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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

North Carolina Threatens to Arrest the Atlantic Ocean

That's not quite true, of course. But the idiots in the North Carolina legislature are trying to outlaw the use of climate data to estimate the rise of the level of the sea over the next 90 years. Because they don't agree with the current scientific consensus about climate change and the effects that it will have on sea levels.

So if scientists are projecting a rise in sea level of one meter, or 39 inches, by 2100, North Carolina will, by law, only consider and plan for maybe a rise of eight inches.

Because politicians are better able to make sense of scientific data than scientists.[1] The last time this sort of drama played out, the tobacco industry obfuscated the scientific data on the effects of smoking, the "conservatives" bought into that and public health efforts were set back by decades.

This time, the stakes are higher. Substitute the coal and petroleum industries for the tobacco industry and the same dynamic is at play.

Legend has it that a thousand years ago, King Canute demonstrated that the sea paid no heed to royal commands. If only the legislators in North Carolina were that intelligent.
_________________________
[1] Especially when those politicians are taking "campaign contributions" from the coal industry and from the Koch brothers.

Mitt Romney's Favorite Airline is "Untied"


In case you've not paid attention to the Intertubes over the last day, Mittens' campaign released an iPhone app that misspelled the word "America", rendering it as "Amercia".[1]


I can just see it now: President Romney unleashes a massive bombing strike against Uzbekistan because he got confused by all of the -stans in that part of the world. Next he'll be offering to put food on our families.

I sort of feel bad about poking fun at ol' Willard over this. This is too easy, it's like shooting a large watermelon at five feet with a 12-gauge. Then again, this is the Internet. It's what we do.
__________________________
[1] By now, the batshit-loyal Republicans will be claiming that the true name of the cartographer in the 16th Century was Amercio Vespucci.

A Serial Bomber in Arizona

Stratfor sent out an analysis that began with news of a serial bomber operating in the Phoenix, AZ area and then discussed past American serial bombers. I searched news stories, this one has minimal coverage.

When people in that area realize that it is a bad idea to pick up an abandoned flashlight and turn it on, it would not be a surprise if this asswipe moves on to building bombs inside other objects (or making them more powerful). Let's hope that he screws up and blows off his own body parts.

Might not make a difference. Many years ago, some clown, who had earlier blown both of his hands off with a homemade grenade, threw down on the cops with a bolt-action rifle. He wounded a cop and was shot and killed in return.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fun At Work; Naval Air Edition

An EA-6B flies a low-level training route.



Which is why if your sectional chart shows that you'll be crossing a VR- or IR- route, it's good to ask whether or not the route is active.

(H/T)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soviet Chicago: Why the Hell Would Anyone Want to Live There?

During the NATO Summit, the Chicago cops were crashing into people's apartments, terrorizing the residents and searching them. Without probable cause. Without warrants.

It seems that since the cops were there to search the apartment of some political activists[1], they cops took it upon themselves to go search the neighbors' apartments. For no goddamned reason whatsoever.

The Chicago police department has a long and bloody record of acting as though they were transplanted, en masse, from a police state. They often don't seem to care about fuzzy hippie concepts such as "civil rights" and "the Constitution".

One hopes that the city of Chicago is now going to have to cough up a few million dollars to settle the inevitable lawsuits.

(H/T)
________________________
[1] These days, "political activism" has become a synonym for "terrorism" in the eyes of the cops.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Caturday

Jake: "You humans have a warped idea of what a 'mouse' is."


Jake seems to keep his eyes half-shut almost all of the time, as though he is just so bored.

Memorial Day

This should not be Memorial Day, as I've written about a few times.

This day is not supposed to be the unofficial start of Summer.

This day is not supposed to be an occasion for sales events at retail stores.

This day is supposed to be about one thing: Honoring the memories of those veterans who are no longer with us.



As you go about your day today, whether you're at the beach, the lake, or having a cookout with friends and family, please take a minute to remember the men and women whose lives were taken from them so that our freedom and our nation would continue to survive.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fire and Continuing Education

I sat through a very, very, very long continuing education class yesterday. (The three hours of driving didn't help matters.) Most of the sessions were surprisingly good. I say "surprisingly" because I've endured continuing ed classes in the past that made dental surgery seem attractive.

Of course, there was the inevitable moron who just read aloud the PowerPoint slides, but fortunately, only one of those was presenting a class. Seems to be a fact of life.

I wrote here about the fire on the USS Miami.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google's New Motto: "Being Evil is Fun!"

When Google started business in the 1990s, they loudly proclaimed their motto was; "Don't Be Evil."

how times have changed.

Goggle's "Street View" cars, which take photographs for that function of Google Earth, are not just shooting photographs. No, it seems that the Street View cars are engaged in mobile wiretapping, snapping up every bit of wireless information that they can find. When regulators, both in this country and in Europe, have pressed Goggle to answer the simple question of"what the frak are you guys doing", Google refuses to answer.

When Google first tried to explain their snooping away, they airily proclaimed that the snooping was a bug, an error in their programming. Turns out that was a hell of a lie, for Google knew what was going on and they were just fine with it. Until that is, they were caught..

Because, well, they're Google. Google doesn't answer to mere governments. Because evil organizations just don't.

And if Google is sharing that information with the NSA, who would be the wiser?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Space X to the ISS!

They got it on the second attempt.



The earlier attempt didn't fly when the engines shut down due to a bad check valve on one of the nine engines.

47 years ago, Gemini 6 also had a launchpad shutdown after the engines fired and were shut down by the onboard computer.

Anyway, when Space X can get their capsule man-rated, they can start flying crews to the ISS and compete with the Russians.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Old Blogger Interface Will Be Removed in the Coming Months." -- Google

That's the warning flag that popped up on the "Blogger Dashboard". Some clown at Google apparently set all of them that had opted for the old interface to the new one, for when I switched it back,that warning appeared.

I don't get it. What does it cost those fuckers to just leave the old one operational for those of us who are comfortable with it?[1] The new interface isn't just cosmetic, the "edit html" part doesn't work the same. The old one at least recognizes carriage returns, the new one doesn't. So unless you want to enter the html code for that manually, it doesn't come out right. (How to fix that one craptastic feature.)

This stupid-ass new interface, a solution to an apparently nonexistent problem,[2] came, for me, on top of weeks of spotty Internet access. So things that normally would have inspired me to post,[3] have, instead, merited a solid "meh". The return of reliable broadband to my life has not inspired/motivated me to go back to posting frequently.

And that's the way it'll probably be from here on out.
________________________________
[1] I'll admit to not desiring to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. I used WordPerfect 5.0 for seven years (on a DOS box), I have a fondness for revolvers and bolt-action rifles and I had the same cell phone for a long time. Yes, I can use autoloading rifles and tupperware handguns, but I have little use for them. I adopt new technology when it suits me to do so.
[2] Other than finding something for Google's children to do.
[3] Such as the congressman from "the party of fiscal responsibility", who forced the Army to buy $17,000 drip pans for helicopters.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sloppy, Sloppy Writing; CNN Edition

CNN is running a story that coffee drinking has been linked to a longer life span.

But that's not the way that they put it, of course.
Even moderate coffee consumption was linked to better survival odds. Drinking a single cup per day -- which was much more common than a six-cup-a-day habit -- was associated with a 6% lower risk of dying among men and a 5% lower risk among women.
There is no "risk of dying". It is a certainty. Life is finite.*

I am being a little unfair, of course, in that in other places in the article, the writer does mention that drinking coffee lessens the risk of premature death.  But I am not being totally unfair, as even one of the damned researchers mentioned that coffee has the potential for saving lives.

It's just sloppy writing.
__________________________
* Except maybe for jellyfish and GOP ideology.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Now Commence the Great Unraveling; EU Edition

In Europe, the politicians and bankers are preparing for the prospect that Greece will leave (or be kicked out of) the Euro Zone.

I'm not at all surprised that it has come to this. One of the problems of a currency union is that sharing a currency necessarily involves giving up a goodly measure of national sovereignty. A nation can run a deficit, but only if it has its own currency and only if people will buy its securities to fund its borrowing. Without its own currency, there can be no deficit spending unless the other nations (or the central bank) agrees.

The kicker here, for the Greeks, is that the driver of the EU banking system is Germany. Memories burn brighter in Europe and the German occupation of Greece, for the Greeks, might as well have happened in the last decade. So there is incredible resentment at the idea that the Germans will have a say in Greek financial affairs.

The relatively unmentioned thing is that Germany is a nation that has an export-driven economy and much of Germany's export market is the rest of the European Union. So the Germans on the one hand, want the "PIIG" nations to fix their economies, but on the other hand, if they do so with harsh austerity measures, then their citizens won't be buying German products.

Sometimes it is easy to forget why the European Union seemed like a good idea. The idea was to bind the nations of Europe closely enough that it would no longer be in the national interest of any state to go to war with its neighbors. NATO was part of that concept, though with NATO there was no loss of national sovereignty. The EU did involve that, with member nations giving up some sovereignty to the EU. The long-term goal was to, more or less, transform the EU into the United States of Europe.

That might have been a pipe dream. In the USA, the member states were not distinct entities for very long, maybe 160 years at most, before they united. Even so, the question of whether there is a strong or weak national government was one of the factors behind the Civil War, and the losers to that conflict have been trying to eviscerate the Federal government ever since.

In Europe, the identity of some states goes back from 200 years or so (unified Germany) to over 2,500 years, in the case of Greece and Italy. The EU process seems somewhat similar, at least on the surface, to the German unification in the 19th Century. The Germans had an advantage in that they had, more or less, a common language and cultural history.

For the EU, not so much. It's hard to see what the Finns and the Portuguese have in common.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Welcome Aboard, Sailor! Now Blow in That There Tube, Piss In This Here Cup, and Spread Them Ass Cheeks!

The Navy is planning to conduct breathanalyis tests on everyone reporting aboard ship for duty. Each and every frakking duty day.

If I was a sailor, I'd be pissed off each and every time that I had to blow into that stupid machine. I bet that the ships' Senior Watch Officers are going to be tickled pink of having to station extra people on the Quarterdeck to conduct the breath screenings. It's be a lot of laughs when thirty sailors come running aboard fifteen seconds before liberty expires and they all need to run through the Breathalyser before going below to changing into the aquaflage working uniform.

No doubt some clown in Ft. Fumble thinks that this is a good idea. I can't see it doing much for morale and retention, but that's just me.

Protecting the Child Molesters: Hasidic Edition

The New York Times ran a two-part story last week about how child molesters are protected by the Hasidic community, to the point that those Hasidim who go to the police to report child molesters are shunned and threatened. The second part of the series was about how the Brooklyn D.A. is on board with all of that.
An influential rabbi came last summer to the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, with a message: his ultra-Orthodox advocacy group was instructing adherent Jews that they could report allegations of child sexual abuse to district attorneys or the police only if a rabbi first determined that the suspicions were credible.

The pronouncement was a blunt challenge to Mr. Hynes’s authority. But the district attorney “expressed no opposition or objection,” the rabbi, Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, recalled.
Hynes went so far as to shield the names of Hasidic defendants who were prosecuted and convicted, a courtesy that is pretty much unheard of. Justice may not exactly be for sale in the Borough of Brooklyn (aka Kings County), but it certainly can be purchased with a decent voting bloc.

Bernie Law must be sick with jealousy.

Squiiiiiish!

A forging press that can exert 50,000 tons of force.

It was part of a nearly-forgotten government investment program in American industrial capacity.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Caturday; Furniture Edition

As soon as I had unpacked enough to toss this throw over that chair, Jake reclaimed it as his bed.


It is Jake's favorite place to take a nap. Formerly, Gracie would get onto the chair and kick Jake off. He would grumble about it, but he went away and found another place to sleep. Gracie went over the Rainbow Bridge 2-1/2 months ago, so now he has no competition for his preferred sleeping spots.

Sorry, mentioning Gracie was a mistake. I start thinking of her and then the grief wells up. The memories come flooding back. I miss her so much.

Anyway, I had a lot of old towels that I used to cover furniture. I don't need anywhere near as many, now. So I bagged them up and took them to a local animal shelter. They were very happy to get them, for they use them as bedding and they go through a lot of them.

If you have old sheets, towels and blankets and you want to get rid of them, please, do not just throw them out. Check with your local animal shelter and ask if they can use them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bangity

This is a target that I shot at about ten yards with the Snubbie on Steroids:


For comparison, this target was shot with a Smith & Wesson Model 29 with a 6" barrel:


My accuracy apparently didn't suffer much between the barrel lengths.

Same ammunition for both (Federal .44 Special semi-wadcutters of 1980s vintage). That cartridge came in 50-round boxes; I don't believe they sell them that way any more. I tried the Mosin stripper clips and they worked very well: I was able to load two cambers at once and strip them right out. The stripper clips do lightly scratch the brass, so you have to decide if that is an issue for you.

All Abooooaaaaard!

Today is National Train Day.


For the first time in over twenty years, I find myself living in a town where I don't hear the sounds of trains passing through. It's a little bit strange.

On the other hand, I saw a Stearman pass by late yesterday afternoon at about 1,500' AGL, so it's not all bad.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Russian Speed Strips

Mosin-Nagant stripper clips may be a real pain in the ass for use with the rifle, but they work well as speed-strips for .45 Colt and .44 Special cartridges.


Not my idea, but I don't recall where I read about it.

Why I Don't Give a Frak About the North Carolina Pro-Hatred Amendment

First off, let's be clear on one thing: The vote on North Carolina's Amendment One, just like their earlier one, was nothing more than an exercise in hatred. Nobody has ever shown how allowing gays to marry would diminish the rights of straight people to marry. No, this is a matter of a bunch of old, bigoted (mostly white) folk using the cudgel of government to pass judgment on the private lives of other people.

But that's not the topic for today. The topic is why it doesn't matter.

Over the last sixty years or so, it has not been up to the voters of any individual state to decide who gets full rights and who does not. That battle has been fought at the Federal level and, ultimately, in the Federal courts. It was the case for the anti-miscegenation state statutes and constitutional amendments, some of which survived into the 21st Century.[1] Those laws that were in existence in 1967 were struck down by the Supreme Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia.

The matter of gay marriage will go, ultimately, to the Supreme Court, which will have to decide if equal rights and equal protection under the law means what it says when applied to gay people. I imagine that one of the topics of discussion will be the lack of proof that allowing gay people to marry harms, in any way, straight people.

Of course, the self-styled originalists will proclaim that the views on rights that existed when the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment were adopted must control the debate. That is bullshit, of course, for if that were true, then the states would be free to ban any firearm that used cartridges or percussion caps, since those technologies were unknown in 1791.[2]

The efforts by the homophobes on the Right to push gays and lesbians back into the closet will fail, just as their earlier pushes to marginalize women and people of color have failed.[3] They will lose in the courts and, ultimately, they will lose in society at large.
_________________________
[1] Alabama repealed theirs in 2001.
[2] I'm rather surprised that none of the hoplophobic jurisdictions have tried to do this.
[3] Doesn't stop them from continuing to try.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Haze Gray and Welded to the Pier; LCS Edition

Aviation Week has a lengthy story about the problems bedeviling the USS Freedom, the lead ship in the littoral combat ship class. Corrosion, watertight stern doors that are nowhere near watertight, lube oil leaks, seawater leaks, sailors covering machinery with shower curtains to protect it from seawater leaking, discussions about increasing manning, ship weight growth and the list just goes on and on.

The Navy has pounded more than eight billion dollars down the LCS rathole. When questioned about it, the Navy spokesweasels spout doubletalk and gobbledygook. When they were asked about what the reporter saw, the Navy's response was, in essence, "We weren't there, we don't know what he saw."

As much as I could easily blast the Navy for screwing up the LCS program, those problems likely pale in comparison to the LPD-17 class problems.

It's not the first time that the Navy has been involved in designing turkeys. The Claud Jones class of destroyer escorts were regarded as being pretty much unsuitable; they were among the first ships to go after the Vietnam War ground to a halt. The Mitscher class of destroyers had reliability problems over their entire lifespans.

Then there is the point that the LCS is, although not designed for open-ocean combat, is sure as shit to get sucked into that role. The Knox and Perry classes of frigates were built to escort convoys of merchant ships, supply ships and amphibious warfare ships. They weren't built as carrier escorts and they weren't fast enough to keep up with one that rang up a flank bell. But there weren't enough destroyers to do the job, not after the last of the World War II destroyers were decommissioned, so frigates ended up pulling duty as carrier escorts.

In many ways, what is going on with the LCS class is history repeating itself. But not entirely. Many of the issues with the LCS, along with most of the issues with the LPD-17, stem from the Navy's cutting back its own ability to closely supervise the design and construction of its warships. The government had turned that function over to the contractors, who had a vested interest in papering over problems.

And so, the desire to cut the costs of a program and let the private sector go it cheaper has led to greatly-increased costs. Not that there is anything new with that.

Snubbie on Steroids

The S&W 696, a 3" .44 Special. Above it, in comparison, is a Taurus 605 in .357:


The 696 is stainless-steel, so it is somewhat compact, but on the heavy side. A lighter gun would be the S&W "Mountain Lite" 396, which had a scandium-alloy frame and barrel and a titanium cylinder.[1] the 396 was a pound or so lighter, but as you might imagine, with lighter weight comes more recoil.

Smith & Wesson only made the 296, 396 Mountain Lite and 696 for a handful of years, then they were all discontinued. The big reason is that Smith & Wesson signed onto a Clinton Administration gun control initiative in 2000.[2] The eminently foreseeable blowback from the buyers' community almost destroyed the company. It was sold to new owners for a pittance (compared to what the clowns who had signed the Clinton deal paid for the company).

As a result of the boycott by many buyers, S&W ended a lot of products. Revolvers are not really police items anymore, what with most departments having shifted to autoloaders, the customer boycott hammered the revolver side of the house. S&W also jumped hard onto the "plastic-fantastic" bandwagon, competing directly with Glock. And with Teh Grate War on Terrah, sales of guns to paramilitary-type organizations became rather profitable.

As far as I know, if you want a new-production double-action .44 Special, you're going to be buying a Charter Arms Bulldog.
________________________________
[1] The barrel had a steel liner.
[2] There were two apparently other factors. One was that the .44s didn't sell all that well, though that may have been tied in with the boycotts. The other was a rumor that S&W had a prolific designer at the time and they were selling a lot of new models, which diluted the demand. A few decades from now, collectors are probably going to be going nuts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caturday; "And We're Back" Edition

Jake is engaged in some bird watching.


The new place has better cat views, with windows on two sides and cross-ventilation. I may look into putting up a bird-feeder to improve the quality of the views for Jake.

My cable was installed yesterday. Maybe somebody can explain to me how Radio Shack stays in business. Charter (cable folks) charge $7 a month to rent a cable modem. That seemed outrageous, so I went to RatShack to buy one. They had two on the shelf, one for $120 and one for $150. I drove across the street to Wal-Mart and bought a Motorola SurfModem for $59.

I don't see how they can survive by selling little pieces-parts for electronics stuff.

Anyway, I probably ought to start paying attention to political stuff. But with Mittens now flip-flopping/outright lying on the automotive bailouts of GM and Chrysler (he is now for them when he opposed them at the time), it's shaping up to be a long six months before the election.

What Willard the Weathervane is hoping that everyone will forget is that there was no way that Chrysler and GM could have gone through a Chapter 11 restructuring in 2008-09 without government support. It took something like sixty billion dollars to fund the process and that kind of money was not available from the "private/commercial" banks at the time.

If GM and Chrysler had gone through a bankruptcy the way that Rmoney wanted, without government support, they would have gone into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the two companies would have been stripped and sold off, like a car in a chop shop. The factories would have been shuttered forever and any assets that could be sold off for cash would have been sold off.

That is what Mittens wanted to see happen, because that is the way that he and Bain Capital made most of their money. The point that most of the suppliers to the auto industry could not have survived and that they would have folded in a massive cascade, well, that makes no difference to soulless financial plunderers like Romney.

But Romney is hoping that people have short memories and that they will not understand that if the Bush and Obama Administrations had done what he wanted, this current depression would have been a lot worse.

And yes, I think this is a depression. But that's another topic and frankly, Paul Krugman does better on it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Make a Small Fortune in Aviation

Step 1: Start with a large fortune. Hawker-Beechcraft filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week.

Pretty much anyone who gets into aviation for the money is going to rue the day they did so. Note that Beechcraft's creditors will get equity in the company in exchange for what they are owed. Which must please them no end, as you can't exactly by groceries with shares of stock in a bankrupt entity.

Beechcraft is bankrupt and, shocker of shockers, Goldman-Sach's fingerprints were all over the company.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

So, What's Happening in the Clean World?

The movers came yesterday morning and unloaded my crap right into my new apartment. I am deep into the throes of unpacking and storing and sorting and, occasionally, throwing shit out. I broke a plate and a mug unpacking. The movers broke two pots and a hinge-down faceplate on my DVD/VCR, which is probably repairable with model airplane glue.

That is, if they even sell it anymore, what with the War on Drugs and all of that nonsense.

I don't have Internet at home. So I have not been paying much attention to the news, though I did hear that Ol' Willard was busy sucking up to Michael Bloomberg. Since Mike the Megalomaniac is a big fan of disarming the citizenry, you can bet that was a topic of discussion. I'll bet a box of crullers that Mittens told Mayor Mike to pay no attention to Mittens' pandering to the NRA, that a Rmoney Administration will be a friend of the Mayors Against All Guns.

Anyway, break's over, time to go back home and resume unpacking.

I hope that I can find the cabling, let alone the remotes, before the cable guy comes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yeee-Haaawww! The Old Interace Is Still Alive

Seems that in the "blogger home" page, once you sign in, there is a little icon on the upper right that looks like a gear. Click on that and you'll find a menu, one of which is an option to return to the old interface.

More betterer.

Never a Good Sign; White Shoe Law Firm Edition

New York prosecutors are looking into allegations of wrongdoing by a key leader of the troubled law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, according to an email sent by firm management to partners on Friday. ... A source familiar with the probe said a preliminary investigation was prompted after a group of Dewey partners asked District Attorney Cyrus Vance to examine "financial irregularities" at the firm. The scope of the investigation remains unclear.
The slight scraping sound that they are hearing is the business-entity Grim Reaper sharpening his scythe.

If the firm goes Tango Uniform, that's another 500 lawyers in NYC alone who will be out on the bricks.  I imagine that the partners, who are considered to be co-owners, not employees, won't get to collect unemployment.  Some of those guys, the ones with loyal clients and a  "book of business", as the term goes, will land elsewhere. 

A shitload of them won't.  I imagine that with a firm name on their resume that will be associated with being the subject of a criminal investigation may make a lot of those folks kind of toxic to other law firms. 

Normally, I could get all kinds of snarky about the snooty white-shoe firms.  But knowing what it is like to send out resume after resume after resume and not hear a peep back, yeah, I can sort of feel for those guys.

But not too terribly much.