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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Which Corporate Crime is More Serious?

See if you can guess which corporate crime is punished more severely:

A. Serving customers cheap booze when they paid for top shelf.

B. Destroying evidence to cover up culpability for a fatal industrial accident.

If you guessed "A", then you are right. TGI Fridays paid a fine for switching booze that was two and a half times the fine paid by Halliburton for destroying evidence related to the catastrophic Gulf Oil Spill of 2010.

Crimus, the employees at Halliburton probably waste more than $200,000 in coffee each week.

Halliburton also coughed up $55 million in blood money to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. They said the donation was "voluntary", which could mean that even Halliburton was embarrassed by the pittance it had to pay for a fine.

Justice may be blind, but sometimes she also seems to have a very low IQ.

The NSA Can Watch Every Click or Keystroke You Make Online

It is called XKeyscore. They collect all of it and if an analyst wants to look at everything you do for any reason, he or she can. They don't need a warrant or authorization from that toothless bag of wind known as the FISA court.

All they have to do is fill out some bullshit form that nobody ever looks at. Lord help you if you're in a messy divorce and your spouse's second cousin's lover happens to work at the NSA or a related contractor.

The vast amount of data that the NSA can collect is the reason why they are building a server farm the size of a small city out in the wastelands of Utah. They want to keep it all, forever.

Markus Wolf would be green with envy if he were still alive.

We are about at the point where you should keep in mind that everything you do or say online should be treated as though it was appearing on one of those huge LCD billboards next to a highway.

And of course, the pro-police state caucus up on Capitol Hill will see nothing wrong with any of this.

UPDATE: Seconds before a hearing in the Senate, the MTAHNS declassified and released a FISA court order and some other documents. So they can say they're being "transparent" and yet not allow the Senators any time to read the damn things.

Also, note that with regard the claim that "wiretapping everyone foiled X terrorist plots", the number represented by X keeps decreasing.

UPDATE II: Per one of the comments, Google wrote a lot of the software that the NSA is using to spy on everyone. So Google's motto has morphed from "Don't Be Evil" to "Evil, Inc.".

Tales From the Vast Wasteland; NCIS Edition

Cote de Pablo, who plays Ziva David on the top-ranked show NCIS, is leaving after eight seasons. CBS says they offered her a boatload of money to stay.

At least in a couple minutes of trolling the Internet, no reason jumps out. Still, it's interesting to note that NCIS has a track record of burning through its female characters. While Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo and Timmy McGee keep going on, Jenny Shepard and Kate Todd were killed off and now Ziva David is leaving (we'll have to wait for the series premiere to see if she got whacked).

As for what happens to de Pablo's career and the wisdom of her decision, lets just say that there is no shortage of actors who left hit series (and millions of dollars in pay and syndication deals) only to find their careers cratering for either years or forever.

I've watched the show because the characters have been intriguing. What has been less interesting is that the characters themselves operate in a Constitution-free zone, engaging in acts from illegal searches, illegal interrogations, arrests without probable cause and even murder. Last season, when an attorney from the Department of Justice attempted to enforce the law on Gibbs's team, political favors were called in and that investigation was shut down. To the extent that TV shows like NCIS routinely show law enforcement treating the Bill of Rights like a piece of scrap paper, they are basically evil, for they are desensitizing millions of viewers to their own civil rights.

As for the real NCIS, let's just say that I have little regard for them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mayor Nanny McNoGuns Loses Again (in Court)

Mayor Bloomberg appealed a state trial court decision that ruled that his ban of large sodas was unconstitutional.*

He lost.

Of course, the little megalomaniac is going to appeal to the NY State Court of Appeals.
_________________________________________________________
In NY, the county-level trial court is the "Supreme Court". I don't use that terminology because it confuses people.

When Someone You Know Is Sick, Don't Be a Dick

The way to avoid being a putz when someone you know is seriously ill turns out to be a pretty simple concept.

It's called the Ring Theory of Kvetching.

JP Morgan Chase: Another Enron

Just like Enron did a dozen yeas ago, JP Morgan Chase has been manipulating and churning the electrical energy markets. They were caught red-handed.

JHC on Roller Skates, Gentle Readers, when are we going to realize that the big banks are nothing more than criminal enterprises and start hammering them with RICO charges?

Or we can haul out the guillotines.

Either way.

Monday, July 29, 2013

NSA: "It's Only Metadata"

The MTAHNS and their allies on the Hill have also been spreading that malarky. And it's complete bullshit
. Metadata reveals a shitload about you and your relationships with other people.

If you use Gmail, you can see it for yourself, if you don't mind running the risk, however slight, that the NSA may get a second look at your shit.

Shorter Obama: Civil Liberties Я Us

This is where we have sunk to: We have to assure the Russians that we don't torture people:
In a letter sent this week, US attorney general Eric Holder told his Russian counterpart that the charges faced by Snowden do not carry the death penalty. Holder added that the US "would not seek the death penalty even if Mr Snowden were charged with additional, death penalty-eligible crimes".

Holder said he had sent the letter, addressed to Alexander Vladimirovich, Russia's minister of justice, in response to reports that Snowden had applied for temporary asylum in Russia "on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty".

"These claims are entirely without merit," Holder said. In addition to his assurance that Snowden would not face capital punishment, the attorney general wrote: "Torture is unlawful in the United States."
What the AG failed to mention, of course, is that if Snowden were snatched by the CIA, that he could be "renditioned" to a country that does torture people, or held in a "black site" prison or on a prison ship.

For that's how this country now rolls. MTAHNS would try to assert the same sort of plausible deniability that S-CHIP did. This Administration, just like its predecessor, has had no problems with keeping people it doesn't like in long-term pre-trial detention in conditions that are tantamount to torture. Snowden is right to conclude that even living in Russia would be preferable to trusting in the Federal justice system.

On another note, it's a pretty sad commentary on the state of journalism in this country that the most extensive coverage of the NSA's snooping apparently is on a foreign newspaper's website, with the possible exception of McClatchy.

UPDATE: I probably should have read the Guardian article a bit closer, for they really fucked up the name of the Russian Justice Minster. His name is Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov. The error should have been blindingly obvious to me, as Vladimirovich is a Russian patronym, not a surname. My apologies.*
_______________________________________
* Same thing for Susan Ivanova, actually.

Acronym Alert

MTAHNS = "The Most Transparent Administration in History, No Shit" =The Obama Administration.

Because that's what they say while they regard journalists as Russian spies.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bangity- Range Report

I took the carbine to the range today. Through the irons, it shot 3" high at 25 yards. Good enough for what I might use it for.

The scope didn't feel right. I couldn't get anything resembling a cheek weld on the stock. Go figure, the stock is designed for using iron sights and, since that scope mount is a "see-thru" kind, the scope is even higher than it would be otherwise.

I took the scope off (and ordered plug screws from Numrich to fill the mounting holes). If I need to shoot at ranges where a scope would be useful, I have my .30-06 Interarms "Frankenrifle". Or my Mosin.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

SR-71:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

You Can Thank Cats For the Hubble Space Telescope

No, I am not kidding. The study of the physics of how cats can right themselves gave rise to being able to control the attitude of spacecraft without using reaction jets.



The Cat Flip video

My Only Post About Anthony Weiner

OK, so he's a sexting doouchebag.

Consider that he'd be replacing a megalomaniac[1] who not only rammed through a removal of term limits[2] so he could be the mayor for a third term, but who is the living, breathing, walking personification of the Nanny State.[3] Or, if you will, his private police state.[4]

Compared to the pseudo-fascism of Michael Bloomberg, a mayor who likes to "sext" his female acquaintances would be a vast improvement.
__________________________________
[1] "I have the seventh largest army in the world!"
[2] Never mind that those limits were enacted by two public referenda. Fuhrer Bloomie wanted another term and another term he got.
[3] No trans fat in foods, big gulps and if you want to buy a cig, it's like asking for hard-core porn.
[4] Bloomberg thinks that the current NYPD policy of frisking people on suspicion of "walking while non-white" is just great.

Caturday

Jake is giving me the "quit whatever you are doing and scratch my belly" look,


Friday, July 26, 2013

Why is that Bank President's Head Not on a Pike?

An Vinton County [Ohio] woman is looking to get her belongings back after a bank incorrectly broke into her house and took them.

Katie Barnett says that the First National Bank in Wellston foreclosed on her house, even though it was not her bank.
And, of course, they don't want to make good on the damage they caused.
Barnett said that according to the bank president, this was the first time something like this has happened.

She presented him with an $18,000 estimate to replace the losses, but the president refused to pay.

“He got very firm with me and said, ‘We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is,’” Barnett said. “I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer. They took my stuff and I want it back.”
What the bank is doing to "help" her is looking for similar items that people have dumped along the road and telling Barnett where that stuff is. (I am not making this up.)

So because the Bank of Wellston broke into her house and took all of her shit, Ms. Barnett, the victim, is supposed to go around to second-hand stores and yard sales to find clothes and stuff that is of equal used value to what the fucking bank stole?

The president of the bank is Eric Emmert. The CFO is Sherri Thompson.

My tongue-in-cheek suggestion is that Ms. Barnett ought to hire a crew of movers and go take their shit for her own use. Of course then the McArthur P.D., who did not give a shit about the bank stealing her stuff, would probably care about her stealing the banksters' stuff.

I ask again: Can we please get on with building the guillotines?

(H/T)

Addition; Bangity Edition

This just came into my hands:


You probably recognize it as a Winchester Model 1894.

This one is probably of 1990s vintage. It has a cross-bolt safety, which the purists absolutely despise.*

It also is topped with a Tasco four-power scope. I've not heard anything good from anyone about Tascos. Back in the day, a hunting buddy of mine had a 3-9X Tasco on a rifle and that thing would not hold a zero if he cycled the magnification back and forth (he got a 4x Weaver).

Besides the Tasco itself, putting a scope on a nice handy carbine seems to defeat the purpose of having a nice handy carbine. When I get around to it, I might put a receiver sight on it.

But first, I'll have to take it out to the range one of these days.
___________________________________________
* It also has a hammer extension, which would seem to be useful only if one were wearing astronaut's gloves.

How Can You Tell That a NSA Spokesman is Lying?

His lips are moving.

This was a whopper from Shawn Turner, the director of communications for national intelligence:
"As the director of national intelligence has made clear, we welcome a healthy public dialogue about transparency and national security, and are hopeful that careful consideration of the impact to the safety and security of our nation will precede any changes to existing laws."
That's just bullshit. Earlier, they admitted that they hoped that nobody would find out that the NSA (and the Postal Service) are snooping on everyone. They want this debate about as much as a thief is eager to talk about making restitution for stealing shit.

There will be another hearing and, this time, the critics are going to be permitted to speak, rather than the liars and dissemblers from the Universe of Spooks.

All honor to Edward Snowden, for he exposed this again.* He dragged that nest of vipers out into the daylight for all to see. Shame on us if we let them crawl back under the rocks of national security without dealing with them.
___________________________________________
*It was exposed for the first time in 2007, but Republicans didn't seem to care, then.

Oh, Goldman-Sachs, Is There Any Amount of Fuckery That You Won't Engage In?

Goldman Sachs has been artificially inflating the cost of aluminum, costing the economy billions of dollars a year.

The Daily Show covered this last night in two parts.

Goldman Sachs is creating artificial bottlenecks to drive up the price of the product that it controls. Which was the Enron strategy in a nutshell.

Can we set up the guillotines, now, please?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Talking to a Reporter is the Same as Spying for the Chinese

That would seem to be the line being taken by The Most Transparent Administration in History, No Shit.

Part of the new "all reporters are spies" theme is that everyone in DasGov has now been charged with ratting out their co-workers and if they don't, well Comrade, that's just the same as spying for the Russians. Apparently, if they're reading the Onion (or maybe the Duffel Blog), that's an indication that they may not be trustworthy-- because humor is incompatible with government service.

Has this Administration finally taken leave of its senses? Did they dig up the mouldering corpse of Franz Kafka and give him a job?

The Snitch to Come in Your Car

Federal safety authorities Tuesday called for all U.S. cars, trucks and buses to come equipped with technology that would allow them to "talk" to one another to help avoid accidents.
Right. And since your car would be broadcasting its speed, location, direction of travel, whether or not its wipers and/or headlights were on, you'd have no expectation of privacy in any of that information.

Which means that government(s) would be free to collect it.

Which means that corporations would collect it to sell you targeted ads.

Maybe you're on a strict diet for medical reasons, so now your car would rat you out for stopping at the local Retch `n Run for a cheeseburger, fries and a shake. Maybe your insurance company will adjust your rates because you use your brakes too much (one already does this).

Here's my reaction: No. Fucking. Way. I'll happily pour repair money into used (non-wireless) cars. I already carry one government spying device with me most of the time, I don't need one in my car.

I don't know the NTSB lunatics who came up with this idea, but they should be forced to read the 4th Amendment aloud and then flogged on the Washington Mall with an old set of tire chains.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Amash-Conyers Amendment Fails

To follow up on the previous post, the amendment failed to pass.The vote tally is here.

If your Congresscritter was one of the "noes", I respectfully suggest that you contact your Congressional weasel and rip them a new one. Conversely, if your honorable representative voted "aye", you might want to let him or her know that you appreciate their standing up for liberty and freedom from government surveillance.

Bravo for the House (So Far); NSA Edition

The White House urged House members to vote against a measure from Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, that would stop the NSA siphoning up the telephone records of millions of Americans without suspicion of a crime.
The measure cleared the House Rules Committee, which set off a flurry of lobbying by the Administration and Emperor NSA Director Alexander.

The goal of the spooks is plain: Delay this issue until they can divert the public's attention elsewhere, then continue on with business as usual. Amash has the better idea: Stop the spooks now and thus force them to come to the table to hash things out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If You Let the Valets Park Your Car at the Airport, the TSA Will Search It.

Or they'll cut a deal with the parking service to search your car a few times, and maybe collect your spare change.

I agree with this post, in that the TSA keeps pushing to see what sort of intrusions people will tolerate. They're not searching cars parked in the regular parking lots, because there. they'd have to interact with the drivers themselves, who are likely as not to not only tell them to fuck off, but to go post their experiences on the Internet. So they'd rather get some $9/hr valet parker to do their dirty work for them.

At least the valet service at the Rochester Airport told their customers that they were rifling through their cars at the behest of the TSA.

This is the sort of stuff that every last one of us needs to push back against. Once this kind of crap becomes routine, it's too late.

In other related news, the AOPA now has their version of the ACLU's "bust card". If you fly in this age of Vanishing Civil Liberties, you should have copies of both cards in your flight bag.

Stopping the Bleeding; Dubai Edition

A Norwegian woman who was sentenced to prison in Dubai after reporting that she was raped has been given a pardon and will be heading home soon, she said Monday. ... A spokeswoman for Norway's Foreign Ministry, Ragnhild Imerslund, said Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had said [Marte Deborah] Dalelv was free to travel where she wants and can remain in Dubai if she chooses.
That just gets this story out of the news cycle. The laws in Dubai haven't been changed. A woman in Dubai (and probably most countries in that region) who is raped and calls the cops stands a chance of being arrested for being the victim of a violent crime.

Which is a good reason to stay the hell away from there. Unless, say, you're sitting in the front office of a bombed-up B-1B.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wuffo the .17WSM?

The .17 Winchester Super Magnum is a new rimfire cartridge that is roughly equivalent to the .17 Hornet and similar rounds.

I don't know if this'll pass the marketplace's "so, what" test. At least with an orphan centerfire cartridge, somebody who bought the rifle (and who likes it) can get the dies to form their own brass from a parent cartridge. With a rimfire cartridge, if the ammo goes out of production, you're kind of shit outta luck (tried to buy any new .32 rimfire recently?).

Apparently, they had to make the rim of the cartridge pretty thick in order to contain the pressure of the cartridge going off. So as a result, the rim has to be hit at "the Hammer of Thor" levels of force to fire the primer compound. They made the rifle "cock on close" to lessen the effort, but it still takes some decent "oomph" to do that.

And all that assumes that you can find the cartridges, which seem to be made of unobtainium, just like all other rimfire rounds.

These days, if I was going to buy a new rifle, I'd get one chambered in either 7mm Magnum or 7.62 rimmed Russian. 7mm Magnum is available everywhere around here and 7.62x54R is still available in ComBloc spam tins. .270 Winchester is almost as available.

Government Security Stupidity At Its Finest

Say you work for DasGov in DHS or DoD. You're reading the WaPo online or some of the blogs, and you come across this graphic:


Whoopsie. That slide is classified out the wazoo and you probably don't have the clearance to see it. So you're supposed to call your local security asswipes, who will then probably come goose-stepping to your cube and confiscate your computer.

Which, in the reality based world, is stupid beyond belief. That slide (and these, which were redone because for all of their billions of dollars, the NSA makes ugly graphics) is out in the public domain, now. So a DHS employee can't look at the slide at work (or at home), but they can drop by a local Internet cafe or a library and see it there?

But that's nothing new. The DoD has been blocking the Guardian because they don't want the troops to be reminded that DasGov is Watching You!


This would be as stupid as if forty years ago, the DoD had cops standing in the doorways of Ft. Fumble to confiscate every copy of the NYT or WaPo that contained excerpts from the Pentagon Papers.

Shorter Microsoft: "We'll Save Time and Just CC Alla Yer Shit to the NSA For You. Yer Welcome."

You may know that the more recent versions of Microsoft Outlook contain an encryption protocol.

What you may not know is that Microsoft has given master keys to the NSA.

I will reiterate this point: If you use cloud storage, you had better resign yourself to the point that the Feds can and will rummage through your files whenever it suits them, for they're probably collecting them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Working Steam

On the SL&RGRR:

Get Raped, Report It and Go to Jail

That's how things are done in Dubai, where being raped is a crime.

Because the Number Fits


That photo was taken back in the day when passenger cars were compatible with steam locomotives, so steam excursions didn't need to drag along a diesel to provide electricity and heat.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

The Bone!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Caturday

It's warm enough in this place that I couldn't stand it without ceiling fans, but Jake still has to go seek out a sunbeam to warm up his old bones.


He got a scratch or acne or something on his jaw and he scratched at it to the point of getting it looking a little nasty. Twice-daily wiping down with isopropyl alcohol and twice-daily doses of clavimox cured that. He came to really dislike the medicine, 2ml squirted ino his mouth was not very dignified. I think he was almost wishing I'd go take another trip.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ruminations on Guns, Self-Defense, Eric Holder and Assholes

Somebody once said: "An unknown situation with a gun is better than an unknown situation without one."

I think that's true. But here's the thing: Guns don't make you into Captain America or the Lone Ranger. As BadTux pointed out, if you go looking for trouble, trouble will find you. And if you're some self-important asshole, you'll find it, all right.

For all of the whinging of the pro-Zimmerman crowd that "his life is ruined", I say: "Tough shit." Zimmerman chose to to get into a confrontation with Martin, who wasn't doing anything wrong. Even if Martin didn't have a right to be where he was (which he most certainly did), the worst thing that he would have been doing is trespassing, which ranges from a violation to a misdemeanor, and is most certainly not something that you shoot somebody over. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer. Their mission is to act as the eyes and ears of law enforcement, or to put it another way: To observe and report. They're not trained to make arrests, to get into fights or to use deadly force.

What Zimmerman should have done was stay in his car and keep watch. This is not even a close question.

As for the case itself-- This is an old saying: Bad cases make for bad laws. I am generally in favor of stand your ground laws. Things happen fast in real life, and what happens on the street in a half-second may not be fairly assessed two years later by a bunch of people munching pizza in an air-conditioned room. The "duty to retreat" in many states is meaningless, for it implies that you have to turn your back and outrun an attacker who probably is bigger, faster and younger than you are. If someone is bringing violence to you, it's pretty unreasonable to be legally required to have to run.

But I also think that the totality of the situation should matter, not merely uttering the magic incantation: "I was in fear for my life." And I also think that there is an argument to be made for putting the burden of proof, at least to the "more likely than not" standard, on the person asserting that they were justified in using deadly force.

There is something wrong with the idea that a person can pick a fight with another person, then say "fight's over", and if the other guy has the wind up in his sails and continues fighting, then the first guy, the one who started the fight, pulls out his heater and shoots the guy he attacked in the first place and tells the cops "I was in fear for my life", and the cops, in essence, have to respond: "Very good, sir. Here's your gun, would you prefer it if we have our armorer clean it for you?" That doesn't pass the fairness test.

I'm not criticizing the jury in the Zimmerman case. The law is what it is and their job was to look at the facts presented to them and judge them in accordance with the law, not what they'd wish the law was.

As to whether or not the case should have been brought, keep this in mind: In virtually every place I know of, the local district attorney (or prosecutor) is an elected official (or works for one). If there is a clamoring for a case to be brought (or a powerful patron pushing it), they're going to do that. The prosecutor in the Zimmerman case can now go to the voters and say: "hey, I tried, the facts weren't there for a conviction" and probably suffer nothing for it. If the prosecutor had made the call herself, then she might have suffered politically for it.

If there is one thing that politicians look out for, it's their own skins. And that applies to Attorney General Holder, as well.

Bankrupt Detroit

Detroit has gone bankrupt.

It's probably long overdue.

I don't know shit about Chapter 9 bankruptcy law. Apparently, whoever is in charge then gets a lot of power to shed obligations, unless the state passes some laws limiting that.

Figure that the first group of people who are going to be royally hosed with be the city's retirees. Since Detroit's Overlord works for the governor of Michigan, a Koch-brand Republican, expect that the poor, the workers, the schoolchildren and the retirees will bear the brunt of Detroit's restructuring and that the investor class, who hold the city's bonds, won't even notice what happens.

As for the "Detroit will come back" claim by said teabagging governor, I don't know what drugs he's been using, but they're apparently very strong ones. This website today lists almost 400 residential properties in the city that are for sale for $10,000 or less.

So the good news is that you can buy a home for very little in Detroit, and the bad news is then you'd own a home in Detroit. Sixty years ago, Detroit had a population of about 1,850,000 and now has a population of a skosh over 700,00 people. That's one reason why the city has blocks and blocks of abandoned buildings. Much of the city probably can (and should) be bulldozed and turned back into prairie.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Roost; Home; Chickens; CIA

Former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, convicted in Italy of kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric, has been arrested in Panama, Italian and Panamanian officials said on Thursday.
That's the problem with doing a black op in another country: They might take umbrage at it. The Italians did and the CIA, probably expecting that the Italians, our allies, would have have their back, got a little sloppy.*

Tough break for Mr. Lady, who planned to retire in Italy, but not in a prison cell.

Object lesson for CIA spooks in this: If you screw up in the field, you're on your own.**
_______________________________________________
* Feel free to snark on the folly of relying on Italy to be an ally. It's late and I'm tired.
** Sort of like being allied with the Italians, when you think of it.

Bet Yer Ass That the NSA is Watching Everything That You Do

If it involves electrons or photons carrying information about you, you can be pretty damn sure that the NSA is collecting it. The NSA's deputy director said that if the NSA wanted to collect every one's tax records or credit/debit card records, they'd just go as the FISA court for permission.

Since the FISA court grants 99.999% of the warrants requested, well, chances are that they are already doing it. And yes, they really thought they'd never get caught:
[President] Obama, too, has said he welcomes the debate over surveillance. But his administration never wanted the debate to be quite so specific.

That was obvious when Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked Litt whether he really believed the government could keep such a vast surveillance program a secret forever.

"Well," Litt replied, "we tried."
Your government is watching you. The cops are watching where you drive. Corporations, almost all of whom are sociopathically amoral, are also collecting license plate data for whatever purposes suits their need for profits.

The NSA problem can be fixed, maybe. As Congressman Sensenbrenner stated, their authorization expires in 2015 and if there is one thing that Congress is good at, it's blocking legislation. Then it's a matter of catching them collecting and sending their top brass to prison.

To stop the license plate collectors, new legislation is needed. That's going to be harder.

Oh, and by the way, at least for now, it's legal for the government to utter the magic words "suspected of terrorism" and they can hold you forever.

("Free country", my ass.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Asiana Airlines Rethinks Its Lawsuit

So they first were going to sue over their butthurt over their crew's names being given out as: "Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wei Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow".

Now, supposedly because the TV station apologized, they've thought better of it.

Bullshit. KTUV almost immediately apologized on the air for reading those names. I more suspect that Asiana's crack legal team realized the same point that I made before: The airline's reputation was damaged from crashing a triple-7 during an approach in fine weather and killing at least three of its passengers.

Morons.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another Thought Experiment:
Even if the NSA Stopped Spying On Americans....

... they'd still get all of the same data. The NSA would just get it from the other members of the "Five Eyes", a cabal of English-speaking spy agencies.

So the Yanks would spy on the Brits, the Poms would spy on the Canucks, the Canadians would spy on the Americans, the Aussies would spy on the Kiwis, who would in turn, spy on the Ozzies and everybody would share everything, like a giant Playschool of Spooks.

As for the rest of us, we're fighting to keep some remaining tatters of our privacy, but we're kind of like one of those Japanese soldiers who were hiding in the Phillipine jungles- this fight is long over and we've lost. The spooks have been wiretapping all of us for well over a decade and, unless we're all going to march on Ft. Meade, hang Emperor Alexander and burn the place to ashes*, I don't know of fuck-all that can be done to thwart it. As I've written before, no matter who we elect to clean this up, they'll fall in love with the power at their command.

And even if we were to change the law and get the NSA out of the business of running the total information network, we have no guarantees that they'd pay attention.

So while we can keep on trying to regain our privacy and 4th Amendment rights, it's kind of like standing at Masada and watching the 10th Roman Legion building the siege ramp.
_______________________________________________________
* I am not advocating or proposing either action.  This is only a thought experiment.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Asiana 214: Good Luck With That Lawsuit, Bucko

Asiana plans to sue a California television station that mistakenly aired fake, racially offensive names for the pilots of the flight that crashed last week in San Francisco, the airline announced Monday.
Asiana Airlines is complaining about some serious butthurt:
"The reputation of the four pilots and of the company had been seriously damaged by this report. The company is reviewing taking legal action against both KTVU-TV and the NTSB," the South Korean carrier said in a statement.
Good luck with that. Using offensive names for the pilots doesn't nowhere near damage the reputation of Asiana Airlines like getting really low and slow, crashing a 300 million dollar airplane in CAVOK conditions and killing three passengers.

Texas: A New Face of Modern Moranity

Maybe somebody can explain the biological concept behind this guy and his sign:


“We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help a woman, basically clean her out.”—State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, June 23rd on House floor.

And yes, this really happened:


If case you've forgotten the reason for the title:

Walk Like an Egyptian

One of the criticisms leveled at deposed Egyptian president Morsi was that he only listened to his supporters, that he did not seem to care about the point that nearly 50% of the people disagreed with his policies.

I feel that I must note that if that was the criteria for whether or not to depose a president, that tanks should have been rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue by 2003. He seemed to care little about things that were not priorities for his base. The entire Terry Schiavo affair, where both Bush and his elder brother (then governor of Florida) used every possible mechanism of government to keep alive a brain-dead white woman, including Bush, who cut short one of his hundreds of trips back to his hobby-ranch in order to return to sign the Schiavo Federal Meddling Bill.

The difference in Egypt may have been that Morsi was changing the constitution. He attempted to place his decisions above judicial review and it was probably likely that he was trying to jerrymander things so that his faction was not defeatable for anything.

Which, of course, if you look at the makeup of our own House of Representatives, is kind of what goes on here.

Where Asiana 214 Should Have Been


This video reconstruction shows the flight path of Fight 214, compared to a normal flight path. You can see the last-second pitch-up to keep from flying into the seawall.



For comparison purposes, the reference (or "ghost") airplane is flying slower than it should have been. At the proper airspeed, it would have moved quickly past 214. I would have liked to have seen the video start further out, as it may have shown that 214 was well above the glide path.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bangity- Fun Part Over

I went to a 3-gun match. I shot both of these rifles, a Mosin PU sniper and a Krag carbine.


Not shown are the other two guns, a Model 10 and an Ithaca over/under 20 gauge.

In spite of being the only shooter with a double-action revolver, one of two shooters with double-barreled shotguns and the only shooter with bolt-action rifles, I was not the slowest in the bunch, by far.

The timer-dude had some fancy earplugs that he said worked right well until he had to stand next to me as I fired that Krag. I've forgotten how rare they are, for most of the other guys had never seen a .34-40 cartridge, let along a Krag.

Now, what I should have done was bring a bolt-action .22 and a .22 revolver, for cleanup is a comparative breeze. But it wouldn't have been as much fun and part of the fun I have at these matches is the "what the hell is she shooting this time" comments.

Details: The targets were four steel plates at 20 yards (handgun), two small silhouette plates at 20 and 25 yards (shotgun) and 50 and 75 yard paper silhouettes, double-tap to each (rifle). The handgun targets were devilishly hard to hit.

There was a guy who shot his cowboy guns in the batch. We joked that he and I were the only shooters who hadn't stepped into the 20th Century (scope on the Mosin notwithstanding).

Life is Good if You Work for Goldman Sachs

You can get drunker than a lord in the middle of the day, stumble into people, scream racial epithets at them, pick a fight with the guy you just insulted, lose the fight and then, you get a ride to the hospital and the guy you picked the fight with goes to jail.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A test run of an engine from a V-1 (or JB-2 "Loon")



The key bit of information in a V-1 attack was to hear the Doodlebug pass by. If, on the other hand, you heard it approaching and the engine cut out, then you knew the beast was diving. The engine's quitting was a design defect and the Germans eventually fixed it, eliminating the attack warning.

The Germans had plans to build fighters using pulse-jet engines, but as the Argus 014 engine reportedly had a TBO of about one hour, those airplanes would have likely functioned almost as single-use aircraft.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tunch is Gone

Sad news from Balloon Juice: Tunch is dead.


R.I.P., Tunch.

Caturday; Shelter Edition

A mother at five kittens at a shelter.


Spay and neuter your pets, people.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How Gullible is Your Local TV News Station?

"Very"



This from a station that brags about being "100% accurate".....


UC Freshman Orientation to Include Cavity Searches

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, will step down from her post to lead the University of California system.
Because nothing qualifies someone to deal with "academic freedom" as someone who has run what is probably the one Federal cabinet department that is most opposed to individual freedom and liberty.

Asiana 214- Not a Good Excuse?

Federal crash investigators revealed Wednesday that the pilot flying Asiana Airlines Flight 214 told them that he was temporarily blinded by a bright light when 500 feet above the ground.
I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and guess that when the airplane was at 500' AGL, that it was already too low and too slow.

But let's skip past that for a minute and look at the "blinded by the light" statement.

Runway 28L at KSFO has a true bearing of 297 degrees (or, if you like the old compass points, that's between west-northwest and northwest by west). The airplane was in final, so that's the direction that the pilots would be looking. The Sun was behind them, local apparent noon was almost two hours later.

There were at least three pilots in that cockpit. My suspicion is that the path to smack the seawall at KSFO was apparent long before this mysterious blinding light.

I'm not saying that there wasn't a light. But you can color me "very skeptical" of that story.

"The Bridge"-- Really??

I watched the pilot for The Bridge. The critics seem to like the show, but they got to see several episodes in advance. I'm just riffing off the 90-minute pilot (with commercials).

I get the "mismatched partners" bit. It's used a lot.

But damn, isn't the "female detective who does not play well with others" trope getting a bit overused? This one is so malfunctional that I have to wonder how she got through her probationary period in uniformed patrol.

I'm also a little bit curious as to why El Paso would have a dedicated homicide unit. They seem to average about 20 killings a year. Like most places, their crime rate began dropping two decades after Rove v. Wade. When the domestic killings and child abuse-killings are taken out of the mix, they're probably down to a dozen or fewer that need any intensive investigation.

But that's the same sort of quibbling as wondering why a deputy U.S. Marshal that shoots about two people a month would still be out on the streets.

I'll probably DVR and watch it for a bit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

If You Are Reading This in Florida, You are Breaking the Law

Because Florida just outlawed the use of all networked devices that could be used to play a game of chance. Not "is" used, "could be" used. And since you could visit a gambling website on any networked computer or smartphone, you're breaking the law if you use one.

That'll put a real crimp into all of the libraries that used web-based catalogs. Schools can forget about distance learning, employees can forget about telecommuting. All of the cable companies should shut off Internet access to everyone, lest they facilitate gambling.

Good old Florida, even the legislature in Texas is looking at them and saying: "Guys, really?"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Don't Forget to Take Your NSA-Approved Tracker With You When You Leave Your Home.

If you have an Android-OS smartphone, you should know that part of the code for that OS was developed by the NSA.

Because, of course, the American Stasi NSA only has your best interests at heart.

(H/T)

UPDATE: BadTux disagrees. He posted a comment, which is worth the read. I am copying it here:
Actually, in this case, the NSA-written code has been thoroughly vetted and does exactly what it is supposed to do -- it adds fine-grained security structures to Android so that virus programs cannot easily break out of their "sandbox" and compromise the rest of the operating system. We've been using a previous NSA contribution to Linux that does exactly the same thing, SELinux, for years.

The deal is that there are multiple different departments within the NSA. There is the department charged with spying on the world (and on Americans now, it appears), and there is the department charged with preventing *other* nations from spying on America. I have spent a large amount of time over the past fifteen years interacting with the second group of people, since I was one of the "Cryptopunks" who defeated the Clinton administration's proposal to put spy chips into every electronic device (the so-called "Clipper Chip", which we proved could be broken by foreign powers -- and furthermore, we proved that *any* such algorithm placed into end-user devices that had a "phone home" capabilities like that could be broken by foreign powers).

SELinux (and the related Android extensions) were written by the second group, the group charged with keeping foreigners from spying on America. The code has been vetted by people I trust, up to and including Linus Torvalds, who is not a person who suffers fools or government interference lightly. (Really. He's a total opinionated asshole. Which is why he is a software engineering god. If he thinks the code is good, it's good). We looked at that code and decided it added sufficient security enhancements to Linux that it was worth rolling into the mainstream Linux kernel. Which is no easy task, not with Linus Torvalds up there looking for a reason, any reason, to reject additional functionality for Linux. (He has to do that, otherwise the kernel would bloat to the size of Microsoft Windows). Every single line had to be proved necessary, and every single line had to be proved to do what it said it was doing. That's just how things work in Linux.

In other words: This notion of "NSA spy code in Android" is just paranoid garbage from utter technological incompetents who don't have a clue. Those of us who have looked at the code and vetted it know that it does what it says it does. The reality is that the NSA doesn't need spy code in Android. They have AT&T and Verizon to do their spying for them both via taps in the telco pipes and via the 911 GPS locator beacon that was mandated for every cell phone over a decade ago :).
I will `fess up to not trusting the NSA, but then again, I have the same feelings about all intel agencies. I don't know if the dividing line between what he describes as two sides of the NSA is as delineated as he implies. But the point he raises about the NSA not being able to just sneak code into Linux is a good one. (Unlike, say, Windows, where they may have done just that.)

Preppers: Money to Burn?

In an email from an outdoor retailer, I received this article about what the author regards as the ultimate SHTF gun.

I read it and started thinking "WTF?"

Here's why: First off, let's quickly dispense with the point about .22LR ammunition being plentiful. I'm guessing that Our Correspondent hasn't been inside of a gun shop recently. The only .22 stuff I routinely see on the shelves in any quantity is Eley target, which is more expensive than W-W "white box" .38 Specials.

Second, Our Correspondent admits that what he wanted was a Freedom Arms .22 revolver with a Trijicon ACOG sight. That's a revolver with a MSRP of $2,270 and a sight that costs another grand on top of it. Which gives you an idea of what he is playing with for costs.

So what does he go with? A Ruger MkIII Hunter (MSRP $679), $324 in tools to fix the gun, and $946.50 in parts to tune it up the way he wants. Close to two grand, and that's before smaller costs, such as a few bulk boxes of shells and some extra magazines.

So what would I go for?

First off, I'll accept the point that stainless steel is preferable for a low-maintenance situation. And if the situation is such where you don't want to be seen openly carrying, a long-barred .22 automatic with an optic mounted on top seems kind of, well, counterintuitive.

So what would I prescribe? Something cheap, reasonably durable, and more than one of them. And a revolver, which means that you're not losing magazines. You could buy three Taurus 94s or Charter Arms Pathfinders for what Our Correspondent is paying in parts and tools. Sure, you're not going to be shooting squirrels in the head at 50 yards with either revolver. But you are going to be able to shoot .22 shorts or CB caps in either one, which you're not going to do with any ease in an autoloader. For if you are playing the "SHTF What-If Game", you can imagine a scenario where not announcing to everyone for a mile or so around that you have just used a gun may be a good idea.

Neither of those revolvers in .22 are fancy guns. They'll probably last longer than you will and if one were to break, you've got two more.

Unless you either think that society is going to melt down real soon now, or if you have a hell of a lot of spare cash lying around, spending two to three grand on a .22 for the SHTF scenario seems kind of dumb to me.

Shorter Comey: "Now That I Want This Job, Waterboarding is Torture."

Nothing like a guy with the courage of his convictions:
James Comey, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told senators Tuesday that he thought waterboarding interrogation techniques used to try to get information from al Qaida prisoners held at Guantanamo were “awful” and illegal.

But Comey insisted that the 1994 law on torture was “very vague” and that as second-ranking official in the Justice Department in the Bush administration, he couldn’t find that use of waterboarding violated that anti-torture statute.
Bullshit.

This is the definition of torture under the law (18 USC § 2340):
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality
Note that the statue is not a "how to" manual on torture. It takes a pretty perverted fuck to come up with the conclusion that subjecting a person to the sensation of drowning is not inflicting mental pain and suffering. Comey's twisted rationale ignores the fact that people have been convicted by American courts, both criminal and courts-martial, for waterboarding prisoners.

Comey would have a ten-year term as FBI director. If the next president wanted to start tearing out people's fingernails, would Comey go along because maybe he thinks the pain isn't just all that bad? Would he go along with denying food and sleep to prisoners because maybe that's not severe suffering by his lights?*

Comey should go take a job better suited to his flexible morality, maybe being a harpoon gunner on a Japanese whaling ship or clubbing baby seals up in Canada.

We do not need his talents as the Director of the FBI.
__________________________________________
* The phrase "just another good little German" comes to mind.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life in the American Police State; "Taser the Children" Edition

A cop in Oregon tasered an eleven-year-old girl.

Of course, the cops are throwing up the Blue Wall around the incident. It's what most of them do. The "it's them or us" mindset of the cops is indicative of the mess we're in. A lot of the cops do not see themselves as members of the community, but, yes, an occupying force.

Asiana Flight 214 Crash

I kind of hesitate to run my keyboard about this one. Generally, the NTSB does a stellar job on air carrier accidents. But I'm a blogger, so here goes:

We know that the glide slope for the ILS was out of service for both runways 28L and 28R:
!SFO 06/005 SFO NAV ILS RWY 28L GP OTS WEF 1306011400-1308222359

!SFO 06/004 SFO NAV ILS RWY 28R GP OTS WEF 1306011400-1308222359
From the videos taken by onlookers, it was a VFR day. The weather was FEW 016, visibility was ten miles, winds from the southwest at 7 knots. The visual glideslope (PAPI) was operational. A student pilot on a first solo would not have been challenged by those conditions.

I'm going to guess at two things: First off, an over-reliance on the automation, coupled with a degradation of stick-and-rudder skills. Modern airliners are getting pretty close to the "pilot and dog" crew.* With a full ILS operating, most newer airliners will land themselves. Without a glideslope input, the pilots would likely have to hand-fly the final approach. They may not have been comfortable with that, especially if they'd been using the autoland all of the time.

Second is cultural: Asiana Airlines might have been more hierarchical than an American carrier. This is a tough issue, for it took a long time for our own carriers to understand that the culture of "the captain is always right" was getting people killed. Even so, it takes a pretty good first officer to say "hey, Boss, I think you're screwing this approach up."

Without meaning to sound like an airline apologist, it probably is worth mentioning that one of the reasons for the wall-to-wall coverage of a crash that killed so few people is that airline crashes are damned rare. The 777 has been in service for 18 years and this is only the second time that one has crashed (the first crash with fatalities). By comparison, after the 727 entered service in 1964, there were three crashes in 1965, with only one of the crashes having more than a few survivors. You can compare the coverage of the crash to the derailment in Quebec or the air-taxi crash in Alaska to gauge the rarity of a large airliner crashing these days.
_________________________________
* The pilot is there in case of emergencies, the dog's job is to bite the pilot if he touches anything.

Air Force One Thought Experiment, or Life in a Pissant Empire with President Sméagol

Consider this scenario: Our President (can be Bush or Obama, this is not a partisan political drill) is making an overseas trip, departing from some nation to CONUS. At the country of departure, a Chinese human rights activist, who the Chinese want back, is trying to get beyond the reach of the Chinese government.

The Chinese have been spreading a lot of money around the world, as you might have seen. Somebody tells them that the human rights dude is on Air Force One. Air Force One has to cross the airspace of several other nations to bring the President home. The Chinese persuade their friends to close their airspace to Air Force One "for technical reasons". Air Force One has to land in another nation to refuel and it then sits on the ground for a day. It can't leave until the President permits some local cop to walk through the airplane and verify that the Chinese dude isn't on board. Then, as if by some magic, all of the "technical reasons" are cleared up and Air Force One then flies home.

Can you imagine the level of outrage that would be going on right now?

In case you've not been paying attention recently, that's just what the United States did to the president of Bolivia. Our European lackeys allies closed their airspace to the Bolivian presidential aircraft because some moron in our own government thought that Snowden was on the Bolivian airplane and then all sort of apeshittiness happened.

That the argument can be made that the aircraft of a head of state is a diplomatic aircraft and is immune from search apparently made no impression on our government. We're, for now, the sole superpower on the planet and we acted no better than a bully extorting lunch money

A few days ago, RobertaX posed the question of whether or not this country has made the transition from being a republic to being an empire and if so, when that happened.

I imagine several possible dates. First might be 1968, when it became the law that the cops can throw your ass up against a wall and search you based on little more than a hunch. That was when the exemptions to the Fourth Amendment began to consume the rule. It might be 1971, when Nixon declared a "war on drugs" that began a near continual erosion of civil rights when it came to interactions with law enforcement. It might be 2001, when the sarcastically named "USA Patriot Act" permitted the government to do all sorts of things that once required a warrant. It might be 2007, when the NSA's monitoring of the communications of all Americans was legalized. Maybe it was 2002, when the government detained an American citizen on American soil and held him for over three years, without charges, in conditions that were tantamount to torture. Maybe it was 2001 and 2013, when two different presidents claimed the right to do whatever they wanted to anyone in the world for whatever reason suited them- the first to hold anyone indefinitely without charges, the second to kill anyone who displeased him.

Or maybe it's now, when our government, in essence, forced down the presidential aircraft of another nation and had it searched.

One of the problems is that, no matter who becomes president, they fall in love with the power they have attained. Even if they previously spoke out against the overarching power of the office, once they sit behind the Resolute desk, they jealously guard the power of the office as though they had been infected with the same sort of power-mad virus that long ago consumed the soul of Dick Cheney. President Obama seems to think that he can be trusted with the power to slaughter anyone anywhere at any time, but he's not so sure about the next president, so he's all in favor of limits on successor presidents' powers.

The problem there is several fold. First off, any limitations imposed unilaterally by a president can just as easily be undone by a successor. So for any limitations on presidential power to be effective, they must be written into law. That won't happen because this Congress is unable to pass a bill of any consequence. It also won't happen because both the House and Senate are loaded with politicians who have no trouble imagining themselves as president some day. It won't happen because, as we can easily see most prominently in Senators Feinstein and Graham, there are legislators who think it is just peachy that the middle three amendments in the Bill of Rights are completely defanged.

But even if such a law or laws were enacted, the only enforcement mechanism is by impeachment. And good luck with that. Richard Nixon's crimes were beyond dispute, but most of the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against impeachment in 1974. The Clinton impeachment was even more partisan.* For that matter, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868 was, as historians now pretty much agree, done for political expediency rather than because of any misconduct by Johnson.**

Sure, somebody could sue and try to get an injunction. Good luck with that, for the Supremes would probably not let it proceed because of standing. And even if they found that a president had exceeded his (or her) authority, what can they do about it? They have no hard power, even less than the Pope. And that doesn't even begin to touch the point that the Supremes have, over the last dozen-plus years, shown that they are as much a pack of partisan political actors as the Congress itself.

I see this country slouching into becoming an empire, not from any designs on being an empire (the neocons notwithstanding), but more out of bureaucratic and political inertia. The politicians who see this happening and have tried to do something have either been sidelined (Russ Feingold) or are utter cranks who nobody pays attention to (Ron Paul). Nothing really stands in the way of our political system finally lumbering into becoming a republic in name only.

To answer Roberta's question, as to whether or not we've crossed the line from republic to empire, I don't know the answer. The dividing line may be as nebulous as that between the heliosphere and interstellar space, determinable only after it has been definitely crossed.

But most Americans don't seem to give a shit about it. And that is the real tragedy of it all.
__________________________________
* Here's a fun fact: Trent Lott was on the House Judiciary committee and he voted against impeaching Nixon. As a Senator, he voted for a conviction of Clinton. Doesn't get much more partisan than that, folks.
** For a demonstration of the partisan use of impeachment, you need only look at either the current caterwauling for impeachment by the far right loons, or the impeachment of Governor Sulzer of New York a century ago.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Obama Now Pro-Torture, and
Do the British Have Some Blame for the Holocaust?

President Obama has nominated James Comey to be the new head of the FBI. Comey was one of the Bushie lawyers who thought that waterboarding was not torture, a position that was completely different from earlier views of DasGov.

The Senate should reject the nomination. We do not need torture advocates anywhere in law enforcement.

On another note, I've been reading "The Great War and Modern Memory" by Paul Fussell. Much of it is incomprehensible to me, as it seems heavily grounded in English literary tradition, of which I know almost nothing.* Fussell mentions that point in the afterword, he admits that said literary tradition has become increasingly irrelevant.

He made one point in the last chapter, that the British blatant propaganda during the First World War, propaganda that was about 99% false, with stories about raped Belgian nuns and abused children, left a mark of deep distrust on the people. "Believe none of what you read" was a commonly-voiced view after the War. And so, when stories began to be circulated of German atrocities and death camps, people were disinclined to give them any credence. As Fussell put it: "Nobody can begin to calculate the number of Jews who died in the second War because of ridicule in the twenties and thirties of Allied propaganda..."

Nothing much changes. The press was co-opted during World War One and printed government lies on demand, whether it be lies about the Germans or lies about the conditions endured by their own soldiers. From the lies ladled out to justify the Iraq War to the lies about progress in Afghanistan, believing none of what you read in the mainstream press is as valid today as it was 99 years ago.
____________________________________
* I would have though that "a pilgrim's progress" would have something to do with either the sailing of the Mayflower or a John Wayne movie.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

From Boeing, the difference in noise between a 707 and a 787.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bangity

I went to play with the club Bowling Pin shoot this morning. I shot two different .38s and timed out on at least one table apiece. I did better with my .22 revolver, cleared the sawhorses each time.

So anyway, I was chatting with the match director about upcoming matches. He said there was a three-gun match this month.

Me: "What do I need to shoot that kind of match?"
Him: "A centerfire rifle, a centerfire handgun and a shotgun."
Me: "Well, I've got a Garand and a Mossberg, will that do?"
Third party guy listening in: "A Garand?" He laughs.
Me to match director: "He knows that I'm not kidding, right?"

Fuck it, I might just show up. And if I do, I'll see if I can clean that guy's clock.....

Thought Experiment; Facebook Edition

Those of you who use Facebook probably know that when you upload photos of people, they can be "tagged". That process involves the site's software identifying faces and then asking you who they are.

It's probably a safe bet that FB runs some pretty sophisticated facial recognition software. And it's probably just as good a bet that they share that with DasGov.

So, what would happen if people began tagging photos and assigning other names to them? What would happen if you asked all of your friends to tag photos of you as "David B.Cooper" or "Evelyn Frechette"? Probably the software runs by majority rule and, once enough people have tagged you by an alias, FB might think that's who you are.

Caturday

Jake is, indeed, an imperial cat. As are they all.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Do Air Force Drone-Drivers Log Their Done-Driving as "Flight Time"?

I don't know what they couldn't. This is the definition of "pilot in command" from FAR 1.1:
Pilot in command means the person who:

(1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;

(2) Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and

(3) Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight.
Doesn't seem to require sitting in the aircraft, does it? So now let's look at 61.51.(e), which describes when a pilot may log time as pilot-in-command:
(e) Logging pilot-in-command flight time. (1) A sport, recreational, private, commercial, or airline transport pilot may log pilot in command flight time for flights-

(i) When the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated, or has sport pilot privileges for that category and class of aircraft, if the aircraft class rating is appropriate;

(ii) When the pilot is the sole occupant in the aircraft;

(iii) When the pilot, except for a holder of a sport or recreational pilot certificate, acts as pilot in command of an aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted; or

(iv) When the pilot performs the duties of pilot in command while under the supervision of a qualified pilot in command provided— [remainder deleted]
Remember, those criteria can be exclusive of one another. So if the drone-drivers are rated for the drone, and if the drivers have a pilot's license, they could conceivably log the time.

Which, of course, is bullshit. Drone drivers have less skin in the game than do air-traffic controllers, for if a controller screws up, other people may die (and maybe the controller). If the drone crashes and doesn't kill anyone on the ground, it's akin to crashing a really big (and expensive) radio-controlled model airplane.

Othen than approved sim-based training, the FAA should amend the rules to require that the pilot in command must be physically on board the aircraft for which the pilot is logging flight time.

The Heat

The Heat is a buddy-cop comedy with an uptight FBI Special Agent and a Boston city cop. You probably know the idea: Humorless Feebie, foul-mouthed local, yadda yadda. Been done to death, right?

Only in this one, both cops are women and played by Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

It works, there are a lot of laughs in the movie. But it's a pretty forgettable flick. If you feel the need for a light comedy, it'll be worth the time. You won't lose anything, though, if you catch it later on a move channel or on a rental.

The cop McCarthy plays carries a S&W Model 60 with what appeared to be Hornady Critical Defense loads. Bullock's Feebie, of course, carries the usual Austrian Tupperware.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

NSA/USPS Thought Experiment

For the sake of argument, let's say that someone posted, somewhere on the Internet, the home addresses of some of the pro-police state Senators (such as Dianne Feinstein or Lindsey Graham).

And then let's suppose that people around the country began sending them mail* with return addresses that read "Islamic Liberation Front" or "Earth Freedom Jihad" or "Pulahan People's Forces" or stuff like that.**

Since the Post Office records every freaking piece of mail and since it's possible that the USPS records get merged somehow with the NSA's records, one wonders what sort of hilarity would eventually ensue. For if you got such mail, the organs of DasGov would be watching you so closely that they could tell when you took a dump.
____________________________
* Envelopes containing clippings from the Wall Street Journal, perhaps?
** You shouldn't do this, of course. It's probably illegal.

The Declaration of Independence, or
The NSA Will Consider This Post to Be Suspicious.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

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

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

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

JOHN HANCOCK, President

Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary

New Hampshire: JOSIAH BARTLETT, WILLIAM WHIPPLE, MATTHEW THORNTON

Massachusetts-Bay: SAMUEL ADAMS, JOHN ADAMS, ROBERT TREAT PAINE, ELBRIDGE GERRY

Rhode Island: STEPHEN HOPKINS, WILLIAM ELLERY

Connecticut: ROGER SHERMAN, SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, WILLIAM WILLIAMS, OLIVER WOLCOTT

Georgia: BUTTON GWINNETT, LYMAN HALL, GEO. WALTON

Maryland: SAMUEL CHASE, WILLIAM PACA, THOMAS STONE, CHARLES CARROLL OF CARROLLTON

Virginia: GEORGE WYTHE, RICHARD HENRY LEE, THOMAS JEFFERSON, BENJAMIN HARRISON, THOMAS NELSON, JR., FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE, CARTER BRAXTON.

New York: WILLIAM FLOYD, PHILIP LIVINGSTON, FRANCIS LEWIS, LEWIS MORRIS

Pennsylvania: ROBERT MORRIS, BENJAMIN RUSH, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, JOHN MORTON, GEORGE CLYMER, JAMES SMITH, GEORGE TAYLOR, JAMES WILSON, GEORGE ROSS

Delaware: CAESAR RODNEY, GEORGE READ, THOMAS M'KEAN

North Carolina: WILLIAM HOOPER, JOSEPH HEWES, JOHN PENN

South Carolina: EDWARD RUTLEDGE, THOMAS HEYWARD, JR., THOMAS LYNCH, JR., ARTHUR MIDDLETON

New Jersey: RICHARD STOCKTON, JOHN WITHERSPOON, FRANCIS HOPKINS, JOHN HART, ABRAHAM CLARK