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, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

O.J. Simpson Claims that It is Oprah's Fault He is in Prison
(Notwithstanding the Fact That He Robbed and Kidnapped Some Dudes in Las Vegas)

Seriously. OJ thinks that it's Oprah's fault he's in jail for 9 to 33 years. Because she wasn't interested in his allies using her show to spread his claims that he really didn't mean to rob, kidnap and coerce those memorabilia sellers in Vegas, nor did he really mean to conspire to do any of that.

OJ is going to end up doing the bulk of his time, only being let out to check into hospice. They generally don't let anyone out of the Crossbar Hilton until the convict admits to the crime and expresses sincere remorse.

Which OJ will never do. So he'll be in the slammer until he is terminally ill and the state figures that it'll be easier to dump him on a hospice on the outside. If even then.

Rmoney Praises Socialized Health Care for Holding Down Costs.

He really did. Romney was full of praise for the Israeli system where the government forces everyone to have health insurance and then tightly regulates both the insurance companies and the health care system. Romney liked it because it cut the cost of health care in half.

So, to sum up, Romney thinks that socialized medicine is good for the citizens of Israel, good for people of Massachusetts, but totally evil for the United States.

How does this make any sense at all?

Why has Romney's CPU not fried itself from his contradictions?

(A telephone conversation with a British conservative about Mittens.)

"Hey, the Bride and Groom are Ni-" CLANG!

A planned wedding in a Baptist Church in Mississippi had to be relocated to another church because members of the congregation got upset when the found out that the bride and the groom to be wed were Black folks. The good folks of the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, or some of them, threatened to have the preacher fired if he went ahead and married the couple in the church.

The wedding party moved their ceremony to another church. Presumably one that believes that the admonition to "love thy neighbor" is color-blind.

Ah, good old Mississippi. Even in Alabama, they're scratching their heads over this story and asking "no shit, you clowns really did that?"

(For the three people who didn't understand the title reference, click here.)

Ike Was Right

The Army does not need massive numbers of tanks. It has thousands of them sitting in mothballs.

But that doesn't stop Congress from designating money for more tanks. And if they aren't buying more tanks, Congress wants to spend money to refurbish tanks the Army isn't using.

Because the company that makes tanks, General Dynamics, has been buying the loyalty of congressman to ensure that they get to make more tanks.

Ike was right. This is all about government welfare for large corporations. If the government was paying a bunch of us to blog about meaningless bullshit, you can bet your ass that the same congressvermin who are in General Dynamic's pocket would be evincing high levels of outrage. And the other congressfools will keep mum because they want the support of General Dynamic's tools when it comes time to protect their local bridges to nowhere.

So General Dynamics will upgrade more tanks, which will then be parked in storage forever. Corporate welfare at its finest.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Next Up: The Mitt Romney Roast Pig Feast- One the Beach in Dubai!

After insulting the Brits on their Olympics and then bragging about meeting the head of MI6, Mitt Romney's Around the World Gaffe-Fest has moved to Israel.

Where he attempted to schedule a fund-raising banquet on Tisha b'Av. Which is a day of mourning and fasting for observant Jews. Which apparently the Romney campaign knew of when they scheduled the event.

Since Tisha b'Av mourns the destruction of both Jewish temples in Jerusalem, one might think that holding a photo op at the Western Wall on that day would come across as a bit tacky, as well.

I know that Rmoney's butt-monkeys are busily telling everyone who will listen that Americans don't care about what happens overseas. Which is directly contradicted by the fact that Mittens made this high-profile trip with lots of photo-ops with leaders overseas. Instead of, say, quietly going to London to watch his wife's dancing horse try to win an Olympic medal.

Leave it to a foreigner to describe Willard's real problem: He has nothing in his life that he can talk about to the American people.

If he talks about being the governor of Massachusetts, where he signed gun control legislation and universal health care, he pisses off his base.

If he talks about his work at Bain Capital, then up come the discussions of how he was really a vulture capitalist, making boatloads of cash from the misery of others.

He can't talk about his own private life, for then the subject of his car elevator and his dancing horses will be discussed.

He can't talk about growing up rich in Michigan or how he put himself through college by selling off the stock his father gave him. Hell, if Molly Ivins was right about Dubya being born on third base and thinking that he hit a triple, Mitt was born half-way to home plate and he thinks that he legged it all the way from the batter's box.

And he sure can't talk about his faith, since most of his base has qualms about that (and most other people regard Mormons as those creepy kids who come knocking on your front door when you're sitting around in your PJs and drinking that first cup of coffee on a Saturday morning).

So mostly what Mitt has left in his arsenal are lies and the money to spread them around.

UPDATE: The Romneybot is blaming the press for his gaffes. Which is rather Nixonian of him.

I Call Bullshit on the "Lobster Glut"

If you have been paying attention to seafood news, you may be aware that there is a glut of lobsters. You may have also seen articles proclaiming that the glut exists because of good management of the lobster fishery.

Not so fast, sports fans.

Yes, it is no doubt true that enforcement on the rules for taking lobsters have helped. But so has bad fishery management for other species. Swordfish eat adult lobsters. Cod eat smaller lobsters. The stocks of both of those species have been almost wiped out. Cod may be virtually extinct (and would have long ago been extinct if the fishermen had their way about it).

So of course there are more lobsters, for the other critters that eat them aren't there in the numbers that they once were.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bad News for Annie Walker (and James Bond)

The ability of spies to travel under different false passports may become almost impossible. The spreading use of biometric scanners at border control points would flag them if they repeatedly showed up with different identities.

Because Handguns Are Only Good For Killing People, Right?

I took this photo at a "bowling pin" match.


The idea is to knock a number of bowling pins from either a 2x4 or a table. The number of pins, whether you shoot them off a 2x4 or a table, and if from a table, how far back the pins have to move before they fall off, is all variable. I saw everything from pocket revolvers and single-action .22s to .45 automatics and .454 Casull revolvers being used by the shooters.

It turns out to be hard to do. The point on the pin that you need to hit, especially when the pins are sitting on a table, is tiny compared to the size of the pin. A glancing shot and the pin may fall down and roll about on the table; in which case, you then have to shoot it off the table.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" seems to be the way to go. The score is simply how long it takes a shooter to knock all of the pins down. (In the photo, the man behind the shooter is the timekeeper.)

It seemed that a good percentage of the automatics malfunctioned at one time or another, while only one or two revolvers did. That may have been because most of the shooters were using handloaded ammunition and automatics can be less tolerant of loads that deviate from specifications for bullet weight and "oomph". Still, it's something to think about. (Also, for range use, the revolver boys weren't chasing brass around.)

It looks like fun. This time, I went to watch. Next time, I'll go to shoot.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Nobody on the Pro-Gun Side Will Ever Seriously Talk to the Brady Folks

(Part 1 of a 3-part series. Later posts will deal with legal and technical issues.)

First, the history that I can recall:

The Brady Campaign started out as "Handgun Control, Inc." sometime in the 1970s Their position on handguns was pretty clear: No civilians should own them. As a point of fact, it was pretty clear that they held that civilians should not be allowed to own firearms, period.

After the first few mass shootings (one of them was in the UK, remember), HCI, which then had renamed itself into "The Brady Campaign", jumped on the bandwagon to try to ban those evil black rifles. TBC made it clear, at the time, that their idea of a "first step" was to ban the possession of EBRs and, for that matter, the possession of ammunition magazines that held more than six shots. They were against the sale of fully-jacketed ammunition, as those were "for military use". They were against the sale of hollowpoint ammunition because "they were designed to kill people". Rifles with scope sights were "sniper rifles" And, of course, they maintained their campaign to outlaw handguns. By that time (the 1990s), TBC denied that they opposed the private ownership of all firearms, but when pressed on what they thought were acceptable weapons for civilians to own, it was pretty much open-sighted .22 rifles.

As time wore on, it became clear to almost all concerned that HCI/TBC's strategy was to keep pushing and pushing for a complete ban. Incremental victories, such as the ban on production of further manufacture of fully-automatic firearms (1986) or the assault weapons ban (1994), were viewed as just that by HCI/TBC. In reaction, the grass roots of the firearms groups probably pushed the leadership on this point: There was nothing to be gained from talking to HCI/TBC any more.

Politicians began to take note. One of the first GOP politicians to babble on about "taking on the NRA" and instituting more gun control was a Republican Congressman named Peter Smith in Vermont. Around 1989, he came out firm for gun control and proclaimed that he wasn't "afraid of the NRA" and that the true Vermonters would support him. The state GOP stood behind him, the voters didn't, and he was kicked out of office in 1990.

Some lessons are slow for elected officials to learn, but this fact was not lost on the pro-gun side: Those who support ownership of firearms would turn out at the polls. Barney Frank knew that, for in the late 1980s, he advised his party that if they kept on following the gun-control crowd, they would lose.

They didn't listen to him. In 1993, the Democrats rammed through the Brady Bill. In 1994, they lost control of the Congress. The then Speaker of the House lost his election back home. Early in 1995, in a discussion that the gun-control crowd has tried to forget, Bill Clinton spoke to the editors of a Cleveland newspaper and lamented that it was the Brady Bill that cost the Democrats control of Congress.

(I should note that not all of the nuttery on this comes from TBC. The pro-gun groups can give rise to some conspiracy theories that can make you wonder if their leadership needs to have their meds readjusted.)

Where we are today is that other than a few areas in the country, the politicians know that a pro-gun control stance is tantamount to political seppuku. Even Hillary Clinton tried to play the pro-gun card four years ago.

For the pro-gun control side, all they have to seize on is events such as the Murderings of the Aurora Asswipe. Consider this:

Other than a few enlightened states, such as Connecticut and Vermont, concealed carry of handguns was largely illegal across much of the nation 25 years ago. Then states began permitting concealed carry by citizens. The gun control activists and their allies, at virtually every state where this was done, predicted that the streets would run with blood and that armed civilians would be shooting it out over parking spaces and traffic accidents.

The problem with that, of course, is that it didn't happen. The rate of violent crime has dropped in the last twenty years. For those who thought that the criminals would shift over to property crimes, those rates went down. The number of people with concealed carry permits went up. Firearms ownership went up. But crime rates went down.

That doesn't stop HCI/TBC from pounding their drums. They are ideologues. Other than clowns like the Mayors Against All Guns, most people who said they support gun control did so because of the purported linkage between crime and guns. Since crime rates have dropped, the argument that "gun control is the way to fight crime" failed for those in the reality-based community.

HCI/TBC has no serious constituency. Politicians do pay attention to membership amounts; TBC has less than 30,000 members, the NRA has over four million (the Second Amendment Foundation has over 650,000 members, though some folks may also be NRA members). Gun ownership rates in the country are such that in many states, a majority of the voting public own firearms.

HCI/TBC can send their drones out to talk. The New York Times and the Washington Post can publish their whinging editorials. But they have lost the argument and they know it.

That's why nobody will talk to the Brady folks.

(Co-bloggers take on things.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Lies of the Brady Campaign

"You can legally buy guns over the Internet without a background check."

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The truth of the matter is this: Sales over the Internet between private parties are handled in the same way as if there was no Internet. If you buy a handgun from someone out of state, they have to take it to their local dealer, who ships it to your dealer. If you buy a rifle, they ship it to your local dealer.[1] Either way, you have to fill out the appropriate paperwork and pass the background check in every state of the nation.[2]

The line of the Brady Campaign that "you can buy guns over the Internet without background checks" is a massive lie, a piece of complete propaganda.

Maybe there should be a conversation on this subject. But if the "gunz я evil" crowd is going to open with lies (and lies that can be easily exposed), then there will not be any sort of meaningful discussion. Because I, for one, do not enjoy talking with liars. Nobody does.
______________________________
[1] I know this because in the last year, I have bought two handguns in sales arranged over the Internet, one from a private party and one from a dealer.
[2] If the seller is a private party and you are both residents of the same state, then you can meet somewhere and conduct your business in accordance with state law.

The Disingenuous Muppet-Shaped Propaganda Tool of the Right

Yes, Steve Doocy is still a galaxy-class idiot. And Mitt Romney is pretty much demonstrating that he has nothing to offer.

(Comedy Central broke it up into two clips. You'll just have to suffer.)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rhino

The Chiappa Rhino is, arguably, either one of the weirdest looking guns made in recent memory or the most significant development in revolver technology since the swing-out cylinder was adopted before the Spanish-American War. The Rhino fires from the bottom of the cylinder, not the top. That puts the axis of the barrel lower in the hand. Because there is less of a distance between the barrel axis of a Rhino and a standard revolver, the Rhino will not be a "whippy" when it is shot.

I've not fired one and hell, I've only seen one before. But I did notice that a Rhino appeared on last week's episode of Covert Affairs.


Having one's products appear in TV and in movies is the wet dream of any company's marketing department. The guys at Chiappa must be feeling pretty good about now.

UPDATE: The Rhino appeared in the TV commercial for the remake of "Total Recall", it was being wielded by Arnold Colin Farrell. [1]
______________________________
[1] I have to wonder about that movie. The remake of "Conan the Barbarian" might not have been a "John Carter" level flop, but it was right up there. And so the geniuses of Hollywood go out and remake another one of Ahhnold's movies?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sally Ride, R.I.P.

She was a physicist, one of the six women first selected by NASA in 1978 for astronaut training and the first American female astronaut (and the third woman) to fly in space. She flew on Challenger, missions STS-7 (1983) and STS-41-G (1984). Ride served on the presidential commission that investigated the 1985 Challenger disaster and on the investigation board following the Columbia breakup.

To say that she was an inspiring figure for a hell of a lot of girls would be an understatement.

Dr. Ride died today of pancreatic cancer. She was 61.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Aurora Police Face-Palm Moment

With regard to the recent massacre at a movie theater:
"What we're seeing here is evidence of, I think, some calculation and deliberation," [Aurora Police Chief Daniel] Oates said.
 
Tell me, Chief, how long did your detectives have to work on the case before you came to that conclusion?

Russian Aviation

The Russians once claimed that they had built the largest aircraft in the world, but it wasn't really any bigger than a DC-3.

It was an optical Ilyushin.

(Yes, I stole that pun from Avsig. So sue me.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Most Damning Charge That Can be Leveled Against Minnesota

Is that there are enough deranged voters to keeps sending a batshit-crazy racist like Michele Bachmann to Congress.

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Could Rep. Louie Gohmert Be Even More of an Idiot if He Worked at It?

Rep. Gohmert: Did No One Else in Aurora Theater Have a Gun?

I suspect that if Gohmert was any more of an imbecile, that he'd have his feet in a pot and he'd be watered twice a week.

For the moment, let's set aside Gohmert's babblings about how such things wouldn't happen if people were able to pray more in public. Let's instead look at the situation you'd be faced with if you were at that theater with your concealed pistol.

It's dark. The theater is packed. Some clown comes in from the front, through an emergency exit, lobs a smoke or gas grenade and begins shooting. Pandemonium ensues.

You wouldn't have known that he was wearing body armor. But you'd be trying to shoot a guy dressed head-to-toe in black gear in a very dark room. The clown had a rifle. You'd have a handgun, probably a compact 9mm or a five-shot .38 with open sights. With your heart pounding, adrenaline coursing through your system and your eyes watering from the smoke/gas grenade, you'd have to make the steadiest shot in your life. While he is shooting other people, the noise of his shots are ringing through the theater and people are screaming, dying and pushing to get the hell out of Dodge. And when he didn't go down to a couple of shots to center-of-mass, you'd have to very carefully shoot him in the face while he is trying to kill you with a far better weapon.

And all that assumes that you're maybe fifteen feet away from Asswipe, which is about as far as you probably can be and have a hope in hell of making the shot.

Having said all that, what you'd probably end up doing is hopefully distracting Asswipe long enough so some other people could escape. But for that, you'd pay with your life and probably cost the lives of people around you.

Bottom line: It would be like trying to stop a fully-involved house fire with a garden hose.

Gohmert is an idiot.

Caturday

I have no idea why Jake is only resting his head on that bad, rather than lie completely on it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Busting Up an Armed Robbery

I wonder if armed robbers can get Workers' Comp, since getting shot while carrying out their trade is kind of an occupational hazard.

(H/T)

Fucking UPS. "Delivery by the end of the day" apparently means "any time up and until 2359 local time".

Not Such a Hot Idea to Steal a Jet

The St. George [Utah] airport was closed Tuesday because of an incident involving a SkyWest plane and an employee wanted for questioning in a Colorado Springs homicide.


When those guys get pushed back in real life, there is a tug to push them away from the terminal and ramp rats to watch for safe clearance. Killer Boy tried to do it on his own with semi-predicable results. I hope that he had the courtesy to leave the airplane before he killed himself, but I suspect not. That's not going to be any fun to clean up.

According to CNN, I Own an Airplane That Could Drop a Bomb on the Kremlin!

But only if I were able to strap a 100lb bomb on it and take off from the Myachkovo Airport, that is.

So it would be pretty stupid of me to claim that I could, in fact, drop a bomb on the Kremlin.

But that is the logic of CNN, for one of their stenographers reporters claimed that Iran could hit the US with a missile. If Iran put the missile and its launcher on ship and sailed it to within 600 miles of our coastline. All without being spotted by the CIA, the NRO, the NSA, the Air Force or the Navy, that is.

You would think that after the Iraq fiasco, where many of the "zOMG, Saddam can do X, Y and Z" stories were later proven to be so false that some basic high-school-level fact-checking would have found that out,* that reporters would have a healthy degree of skepticism when dealing with future "zOMG, they can do this" stories and leaks from Ft. Fumble.

Bud sadly, no. The national press corps is as gullible and as easily manipulable in 2012 as there were in 2003. Put any old shit into an Iranian wrapper and those fools will eat it right up, and pronounce it as "good".
_________________________
* The "aluminum tubes for enriching uranium", teh "mobile biowarfare labs" and the "he's making UAVs" stories come readily to mind.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The View From a Pylon For a Red Bull Air Race

If the pylon had windows and people inside of it.

Let's Blame the Dead Guy

One of the persistent threads of post-crash investigations has been the focus on pilot error. Whether the investigators have fully-operable cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders or nothing other than an intermittent radar track and a record of the pilot's preflight weather briefing, it almost always comes down to what the pilots could have done to prevent the crash.*

Maybe the investigations reveal the truth of the matters. But it has always bothered me that the result almost always puts the responsibility for the crashes on the one set of players in the case who are not able to speak for themselves.

So when the Freeh Report puts part of the blame for the Penn State Child Molestation scandal on Joe Paterno, my initial reaction is that it seems kind of convenient that they are fixing responsibility on the dead guy.
________________
* In spite of known issues with the airplane.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dealing with the TSA: Prudence or Cowardice?

I am traveling this week to visit friends and family. I went to a heath-food store and bought some catnip for Jake. He really likes the stuff that they sell over the commercial-grade catnip sold in the pet stores.

But now I have a quandary: I have about four ounces of catnip in a baggie. On the trip out, I limited myself to one carry-on bag (to avoid both the delay of waiting for luggage and the fees each way).

You can probably tell where this is going: Can I trust that the TSA is going to be able to tell the difference between catnip and pot? Yes, I know that the TSA is supposed to care only about the safety of air travelers. But there is abundant evidence that the TSA people think that they are cops and you just know that there is some mall-cop-reject at a checkpoint who is going to think that four ounces of catnip means that he is going to make a huge drug bust. And I don't want to spend a few hours in an interrogation room at the airport (and miss my flights) because some overzealous wannabee cop thinks that catnip is pot.

So I am either going to give it away or ship it home with some other stuff that I bought. Because the TSA wants to keep me safe, right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hey, Batter, Batter!

Suppose that a pitcher could throw a baseball at 90% of the speed of light.

What happens next might surprise you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Savages

Does not suck. It most definitely does not suck. Considerable amount of violence, some pretty damn graphic. None of it is especially gratuitous, it's part of the movie.

The scene of a cartel member being necklaced was probably the most brutal part.

Look Down From the Sky

Passing overhead in commuter airliners.

Columbus, OH:


Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, or it used to be that. It's now part of some joint-base mashup, purportedly because it "saves money". At least that's what some politically-connected weasel thought. The older runways seem to be not used anymore, they're barely visible by Hangar One in the background.


The summer smog and haze is very noticeable once you're above it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Matter What Nation, Banksters are Thieves.

Over across the pond, the British banksters have been fixing the Libor rates. Libor is used to determine the interest rates for a lot of loans, especially variable rate loans. Barclays Bank has paid about $450 million in fines to settle charges that they were manipulating the Libor. The CEO of the bank eventually offered to forgo his bonus to show his contrition, but instead, he lost his job.

Boo fucking hoo. When are some of these guys going to start going to jail?*
______________________
* And not just for good old insider trading, either.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fucking With Google

Someone told me that the captchas that Google use are not only to see if you are a real person, but to help Google improve its character recognition algorithms. Two words or numbers are presented-- one that Google knows what it is (the "are you real" test) and what that they aren't sure of (the "you'll help us refine our algorithms and like it" one).

I've tested this by deliberately entering the wrong answer for one of the two tests, not an answer that is completely wrong, but one that is just off a little. So far, the erroneous answers seem to be, more often than not, accepted as valid.

Higgs Boson

They may have found it.

What the Higgs Boson is:



(Not to be confused with Bo'sun Higgs...)

Happy Fourth!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Approval Has Been Granted By the Ministry of Silly Walks

The daily Closing of the Border ceremony at Wagah on the Indian-Pakistani border.

Monday, July 2, 2012

NEXRAD Weather in the Cockpit

If you are a pilot who has a GPS that receives NEXRAD weather radar data, the NTSB wants you to know that the time-stamp on the image is the time that the mosaic image was created. It is not the time when the weather was painted by radar.

The time difference between where the weather was when the radar painted it and the time stamp of the image you see can be as much as twenty minutes. So while you may think that you are in the clear and a safe distance from that line of thunderstorms, those storms might we right where you're going to be.

If you fly and rely on NEXRAD, click on the above link.

On the Right: Get a Grip.

The Right has been going batshit nuts over the Supremes upholding the Affordable Care Act. They are talking about crap again such as "Second Amendment solutions" and arguing whether or not that is appropriate.

Get a grip, people. The guy you didn't want won the election in 2008. His party controlled the House from 2006 to 2010 and had enough people in the Senate to get what he wanted, though he needed a couple of people from your party to get it done.

Well, he got it done. And the Supremes upheld it. That's how the Constitution set up the government.

You don't like it? That's fine. You're free to your opinion. You're free to support the politicians who promise to reverse things. That is how it is done under our political system.[1]

But because you lost this one political fight, you're now talking about tearing the government down? That makes you sound, in essence, like dangerous children. You lost at the game, this time, and you're now talking about kicking over the board and scattering the pieces to the winds?

Are you all fucking nuts?
________________________________
[1] Although choosing as your standard-bearer the former state governor who enacted virtually the same system in his state may not be the smartest thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Caturday

Jake, slowly waking up from nap #3 of the day.