparkle's House of Destruction" or whatever name they're going by these days.

Science Education in Lousiana

Doonesbury nails it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Unemployment Is Up Some More,
Does Anyone In the Village Give a Shit?

The official unemployment rate climbed to 9.2% for June. The U-6 rate jumped 0.4%, to 16.2%, or 24,830,000 people who are out of work or stringing together part-time jobs.

Republicans are still peddling their fairy tale that more tax cuts for the rich will help. Democrats probably would like to engage in some economic pump-priming, but that is not going to happen, not with the House of Representatives firmly in the hands of the fiscal arsonists who are eager to score political points by trashing the economy, with the connivance of enough like-minded Senators.

Fact of the matter is, nobody gives a shit about the unemployed any more. The Republicans never have, of course. They didn't give a shit when a third of the country was out of work in the Great Depression. To them, it was a time to try and seize control of the government. Corporations are sitting on large piles of cash, the CEOs are raking in ginormous pay increases, but they are not hiring.

The wealthy and the corporations apparently have concluded that they don't need us. Any unrest would be met with by waves of paramilitary goons*, eager to please their masters by spilling blood. But why people in this country aren't getting royally hacked off that the wealthy and the CEOs have been making out like the thieves they are is beyond my understanding.

The system is wholly unfair. Executives and banksters chain-saw the shit out of businesses to make a short-term buck and nobody cares. One of those corporate butchers, Mitt Romney, had the gall to proclaim that his vast experience with trashing and looting companies makes him fit to be President, which would be like hiring Ted Bundy to run a girls' school.

Republicans hate unions to the point that they would have shuttered a goodly potion of the American manufacturing base in order to stab the United Auto Workers. They would have thrown a million or more people out of decent jobs in order to score some cheap political points How anyone can regard the Republican party as being composed of patriots is not comprehensible. But don't kid yourself, most of the Democrats are no better.

If you're looking for optimism, go elsewhere. In the words of River Tam: "Things are going to get much worse."
__________________________
* The police.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Even Arrogant Clowns Can Do Some Good, Even If By Accident

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has proposed legislation designed to ensure pilots fairer treatment and more access to information in FAA enforcement actions, reform the appellate process, and create advisory boards to help improve the notices to airmen and medical certification processes.
Why is Inhofe so concerned about pilot's rights? It's because that boob landed on a closed runway, scattering the men working on the runway.

O course, nothing much happened to Inhofe, because he is a sitting U.S. Senator, and, because as he put it: "I was supposed to have unlimited airspace." He had to take some "remedial training."

Boo-fucking-hoo. If any non-politician had landed an airplane on a runway that was closed by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), marked with large "X"s and had construction equipment on the runway, the FAA likely would have gone for an emergency suspension, followed by maybe a long-term sit-down, ending with a repeat of the last flight test, otherwise known as a "709 ride". And that's if the FAA didn't go for a full revocation. of the pilot's certificate.

As this article noted, 709 rides are given for "minor violations" of Federal Air Regulations. Other than maybe inside of Inhoe's mind, there probably isn't anyone in the aviation world who would regard landing on a closed runway that was obstructed by construction equipment as "minor." Even if there was no NOTAM, landing on a runway that is obstructed is a violation of both the Federal Aviation Regulations and common sense. But no. Inhofe was required to get four hours of ground school and three hours of flight instruction. And he is obviously outraged that he even has to do that.

Still, it is a common complaint in the aviation community that when it comes to acting against pilots, the FAA acts as judge, jury and executioner. Some reform there is necessary. Too bad, though, that it comes because an arrogant and unrepentant douchebag like Inhofe came close to killing some people.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Step Right This Way For Your Full-Body X-Ray

Step right this way for your free TSA X-ray:
Airlines are being warned by the government that terrorists are considering surgically hiding bombs inside humans to evade airport security. As a result, travelers may find themselves subjected to more scrutiny when flying in the heart of summer vacation season, especially to the U.S. from abroad.
I suspect that the real risk will be from ass-carried explosives, not surgically-implanted ones. The kind of surgery necessary to plant a bomb is probably not a walk in the park, but they probably can do the surgery in a Pakistani hospital.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Doorman

Jake is lying in that doorway and bapping at any cat who wants to get past him.


None have succeeded.

Fat-assed, lying down on the job and getting in everyone's way-- I may have to rename him John Boehner.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our Greedy CEOs Are Acting Like Chimpanzees

Sharing and fairness seem to be hard-wired into humans.

But the greedheads who run major companies, banks and hedge funds, with their attitudes of "hooray for me and fuck you" are acting more like baboons. When people call CEOs and the rest "greedy monkeys", they are being more accurate than they know.

Which is probably defaming baboons. Good thing for me that they can't sue.

Uh-Oh, I Think Nancy Grace's Head Just Exploded

ORLANDO, Fla. — Casey Anthony, the young mother whose seeming heartlessness at the disappearance of her daughter transfixed America for three years, was found not guilty on Tuesday of killing the girl, Caylee Marie.
I stopped watching Good Morning America because every show had a segment with Nancy Grace shrieking about this trial and how Casey Anthony was going to go to the chair* for whacking her daughter.

Apparently, it is a good thing that I never tune into the 24 Hour Lynch Casey Anthony Channel, also known as HLN. You have to love how one of the bloviators on that channel blasted the defense for a pathetic closing argument. I'd say that those words have to leave a mark on HLN now, but I doubt if there is a person there who has any qualms, let alone shame.

It's not just HLN or GMA. The Today Show had Star Jones telling millions of viewers what a terrific job the prosecution did with its closing argument. Well, not so much.

So, you might ask if I think that Casey Anthony killed her daughter. Possibly. But "possibly" isn't proof.
______________________________
* I know they execute people by lethal injection now. But "going to the gurney" isn't quite the same.

Our Best Frenemy

Pakistan. Their intelligence service whacked one reporter, beat the stuffing out of another (both for writing stories that made the Paki spooks uncomfortable) and supplies guns, money and training to our enemies.

Pakistan is playing a dual game and everybody who has been paying any attention knows it. It is somewhat understandable; Bush was ready to bomb the shit out of Pakistan in 2001, but the Pakistanis also know that the war in Afghanistan will end some day. The Great Game of Central Asia still goes on, the contested turf is the same, but this time the players are India and Pakistan, not the British and Russian Empires.

This is why of all of the military aid we give them to "fight terror", the vast majority goes to preparing to lose another war against India-- Pakistan arguably has initiated at least four wars with India, both large and small, and lost every one. With a record such as that, it is kind of hard to understand the esteem that the Pakistanis supposedly have for their army.

We're kind of stuck with them, as long as we need to get supplies and troops in and out of Afghanistan. Which is a strong argument for ending the conflict.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Next Generation


The relative of a friend. He's going off to college in the fall. Range time last month (along with cartridges and targets) was my graduation gift to him. He's shooting my Mosin-Nagant PU sniper rifle, which was his favorite of the day. On the bench are a M1903A1 Springfield and a Savage Mk II. Not pictured is a Krag carbine.

It was raining off and on that day, sometimes rather hard. One of his classmates is a serious gun enthusiast who was very impressed by his getting to shoot a Krag (I only gave him five rounds (they go for $38 a box).

A good day.

"The Recession Is Over," So Says the New York Times

In an article about the effect on retail shopping of high gasoline prices, the Times had this jaw-dropper:
...now, with consumers feeling short on cash after the recession, high gas prices are keeping some of them from shopping as frequently.
Really? "After the recession?" Is that because the CEOs are, once again. making out like the bandits that they are, with a 23% rise in pay from `09 to `10?

The current seasonally-adjusted U-3 unemployment rate is 9.1%. A year ago it was 9.6% The U-6 unemployment rate, which is closer to a real statement of things, is 15.8%, down from 16.5% last year.

So where are we now? This is a graph from Calculated Risk that shows loss of jobs versus time for every recession since the Second World War:


Note that the slope of the job losses and jobs recovery are very similar to the 2001 recession. The difference is that in the 2001 recession, the percentage of jobs lost was 2%; in this current recession, the percentage was over 6%. If the recovery rate persists at the same slope as the `01 recession, the unemployment rate would be back to normal roughly 72 months after the recession began, which is over two years from now.

Two things to keep in mind. First, a six year timeline from the start of massive job losses to the end of the job losses is right in line for the start of the next downturn. If economists believe that this recession is so over, then it is possible that jobs will start disappearing in the next recession before a full recovery from this one.

Second, the Republicans are actively working to sabotage what little recovery there has been. The whole point of the current debt ceiling brouhaha, from their perspective, is to make a debt ceiling deal so toxic that the Democrats cannot accept it, crashing the recovery (such as it is) and throwing millions more people out of work. Then the GOP goes into the next election, claiming to be the party of reason and compromise and blaming the Democrats-- a view that will be parroted by the Right Wing Noise Machine and the useful idiots in the Tea Party.

Meanwhile, President Cool as Ice has largely, until very recently, been unwilling to call the Republicans out on their economic sabotage. The Republicans see no reason not to continue on, because nobody is countering their propaganda.

If you think that is far-fetched, keep in mind that the Republicans were successful at neutering the stimulus and they've been able to cripple any further attempts to prime the economy and they have been somewhat successful in blaming the Democrats for that.

On This Day, 235 Years Ago

The Continental Army's forces in eastern Massachusetts, which were pretty much made up of New Englander militiamen and commanded by General Washington, had besieged Boston since The Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775. Vermonters had captured Fort Ticonderoga without bloodshed from a British garrison on May 10th, 1775. A twenty-five year old bookseller, named Henry Knox, went to Fort Ticonderoga. There, Knox organized and led the removal of 58 artillery pieces and supplies, weighing a total of over sixty tons, and, for several weeks during the winter, Knox commanded the transport of all of that materiel overland to Framingham, Massachusetts. There, the guns were mounted on their carriages and made ready for use.

When Knox arrived with the guns, Washington and his staff conceived of, planned and executed the overnight emplacement of the largest guns and fortification of Dorchester Heights. The overnight creation of a heavily armed fortress astonished the British officers, who likely had held the Colonials in low regard. The Redcoats first began to transport troops for an attack on the fortifications, but cooler heads prevailed and the British Army evacuated Boston on March 17th, 1776.

It was now clear to the Continental Congress that the colonies, at least New York and New England, were at war with Great Britain, and that it might be best to get on with the war. In due course, Thomas Jefferson was asked to draft a declaration of independence. He did, the wording was debated, and this is what was issued forth by the Continental Congress:



IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declarationof the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dust Bowl

It seems to be returning.

Economic collapse and a dust bowl. About all we need is another Adolph Hitler to start a war in Europe.

Only this time, we seem to have a president who just wrings his hands because he can't get around the roadblock thrown up by the New Hooverites.

Pegging Ye Olde Irony Meter

This guy is probably guaranteed to be a contestant for the 2011 Darwin Awards:
ONONDAGA, N.Y. (AP) — Police say a motorcyclist participating in a protest ride against helmet laws in upstate New York died after he flipped over the bike's handlebars and hit his head on the pavement.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Own Your Own Home?

If so, based on a study of one year's worth of recordings in a single county, most of the assignments of mortgages are invalid. "Most" here means 75% were facially invalid and 9% were questionable. Nearly half of the invalid ones were fraudulent. Which means that it is not clear who owns your mortgage, who is entitled to be paid and who may foreclose on it if you don't pay.

Note that this study was done in 2010, which is well after the mortgage mess began to come to light. The banks haven't fixed anything.

Even if your mortgage was paid off and a "Satisfaction of Mortgage" recorded, there might be cause to question if the Sat was valid. The wheels are going to come off the housing market if the title insurance underwriters start to refuse to insure those Sats.

The Air Stinks

The summer air stinks around here. It smells of ozone and smog. You probably don't notice it. But on a summer day, when you fly up above the base of the clouds:


you fly where the air is cool and smooth. If you've trimmed up your airplane properly (and if it is in rig), you can just fly along without touching the controls.

But once you descend below the base of those puffy cumulus clouds, the first thing you notice is that the air stinks. You'll only smell it for a little bit before your nose adapts, but the smell is distinctive. Then, because the lower air is heated and turbulent, you have to keep correcting the airplane's flight path. A wing will be jostled up or down. You'll hit updrafts (which make birds and sailplane pilots happy) and downdrafts so that keeping to your desired course and altitude takes work. If you have passengers, they may not appreciate riding over an aerial washboard.

In the summer, when I take people up who are new to small airplanes, I do it either in the early morning or in the evening. There is no point in taking someone up and subjecting them to a miserable ride.

Not Enough, But It's a Start

Fairfax County, Virginia, may be getting fed up with their cops for gunning down people for no good reason. One of the more recent incidents ended with the shooter being fired.

The reason might be found in an earlier shooting. The family sued and when it became clear that the judge was going to allow the plaintiffs to introduce expert testimony that the cops lied about the shooting, the County settled for two million dollars, a million of which Fairfax County had to cough up.

Caturday

George has a thing about sleeping on sheets. They are his favorite place to catch a nap. When I was away recently, the guest room that I used had a single bed. George would burrow in right next to the pillow. Some nights, I'd wake up and there he was.


At home, I just flip the comforter/blanket/cat shield from the foot of the bed at the opposite side from where I sleep. He's happy with that and so am I.


Gracie tries to blend in on a couch.


Jake is trying to summon the doorman to open that door. Lots of places for him to go and sleep but a room is closed off and We Simply Cannot Have That, Now Can We?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tapocketa-Pocketa-Pocketa



A nice looking Champ came in for a landing as I was securing my airplane.

Climate Change, or Why Long-Range Planning May Be Not For You

There is an article in the current issue of Scientific American that looks at the two previous periods of global warming.

Those two periods are now known as the Cretaceous Hothouse and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The Cretaceous Hothouse didn't result in extinctions, the PETM resulted in some extinctions. Most species adapted.

Could that play out now? Probably not. The Cretaceous Hothouse lasted for millions of years and the planet warmed up at a very low rate, basically one quarter of one ten-thousandths of a degree per hundred years. (0.000025C per century). The PETM lasted for thousands of years and the planet warmed up at a rate of a quarter of a tenth of a degree per hundred years (0.025C per century).

Now, however, the globe is warming up at a rate of at least a degree per century and may accelerate to 4C per century. There are signs that the warming rate is too fast for many of the species on the planet to adapt.

Climate change may not be solvable. It should be solvable, but it requires cooperation on a global scale and I just don't see that happening. We can all shift to driving plug-in hybrids with power generated from wind/solar/tidal plants (and burning hydrogen produced using power from those plants) and it won't make a bit of difference as long as China keeps building coal-fired power plants at the rate of one a week. And if the planet warms up enough that the Arctic permaforst starts melting, then we may have started a thermal avalanche.

Humans are conducting a global science experiment and we have no other place to go if we have triggered a catastrophe. It's as though we have been playing with matches inside a locked house.

LightSquared's Suggestion to GPS Users: Go Frell Yourselves

That is apparently the position of LightSquared, which is blaming the fact that their signals would interfere with tens of millions of GPS units on those GPS units.

Their suggestion is that we all should replace our GPS units with "better" ones (and pay for that ourselves) and get out of LightSquared's way of making a shitload of money. I gather that the FCC agrees with them, because the FCC has been in LightSquared's corner from the start.

When you get down to the core, the "fuck you if it costs you money" is basically the business model of a lot of companies: Make a shitload of money and stick society with the costs of dealing with the side effects of the business. Whether the exploding Jeep Cherokees and Pintos, BP's decades of safety and environmental fuckery, Massey Coal, or polluting the land, air and water, that is what a lot of companies do.

UPDATE: Apparently LightSquared's transmitters would fuck up hundreds of millions of GPS units.