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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Forget About The Fourth Amendment

It reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Supremes just gutted it some more. They held, in essence, that if a prosecutor is able to persuade a judge to sign a material witness warrant, even if the affidavit from the prosecutors is riddled with lies and half-truths, then the Feds can hold someone even if there was never any real plan to use the arrested person as a witness. A couple of the concurring justices tut-tutted about the brutal treatment that the so-called material witness received at the hands of the FBI and the prison guards, but that, of course, didn't matter a whit to the majority.

Bottom line: If they can find a sufficiently addlepated judge to sign off on a material witness warrant based on a bogus affidavit, they will throw you into a constitutionally-blackened hole.

Movie Review- PC4

Or "Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides".

I saw PC1 and 2. I didn't see PC3, as the consensus from everyone I know who saw it was about the same as ST6 and -10: "This really sucked."

But I digress.

Really, the only reason I can think of to go and see PC4 is to watch Johnny Depp make another pass at the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly are not in this one and they are not at all missed. There is a hint of a storyline that sort of is the glue for a series of action sequences. The musical score is overpoweringly loud; whoever set the audio levels in post-production had to be 3/4ths deaf.

In checking the times, PC4 is the shortest of all of the series. I felt that it was still too long. The best comment I overheard on that was when everyone was leaving; some girl said: "How long was that movie, a month?"

Unless you feel a need to see it on the big screen, this one is a rental.

In the previews, there was a trailer for a movie called "Real Steel", which appears to be a movie based on the game "Rock`em, Sock`em Robots". If that sounds incredibly far-fetched, remember that they've gotten four full-length movies out of an anamatronic ride at Disneyland.

T-Shirtage

I ordered this t-shirt for a certain 3-year old:


so, since I was ordering that one, I ordered this one for myself:


We'll see if I have the guts to wear it on my next airline trip.

(Get them here)

Some People Are Serious Assholes

I try to go for a walk every day. One of my routes is on a road that goes through/over a wetland. It's a secondary road that is busy at times, but it's fairly safe to walk and the view is nice.

The turtles are active, at least as much as turtles are. Today I saw two of them that had been run over. Both turtles had been well on the shoulder of the road. One of the carcasses was a good seven or eight feet away from the traveled way.

So some asshat swerved his car or truck that far off the road so that he could experience the thrill of running over a nearly stationary creature.

Douchebag. If I were writing the laws, I'd have the fuckers that do such things neutered with rusted hacksaws.

Israel's Borders

George Friedman makes an argument that, for military reasons alone, Israel has to withdraw to her pre-Six Day War borders.

The one drawback, as he notes, is that Israel then has no geographic depth. She cannot wait for an attack and then counter it. If her neighbors are preparing for war, then Israel has to get in the first punch and quickly win the fight.

His comments on Israel's main logistical weakness is worth mulling over.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Do Not and Will Not Buy At a "Memorial Day Sale"

I believe that any store that holds a "Memorial Day Sale" deserves to go bankrupt in very short order.

If they want to hold a "Beginning of Summer Sale" or a "Holiday Weekend Sale", that's fine by me.

But not a "Memorial Day Sale", for that is a profane act.

Need I elaborate on this?

A Very Good Reason to Pursue Alternative Sources of Energy

That is this: The Saudis don't want us to.
Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said Sunday that he wants oil prices to drop so that the United States and Europe don't accelerate efforts to wean themselves off his country's supply. ... "We don't want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives," said Talal, who is listed by Forbes as the 26th richest man in the world.
That is pretty blinding obvious. Does anyone not understand that if it wasn't for the oil under its sands, that Saudi Arabia would be one of the poorest countries on the planet, if it even was a country? The only other revenue generator they would have would be the annual hajj.

If we had any sense in this country, we'd make it a nearly Apollo Lunar landing style push to develop alternative sources of energy that don't involve yanking dead dinosaur materials from the Earth. But good luck with that. The Democrats are spineless and the Republicans are in the thrall of the oil companies.

(H/T)

"9-11 Taught Me That (Insert Current Hot Wingnut Issue Here)"

Mister 9-11 is toying with throwing his ginormous ego into the presidential race.

Viral Cat

Yes, I know it's all over the Intertubes. So sue me.



A line of thunderstorms is rolling through this area. One lightning bolt hit at "danger close" range; my cats bolted for cover. Even Gracie, with her arthritis, moved faster than I would have thought possible.

Memorial Day

Before.

That is the Margraten Military Ceemetery. Over 8,000 American soldiers are resting forever there.

This is the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Two of President Theodore Roosevelt's sons are buried here: Quentin, who died in the Great War, and Theodore, Jr., who fought in both that war and World War II; he died of a heart attack. He was the first general ashore at Omaha Beach.


This is the Chalmette Military Cemetery in Chalmette, LA.  Soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War are buried here.


From 1775 through today, men and women have gone to serve this nation in both times of war and peace. Many never lived to see their homes again. They did not ask if those conflicts were wise or not. Duty called and they went.

Many more, of course, did come home. Most hale and hearty, others suffering various injuries to their bodies, their brains and their souls. For these veterans, it is the duty of our nation to take care of them (and hang the expense).

We owe to our men in women in uniform, past and present, the fact that 236 years after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, that we are still free to curse and revile our national leaders. That is no small thing.

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

General Orders No. 11, which established the first Decoration Day, as Memorial Day was formerly called.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Book Reading for Parents




(The book
, first print run went from 10,000 copies to nearly a quarter-million.)

Your Tax Dollars At Work

When the FBI isn't busily ginning up terrorist conspiracies out of virgin cloth, they have time to go through the trash of a nonviolent protester, try to persuade the IRS to audit him and stake out his home for long periods of time.

But that's what happens when you protest against our corporate state. They'll use the weight of the FBI to try and crush you. That's what the FBI does and that is what they always have done.

Wait, What??

From Rick Santorum's Twitter Feed:
After today's sermon on compassion, I'm reflecting on my duty to turn my back towards homosexual acts while also embracing my fellow man.
OK, so we now know that he is a bottom.
Off to church with the whole entire extended family. Sometimes we joke the priest must get tired of all the Santorum he has to deal with.
I thought that the Vatican was cracking down on priests who did such things.
I vow to keep dirty politics behind us, America: There will be no Santorum smear on any of my opponents.
Nice to know that ol' Rick helps his partners clean up after sex.
I support our troops. When I am elected each and every American soldier will feel me behind them.
Rick, you are aware that most of them are straight and that they have access to firearms?
We know we have a lot of work ahead, but by the end of this year, Santorum will be on the lips of every young Republican.
I might even pay money to see that.

Yeah, I know. It's probably fake. But if it is, it's a good one. Of course, it does help if you're aware of the joke.

How Do You Know That the Guy Pulling You Over Or Knocking On Your Door Is a Cop?

Increasingly, you don't.
As long as police officers have worn uniforms and carried badges, criminals have dressed like them to try to win the trust of potential victims. Now the impersonators are far more sophisticated, according to nearly a dozen city police chiefs and detectives across the country.
...
“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of downside for a criminal to impersonate a police officer,” said Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department. “You can charge them with impersonating a police officer, but that’s not a very serious crime. The way the law views this crime, it’s as an innocent or silly prank. But it has become a much more serious crime than it is perceived by the public.”
It'll be taken a lot more seriously by the police when citizens stop backing down because some guy says that he's a cop. It'll be taken more seriously when people start shooting and dying.

The police may have to rethink their favored technique of showing up in the middle of the night.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fight the Mayors Against All Guns

As you may know, the goons at BATFE want to adopt a rule requiring dealers to report multiple sales of long guns. The problem with that proposed rule is that the statute authorizing reporting multiple sales of firearms, 18 U.S.C. 923(g)(3)(A), specifically limits such reporting to handguns.
Each licensee shall prepare a report of multiple sales or other dispositions whenever the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of, at one time or during any five consecutive business days, two or more pistols, or revolvers, or any combination of pistols and revolvers totalling two or more, to an unlicensed person. The report shall be prepared on a form specified by the Attorney General and forwarded to the office specified thereon and to the department of State police or State law enforcement agency of the State or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction in which the sale or other disposition took place, not later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or other disposition occurs.
If you want to oppose this extralegal requirement, you can fill out this form. The deadline for comments is the 31st, so get busy.

While the Banksters Sleep Soundly In Their Beds

The sleep well because they are largely safe. But while the banksters sleep on their pillaged gains, the Feds are going after people who download shit.

This effort is being led by one of the most Constitution-free law law enforcement agencies around: Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is better known for operating "black-hole" prisons, where people who ICE suspect of being here illegally simply disappear for months, often without adequate medical care. If someone they detain has a medical condition, that can be a death sentence.

Going after kids who download music is easy pickings, compared to going after the banksters. Add to that the point that a lot of the people who will be happy by such actions are likely donors to the "Re-elect Barry" campaign and this makes even more sense.

Caturday; Haircut Edition

George before his haircut:


And afterward:



When they gave him a Mohawk last year, they shaved the underside of his tail.


I think he looks better this way. Few things are cooler than a black cat with a mohawk.

Update: Lion cut (not "poodle cut") from 2009:

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hidden Bank Bailouts

The Federal Reserve was shoveling huge amounts of cash to foreign banks in 2008 to try to keep them from collapsing, including a Japanese fishing co-op. The biggest borrower was a French-Belgian bank, which took out over $30 billion. The Federal Reserve says that all of those loans have been repaid with interest.

Yeah. 0.01% is one hell of an interest rate. I think I'll call myself a bank and go borrow from those folks the next time that I want a car loan. They aren't exactly Western Sky, not by a long shot.

Negotiating With Terrorists; Capitol Hill Edition

Shorter Mitch McConnell: "We Republicans will force the feds to default on its bonds and throw the country into a long and severe depression if we don't get everything that we want."

The new motto of the GOP: "Ideology First."

So they'll march off that Teabagger cliff because they are scared of the wingnuts. They'll make the same mistake that the Democrats did when they listened to the moonbats and passed the Brady Bill.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh, The Humanity

George got his summer haircut today. Because of his bent-shitcan attitude, they have to tranq him.

Photos when he is more cooperative. For tonight, when I go to bed, I'm thinking of wrapping a kevlar scarf around my neck.

The Jewish Taliban

They include some extremist nutjobs in Rockland County who think it acceptable to try to burn down a family's home because the father in the house disagrees with the local exalted rabbi.

Going out and trying to wrestle with a guy who is attempting to set fire to your home is, to my mind, a bad idea. That's when it is time to take advantage of the inventions of people such as John Browning and Samuel Colt.

The Housing Market, and Other Dreary Economic Shit

Foreclosure/distressed properties continue to make up a significant chunk of the volume of sales. Because of the effect of those sales, one legislator has an idea of how to prop up the housing market: Tell the appraisers to lie.

The sale of foreclosed properties has an unspoken effect in places where property taxes are based on the last arms-length transaction for that parcel. A property that was valued (and taxed at), say, $400,000 might now be valued at $150,000. If that happens enough times in a town, then the town government has to cut services to adjust for the falling revenue.[1]

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman believes that this recession is so deep and will last so long that it will be another depression. He wonders why nobody in the Congress or the Administration seems to give a shit about it.

I wonder that as well. We have a massive unemployment rate that I believe is far more severe than the statistics say that it is. People are out of work for a very long time and have fallen between the cracks. The Republicans and, yes, Our Esteemed President [/sarcasm] are tying themselves in knots arguing about long-term problems while they both willingly turn their backs on the current situation.

To put it another way, if the economy was an airliner, it would be as though the engines have quit, the airliner is gliding down to a crash and the crew hasn't noticed because they are too busy arguing about where they will go to eat and drink after arriving at the destination.

This is why my reaction to the results of the special election for NY-26 is a loud and hearty "Meh!"

Meanwhile, the Re-Elect Barry Campaign sent me a fundraising appeal. I think I'm going to send them a check for a buck-fifty, which should be more insulting than just ripping it up.
___________________________________
[1] And then there is a new scam called "short sale fraud". It should come as no shock to see who is tangled up in that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blogging Speedbump


I'll be back when the needle starts to move off the peg.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The DHC-2



(H/T to Admiral Andy)

"There Will Be a Five Month Hold For the Beginning of the Rapture-- This Is Rapture Launch Control"

This was probably foreseeable: Harold "I Was Five Months Off" Camping is doubling down on his prediction by throwing in another step in the process: A delay between the pronouncement of judgment and sentencing.

On October 22nd, the excuse will probably be that there was a delay printing at the verdict forms at Ye Celestial Printe Shoppe.

Anyone who buys this rusted-out Pinto of Prophecy this time around truly has rocks in their head.

Is Something Wrong At the Norfolk Navy Yard?

The current commanding officer has been fired. So was the last one. The stated causes for both firings were identical.

At some point, it should become obvious to the Navy that NNSY has problems that are so bad that playing musical chairs with the commanders won't fix. That may be when the next four-striper who is tapped to command the shipyard decides that it would be a better idea to just pull the pin and retire.

The Russian Model

In an interview, Matt Taibbi suggested that this country is heading down the path that the Russians have blazed:
You were in Russia for several years working for The Exile. Are we beginning to resemble the Russian class system? The wealthy oligarchs who rule everyone yet no one does anything about it?

I think there’s an argument to be made that we’re heading in that direction. That’s certainly not an idea that’s original to me.

It’s just more apparent now.

Sure, sure. There’s a guy at MIT, Simon Johnson, who used to be an IMF executive. He worked with developing third world economies and dealt with the whole issue of third world corruption for a long time. He wrote—from personal experience—about what he saw then and what he sees now with the financial services industry, and he basically says that we’re going down the same path. He sees a lot of the same things happening, such as the co-opting of the mainstream media and the corporate regulatory capture where you have former financial services industry employees running the regulatory agencies. I don’t think it’s on the same scale, but there are characteristics of it for sure.

...

I think people are going to realize what a blip on the radar American-style democracy in the 20th century was. A big middle class that had a huge power base, financial interests, bosses giving benefits… all those things. It’s just a little blip in history. For the most part, concentrated wealth will make all the decisions and everybody else is dictated to. It’s going to be like that to varying degrees. The more corrupt it is the more it’s heading in that direction, and clearly a place like Russia is a very corrupt place.
That's our future, folks. The middle-class Teabaggers have bought into the entire"get government off the backs of the corporations and the rich" that the greedy corrupt bastards like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers have been handing out.

They have bought into the coded racism of the GOP, though that's nothing new. They have lapped that shit up ever since Ronald Reagan was blabbering about "welfare queens" through Palin's line to all-white audiences of "you're the real Americans" to Gingrich's racist "food stamp president" crack.

It's not hard to figure out who the real villains are. They're the ones who have systematically enriched themselves by both looting the national treasury and ripping off the middle and working classes. They've made out like bandits for the last thirty years and, now that the bills are coming due, the Republican way to pay the bills is to screw down even harder on the middle and working classes, to break them economically.

The sheer evil of the Republican party and the arrogant ignorance of the Teabaggers is a wonder to behold.

GOP to Gulf and Atlantic Coast Residents: "You Can Die Soon."

Because hurricane warning satellites are so overrated.
Earlier this year, Congressional Republicans decided accurate weather forecasting and hurricane tracking were services the American people could live without. The GOP-sponsored 2011 spending bill slashed the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, slashing $700 million targeted for an overhaul of the nation’s aging environmental satellite system. NOAA scientists have stated unequivocally the existing satellites will fail and if they aren’t replaced, the agency’s ability to provide life-saving information to the American people will be compromised.
Those satellites provide critical hurricane tracking information vital to both preparedness and relief efforts.

Republicans would rather have people die ignorant of the approaching danger.

(H/T)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our New Tokyo Rose

Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney:
A former U.S. congresswoman slammed U.S. policy on Libyan state TV late Saturday and stressed the "last thing we need to do is spend money on death, destruction and war."
It is one thing to disagree with our government's policies. We all have the right to do that.

It is quite another to willingly make propaganda broadcasts for the other side in a shooting war. That's getting pretty damn close to "giving aid and comfort to the enemy", which is an act of treason.

That's Got to Hurt

Tim Pawlenty's announcement of his presidential campaign ran on the obituary page of his local paper.


To be fair to Tim-Paw, a tornado hit Minneapolis the same day.

Joplin

Not much to say about that disaster. Just keep those folks in your thoughts and prayers (if you do that).

Housing Bubble

Take a look at this graph:


As you can see, housing prices are supposedly back to where they should have been before the housing bubble began to form. What that means, nationally, is that if you bought a house before 1998, you did OK, but if you've bought a house in the last ten years, not so much.

Those, of course, are national figures. Adjusted for inflation, housing prices in Las Vegas are lower than they have been in over 20 years. Some other areas aren't so bad, but you still have to have held your home for nearly a decade in order to break even (unless you were one of the lucky ones who sold out for big bucks and then rented).

I mention the above because of this story in today's NY Times, which indicates that the banks have a shitload of properties on their books and millions more to come. Bank-owned properties are often not maintained very well. If the banks are willing to deal, those homes can be reasonable deals for buyers. But for other sellers, those foreclosed properties push down the market.

It's not just a matter of market economics. People who bought a home in the mid `00s (or who refinanced to pull cash out) may be stuck. If the banks won't accept a short sale, then homeowners are effectively chained to those homes, unless they either live in a state where mortgages are not personal obligations (they can "jingle mail" the keys to the bank) or if they declare bankruptcy and surrender the house. Even jingle mail may not be effective, as in most places, deeds have to be accepted to be recorded, so the homeowner is still on the hook for the property.

Short sales are no panacea. The homeowner basically ended up paying rent (the mortgage payment) and the downpayment, which they may have had to save for for a very long time, is gone (unless the property was 100% financed).

The housing market may have quite a bit further to slide.

A Partial Rapture; or
How Retarded Can Arizona Get?

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – In what some fundamentalist preachers are calling a “partial Rapture,” all credible candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination have mysteriously vanished from Earth.
Meanwhile, I've heard references to Newt Gingrich's campaign as the "Sixth Sense Campaign", in that he's the only one who doesn't know that his candidacy is dead.

As to the second question, it is starting to appear that Caribou Barbie is going to relocate her little drama to someplace warmer, a place where she might still be able to con the voters to vote for her (which clearly is no longer Alaska, as she has worn out her political welcome there). Since Arizona has a large population of elderly bigots who are attuned to the race-baiting dogwhistles that Palin loves to sound.

Scottsdale is a good place for her, for it is in Maricopa County, which is as close to a Constitution-free police state as anywhere else that I am aware of.

Beware of the Sand People in Pakistan

The Pakistan Taliban launched a brazen attack on a Pakistani naval base, killing at least 11 people and destroying two spy planes provided by the United States.
...
The [Pakistani] interior minister, Rehman Malik, made the bizarre statement that the terrorists resembled… Star Wars characters.
I'm presuming that it was the Tusken Raiders (and that they were not riding banthas). I can't see Jawas carrying out such an attack.

Naval bases, even air bases, are near cities. It's hard for them not to be, for a harbor that offers the protections desired in a port will also naturally make that harbor attractive for commerce. So there will be a lot more people, homes and businesses around, not like an army base that can be dropped at the corner of No and Where. A base in an built-up area is going to be harder to defend, not the least because it can't be done by having several miles of empty territory around the vital areas. Without installing sensors to detect intrusions, it would take a sizable active patrol force to even know that an attack was underway, at least before the attackers made their presence known. It's also highly doubtful that the attackers just hit the base and blew stuff up randomly.

Having said all that, fifteen hours to react and defeat a small force of attackers seems somewhat excessive.

Bringing the Hurricane

There is a paper (PDF) on the Small Wars Journal that advocates that any future interventions/wars be of the "hurricane" model. The concept that is when it is in our national interest to go to war somewhere, what we should do is bring a very large amount of violence, smash the targets to smithereens and then leave. Occupations are to be avoided, as they are extremely costly and the prospects for a good outcome are not at all favorable.

There is much to consider. If we are going to go to war, the fight should be on our terms, playing to our strengths. Fighting a protracted land war on the other side of the planet is folly.

(I've sort of said this before.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Masked Cowards

Jeff Cooper, from his commentaries, Vol 1., No. 8:
We simply must do something about these fat men with face masks and MP5s who shoot down unarmed citizens. Personally, I would not think that the American people would stand for this, but then I am a member of an older generation which took the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution with more than a grain of salt.
Honest men and women do not wear face masks in the conduct of their normal daily business, other than maybe respirators in areas with dust or hazardous chemicals in the atmosphere, or when it is super-cold outside.

Honest men and women are not afraid to be seen going about their daily routines. They have no need for disguises.

Yet, here we have what probably passes for a typical SWAT team:


Black helmets, black uniforms. Where have we seen that before?


Other then the weapons, the main difference between a SWAT team and the SS seems to be that the SS saw no need to hide their faces.

Firefox 4

So far, I have helped three people remove Firefox 4 and go back to Firefox 3.6. None of them liked that FF4 ditched the menu bar.

Crimus, if people wanted to use a browser that looks like Google's Chrome, guess what they are going to do?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fascist Arizona

Say that you hear a strange noise just outside your window. You, like many other people, might choose to arm yourself before investigating what the noise is.

Do that in Arizona and the Pima County SWAT boyos will shoot you into doll rags.
Jose Guerena, 26, a former Marine, was sleeping after the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine about 9:30 a.m. when his wife woke him saying she heard noises outside and a man was at their window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife has said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.
They shot him sixty times, then left him there for an hour before allowing the paramedics to check him.

This shit will happen more and more as the police become more and more militarized. It's worth keeping in mind that police are supposed to protect and serve the public, while soldiers are supposed to serve the nation by killing the enemy. when the cops become militarized, we the people become the enemy.

(It's probably too much to hope for that two or three Marine rifle companies would decide to go have a little heart-to-bayonet talk with the Pima County Sheriff's Department. It'd be understandable if they were to do so.)

You can see shit like this going on when the police do raids on companies and businesses. They show up ready for war, like when a food coop selling raw-milk was raided by cops with drawn weapons.

If the police want to retain the support of the people, they had better knock this shit off. For the day will come when we will strike back, legally, through the budget process and through the legislative process.

(H/T)

Delivery Notice


(H/T)

Wait, What??

Caturday

I have two electrically-heated cat beds. I bought them because my cats are getting old and because Gracie has arthritis. But this is where she likes to spend at least a few hours each day.


Jake has no problem with the heated cat beds.


George rarely uses them. He is either on the back of this chair


or lying in it
.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pass the Popcorn; Global Vampire Squid Edition

Goldman Sachs management expects to be served subpoenas soon from U.S. prosecutors looking for more data concerning the firm’s mortgage unit, the WSJ reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
And so it begins. The prosecutors will find someone to lean on, hard, and flip them. It should be pretty easy to do because, given that the prosecutors have this example to spread around to show the perils of trying to gut it out in court.

But I'll wait to break out the confetti until I see some of those big banksters being perp-walked on their way to a Federal rest home.

Shorter Version of Jon Huntsman: "Let Ghaddafi Slaughter the Rebels."

That's not what he said, of course. What he said was this:
I would have chosen from the beginning not to intervene in Libya. I would say that is not core to our national security interest.
I'll give a nod to the point that his stance is at odds with most other Republican politicians and the conservative bloviators, almost all of whom were critical of the Obama Administration for not intervening faster and more forcefully.

My point is saying that "we shouldn't have intervened" is no different from saying that "Ghaddafi should be free to slaughter the rebels." Oh, I'm sure that Huntsman would never ever make such a statement. (At least he wouldn't say it before a microphone.)

But the slaughtering of the rebels would have been the practical effect of not intervening. I do not know of anyone, other than a Ghaddafi loyalist, who would say otherwise.

In Vitro Meat Production and Transcontinental Railroads

The latest issue (6/2011) of Scientific American has an article on the prospects for producing meat in vitro ("test tube" meat). The article points out that doing so could free up a hell of a lot of land for either producing food for people directly, producing plants for biofuels or reforestation. Doing so would also be a lot more efficient, both in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane).

It's an interesting concept. Assuming that the economics of in-vitro meat production warrants scaling it up, there is an "ick" factor that will have to be overcome. Yet if the taste is good and if the price is better, look for it to show up some day in meat section. After all, it wasn't too long ago that the only ground meat for burgers was beef.

Scientific American also has a page where they look back at issues for 50, 100 and 150 years ago. In the look at the June, 1911 issue, the topic was the transcontinental railroads, of which the article said that there were seven.

What were they? How close can you come? I came up with six, but as to what the official answer was, I don't know. My answers after the jump:

Comcast: A Toxic Mixture of Evil and Stupidity

See, there is this outfit called Real Grrls, which teaches young girls how to make movies, videos and animations. One of the staffers at Reel Grrls tweeted this about FCC Commissioner Baker voting for the NBC-Comcast merger and then going to work for Comcast:
OMG! @FCC Commissioner Baker voted 2 approve Comcast/NBC merger & is now lving FCC for A JOB AT COMCAST?!?
Well, that didn't go over too well with one of the muckety-mucks at ComBastards, because they were going to give Reel Grrls $18,000. So some vice preznit at Comcast wrote them a pissy letter and wrote, in essence: "You are being so mean to us! You hurt our feelings! We're not going to give you a donation, so there!!"

Of course, news of that bitchy letter got out, circling the Internet and now making its way into print. And since punishing a bunch of young girls makes Comcast look like a bunch of abject douchebags, they are trying to walk that letter back.

I'd call Comcast "a bunch of evil swine", except that I'd probably be sued for defamation by the Evil Swine Association.

(H/T)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Patriot Act and President George W. Obama

The Congress seems to be moving forward to once again extend the Patriot Act, which, among other things, gives the FBI carte blanche to rummage through your bank records, library records and all of the rest on their say-so.

I'd like to see one concrete case where rummaging through library records let to any tangible leads. What I have seen is that there are libraries which, in order to address their patrons' privacy concerns, no longer keep such records at all-- once you return what you have borrowed, the record is purged.

It has been clear for some time that the FBI has used these "anti-terror" powers for every frakking investigation they can. All that has to happen for some punk-ass special agent to show up at a bank, demand to see the records and they let him pore through their systems.

But there is no appetite in any administration for giving up any police powers. You can bet your ass that even if Hell were to freeze over and Ron Paul were elected, nothing would change.

CDC: Zombies (and Censorship), Oh My!

You may have heard by now that the CDC's "Public Health Matters" blog had a posting about zombie preparedness. That post generated a lot of interest. It also generated a lot of comments pointing out that the CDC's ideas of how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse were severely flawed because they did not address the issue of how best to kill attacking zombies.

The CDC moved the blog post and deleted all of the comments. Between the "weapons" posts and maybe comments that probably pointed out that the CDC was of no use in the TV series "the Walking Dead", the CDC probably had all that it could stomach.

Smooth move, guys.

The one thing that CDC and all of those DHS-type disaster-preparedness guys assume is that no matter how bad things get, the cops and the National Guard are going to be able to maintain social order. History, however, would indicate otherwise. You may be utterly and completely on your own for several hours or days.

Up to you whether or not you want to prepare for that scenario.

So, Are You Going to Hold a "Rapture" Party?

There are quite a few people who think that the Rapture will come at 6PM local time on Saturday. In case you want to check on the exact timing of the Rapture, Kiribati is at +14 UTC, which is 18 hours ahead of the Eastern US. (Or, if you want to be sure, New Zealand is at +12 UTC, or 16 hours ahead of Eastern time, in case the rapture-organizers don't want to kick off the festivities at some pissant atolls.)

I suppose that in a way, it's kind of easy to mock the people who have pretty much quit their jobs and sold their possessions in order to prepare for being raptured on Saturday. But in a way, I sort of feel bad for them, because if nothing happens on Saturday, then they are going to be feeling all kinds of foolish. And I won't be too surprised if one or more of them decides to go looking for ol' Harold Camping with an eye toward making sure that Harold (with a few more holes in his body) gets to see St. Peter in very short order.

Frothy Speaks!

Former Sen. Rick Santorum said Tuesday that Sen. John McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years enduring brutal treatment at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, doesn't know how effective waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques can be.
John McCain and his prisonmates suffered from every form of torture that the North Vietnamese and Cubans (no doubt with assistance from the Chinese and the Russians) could deal out. The POWs were tortured for information and for false confessions. One POW, in an interview filed for the North Vietnamese, blinked "torture" in Morse Code.

I submit that John McCain is well qualified to speak on the issue of the use of torture in interrogation, as opposed to Frothy, who probably gleaned all of his so-called knowledge of the use of torture from watching episodes of "24".

Beyond that, if Frothy has ever worn a uniform, other than maybe that of a Boy Scout, it's news to me.
___________________________
‡ "Frothy", because "Santorum" has been defined as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."

SpaceShip Two



The "feather" is interesting to watch. SpaceShip Two has, as far as I can tell, a planned apogee of 70 miles, which puts it several miles above the now-official beginning of space (100 km or 62.14 miles).

By comparison, the X-15 reached 67 miles on one flight in 1963 and the Mercury-Redstone flights (Freedom 7 and Liberty Bell 7), which reached over 110 miles. I don't know whether the feather system will work with the heat loads of a higher flight. Apparently Bert Rutan doesn't believe that the feather mode will work for an orbiter.

I'll bet that Stephen Hawking is high on the passenger list for SS2.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Worry, Banksters, the Republicans Have Your Backs

Which is why those bankster-loving Republicans are doing everything they can to neuter the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Because as far as the Republicans are concerned, it is the job of government to make it easier for bankers and corporations to hose the consumers. The vry last thing they want is for anyone in the government to take the side of the consumers.

If you work for a living, the last elected Republican officeholder who gave a damn about you left office at noon on March 4, 1909. That's just the way it is.

You Get What You Pay For

Frakking Google Blogger is running about as slowly tonight for posting and editing as though I was using a 1200 baud modem. I ought to go find a CGA or monochrome monitor.

The Grave-Jumper

I had been sitting in a chair by the window, reading a book. I got up to go to the bathroom and came back to find George, asleep, in my chair.


That little shit. He was already snoring away, so I left him there.

Let's Dig the Deficit Hole Even Deeper!

Which is why the Air Force wants to spend a few hundred billion dollars buying new bombers.

Note that the defense guys, LockMart, Boeing and Northrop, want the deal to be a "cost-plus" arrangement, which is defense-speak for "let's rape the taxpayers". This is the biggest lie in weeks from Fort Fumble:
"The military services have worked and reworked the requirements for these programs to ensure that we do not find ourselves, after spending billions on development, with a system we can't afford to produce."
Yeah, like that'll ever happen.

Arguably the Most Dangerous Country In the World Today

That would be Pakistan. Although a relatively impoverished nation, the Pakistanis are ramping up their nuclear weapons program faster than any other nation in the world. They may soon be at the point where they could produce a nuclear weapon each week.

India is their big boogieman. The Pakistanis have diverted much of the anti-terrorism money that we have given them to buy weapons for use against India. The Bush Administration connived at that.

Abu Muqawama wondered several days ago why there is such reverence in Pakistan for their military. That is a good question. Pakistan has lost every war that it fought with India. The Pakistani military is, like most third-world militaries, used mainly to stifle civil unrest and dissent.

Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism, they have supported Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the Mumbai Massacre in 2008 and the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. That has been a foolish thing for them to do, for funding and training true-believer militants and then hoping that they will only aim their guns outside of the borders has proven to be a really dumb idea, as that militancy has spread inside Pakistan.

It doesn't take much study to conclude that the greater threat to Pakistan comes from its own policies of supporting the religious extremists than from any risk of an Indian attack. And because of Pakistan's focus on producing large amounts of nuclear weapons, they threaten the rest of the globe.

Of Course, the Senate Has Big Oil's Back

Fucking despicable.
The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices.
It's more important for Republicans to give tax breaks to companies that are pulling in ten billion dollars in profits every three months than it is to do anything about the deficit.

Of course, Republicans are concerned about the deficit if it gives them a way to turn the screws on working people and senior citizens. But when it comes to trying to get Big Oil, large multinationals and rich people to cough up a little more, hell, the GOP has their backs.

That has not changed since the day that Theodore Roosevelt left the presidency, for he was probably the last Republican who gave a damn about anyone who wasn't wealthy.

Possibly the Most Amoral Man in American Politics Today

Other than maybe the Koch Brothers: Newt Gingrich. The argument could be made that he is a more articulate and dangerous version of Sarah Palin-- A politician who has no concept of public service or duty, but is only in it for whatever he can get out of it. This is a key quote from the post at Balloon Juice:
Gingrich is an ass and a fool. In a sane world he would be on par with Donald Trump or David Duke or that “The Rents Too Damn High” fellow when it came to being considered a credible candidate for President of the United States. But, it is not a sane world. And the Republican Party has been taken over by Neo-Confederate deadenders who want to take the Country back to 1850. They are—to a one—bat shit crazy, but their chances of winning are not zero. They proved that in 2010 and back in 2000. All of the folks running for the GOP nomination would be disasters for America, but Newt would be something more. He is Grifter Shiva the Destroyer and he has been trying to stick a fork in America and call it done for decades.
Can someone be deemed a traitor if they are not doing the bidding of a foreign power?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If They Nailed Roger Clemens For Lying to Congress, They Damn Well Can Nail Goldman Sachs!
But They Never Will.

Matt Taibbbi lays out, in an extensive article, the lies that Goldman Sachs executives told to Congress.

But shit, you know and I know that those fuckers in the Department of Justice will never do a goddamned thing about it. Goldman Sachs executives can hire the kind of lawyers that, in comparison, would make Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyers look like a bunch of 3Ls from a bottom-tier law school.

The DoJ sometimes appears to have a bit of a yellow streak-- oh, they're big at going after your garden-variety crooks, insider traders and even mafiosi, but going after people who have the juice that Goldman has may be too much for them. DoJ doesn't like to lose. Goldman can probably afford to hire every criminal defense lawyer between Portland, Maine and Richmond, Virginia.

DoJ have to get help from from the Treasury Department in order to unwind the tangled fuckery of Goldman, but the Treasury is so riddled with moles from Goldman alumni that DoJ could be reasonably certain that their legal strategy might as well be posted simultaneously on the websites for the WaPo and the NY Times.

But the legal talent that Goldman can bring to bear and its information network within Treasury probably pale in comparison to the number of politicians that Goldman owns. Their executives could probably dump bodies along Wall Street and they'd only be given tickets for littering. And those tickets would be fixed before the summonses could be entered into the system.

Goldman execs could go before Congress, swear to tell the truth, tell them that the Sun rises in the west, that the Moon is made of cheese, that Dubya has a IQ of 235 and DoJ could never make a case against them for lying to Congress.

And that is just the way it is.

Drink More Coffee!

Drinking lots of coffee may lower the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer for women.


Coffee may reduce the risk of strokes for women.


Coffee helps women handle stress (but doesn't help men).

And it may reduce the risk of prostate cancer for men.

Coffee-- health food for those on the go!

Forgotten Aircraft

The Aereon 26

The Aereon 26 was featured in the book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed. It was described as a hybrid-lifting body. The engine was a 92hp two-stroke motor. The Aereon 26 flew some test flights 40 years ago, it was then stored and as far as I can tell, it has not flown since that time.

It is still on the FAA register.

UPDATE: A profile of William Miller, who has been behind the Aereon Corp. for almost fifty years.

Get Back To Me When There Are Indictments

The New York attorney general has requested information and documents in recent weeks from three major Wall Street banks about their mortgage securities operations during the credit boom, indicating the existence of a new investigation into practices that contributed to billions in mortgage losses.
I'll pay attention when indictments are handed down and some of those $5,000 suit-wearing thieves are bunking in Bernie Kerik's cellblock.

The Disappearing Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment is pretty much dead. It has been killed off by the Supreme Court as being too much of a hindrance in the Wars on Drugs and Terror.

In Kentucky v. King, the Supremes held that if the cops knock on a door and they hear "movement", then they can break the door down without a warrant because of "exigent circumstances." But if they hear no movement, can they claim that somebody must be in trouble? Historically, no, but I have little doubt anymore that if a "we knocked on the door, heard nothing, so someone had to have been in trouble and we kicked the door in" fact pattern were presented to the current Supreme Court, that it would pass muster.

At this point, it would seem that very little remains of the Fourth Amendment. Our legal system has forgotten that the Fourth Amendment came about because British officials, before the Revolution would obtain Writs of Assistance, which allowed them to search any place they felt like searching. Those Writs were so hated that protections against unreasonable searches and seizures were about the first protections enacted by the colonies after they declared independence. Abuse of Writs of Assistance were one of the root causes of the Revolution.*

Well, that's over and done with. Now they don't even need a Writ. All they have to do is claim "exigent circumstances" and the cops can barge in. You can't raise a finger against the cops, if you've opened the door a crack, you can't even push it shut. The Fourth Amendment is now just another goddamn set of worship words that the cops and the courts will give short shrift to whenever it pleases them.
_______________________________
* That, and rich white guys who didn't want to pay taxes.

Bad Guys Can Never Shoot Accurately

That seems to be the guiding rule, that bad guys couldn't hit a barn if they were standing inside of it. But other than that, this one is still fun.



(H/T)

That, Madam, Is Exactly the Point

The French are upset about alleged rapist and International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn being perp-walked by the NYPD. This comment, by a former justice minister, is telling:
[Eva] Joly, who is now a leader of the French Green Party expected to run in next year’s presidential election, added that the American justice system “doesn’t distinguish between the director of the I.M.F. and any other suspect.”
It's not supposed to, lady.

Of course, in reality, it does. Strauss-Kahn is not being represented by a kid from Legal Aid or a private defense lawyer on the public defender's list who just met his client thirty seconds before the arraignment hearing. On the other hand, your run-of-the-mill rapist would have had bail set (whether or not he could make bail is another story) and would not have been remanded as a flight risk.

France is different, which is why they have a self-confessed pedophile, Frédéric Mitterrand, serving as their Minister of Culture.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Here's a Bit of Irony For You

The Manhattan House of Detention is officially known as the Bernard B. Kerik Complex.

Which is pretty funny considering that Bernie Kerik is currently serving time in a Federal prison in Cumberland, MD after pleading guilty to making false statements and tax fraud.

The Fuckery of the Obama Administration; Whistleblower Edition

As one guy put it:
“The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.”
Torture people? That's OK, you get a pass.

Wiretap all Americans? You get a pass.

Falsify the need to go to war and get over 4,000 Americans killed? You get patted on the head.

Tell the truth about what is going on? You go to jail.

I'd have expected no less of Dick Cheney. Barack Obama seems to be as much about covering up government fuckery as Cheney ever was.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the NSA is continuing to collect every e-mail sent, for as Hayden made pretty clear, the NSA doesn't give a damn about the law. They're probably collecting recordings of every telephone conversations and no doubt that they are hard at work developing computer tools to make them all searchable. The only way to have a private conversation with anyone may be to have it out in the desert, far beyond the range of microphones.

(H/T)

Oopsie

Aircraft wins Valdez competition, then becomes another Alaska plane crash
This was the fly-in.

The Polanski Effect

It can be seen here:
Agreeing with prosecutors' assertions that he is a flight risk, a judge Monday denied bail to International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is charged with chasing a hotel employee down the hall of his New York hotel suite and sexually assaulting her.
If he were let out on bail and he fled the country to France, he would have been home free, just like Roman Polansky, a point that the prosecutors attempted to make.

Chances are that in a few weeks, this particular perp will be let out on some fairly stringent bail conditions, such as virtual house arrest, having to wear an ankle monitor and having guards around him to make sure he stays put.

He did get the ceremonial NYPD perp walk:

Lee Navy Straight-Pull Rifle

Forgotten Weapons has posted the operating manual for the M1895 Lee Rifle.

The M1895 was a repeater, not a magazine rifle. The manual goes to great pains to make this point. Magazine rifles had cut-offs which enabled the riflemen to single-load each shot while keeping the magazine in reserve. Krags (M1892 et seq) Springfields (M1903s) and some models of the SMLE were equipped with cut-offs. The Lee was not.

The Lee rifle was, in many respects, far ahead of its time. It fired a small-caliber, high-velocity cartridge. Because the cartridge was smaller and lighter than the .30 caliber cartridges, riflemen with Lee rifles could carry more rounds. No doubt that in the 1890s, the argument between the small-caliber and large-caliber proponents was a energetic as it is today.

Unfortunately, being "ahead of your time" is usually a synonym for "not practical at the time". The smokeless powder propellants of the 1890s, when used to push small-caliber bullets at high velocities, burned too hot and eroded the barrels.[1] The metallurgy of the time was also not as advanced as it is now. One of the remedies for the M-16, chrome-plating the barrels, was not then practical.

Beyond the bore erosion issue, the government, specifically the War Department, wanted to standardize small arms. The Navy and the Marine Corps adopted the same rifles that the Army used; first the Krag, then the Springfield. [2]

In the event that you have one that has been handed down from your great-great grandfather, an original Lee Navy in good condition would probably be worth several thousand dollars.

______________________________________________
[1] This is not a slam at the 1890s, for the Army got into difficulties with its propellant choices for the early models of the M-16 rifle.
[2] The small arms locker of Navy warships are usually the last bastions of older military weapons; M-1 rifles could be found there well into the 1970s. I have little doubt that Lee rifles could have been found there into the early 1920s, when they would have been replaced by M1903s and M1917s left over from the Great War.

UAE Confirms Hiring Prince's Battalion of Gun Thugs

Not that it matters much, but the UAE has confirmed hiring Erik Prince's battalion of mercenaries.

It's going to be interesting to see if anyone in the Arab world cars about UAE's importation of Christians whose sole task is to shoot down Muslims.

Shuttle Endeavour

One last flight, on track to launch in an hour. You can watch it here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Darwin Award Nominee

Australian police say a man who plunged to his death from a seventh-floor balcony on Sunday was participating in the internet craze of "planking".
Apparently this new craze is big in Australia (probably because having sex with kangaroos is illegal).

This is "planking":
This web craze involves lying down flat in wacky places – on ironing boards, postboxes, police cars – and getting your mates to take a photo before sticking it on the web.
When they get tired of "planking", maybe they'll get their friends to take photos of them while they play Russian Roulette.

*Snerk!*

My brother called me this afternoon. I told him that I was watching a podcast for my continuing legal education requirement and that I'd call him back in an hour.

Which I did. He asked me what the podcast was about, I told him it was about ethics.

"Good luck with that," he said. "Trying to teach lawyers about ethics is like trying to teach a dog to drive."

He owes me a new keyboard.

Are You a Dictator of a Small Nation? Are Your People Demonstrating In the Streets?

Oh, you probably would like to deploy troops to gun those ungrateful fuckers down. But your cops and soldiers may not be as eager to gun down people from their own neighborhoods and tribes as you are.

You've got a problem.

Don't worry. Erik Prince has your back. He's already formed a battalion of gun thugs for the United Arab Emirates.

Given the arrogance and trigger-happy bloodthirstiness shown by Blackwater's mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UAE is playing with fire by hiring Prince to set up and run a battalion of goons.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Meaningless Fourth Amendment (At Least In One State)

That would be Indiana, where the State Supreme Court has just given the police carte blanche to go into any home they damn well please to, without a warrant. Hoosiers have no right to be secure in their own homes against government searches. They cannot close the door to the cops. All they can do is try to sue them afterwards.

So if you live in Indiana and the police shows up on your porch and say that they want to look around your home, you can no longer decline their polite request to root around in your underwear drawer with their filthy hands. Oh, you can say the word "no", but that will be as effective as saying that word to the average house cat, for like the cat, the cops can do what they want.

But hey, if you don't like that the cops just tromped around through your domicile, you are free to come up with ten grand or so to retain a lawyer to sue them. And maybe, in five or six years, you might even get nominal damages.

(H/T)

Keyboard Alert!


(H/T)

Torture Nation

Senator John McCain on the use of torture:
I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.

Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and al-Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more conventional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.
This is the video of his Senate speech.



Where I differ from McCain is in McCain's view that those who practiced torture under the Bush Administration should not be prosecuted. Torture was illegal before 9-11, it was illegal while the Bush Administration authorized the use of torture, and it has been illegal since then. McCain has also waffled in the past on whether it would be permissible for the CIA to torture people, although that 2008 position may have been part of his general whoring-out to the wingnuts during his failed campaign.

The use of torture was and is a crime, both under U.S. law and international law. It should be prosecuted. And some day, it will be.

The Revolving Door Might Spin One Clown Into Prison

A former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement official who has been accused of repeatedly blocking efforts to investigate R. Allen Stanford, the Houston financier charged with running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, is the subject of a federal criminal inquiry for having done legal work for Mr. Stanford after leaving the S.E.C., government officials said Friday.
The SEC is gutless. Even though this guy, Spencer Barasch, can't even find Republican congressman to stand up for him, there is a criminal investigation against him and there is a state bar ethics complaint in the works, the SEC will not stop him from representing clients to the SEC.

Because he was one of them, after all.

Caturday

(Presuming that Google is able to keep Blogger running for another day, that is.)

The usual morning suspects. Gracie is trying to keep her eyes open to see what I am doing.


George doesn't care.


Neither does Jake.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If Ron Paul Is Your Typical Libertarian,
Then Libertarians Are Batshit Insane

Ron Paul thinks it is perfectly peachy if business owners engage in racial discrimination. He thinks it's perfectly fine to put "no Negroes or Jews" covenants into deeds.

Paul lives in Cloud-Coo-Coo Land, for he seems to think that businesses wouldn't have survived if they discriminated. Paul ignores the historical truth that Jim Crow was alive and well throughout the South in the early 1960s. There was no way in hell that every diner, every store, every movie theater could have been desegregated without the force of law.

Paul exposes the ground-level logic fault of Libertarian/Randist ideology, which is that businesses will do the right thing because doing the wrong thing will cost them business and their reputation. Right. From the Radium Girls of the 1920s to the coal miners in Massey Coal's mines and the natural gas frackers who are poisoning the water table, there is no shortage of examples that show that business will almost always do whatever is expedient and will maximize profit, regardless of the risk it poses to the workers and the general public.

Does the above mean that Ron Paul a racist? Arguably not, but for that evidence, you have to look elsewhere, and it is not hard to find.

From Yesterday: The Revolving Door Spins On

The post that Google munged, the one from yesterday morning, was about FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who voted in favor of the Comcast-NBC merger just a few months ago.

She is taking a job with Comcast. No, she isn't going to be driving around one of those spiffy white vans; she is going to be Comcast's chief lobbyist to Congress.

Nothing unseemly there, folks. You can bet your bottom dollar that there is no way in hell that anybody at Comcast said that there was a job for her or even hinted that there was an opening in their congressional bribery lobbying office. Yep, and pigs are growing wings and flying.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Color Me "Unimpressed"

The consistent presence of [U.S. Attorney Preet] Bharara at the largest insider trading case in a generation — and the office’s resounding victory on Wednesday — signaled that the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan was back as the sheriff of Wall Street.
Ayup. They prosecuted some arrogant fuck who couldn't recognize when the government had the goods on him. I'm sure that Raj Rajaratnam had a sixpack of $1,000/hr defense lawyers, but that doesn't mean that he listened to them.

I will remain unimpressed by the so-called "sheriffs of Wall Street" until they manage to send some of the top brass of Goldman Sachs off to FCI Butler, NC to bunk with Bernie Madoff. Insider trading convictions are like prosecuting traffic tickets, in comparison to what it will take to lock up some of the thieves of Goldman Sachs, AIG and the other banksters at places like JPMorganChase, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBI, UBS and the rest of those $5,000 suit-wearing criminals.

Noted Terrorist Leader Killed

More here. (Don't miss the comments.)

(H/T)

You Get What You Pay For

Google's blogging service (where this blog is) was out of commission for about 24 hours. Oh, you could read stuff, but you couldn't write new posts or comment on them. A post I uploaded yesterday morning has apparently gone into the Great Byte Bucket in the Sky.

This is sort of like "cloud computing", in that everything is on-line. It kind of sucks not to be able to do anything because you can't access your data.

Which might give you some second thoughts about using Goggle's new Chromebook. It would be a lot of fun to have an urgent project and be shut out of your files because of some glitch somewhere in California.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Serial Adulterer and Philanderer to Run For the Presidency

But since he's a Republican, the same people who were outraged about Bill Clinton and who accused Dr. King of cheating on his wife officially will not give a shit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

747-8 Brake Test



Look at the bottom of the fuselage back towards the tail and you'll see a plate attached to the aircraft. I believe that is the skid plate for the "minimum unstick" tests, where they determine the absolute minimum speed that the airplane will leave the ground.

You can see that in this video of a MD-87 performing a "Vmu" test:

Mitt Romney?? Is That You?

Delays, Delays

Taxing the Stupid


I've known people who have spent hundreds of dollars a month on lottery tickets. It really is a tax on stupidity, or at least one form of stupidity.

A few months ago, I visited some friends out where they have "river casinos," which are technically mounted on barges. We went to one for lunch, because they had a great lunch buffet at a good price. One of our party skipped coffee and went to play the slots. After the rest of us had our coffees and desserts, we went looking for her.

As we walked around the multitudes of slot machines, I was struck by the utter joylessness of the place. Nobody, and I mean nobody, looked like they were having any fun. I've seen machine operators in factories who had more fun at what they were doing. I bet that I could have gone up to any one of them, clubbed them with a fire extinguisher and the slot-machine operators on either side would not have even noticed.

Gambling is a tax on stupidity. The only difference between casinos and state lotteries is who benefits from it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Jewish Taliban

Yes, we Jews have our own religious nutbags.
A Hasidic newspaper got into the business of revisionist history Friday when it printed a Situation Room photo that was doctored to remove Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rather Stalinistic of them.
The photograph was released by the White House with the following imprimatur: “This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, e-mails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”
Didn't even slow them down a whit. I don't know what inane religious rationale would support this bit of historical editing and I'm pretty sure that I don't really care. In a world of boneheaded religious moves, this one is fairly high on the charts.

The Daily News gave credit to a blogger for breaking this story.

On Torture

Frank W. James wrote one of the better pieces on the use of torture than I have read in a very long time. You should read it.

If you're interested in the life of a modern farmer, his blog should be on your must-read list. For the reasons you'll see in his blog, look for the price of food to go up.

And Remember to Avoid Radium

From xkcd:


He could have also mentioned Rosalind Franklin, who did more to determine the structure of DNA than Watson and Crick, and who Watson tried to pretty much write out of the story of the discovery of DNA.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Imagine Food Safety Under Tea Party Regulators, or "Hooray for Capitalism"

If you want to see what food safety would be like if Federal regulations were enforced the way that the Tea Party would like (ie, "not at all") and that the acolytes of Ayn Rand would have ("not at all"), then you need look only at China, where contaminated and even falsified foods are sold for human consumption:
Even eggs, seemingly sacrosanct in their shells, have turned out not to be eggs at all but man-made concoctions of chemicals, gelatin and paraffin. Instructions can be purchased online, the Chinese media reported.
In case you are astonished, you should go look at the way things were done in this country up until the late 1930s. One company, Massengill,* sold an "elixer" that killed over 100 people and its only punishment was to pay a fine because the labels were not accurate.

There is this fantasy in some circles that holds that companies and businessmen will do the right thing because they do not want to besmirch their good name and reputation. Even if that were once true, it was true then because the businessmen lived in the same places where they made and sold their wares. If they sold defective shit, they heard about it, their relatives heard about it.

Those days ended with the development of steam-powered transport. When sausages were packed in Kansas City and sold in butcher shops in New York City, the sausage makers couldn't care less if someone in Brooklyn thought they tasted a little funny. The only thing that mattered was profit.

As a man in Shanghai, put it: “They really have no morals. They will do anything for money.”

That is exactly right. Capitalism is an amoral system. Without regulators watching for product safety, food safety and everything else along those lines (including financial regulation), then capitalism degenerates in a race to the bottom, where everything is sacrificed in the name of profit.
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* Yes, the douche people. They're now part of GlaxoSmithKline.

Ah, Capitalism

Wal-Mart has redone its compensation plan. The change accomplishes two major things. First, it allows Wal-Mart to pay its CEO more and more, even if sales suck. Second, it takes away profit-sharing for most Wal-Mart employees.

Wal-Mart, or more accurately, Sam Walton, defended Wal-Mart's low pay of its employees by pointing to profit-sharing: If the company did well,the employees got a taste as well. As Walton saw it, it gave the employees a stake in how well Wal-Mart was doing, above and beyond their base pay. That's why he referred to his employees as "associates".

But Sam Walton has been dead for almost twenty years. His brother, Bud, who co-founded the chain with Sam, died a few years after Sam's death. Sam and Bud may have thought that they were running a family business, but those days are long gone. Wal-Mart is just another corporation, where the executives do everything they can to push down the pay of their workers, while those same executives take home more and more.

Wal-Mart may not be the Font of All Evil, but they are certainly close by and downstream.

If You Think That the World Will End on May 21st, Will You Sell Me Your House?

I won't give you very much for it, though, maybe a penny or so on the dollar, and only if you own it free and clear. After all, if you think that the world will end in 13 days, then your house isn't worth all that much. And if you think it is worth anything more than a few percent of its appraised value, then obviously, at some level, you don't believe what you say you believe.

It's an interesting legal question, though: If you sell your home cheaply because you thought that the world is going to end and then, on May 22nd, the buyer is standing on the front porch, telling you to get out because you did sell your house, how do you back out of the deal? A smart buyer will give you a "use and occupancy agreement" to allow you to stay until 7PM local time on the 21st (and immediately record the deed), but after that, you were supposed to be raptured up, or so you thought.

How would you get out of the deal? Would you argue that you had diminished capacity? After all, you thought that you were selling your house for above market value, for a house that is sure to be destroyed in an imminent apocalypse is worth nothing. Just because the apocalypse didn't begin according to your schedule isn't much of an excuse.

If you are unwilling to sell or give away all of your stuff, then on some level, aren't you conceding that this particular prophecy is bullshit? And if that is true, then aren't you just going to be stuck here to deal with the zombies like the rest of us heathens?

The Temperature of the Beast?

It Shoots!

Pretty good for an oldster.


25 yards with W-W 180gr bullets. I've got aging eyes and glasses with progressive lenses, which can be a bit interesting to bring the front sight into focus. I need to loosen up the windage adjustment on the sight (probably should have done that before going shooting).

If I shoot this rifle often, I need to start reloading.