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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Caturday

George (may peace be upon him), lying in a nearly empty laundry basket.


Empty, or nearly-empty, laundry baskets were a favorite place of his. When he was in them, I'd pick them up and give him a ride all throughout the apartment. He seemed to get a kick out of seeing things from a few feet up.

This photo was taken over nine years ago and probably closer to ten years ago. They were taken with a 35mm and, when I had them developed, the camera store offered the option of also putting them on a CD.

I liked that camera store. Besides the owner being friendly and knowledgeable, the store had a cat-in-residence, which liked to lie on top of the display cases. Because that ensured lots of attention was garnered.

A few months later, the camera store went out of business, leaving only drug stores and Walmart as photofinishers in that area. I've had bad luck with both in the past. It seemed to be the right time to start moving to digital and I did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Because It's Friday

Old school snow clearing in Alaska.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tradition

A Thanksgiving tradition on a few of the radio stations in the Boston area was to play this song in its entirety.


They made a rather forgettable movie of this song a couple of years after the song came out.

(Reminded of this by VC.)

Moving 4014


They are using "panel track", which are full-scale track pieces. The workers pull 4014 along, unbolt the panel behind it and then leap-frog that panel ahead. They'll do this until they make it to the nearest rail line.

Israeli Defense Establishment Signals the Chickenhawks: "STFU, Already."

You can find no shortage of chickenhawks[1] who oppose the interim deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu[2] proclaims the deal "a historic mistake.

So I was a little surprised to read this in the free Stratfor analysis of the agreement:
For all its rhetoric opposing the deal, Israel has very little to worry about in the immediate term. It will have to adjust to operating in an environment where Iran is no longer limited by its pariah status, but Iran remains unable to threaten Israel for the foreseeable future. Iran, constrained by its need to be a mainstream actor, will seek to rebuild its economy and will steer clear of any hawkish moves against Israel. Furthermore, Iran is more interested in gaining ground against the Arab states -- something that Israel can use to its advantage. The report about the Israeli security establishment seeing the deal as a positive development (in contradiction to the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government) speaks volumes about the true extent of Israeli apprehension. (Emphasis mine)
It seems that is the truth.
After the Geneva agreement was signed on Sunday, retired Gen. Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence, deputy commander of the Air Force and now director of the country’s leading strategic think tank, told reporters, “If this were the final agreement – then it would really be a bad agreement, but that’s not the situation.” The situation, he said, is that this is an interim, six-month agreement, and that it’s the final pact to be negotiated later that will be decisive. He said the final agreement must not only freeze Iran’s progress toward a bomb, like the current, interim one does, but reverse it. He also gave Netanyahu credit for getting the world powers to extract additional concessions from Iran. But Yadlin said Sunday’s agreement, which Netanyahu condemns for having “made the world more dangerous,” did just the opposite: "It is possible that had there been no agreement, [Iran] would have decided to make the breakthrough to a bomb, because the sanctions are hurting it badly.”
That's not the only signal that the Israeli security establishment is sending. Their spooks are also supporting the deal.

I am not a major fan of the ability of air power alone to accomplish things. Unlike a couple of other countries, the Iranians have not been short-sighted enough to build their nuclear facilities right out in the open.[3] I also think it highly probably that any airstrikes will serve to cement the grip of the Iranian radicals.[4] I have little doubt that the intelligence analysts have reached a different conclusion.

Time will tell whether or not this deal is a first step or a failure. But the oer-the-top reaction of the neo-cons and their ilk suggest to me that the deal is a good thing.
________________________
[1] Like Miss Lindsey.
[2] A man who has been eager to see Americans die for his country.
[3] Though you don't have to smash the facility to make it unusable. You bomb the doors to make it inaccessible.
[4] "Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain" ring any bells? Those opposed to a war with Spain lost the argument when the USS Maine blew up.

Happy Thanksgiving

Shooting a turkey carcass with an elephant gun:



As noted by Sebastian, the gun control crowd went into full-on pearl-clutching over this one.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Traitor Joe, Now Whoring for the Libyans

He said that he wasn't going to become a lobbyist, but now he is one.

This has been in the works for the last few months, it seems.

The folks at Balloon Juice are probably accurate when they say that calling former politicians such as Lieberman "whores" and "pimps" is pretty defamatory to hard-working people in the sex trade. But I'm at a loss for better adjectives. Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments section.

Anyway, the D.C. revolving door spins ever on.

(H/T)

Happy Hanukkha!




And two songs. First, the traditional one:



And the modern one:


NSA, FBI: Same Difference

The FBI is probably doing more spying on Americans than the NSA is.

If that's even possible.

(H/T)

NSA and the "Obamaphone"?

You've probably seen periodic outrage* from the Wingnuttosphere about a program that they refer to as "Obamaphones"**.

Now think of how the NSA has been working to turn all cell phones into bugging devices, even when they are supposedly powered off.***

(The previous two sentences are enough fodder for about six shows from Glenn Beck. Fuck-all of a chance that he'd ever pay me for it...)
_______________________________
* When they're not screaming about Benghazi or any of the other kajillion made-up scandals that Darryl Issa is "investigating".
** A program that dates back to the Reagan Administration.
*** What, you thought it was a coincidence that you can't take the battery out of an iPhone or its ilk?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NSA Spying Costs Billions in Exports (And Maybe This is What Their Game Is)

About $35 billion in exports over the next three years.

Which is going to cost some thousands of people their jobs.

Way to go, you fuckers.

Another reason why they may have an interest in establishing the National Security State is that they think this guy is right that everything will come crashing down in the next seven years or so and they want to be ready to toss the rebels into FEMA-camps.*

Of course, getting ready to impose pervasive surveillance of all Americans is easier than trying to fix the base problem of income inequality. Or blowing up half of the law schools (and all of the MBA mills business schools) in the country. **
_______________________
*Just kidding about the camps.
** Not kidding. We should really do this.


Ah, the Faint Whiff of Corruption; FAA Edition

So it seems that the FAA's witch-hunt against fat pilots by requiring them to have sleep studies has its roots with a doctor whose company-

Wait for it--



-Does sleep studies! So no shit that they are advocating for more sleep studies.

Pretty sweet gig: Serve as a special medical advisor to the FAA and, if the FAA acts on your advice, your company makes a lot more money.

"Self-dealing" is probably the kindest term that comes to mind.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Afghanistan: Time to Go

Not only is President Thiệu Karzai refusing to sign off on a Status of Forces Agreement, Afghanistan is on the verge of reinstituting stoning as a method of capital punishment.

One thing Karzai is right about: Lack of trust is a problem. From this end, it's because Karzai is operating a massive kleptocracy, not in the least by having provided cover for his late brother, who was allegedly one of the world's major drug kingpins.

Even Fox News thinks its time to go. Ordinarily, having the same view as the Murdoch Empire would give me cause to question my conclusions, but not this time.

Two presidents across four terms have tried to tame that country. They've both failed, though arguably, one (Cheney Bush) failed because he spent years ignoring the mess that he had brought about. But I digress.

Stop spending our soldier's blood and our treasure on that shithole.

End this fiasco.

NSA: A Clear Threat to Freedom, Liberty and Democracy

I think it's fair to say that Peter the Bayou Renaissance Man and I probably don't politically agree on very much.

Having said that, I am 110% in agreement with his latest post on the NSA.

Our government's position on online privacy is pretty much this: Fuck you. They say that they are against "illegal surveillance", but then they take the Nixonian position that "if we do it, it's legal".

And it's not just the NSA. The FBI has been carrying much of the NSA's water when it come to wiretapping and bugging everyone.* Private companies have also gotten into the mass surveillance act.**

And of course, up on Capitol Hill, Sen. Feinstein is working her utmost to legalize everything that the NSA is already doing and to give all cops unfettered access to the NSA's database, a stance that even gives the NSA some qualms.

__________________________________________
* You do know that they are able to turn any cellphone they want into an active bug?
** When compared to corporations, serial killers are mere amateur pscyhopaths.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coming Soon, to a Paramilitary Police Department Near You

A MRAP. The DoD is giving them away to civilian police paramilitaries.

That is a Warren County, NY cop standing in front of his department's new MRAP.
Because IEDs and shit like that are a real threat in upstate New York.
Warren County has 65,000 residents.
Their big crimes are mostly theft.

Fuck all of that "to protect and to serve" shit. It's more and more "to occupy and suppress". I suppose that the only reason they didn't get M-60 and M-1 tanks is because those tread jobs would tear the hell out of paved roads. Our cops are morphing into Peacekeepers.

Remember when cops looked like this?


Now they look like wannabee Marines, with shaved heads and such. It's almost a rarity to see a cop nowadays who couldn't pass an Army or Marine haircut inspection.

I, for one, would like to see the day come back when our cops didn't look like soldiers or arm themselves like them. But that's probably not going to happen.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

MiG-15:


In 1950 and 1951, one of the least-enviable jobs was to be a B-29 crewman over Korea when the MiGs were coming.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

FAA's Latest Witch-Hunt

Against sleep apnea. The FAA is going to start requiring sleep studies be done by all pilots (and air-traffic controllers) who have a body-mass index of 40 or greater.

Eventually, the FAA plans to require sleep studies for everyone who has a BMI of over 25. Which is pretty much a significant minority, if not a majority, of pilots over a certain age.

The FAA Aeromedical people apparently are being close-mouthed on why they deem this to be necessary, other than to say that it's the NTSBs idea.

I've tried to find out what a private sleep study costs. Because this shit would not be medically necessary for me, at least, so I'd have to pay for it. And it seems that two or three grand is not out of line.

Yeah, that'll work out well. I'd be trying to sleep, with a bunch of wires on me, and knowing that I'd be paying a few grand for a stupid test because some asswipe of a doctor in Oklahoma City thinks it's a good idea.

What's going to happen is that a shitload of recreational pilots will balk at that. They'll downgrade to Sport Pilot and flip the bird at the FAA. Or they'll just quit flying.

Seems to me that the worst thing that happened in the Aeromedical Branch of the FAA was when Dr. Audie Davis retired as the FAA's chief medical officer. Dr. Davis, in my experience, was a reasonable person to deal with and one who was willing to help pilots keep (or get back) their medical certification.

The current crop seems to be more interested in finding new and innovative ways to ground people.

Caturday

Jake uses camouflage in one of his sleeping places.


When I bought that chair 15 years ago, it was immediately appropriated by the cats. I doubt if it's had more than a few hours of use by humans.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Because It's Friday

Western Maryland RR

Has the DoJ Been Compiling a Federal Gun Registry?

Maybe.

The law supposedly forbids that, but if the NSA revelations have taught us anything, it is that the spooks and the cops working for DasGov have little regard for such niceties. And it may have been going on since before C-Minus Augustus turned the keys over to Barry.

Fifty Years On

I wrote this post five years ago. I'll stand on it.

But what I didn't know five years ago is how poisonous the atmosphere would be today from the Right. Despite two elections won by clear majorities of the popular vote and outright shellackings of the GOP in the Electoral College both times, the bitter dead-enders in much of the GOP persist with the birther/seekrit Muslim nonsense. From the reading I've done of JFK's time, it may be even more virulent than it was fifty years ago.

They lost, twice, and they just can't get over it.

Frankly, I'm somewhat astonished that at least one loon hasn't tried for regime change with a rifle by now (I'm writing this six weeks in advance).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh, the Humanity!!- M1911 Edition

Take a look at this auction item to see the horrors perpetrated on a GI Colt.

No wonder the shot auctioning it has prominently proclaimed that they had nothing to do with this desecration.

It's not like there aren't a ton of cheap-jack 1911 guns out there if someone wanted to do something like this: Rock Island (Armscor), Auto-Ordnance, Taurus, Tisas, Girsan, ATI, Citadel. More and more companies are offering them almost weekly. You can get an 80% frame and build your own, if you have the skills.

Hacking on a wartime Colt is, to my mind, blasphemy.

Listening to This Over a Laptop's Tinny Speakers Should Be a Felony

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart do "Stairway to Heaven" in tribute to the surviving members of Led Zeppelin.


Hard to believe that the song was first released 42 years ago. By contrast, in 1971, there weren't too many people in concert halls listening to the music of 1929.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NSA: A Thoroughly Rogue Agency

The NSA apparently finds that it is too much trouble to obey the rulings of the FISA Court (such as they are):
Newly declassified court documents indicate that the National Security Agency shared its trove of American bulk email and internet data with other government agencies in violation of specific court-ordered procedures to protect Americans’ privacy.
The ruling, which goes on for 117 heavily redacted pages, begins by finding that the NSA systematically disregarded the limits that the Court placed on its data collection and dissemination for years. The NSA engaged in "systemic overcollection" of information that far exceeded the scope permitted to it by the Court. When previous authorization to collect data expired, the NSA just continued on doing it anyway.

The NSA is clearly a rogue agency. It is time for some serious house-cleaning. And it would seem to me, at least, that an early step should be a criminal investigation of the upper management of the agency and, if warranted, a court-marital of Emperor Alexander.

Stuck

This one is stuck in my head for the moment.


The things is that I didn't care very much for the song when it came out. But it has a couple lines that capture our use of drones around the world: "Games without fear, war without tears."

(You want deep thoughts this morning, go elsewhere. That's the best that I can do at present.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

MAVEN to Mars

The MAVEN probe is on its way to Mars.

Tab Clearing; Airline Edition

You may have heard that the DoJ recently backed out of suing over the American-US Airways merger. It seems that there was a reason for DoJ's perceived butthurt: It was all about landing slots at Washington National and, to a lesser extent, LaGuardia in NYC.. In essence, as long as the Chattering Class had their choices of airline service to and from KDCA and KLGA, fuck the rest of us.

Speaking of US Airways, one of the many baby-storm troopers who now serve as flight attendants kicked a blind guy and his service dog off a flight. The rest of the passengers then also got off the flight.

Of course, US Airways' spokesweasels then released its side of the story, and some outlets just lapped that shit up.

"Somme. The Whole History of the World Cannot Contain a More Ghastly Word."

On this day in 1916, the last Battle of the Somme ended. Fighting would dribble on into 1917.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British suffered 60,000 casualties, a single-day loss not equaled in British history before or since. The British promise that friends and neighbors volunteering together would serve together in "pals battalions" ensured that when those units were hit hard, the communities back home would be devastated. One of the critiques of the battle that I've read over the years was that the British Army had their men stroll across No Man's Land into the face of the German Maxim guns because the British didn't bother to train their soldiers to conduct an attack in any other way.

In "All Quiet on the Western Front", Remarque had one of his characters comment that, based on the quality of the newest soldiers, that Germany would be soon empty. The same thing was happening to the British and to the French.

In hindsight, it's pretty clear that the war was soon going to end as all of the combatants were running out of cannon fodder and, in Germany's case, running out of everything else.

We should have let them. One lesson we never seem to learn is to take a hard look at any proposal to go intervene in an ongoing war (or to start one).

Unfortunately, it took less than thirty years for more ghastly words to arise: Holocaust. Genocide. Final Solution.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Dark Blog

I was going through my blogroll and looking at blogs that hadn't posted in over a year. One of them is Pen & Sword, by Jeff Huber. His last post was on January 8, 2012.

I searched for his name and the blog title. CDR Jeffrey L. Huber, USN-Ret., died on January 24, 2012 at the age of 57.

Fair winds and following seas
, Commander.

Long Range Snubbie Shooting

I like to think that I'm a pretty fair revolver shooter. But nothing like this.


Of course, I don't know how much he practiced for that shot (probably a lot). But even if he burned through a case of ammo to practice for that video, it's still amazing.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

An Airbus shells its right-hand engine on takeoff:


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Riders of the Short Bus; Bankster Edition

Did you know that JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of America have "compliance divisions" made up of people who are supposed to ensure that the banksters obey the law?

I'm guessing that they probably work 12 hours a day and that the daily routine for those folks is something like this:

8:00-8:10- Morning meeting

8:15-9:00- Ride executive coach to the golf course

9:15-10:45- Play the front nine

Crime Stats Look Better if It is an "Accident" Rather Than an "Open and Unsolved Homicide"

That's the best explanation that I can think of for the "spy accidentally killed himself by locking himself inside a garment bag" theory of Scotland Yard.

In Joseph Wambaugh's novels in the `70s, he mentioned that the detectives would sometimes contrive elaborate explanations of how somebody could have committed suicide, especially when the dead guy was a drug dealer. The alternative was to have a killing on their books that could never be solved.

That's kind of what this smells like.

Caturday

Bored cat is truly bored.

Friday, November 15, 2013

DiFi Hates Freedom

Sen. Feinstein's committee of NSA lackeys has voted out a bill that would make it legal for the NSA and other law enforcement agencies to search through your emails without so much as a by-your-leave from any type of judge.

Feinstein calls her bill "The FISA Improvement Act", which might as well be called the "Gutting the Bill of Rights Act".

I'd like to know who were the 10 other senators who voted with DiFi to make legal what the NSA has been doing illegally. But try and find that anywhere. Because compared to a buggy site to sign up for health insurance, further enabling the National Surveillance State is small beer to our vaunted press corps.

See, paying attention to all of this NSA stuff is hard work compared to bleating about the problems using the Obamacare website.

At this point, if you are not using encryption for your emails, then you've probably pretty much consented to DasGov, at all levels, being able to read them.

#AskJPM

JP MorganChase thought it would be a good idea to go onto Twitter and take questions.

It was a bad idea, as tens of thousands of Twitter users took their shots at JPM.


But don't worry. If nobody at JPM got fired for looting billions and billions of dollars from the global economy, they're not going to fire anybody over this.

Al-Qaeda: "Ooopsie. Our Bad!"

In a case of mistaken identity, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group cut off the head of the commander of one of its allied groups.

Maybe they need to start wearing name tags.

Q: What is the difference between the State of Texas and al Qaeda?

A: Texas doesn't apologize when it executes the wrong person.

Because It's Friday

Duke of Gloucester, 71000:



The sound is different. It has 75" drivers and three cylinders.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Take Away the TSA's Wire-Cutters Before They Hurt Themselves

Imagine taking a breadboard version of a stereoscopic camera rig on a trip and checking the rig through to your destination.

Two guys did just that in 2012. The TSA, naturally, has no idea what it was. So, on the fear that it could be something, the TSA opened the case the camera rig was in and cut all of the red wires.

Because, what, some goddamned movie had them cutting the red wires?

And then, because they thought they had defused whatever it was, they let it go through on the flight?

The bind moggles.

"Real-World Training"---Really?

So I got it into my head that maybe I should seek a little bit more training with handguns. I looked into some schools and at one of them, I saw a claim that they offer "tactical training" for "real world" scenarios.

Sounds good, right?

Then there was this: No pocket guns and they don't recommend revolvers.

Now I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here, the people who carry concealed carry pocket guns: Kel-Tecs, Kahrs, Rugers, and the various J-frames and clones. Hardly anybody strolls around carrying a full-sized or medium-sized Glock or 1911.

That's the real world. That's what people are toting. Not offering training in them seems kind of, well, moronic.

Look, maybe they don't want to build a full 300 round course around those guns. A LCR is no fun to shoot very much, even with standard-pressure ammunition. But they ought to think about offering something.

What's Seventeen Million Bucks Here or There?

A military drone has crashed into Lake Ontario during a New York Air National Guard training mission.

State military officials say the MQ-9 Reaper had taken off from Wheeler Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum and was operating in approved airspace over the eastern side of the lake when it was lost around 1 p.m. Tuesday. They say the aircraft was not armed and there were no injuries.
Those deadly little R/C toys cost $16.9 million apiece.

I remember that, back when the Iraqi insurgents were using command-detonated IEDs, our soldiers called them cowards for not coming out and fighting. And yet our nation kills people by remote control from half-way around the world.

I know there is no use complaining about this. Remote-control warfare is out of the bottle and there is no stuffing it back in. But it doesn't sit right with me and it never will.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

First, the Moeller Skycar is back, a zombie project that has never been in free flight with a live pilot in fifty years of development.

It would seem that Paul Moeller and Jim Bede both share a talent for separating investors from their money. Like Moeller, Jim Bede also attracted the attention of the Federal regulators (in his case, the FTC). Unlike Moeller, Bede has designed at least two airplanes that were produced in numbers (BD-1* and BD-4) and a few that were less than successful (BD-5, BD-10).

Second, the Terrafugia TF-X. They claim that "a megawatt of power lifts you". According to Wolfram Alpha, that is 1,341 horsepower. Which is ten times the horsepower of a Robinson R22. And since it will have over 800 HP, you'll most likely need to get a type rating to fly it.

I'm not giving investment advice. But if you were seriously thinking about investing in either Moeller's company, or the TF-X you might get a better return on your investment by spending it on hookers and booze. At least, you'll have some fun.
________________________________________________________
* After they kicked him off the project.

Inhofe Crash

The son of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe was killed in a weekend plane crash in northeast Oklahoma, the U.S. Secretary of Defense confirmed.

Dr. Perry Inhofe, a 52-year-old orthopedic surgeon, died when the small plane he was piloting crashed Sunday near Owasso, a Tulsa suburb. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "was informed of Sen. Inhofe's son's death."
He was flying a Mu-2.

I don't know why the DoD is taking point on a civilian plane crash.

But beside that, might I suggest that the level of snark on this be dialed down to nil? As much as those of us on the progressive side of the spectrum might detest Sen. Inhofe and everything he stands for, the man did just lose his son.

Can we try to show a level of decency that was once common in this country?*
_______________________________________________
* And which I fear that we cannot ever expect to see from the other side. But we can be better than that, and we should be.

Monday, November 11, 2013

95 Years Ago

The guns fell silent on the Western Front.

The First World War was not the longest war in the 20th Century. It was not the deadliest. But when one combines the reasons for the conflict with the butcher's bill, it was arguably one of the most moronic wars in modern history.

A stupid beef in the Balkans (as foreseen by Otto von Bismarck decades previously) cost the lives of tens of millions of people and led to the collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires. And, as also foreseen by Bismarck, by the end of the war, the reasons for the start of the war were unrecognizable.

The guns were not silent for very long. Before the second chapter of the war, there were close to two dozen armed conflicts in Europe before the Germans rolled into Poland.

And the the Sykes-Picot Agreement set the stage for a mess in the Middle East that has been going on for nearly a century.

A Civilian for NSA Head = More Power for DiFi

Because if the Administration converts the NSA into being run by a civilian, Sen. Feinstein will get a larger say in who runs the NSA.

Funny how that works. And not in a humorous way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Bug In Your Pocket; Spooks Edition

The NSA and the GHCQ (the Limeys) are working hard to turn every cell phone in the wold into bugging devices. Their goal is to be able to listen in whenever they feel like it.

Which means every other Federal cop will get the same power, sooner or later.

Also, never accept LinkedIn requests from anyone you don't know, and better yet, don't accept any. For that's one way that those fucking spooks have been getting into people's computers.

"Turnkey totalitarianism", indeed. The Stasi would have creamed their pants to have the capability that our self-styled "defenders of freedom" do.

Happy Birthday, Marines

238 years young. You look marvelous.

Too bad, though, that your final orders have been changed.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

Lockheed JetStar



The JetStar was the first successful business jet. McDonnell built a prototype business jet of roughly the same size, the M-119/220.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

75 Years Ago Tonight

The ruling Nazi party in Germany/Austria orchestrated the pogrom known as Kristallnacht. To say that the German government and police turned a blind eye to the violence perpetrated by the SA and the SS is an understatement. They participated in it.

The Holocaust kicked into gear.

Caturday

"Get this over with so I can take my evening nap, peasant"

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Don't Want to Be in the Same Area Code As This Guy

Not when he attempts to fly that thing. Assuming that he neglects to get an airworthiness inspection before he tries to fly it.

I've never seen a wooden spar with lightening holes drilled in it. My guess is that if he were to get the thing up to any decent speed on a runway, the wings would fold up around him.

Which would be good, as that might keep him out of a grave.

But probably not. Odds are that he'll put the fuel tank just behind the engine, so it'll burn like a pyre in the post-crash fire regardless.

Why the ACA Rollout was as Fucked Up as Could Be

I don't need to rehash the stories about the problems that have been occurring for the folks trying to register for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. No doubt you've seen people asking how an Administration that has been as tech-savvy as this one could have blown it so badly, especially considering how well they used the Internet for two campaigns.

The reason, I suspect, is two-fold.

First, the Obama 20082/2012 campaigns were free to choose whoever they wanted to set up and run their web-based part of their operations. They had all of the flexibility of any other private organization. In contrast, the rollout of the Obamacare website was done by a government contractor working for a government agency. You need look only to other government computer messes, such as the FBI's decade-long fucked-up attempts to modernize its computer system, to see how well the feds do at new computer systems. Or, for that matter, the VA.

(The ACA webiste is so screwed up that one might assume that LockMart was running it. Apparently, it's a bunch of The Canadian Usurper's fellow countrymen. But I digress.)

Those comparisons might not be totally fair, though. The FBI and the VA have been trying to revamp and introduce upgrades to their operations while doing what they do, which is akin to changing sparkplugs on an airplane in flight. The ACA system wasn't being used by anyone.

The second reason is that I suspect that the developers thought that the Obama Administration would cave in the shutdown fight and they'd have six months to a year more to get things ready. They had no idea that President Obama and the Senate Democrats would grow a spine and stand up to the hostage-taking goons in the GOP. They were caught flat-footed. They had to rush their system into use and it just wasn't ready.

Because It's Friday

Challenger #3985 hauling a freight train. This is what she was made to do back in 1943 when she left the ALCO plant.



Note the caboose at the rear and that there were no "helping" diesels.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Musical Interlude

Bill Monroe on Mountain Stage, almost 25 years ago.

Bill Monroe was the father of bluegrass music.

Guess 500 Years Was Long Enough

The Brits are closing Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. One of the reasons is pretty craven: They fear that if they don't build a new class of destroyers at the shipyard in Glasgow, the Scots will vote for independence.

King Henry VII had a dry dock built there in 1495. The yard built its first warship, HMS Sweepstake, in 1497.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Difference Between United Airlines and Walmart: UAL Has Some Honor.

And Walmart has none.

When UAL had a website glitch and fares went on sale for absurdly low prices, United honored those ticket sales.

When Walmart had a website glitch and offered stuff for sale at absurdly low prices, their response was to stiff their customers and give them a $10 "go fuck yerself" gift card.

Which is to be expected of Walmart.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pink Sime-- It's All In the Wording, Really

Cargill now calls it "Finely Textured Beef". Because when you get right down to it, slime has a pretty smooth texture.

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

Guy Fawkes Day, celebrating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.

History, of course, is largely written from the point of view of the victorious parties.

The Torture Doctors

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals actively participated in torturing people.

No, these weren't doctors working for Russia, China, Iran or the various South American juntas of the 1970s. These ere Americans.
Doctors, psychologists and other medical professionals participated in the U.S. government's controversial torture and interrogation programs following 9/11, according to a new joint report from a task force funded by the Institute of Medicine as a Profession and Open Society Foundations.
This is the amount of quibbling that the CIA engaged in:
Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra "first do no harm" did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.
It'd be nice to know who those torture doctors and shrinks were. I don't know as I'd feel comfortable going to see a doctor whose skill set includes deliberately causing pain.

But don't worry. We'll never clean up our own mess.

What we do have proof of is the saying "that can never happen here", which was popular after the stories became public of what the Germans did during the war, is absolute horseshit. Fucking-A right it can happen here. To some extent, it already has.

And we are showing as little interest in dealing with it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emperor Alexander Doesn't Want His Power Reduced

But that's what apparently is in the cards:
Senior military officials are leaning towards removing the National Security Agency director’s authority over U.S. Cyber Command, according to a former high-ranking administration official familiar with internal discussions.
The "former high-ranking administration official" who is running his mouth is probably Michael Hayden, who has a track record of being a covert blabbermouth.

Anyway, Emperor Alexander is, predictably, against losing power:
“I believe it has to remain dual-hatted. If you try to break them up, what you have is two teams not working together. Our nation can't afford–especially in this budget environment—to have one team try to rebuild what the other team does.”
That's a slick political ninja move to use budgetary reasons as a justification for accumulating power. It would be like J. Edgar Hoover advocating for having the CIA become part of the FBI because the FBI already had a headquarters building and they wouldn't have to hire upper-level management.

GOP in VA: Already Mustering the Circular Firing Squads

It's not hard to find stories that have been running days in advance of tomorrow's election in Virginia where Republicans are already blaming each other for the expected thrashing of Ken Cuccinelli by Terry McAuliffe, a man who is so slimy that if his photo isn't in the dictionary as an example of a sleazeball political fixer, it should be.

Much of it is the now-routine crap about the long-time GOP political operatives blaming the Teabaggers for running nutjobs and the Tea party conservatives blaming the RINOs for deserting the party's candidates and not contributing to their campaigns.

The latter is funny. The far-right conservatives apparently think that they are entitled to have the big donors hand them cash.

It would seem that maybe Cuccinelli is feeling the pinch of a little political entitlement reform.

We Stupid, Stupid Gweilos

It seems that we have been eating Chinese takeout the wrong way for generations.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Toljaso About DiFi!

Sen. Feinstein's self-styled NSA reform bill is nothing of the sort.

As I predicted.

(H/T)

Turn-Key Totalitarianism

There are a couple of long articles out today on the NSA, both on the NY Times and Gaurdian's web sites. Both are worth reading.

One bit of advice was given by Bobby Inman, who was the director of the NSA in the late `70s and early `80s:
“My advice would be to take everything you think Snowden has and get it out yourself. It would certainly be a shock to the agency. But bad news doesn’t get better with age. The sooner they get it out and put it behind them, the faster they can begin to rebuild.”
That would be smart, but they'll never do it. Spies airing out their own dirty laundry goes against their DNA.

One of the things that I think is interesting is how much of German pique over being spied on may be due, in part, to the fact that the NSA lumps the Germans in with a tertiary group of friends known as the "14 Eyes." They wanted to at least be in the "9 Eyes" group with the French, if not being added as the only non-Anglophone nation in the "Five Eyes". The World of Spooks seems to operates akin to a bunch of high school cliques.

Still, one thing should be considered: How badly has the NSA broken the Internet? You'd have to be several kinds of fool to trust confidential documents to a cloud server. Email is not secure, not unless you're using encryption. And the NSA is investing heavily in quantum computing, which theoretically would allow them to break any encryption scheme. It's a safe bet that they've penetrated every videoconferencing system as well.

The winners may be the airlines and the Post Office. The airlines because any business-sensitive discussions can now only be conducted face-to-face. The Post Office because writing letters may be the most secure method of written discourse left. Sure, the government can intercept your letters, but they have to physically do it. The NSA can't, as of yet, set up their big vacuum cleaner and suck up your letters.

For now, unless you are using OpenPGP or something similar, think of sending emails or buying things online or doing online banking as if everything you did appeared on one of those electronic billboards next to the highway.

Your Sunday Morning Jet Noise

A Citation-X at KCLE:


In looking for a decent video of a Citation-X, I watched some truly dreadful ones that appeared to be shot by drunks having epileptic seizures. I've watched videos in which the footage is so unstable that they can induce motion sickness.

People, if you are going out with the intention to shoot video, if you have a camera, use a fucking tripod or even a monopod. If you are using a cell phone, then brace it somehow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Calling "Bullshit" on President Obama's Supposed Shutdown of the Doe Run Lead Smelter

You have probably seen all sorts of blog posts stating, in variation, that "Obama changed the air pollution rules and is causing the shutdown of the last lead smelter in the U.S."

Well, it's bullshit. Here's what the NRA-ILA, which is no friend of this president, said about it:
Doe Run made significant efforts to reduce lead emissions from the smelter, but in 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard. Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.
I have bolded the critical piece of information.

Now, Class, who can tell me who was the President of the United States in 2008?

You, Johnny Wingnut, care to answer the question?

Freedom of Speech is Not Tolerated in the Old Confederacy

The "Interim Police Chief" in Columbia, SC has threatened to find and investigate those who advocate for legalizing the use of marijuana.

Because the First Amendment is one of those amendments that no true police-statist likes. They hate it more than the Second, because free speech ideas are more dangerous to authoritarians than weapons in the hands of individuals.

Caturday

The arrival of cooler weather means that Jake's heated bed has been powered up.